Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A Texas family has pledged $15,000 to the Havre City-County Airport to help renovate the terminal building. The donation will enable the airport to capitalize on more than $300,000 in federal grant money by covering the local match requirement.
"It's really great. We're excited," Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said Friday after learning of the donation by the Klabzuba family. The Klabzubas, of Fort Worth, Texas, have oil and natural gas drilling operations throughout the West and have an office in Havre.
John Klabzuba, who owns the company, decided to donate the money after reading about some of the airport's problems in the Havre Daily News, said Cole Chandler, the company's operations manager in Havre.
The airport's terminal building, home to Havre's only passenger airline service, is in poor condition and needs replacing. Although federal grant money is available to fix it, local officials have said city and county budgets cannot afford to meet the local cash match requirement.
Next year, the airport will have accumulated more than $300,000 in nonprimary entitlement funds from the Federal Aviation Administration, but the grant money requires a local cash match of 5 percent.
The nonprimary entitlement funds are part of the federal Airport Improvement Program, and provide money to upgrade airport infrastructure, including runway and taxiways improvements, noise control, land purchases, safety and security, and gates. Congress appropriates money for the program annually. This year, FAA guidelines changed to allow the money to be used for terminal upgrades.
The Klabzubas have committed to providing $15,000 to the Havre City-County Airport, enough to cover the local match requirement, Chandler said.
"The last time John was in the terminal, there were several buckets catching leaking water and windows that were broken," he said. "The poor condition of the terminal was a sad testament of our community to the people visiting Havre."
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said he was pleased to learn of the donation to the airport.
"I think that's a good thing," he said. "It's a sign of the times. People are going to have to do things like that. I was happy to hear about it and I congratulate them for doing it."
Rice said that if the Klabzubas had not stepped forward, it is unlikely the city or county would have been able to come up with the money to meet the local match requirement.
"For the city, I can tell you that would have been an impossibility," he said.
Chandler said part of John Klabzuba's motivation was the family's strong interest in aviation. John's father, Robert, was a fighter pilot in World War II.
The Klabzubas frequently donate to a number of causes and organizations, he said.
"The Klabzuba family is a very generous family. They have a pretty amazing philanthropic history. Through my years with them, I've seen many testaments to their generosity."
The family has funded the construction of two separate cancer wings at a Forth Worth hospital and has given significant annual gifts to the University of Oklahoma, Chandler said. The family also sponsors annual college scholarships and supports 4-H and FFA groups in Hill, Blaine, Fergus and Chouteau counties, he added.
"The Klabzuba family has shown an ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor in this community," he said. "I'm really happy for the community of Havre. Rebuilding the terminal is a huge step toward making Havre a better place."
Airport manager Bill Arvin called the donation "excellent news."
On Friday, the airport board approved using about $90,000 of nonprimary entitlement funds to design improvements at the terminal. Stelling Engineering of Great Falls will perform the architectural and engineering work for the project.