Joint airport partnership renewed between military, civic leaders
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Midcoast Regional Airport (Photo Credit: Kevin Larson) VIEW ORIGINAL
Joint airport partnership renewed between military, civic leaders
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – From left to right, Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Manny Ramirez, City of Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, Georgia Rep. (D) Al Williams and Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette sign the Midcoast Reginal Airport joint management board agreement at the airport May 4. (Photo Credit: Kevin Larson) VIEW ORIGINAL

With pen strokes from military and civic members, Fort Stewart and Liberty County’s joint-use airport partnership was renewed at Wright Army Airfield’s Midcoast Regional Airport May 4.

Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Manny Ramirez, City of Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette and Georgia Rep. (D) Al Williams, along with Fort Stewart training and public works officials, recommitted to the joint venture between the installation and local governments.

The agreement is an ongoing partnership that is renewed annually.

Standing in the civilian side of the airport, Brown said the venture has gone better than expected since day one.

“We stood right out here, announced the opening and cut the ribbon not too many years ago,” Brown said. “It’s been even better than we thought it was going to be. We go to extend a runway. It’s opened up more doors.”

A joint-use facility for military and civilian air traffic, construction of the airport began in 2007 on what was Camp Stewart’s original airfield built in 1942.

Col. Manny Ramirez, Fort Stewart garrison commander, and current chair of the joint management board commented on the strength of the partnership and the value it brings to all parties.

“This agreement we signed today is a great example of the symbiotic relationship we have, that Fort Stewart has, with the surrounding communities,” Ramirez said. “This facility is dual use. It’ got a civilian component but we also use it for military training. So it’s really a win-win situation for all of us concerned.”

Midcoast Regional Airport is a cooperative effort between the City of Hinesville, the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, the Liberty County Development Authority, and the United States Army, acting under a joint management board (JMB). The chair position alternates between the civic and military leaders.

Brown echoed the sentiment of strong bonds, calling the partnership one of the greatest things done between Fort Stewart and the community because of its tremendous success. The success will continue with future growth, he said, especially for finding and getting approval for corporate jet hanger space.

Existing hangers for smaller planes are already at capacity.

“We have built new hangers,” Brown said. “As soon as we built them they were full and we have that many more people waiting. If we had the capability we could build 20 more hangers and still have a waiting list.”

On the military side, the expanded airport allows for increased training opportunities, Ramirez said. The airport is used as an additional training area for airborne operations, especially in conjunction with tenants at Hunter Army Airfield, like the Ranger Regiment, the 3rd Combat Aviation Battalion and the 224th Military Intelligence Battalion.

“It’s expanded the civilian component of it and expanded our military component because it’s allowed us to conduct that much more training,” he said. “With the pooling of our resources, we’re able to provide a much better facility than it was 20 years ago.”

And when runway improvements are underway like they are at Hunter Army Airfield, Wright Army Airfield serves as a viable alternative.

“It allows for a lot of flexibility for us to utilize aspects of Hunter and here,” Ramirez said.