THOMSON -- Make no mistake: McDuffie County is ready for the Masters Tournament.
Opening today is the $1.3 million addition to the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport, consisting of a new terminal, a fire-EMS station, a new lighting system and a longer runway.
Fixed-base operator James Lyle couldn't be happier that the facility is opening on time.
"It was very important, critically important," he said of meeting the completion deadline. "We have the amenities and the things that we're adding that the corporate aviation departments require, and they need, and what we've done is gone out and provided these needs."
The facility will only handle corporate and private jets.
Crews put the finishing touches
on a new terminal at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. Officials said the terminal should open today, just in time for the Masters Tournament.
Photo by Elwood Hamilton
The terminal includes a large meeting room, a full-time caterer, sleeping rooms and a lounge for pilots. When Lyle was developing plans for the new additions several years ago, he pulled from his own 30 years of experience as a pilot to make the airport as accommodating as possible.
"What we provided first was an ILS (intensive landing system), so safety was first. We then put in a new fuel system, new fuel trucks, and 24-hour fuel. Then we looked at the ownership -- they want caterers, they want something attractive, so we have a large conference room."
Starting Wednesday, members from the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce and the McDuffie County Tourism Development Authority will be meeting and greeting those that fly into the airport, providing information promoting Thomson and McDuffie County.
Other areas of Thomson are also gearing up for Masters Week. Hotels typically see a lucrative amount of business at this time each year, and this week will be no different. Both the White Columns Inn and Holiday Inn Express on Washington Road in Thomson say that they will see about 10 percent of their total revenue come in during Masters Week.
"It does affect us significantly," said Holiday Inn Express general manager Sanjeev Singhal. "It's just the time of the year to make some money."
White Columns owner and operator Epp Wilson agrees that being busy is always a good thing, but that there are other types of changes as well.
"The atmosphere in the lobby is more festive. They're not worried about their presentations, or whether their PowerPoint presentations will work. They're relaxed and their jovial," he said of his customers.
Thomson's country clubs are also going to be experiencing Masters fever.
"It makes the whole week a lot busier," said Rich Davis of Belle Meade Country Club of Thomson's proximity to the Augusta National Golf Club. "It probably triples our business. It's just a week everyone counts on."
Dale Ricks, a board member of Thomson Country Club, agrees.
"The excitement of the Masters gets our members playing," he said. "We do have some guests and all, and even your local people get more excited."
END Found Above Body -->
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.