Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Kevin Erwin, has described the redevelopment of the Stawell Airport as a real success story for all involved.
As Cr Erwin welcomed Victorian Aviation Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips to the airport last Thursday, he spoke of the pride Stawell and district residents should have in the facility.
"This is quite exciting for us to be taking part in the opening of stage three of the airport redevelopment and an announcement, I believe, which will be made today," Cr Erwin said.
"Stage three of the Stawell Airport upgrade is a major success story for council and the Regional Aviation Fund.
"Minister Rich-Phillips was at the Stawell Airport about 18 months ago and noted then the substantial changes that had been made.
"Since then, as part of stage three, facilities have been enhanced and public amenities at the airport have been improved, created improved conditions for air ambulances, fly-in-fly-out users and other visiting planes.
"Council and indeed the community, certainly welcomed the $565,000 funding for stage three, which has also allowed for the installation of a Non Precision Approach GPS facility for the runway 29 eastern approach. This will to assist operators in inclement weather and night landings. The funding has also allowed for the creation of a terminal building with amenities, upgrade of the existing septic system, extension of aircraft apron parking, electrical work, resealing of airside areas, fencing and also signage."
Cr Erwin said council was focused on continuing to attract new businesses to the Stawell Airport, as well as watching existing businesses expand.
"We have already seen businesses grow here since the investment started in the airport," Cr Erwin said.
"I thank them for their support and also thank the airport committee for overseeing this development in its various stages.
"To see the airport as it is today is a credit to the staff also at the Northern Grampians Shire Council. There has been a lot of work and a lot of support provided, to create a facility that council be be very proud of and that the community should be very proud of.
"This is the first injection of funding really since 1964 and all councillors, past and present, are very proud of this airport."
Aviation Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips said he was delighted to be back in Stawell again to make further announcements at the Stawell Airport.
"I am delighted to be here for the dedication of the stage three redevelopment at the Stawell Airport," he said.
"While this airport has not seen any upgrades in 50 years, it most certainly isn't alone.
"Many other airports throughout the state were developed as bases in World War II and have never been upgraded.
"However, we have seen the Stawell Airport develop over time into a very important hub for the community of Stawell.
"It is a hub for emergency services such as the air ambulance and firefighting services and a hub to promote business and tourism.
"I have heard it said often that if you build a mile of road, you can travel a mile. If you build a mile of runway, you can travel the world."
Mr Rich-Phillips said his government had expanded the Regional Aviation Fund to ensure work can be undertaken with communities to enable upgrades similar to those at Stawell Airport.
"We were delighted to commit $565,000 from the fund for stage three of the airport upgrade and a further $215,000 for stage four."
Stage four works will enable council to complete the airport redevelopment to a standard that will cater for all existing and expected future aircraft types for many years to come.
In addition to upgrading the fuel facility to allow 24/7 access by pilots, council will be able to provide a Non Precision Approach GPS procedure to the main runway 11 western approach, connect the existing automatic weather information service to the landline telephone and install additional lighting and security fencing.
"We want to work with local communities to ensure that facilities at the Stawell Airport remain relevant, so they can continue to connect communities," Mr Rich-Phillips said.