Sawyer Airport buys firefighting equipment, gets ready for runway work

K.I. SAWYER — Sawyer International Airport has received funding to pay for maintenance that airport officials have wanted to perform for many years now.

The airport will spend more than $1.5 million dollars on runway improvement projects. They include new runway shoulders, replacement lighting and some work on the blast pad at the approach end of Runway 1.

The work was originally scheduled for this year, “but due to the rapidly fleeting summer, we had to put it off until next construction season,” Sawyer Airport manager Duane DuRay said. “We will kick off, first thing, as soon as the construction season opens next year.”

The projects have gone out for bids, and a contractor has already been selected. Sawyer Airport also recently bought 11 new aircraft rescue and fire suppression suits for its firefighters.

“We’ll seek reimbursement through our (Airport Improvement Program) to get the funds (to buy the suits) reimbursed to Marquette County,” DuRay said.

More than 75% of the $1.6 million total cost for the runway work and new suits has come from federal grants. The main source was a U.S. Department of Transportation grant for more than $1.1 million that Sawyer received in June.

Marquette County is covering most of the remaining cost, with the state contributing a small amount.