CHEYENNE – Laramie County commissioners gave their stamp of approval Tuesday to two federal grant applications for the Cheyenne Regional Airport – $660,940 for the phase three runway reconstruction designs and bidding services and just over $1 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The first grant follows a series of Federal Aviation Administration grants for the multi-year runway reconstruction project beginning this summer at Cheyenne Regional Airport. But the second was part of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s effort to provide more relief to the transportation sector. From the original CARES Act relief package, Cheyenne Regional Airport was awarded $4.7 million.
Airport Director Tim Barth said much of the additional $1 million could be used to reimburse costs from last year related to COVID-19, but still, he said, “We’ve got a long way to go before we get back to some kind of normalcy.”
Like airports across the country, Cheyenne Regional saw a steep drop-off in passengers when COVID-19 caused all types of closures last spring. Even as SkyWest pulled Cheyenne Regional’s service to Dallas in March, increased cleaning measures were still necessary, as was keeping staff on board.
Then, fuel sales saw a significant decrease from 2019, and Hertz rental car company filed for bankruptcy and shuttered its location at the airport, leaving $13,500 in unpaid rent. The airport also will lose out on rent and concessions from the company each month.
“Being able to recapture some of that and being able to keep all of our employees employed is a huge thing for us. That’s really what the majority of that funding is used for,” Barth said. “But I’m not even confident, honestly, that another year and a half from now I’ll be able to say, ‘Oh, that was enough.’ It might be, but we just don’t know yet.”
The initial $4.7 million in relief funding was meant to support the airport’s finances over a four-year period, and Cheyenne Regional Airport had spent one-third of it by January.
New park at youth crisis center
Also at their Tuesday meeting, the commissioners approved an agreement for about $135,000 with Playcraft Systems for playground equipment for a new park at the Laramie County Juvenile Services Center. The park will not be enclosed in the detention side, but rather will serve the youth crisis center.
The plan is to build out another playground for the juvenile detention center later on.
“This is something that we’ve been working on for about a year and a half to bring to the juveniles out at the Juvenile Services facility – to help with the interaction between the counselors and the children,” Laramie County Detention Capt. Don Hollingshead said.