It may be Arkadelphia’s best-kept secret.
Located in the southern part of the city sits one of the busiest airports in Arkansas: Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field.
Owned and operated by the City of Arkadelphia, the Arkadelphia Municipal Airport is home to Henderson State University’s aviation school and welcomes hundreds of visitors each week.
“Prospective businesses, people wanting to visit the colleges, and then you have those who just need to fill up on fuel,” Airport Manager Michael Sellers said. “For those people, the airport is going to be their only impression of Arkadelphia. We work hard to make sure it’s a good one.”
Known around the region for its customer service, the Arkadelphia Municipal Airport operated for years out of a 600-square-foot building. Complete with two reclining couches, a coffee pot and a small office for Sellers, the building served as a welcome center for incoming guests and a waiting area for flight crews prior to taking off.
“We had about five places for people to sit and we’d have eight people in there- Sitting on the floor, trying to nap, whatever the case may be,” Sellers said. “We did our best to make sure everyone was comfortable, but we just outgrew the space.”
Today, a 1,600-square-foot terminal building sits in its place with a large lobby area, pilot’s room, kitchenette, manager’s office, conference room and two restrooms.
The project cost $650,000 to complete – $400,000 of which was funded through two Arkansas Department of Aeronautics (ADA) grants.
“We would not be standing here today if it weren’t for the Move Arkadelphia Forward tax initiative,” City Manager Gary Brinkley said.
“We did exactly what we said we were going to do when it passed and used the money we collected from the one-cent sales tax as leverage for grant funding.”
The city received two ADA grants for the construction of the new terminal building and parking lot. Those grants covered 60% of the project’s funding.
“It’s hard to believe that one cent can leverage so much good for our community,” Brinkley said. “We are grateful the one-cent sales tax has given us this beautiful space to represent our residents. We are so proud that this building will serve as the welcome mat for prospective businesses and visitors for years to come.”
In addition to catering to out-of-town visitors, Sellers hopes the new terminal building will serve as a community space.
“We’ve got a brand new coffee pot in the lobby, and I’m there by 8:00 every morning,” Sellers said. “Whether you want to come down and enjoy your morning coffee with us, or bring the kids and watch planes take off all day, everyone is welcome.”
The new terminal building is officially open for visitors.