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The copper-colored exterior of the new Butte airport terminal and the headframe-styled entryway make a statement to travelers about the Mining City's history.

Butte’s new $10.5 million airport terminal will get its public debut Thursday and anyone is welcome to check it out during an early evening ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Operations and security screening won’t start until the following week, so people can take in the entire 27,000-square foot building from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. It is located at 101 Airport Road off of Harrison Avenue. 

“People can get in and mill around,” Airport Manager Pam Chamberlin said Monday. “It looks spectacular.”

Local officials, airline representatives and members of the Airport Authority and Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce will be on hand, she said. Montana’s congressional delegation has been invited, too.

Dave Palmer, Butte-Silver Bow’s chief executive, will be among those giving remarks, and refreshments will be served.

Most of the project was funded with federal dollars but Butte-Silver Bow County kicked in $1 million from an economic development trust fund. Construction began in August 2016 so the project was completed in about 17 months.

The makeover of Bert Mooney Airport actually goes back to 2011, when three years of work started on milling and repaving the runways. In 2015, the parking lot was completely redone with 50 new spaces added.

The terminal was designed to give people, especially first-time visitors, a great first impression of Butte. Glass all around gives expansive views of Butte, the East Ridge and other nearby mountains. When the old terminal next door is torn down, people will get a great view of the Highlands too.

The lead architect on the project was Butte native Paul Powers, who has led design, renovation and expansion efforts at 38 airport passenger terminals across the U.S.

This terminal’s features include a headframe entrance, mining-timber woodwork and skylights and portals to let daylight in.

Equipment and materials from the old terminal will be moved to the new one next week and operations from there should start with the first flight out next Wednesday, Feb. 20, Chamberlin said.

Although the terminal is primarily for passengers, the airport is served by Delta/SkyWest, Butte Aviation and Life Flight, as well as several rental car companies.

It also accommodates recreational flying and parachuting, corporate and business activity, aerial firefighting, military exercises, search and rescue and flight training, among other activities.

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Government and politics reporter

Reporter with emphasis on government and politics.

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