For the second time in three years, Monticello’s municipal airport has been named “Airport of the Year” because of its improvements and ability to meet the growing demands of Monticello and Southeast Arkansas, according to a citation from Gov. Mike Beebe and state Department of Aeronautics director John Knight.

The airport received the prestigious award in 2008 and again Tuesday, making it the only airport in 20 years to receive the award twice.

Over the last 20 years, the airport has seen more than $5 million improvements, including runway extension, taxiway extension, apron, runway rehabilitation and signage, perimeter fencing, two 8-bay T-hangars, a new 2,200 square-foot office building and terminal building, according to Bennie Ryburn III, chairman of the Monticello Airport Commission.

Also, a new hangar and 4,000 square-foot office building, which will be leased to Eagle Forestry Services, is currently under construction.

Most of the improvements were funded with federal and state grants. The federal grants are 90-10 grants but the state pays the city’s 10 percent. The state grants are either 90-10 or 80-20 with the city paying the difference.

According to the state Department of Aeronautics’ 2005 plan for the Monticello Municipal Airport, the airport was projected to have 22 aircraft based here by 2010 and 24 by 2015 but the local airport has already exceeded those numbers.

There are 26 aircraft based at the airport, all but two belonging to private individuals and local businesses. The Arkansas Forestry Commission has one based there and the Civil Air Patrol has one.

The airport is the only Level 4 airport south of Pine Bluff. To receive the Level 4 designation, an airport must have a primary runway that is 5,500 feet long by 100 feet wide supported by a full parallel taxiway; a LPV (lateral precision with vertical guidance) approach supported by medium intensity runway lighting and an approach lighting system; on site weather reporting capabilities; pavement strength of 30,000 pounds of dual wheel; hangars for 80 percent of all based aircraft and an apron for all remaining aircraft and 25 percent of daily transient aircraft; 5,000 square-feet of public use space with telephones, restrooms and pilot and conference space; Jet A and 100 LL fuel and self-service facilities; full service FBO and aircraft maintenance facilities; access to rental cars; and an emergency response plan.

Five airport commissioners, appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, oversee airport operations. The airport commissioners are Bennie Ryburn III, John Porter Price, Zach McClendon, Richard Reinhart, and Charles Savage. The airport is managed by James Barnett.