Board calls Manti-Ephraim airport
‘economic asset’ for entire county
By James Tilson
Nov. 23, 2017
EPHRAIM—As chairman of the airport board, Ted Meikle described the Manti-Ephraim Airport as “an economic asset” for the entire county in his report to the Ephraim City Council.
Meikle reported on the state of the airport at the council’s meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
He said the airport is an infrastructure necessity for business and transportation in and out of the county. It is instrumental to the sheep industry in Sanpete, used frequently by Snow College, is the site for Utah National Guard training and a base for firefighting efforts in the area.
However, he said, only two cities support this county asset.
And although Meikle “appreciates the energetic support of Ephraim,” he stated his concern about the future of the airport.
He is especially worried about zoning around the airport as it affects the possibility of buying property around the airport for future expansion.
In response to a question from Councilwoman Margie Anderson, City Manager Brant Hanson said zoning around the airport does concern Ephraim, because, since the last annexation, the airport is in the city’s buffer zone. As such, the city has some influence over what type of development takes place there and how the zoning should be handled.
Meikle informed the council that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has proposed to fund the buying of property around the airport, is constrained by law to offer fair market value for any property purchased by it for the expansion of an airway.
“Actually, they are a really good buyer for a property owner,” said Meikle.
Councilman John Scott, Ephraim’s representative to the airport board, said that at an appraised value of $45 million, the airport represents the largest public investment in Sanpete County.
Scott noted that the airport, especially recently, has had a huge impact on agriculture in Sanpete.
He also said one of the first questions many new businesses will ask about Sanpete is about the airport. The future of the airport is a very important subject for the county to contemplate.
In his presentation, Meikle also talked about the history of the airport.
In 1927, fresh off his flight to Paris, Charles Lindberg made a barnstorming tour of the United States to promote aviation.
During the tour, he flew over Mt Pleasant on Sept. 3, where a crowd had gathered to wave at him as he flew over the town. The county did not have an airfield at the time, and it appears that this was the first recorded instance of aviation in Sanpete.
In 1940, after World War II had already started but the United States had not yet entered, the president of Snow College started a Civilian Aviation Program in August.
That September, the Ephraim City Council approved the construction of a new airfield just outside town. By September 1941, the airfield was completed.
Meikle reported that since 2006, the airfield has been totally renovated. The runway has been rebuilt and lengthened. As part of the airfield, the airport boasts fuel facilities, a pilot lounge, a new well and a septic system, Wi-Fi connectivity, a weather observation station, the technology for instrument-only approach and, most recently, a new asphalt lane for new hangars.
Meikle noted that the airport still needs to have a loaner car for pilots who need transportation once they arrive in Sanpete and the airport needs to install the proper equipment for night instrument landings.