Local airport named after Pugh

By Staff
Jonathan Willis
The smile on Bill Pugh's face Friday said it all.
As he gazed across a room full of family, friends, local officials and colleagues, he couldn't help but be proud.
After all, they were all gathered in his honor at a place that he helped mold into one of the area's finest facilities.
The airfield at Russellville Municipal Airport was renamed Bill Pugh Field during a ceremony and celebration Friday morning.
"This is an honor that's very deserving," Russellville Mayor Troy Oliver said.
"It has been a tremendous opportunity for the city of Russellville to have someone like Bill working on our airport board."
Pugh has been chairman of the airport board for many years and has worked with others to create a facility that is as nice as any of its size in the region.
Pugh was quick to give credit to many others that he worked with through the years, but Oliver said Pugh "knew how to connect all the dots and make sure things get done."
Since 2001, the airport has undergone extensive renovations that included two extensions of the runway, new lighting, new fuel systems, a new terminal and work on a new hangar is underway.
"We are not finished. No one in north Alabama has anything like it and the only thing keeping us from doing more is $3.5 million," he said with a smile. "This place is second to none."
The projects were completed through a series of grants that Pugh and city officials worked to obtain. The federal government paid for 90 percent of the projects, while the Alabama Department of Transportation and the city paid the rest.
Frank Farmer, with the Alabama Department of Transportation, said he remembers flying into the airport 14 years ago for a meeting with Pugh and former mayor John Blackwell.
"You couldn't hardly see the runway at the time," he said. "But when I left I said that is a community that's very serious about this airport. It didn't happen over night, but this is the vision Bill showed us that day."
Pugh said he wants to eventually see the runway extend to the new Mike Green Industrial Park, which is just north of the airport on Alabama 243.
"Businesses want to fly in and taxi all the way to their plant," he said. "They want the whole plant to be accessible to an airport. I hope that's what we can do here.
"This building and airport was not built for local sport pilots, it was built for industrial growth and I think that's what it will help us do."

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