Thursday, June 17, 2021

Airport advisory group meets with BOCC

Staff Reporter | May 7, 2021 1:05 PM

WALLACE — The Shoshone Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) met with Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Colleen Rosson to discuss the newly formed Shoshone County Airport Advisory Group.

The BOCC has long desired to see the unique, small airport become a viable part of the Silver Valley, but whether it was through ineffective stewardship, mismatched visions for the airport, or general lack of use — it never really came to fruition.

Rosson and her group are hoping to change that by working alongside the BOCC in an effort to make the airport an economic grower for the county.

“This is a community driven advisory group, independent of the county,” Rosson said. “Our purpose is to support the commissioner's efforts with the Shoshone County Airport. We built this team with the needs of the airport in mind and recruited individuals who have the expertise, connections and best of all passion to accomplish our mission and vision.”

Rosson had attempted to get a foot in the door at the airport under its previous manager, and even assisted in organizing the successful fly-in/drive-in event four years ago in May 2017.

That, along with opening up the community meeting room at the airport’s main residence that same year were big additions to the airport, but for whatever reason it just didn’t stick.

The goal of the advisory group is to capitalize on the amenities the facility offers and Rosson believes that by partnering alongside the BOCC, they can reach their shared vision.

“From the runway length to the amenities offered, it is an incredible asset to our community,” Rosson said. “Outside of the normal thoughts, the airport offers quite a number of opportunities for our community. From gatherings and events that draw from a different tourism demographic to education opportunities for all ages in the aviation industries. It also is an appealing component of attracting industry, tourism, educational opportunities and more.”

The formation of the group has been a work in progress for the last few years, but according to Rosson, the time was right to move into official capacity.

The group consists of several people who are either familiar with the airport itself, or have aviation experience outside just the Shoshone County Airport.

“The commissioners have a very full calendar and we recognized the need for a proactive group who have expertise,” Rosson mentioned. “Our ability to provide time and talent to support the commissioners and airport development is a benefit for the entire community and region. We have active hangar owners and community members who were willing to work together to start it and the group recruited a few others outside the usual suspects.”

BOCC Chairman Mike Fitzgerald was excited to hear how motivated the group is and also quite frank about his lack of airport expertise and how having a group like this one in place really does help the BOCC in an area that they had struggled.

“We want to support as much growth as we can and not just airport growth, but what the airport brings to the rest of the community,” Fitzgerald said. “The airport is a tool to give to our community, it’s not a standalone item. And that’s where I think we went a little bit sideways with the former manager.”

Be it securing funding, hosting or promoting events, or just making the airport as functional as possible, the Shoshone County Airport Advisory Group is excited to be a part of the growth of the community they serve.

“Funding for airports is changing, and our valley is growing with or without our permission,” Rosson said. “The timing was right to take this from concept to committee and here we are.”