State awards Eastland airport nearly $400K grant for latest improvement project


EASTLAND, Texas - Improvements at the Eastland Municipal Airport are really taking off lately.

The state just approved a nearly $400,000 grant for the facility.

Chris Ball and his wife live in Bartlesville , Oklahoma. They made the hour and a half flight to Eastland to visit family.

" This is the best airport we use anywhere, and the service is the best, " said Chris Ball, a pilot.

The airport just got a $392,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation that will make it safer. The money will be used to build a game fence to keep animals off the runway.

" Worrying about deer is a problem -- deer and coyotes, " said Cathi Ball, also a pilot. " I'm glad that they'll have that fence. "

" We got a lot of support for the facility in this town, " said Bode Zietz, the airport manager.

Zietz said improvements also include a new hangar, a runway that ' s been extended by nearly a thousand feet and a terminal, completed in 2015. They also have a new weather system to help pilots know what to expect with Mother Nature.

Zietz said he sees the airport as a front door to Eastland , giving guests a first impression of the town.

The city manager hopes these improvements will bring more aircraft to the airport and in turn bring more jobs to Eastland .

" Our long range plan is to use the airport as a springboard as another item that will make Eastland an attractive place to come and do business, " said Ron Duncan, the Eastland city manager.

Chris Ball has been flying in and out of the airport for a long time and said he ' s seen it come a long way.

"I flew out of this airport in the early 80s and it's dramatically different than it was in the early 80s, " Ball said. " It's a huge improvement, a huge asset for Eastland and Eastland County and all the surrounding area.

Zietz said some insurance companies require airports have these safety measures in place before they'll allow planes to land there.

City leaders hope to have the game fence built by March of next year.

They're also working on an airport business park next to the airport.