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Butte got its first look at the latest in a stunning line of community capital improvements Thursday, and the view was stupendous.

The new $10.5 million airport terminal, financed largely with federal dollars, is a knockout. It will provide visitors with a great first impression, and make flying in and out of The Mining City a far more pleasurable experience.

When we think about the new $30 million-plus water treatment plant, the new $34 million wastewater treatment plant, the new $7.4 million Uptown parking garage, and the coming water park, carousel building and transformed Stodden Park, we realize that the quality of life in Butte is being dramatically enhanced before our eyes.

The inevitable result will be increased economic development — particularly if a restored creek and completed Superfund cleanup is factored into the equation — and growth.

While it’s great that all of these amenities will play a role in attracting new residents, the best thing of all is that the benefits are accruing right now to those of us who already live here.

We are grateful for the hard work, vision, and generosity of so many in the community who are contributing to all of these projects, but we offer a particular tip of the Stetson to the Butte-Silver Bow planning, community development, and parks and recreation teams, who all have had huge roles in these improvements.

We should remember, the best thing we can do with the new airport terminal is use it. In today’s hypercompetitive regional aviation environment, we see frequent notices about improvements and expansion to service in Helena, Missoula and Bozeman. It’s vital that we patronize our airport as much as possible so that its financial future is assured and more flights to and from Butte become a possibility.

Butte’s central location and the airport’s free parking make it a great portal to Montana for visitors and a gateway to the rest of the world for us. As the flight attendant says at the end of the trip, “We know you have choices when you fly.” But the more often you and your friends and family can choose an itinerary that includes Butte, the better.


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