By RANDY PIERCE
Recognition and acknowledgments of many individuals playing major roles in the growth of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, going well back into history, came forth in abundance when its newly-expanded terminal was the subject of a celebration ceremony held there on Tuesday, June 13.
Among those leading the expressions of appreciation was St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern who, after citing the support offered by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, called attention to former United States Congressman Jerry Costello who was in attendance.
Harkening back to the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Costello, Kern commented when taking his turn at the podium during the ceremony, “was the visionary for this airport and worked hard to get MidAmerica built as a way to support the mission at Scott Air Force Base.”
Also recognized by Kern, but not present himself, was United States Senator Dick Durbin, who offered his continuous backing for the development of the airport, and the Boeing Company which is investing nearly $200 million in a production facility that is nearby on Illinois Route 4, creating 150 new jobs for engineers, mechanics and support staff.
Still another individual whose involvement dates back a few decades mentioned by Kern is John Baricevic, the former’s immediate predecessor as county board chairman. Baricevic, an advocate of the construction of the airport when it was only in the conceptual stages, “was alongside Jerry Costello when they broke ground,” Kern noted. “I think that was in 1992 and look where we are today.”
Someone who could not be present for this celebration program, the former director of the airport, Tim Cantwell, was the subject of further praise from Kern, especially for his enduring difficult times when flights leaving or landing there were non-existent before the growth surge that started in 2012 with the arrival of Allegiant Airlines began.
Current and former state legislators like Jay Hoffman, James Clayborne Jr., Christopher Belt and Latoya Greenwood were cited by Kern for providing their support to the airport, particularly those involved “when things were perhaps a little more negative than they are today.”
Federal legislators who were represented by other individuals at the ceremony and acknowledged by Kern included those from the offices of Durbin, Mike Bost and Nikki Budzinski.
Before concluding his address, Kern further recognized members of the St. Clair County Board in attendance and county elected officials such as Kinnis Williams Jr., circuit clerk, and Andy Lopinot, treasurer, plus local area mayors along with directors Kyle Anderson of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, Donna Richter of the Southern Illinois Builders Association and Engineer Kurt Brown of Illinois Department of Transportation Region 5.
Randy Pierce is a writer for Herald Publications editorial team, part of the Better Newspapers Inc. media family.