As part of Valley Oak purchase agreement, Team Modern donates to community project; new signage welcomes visitors to Somerset-Pulaski County
An airport is often a front door to a community — the first impression a visitor gets when they arrive. And immediately giving visitors a glimpse of what they can find in that community can have a significant impact on their experience.
That front door is now open wide to visitors at Lake Cumberland Regional Airport, thanks to a facelift commissioned by the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) and completed by Team Modern and Modern Signs & Graphics.
New signage throughout the airport’s $3 million passenger terminal welcomes visitors to The Capital of Lake Cumberland, highlighting photos of all of the activities and attractions they can expect to find — golf courses, a bustling downtown, watersports on the lake, live music, classic cars, agritourism and a world-class waterpark — while also honoring the area’s history and veterans.
As a tribute to the late local businessman and aviation enthusiast W.O. Bill Newell, one wall has been dedicated to an image of a bomber he flew in World War II. The phrase “50+WOBN” on the side of the bomber represents the 50-plus bombing missions he flew over Europe during the war. In addition, the Newell family has donated his flight jackets, his Distinguished Flying Cross, his flight logbook, the personal Bible he took on every mission and many other pictures and items that will be on display.
Team Modern agreed to underwrite the cost of the project when negotiating their recent purchase of 70 acres and a headquarters facility in Valley Oak Technology Complex. As part of the purchase agreement, SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler asked Team Modern to donate $10,000 to a community project. Together, they chose to improve the airport terminal.
“Aviation is such an important economic development tool,” Girdler said. “It enhances the quality of life for residents who travel, visitors seeking easy access to Lake Cumberland and many within the business community looking for air transportation accessibility. Through the efforts of Modern Signs & Graphics, we have improved the cosmetic look of our world-class terminal, which is the front door to our community for so many.”
Lake Cumberland Regional Airport (SME) is a public use airport owned by the City of Somerset and Pulaski County serving the Lake Cumberland area. Efforts to bring commercial air service to the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport are underway — the cities of Somerset, London and Corbin recently formed a partnership to ask federal legislators to transfer London-Corbin Airport’s dormant Essential Air Service designation to Somerset and reactivate it.
“I’m very thankful to Congressman Hal Rogers for his many years of hard work to build the first-class airport we have today and his continued effort to see that our community has every available tool to enhance our tourism and business sectors,” Girdler said. “We are excited for what the future may bring and will work diligently to bring commercial air service to our community for the benefit of residents and visitors.”
Michelle Allen, executive director of Lake Cumberland Tourism and the SPEDA board vice-chair, said having an airport exponentially increases opportunities for economic development and tourism in the community and is a wonderful asset.
“From a tourism standpoint, the convenience the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport provides makes our community more appealing to visitors,” Allen said. “That has been greatly enhanced by this beautification project and will be even more so with commercial air service. We want our community members to understand the impact this airport has on our economy. It is significant.”
Lake Cumberland Regional Airport Manager Kellie Baker said she is excited about the opportunities this project provides for making that great first impression with customers.
“Without the amazing generosity of Modern Signs and SPEDA the beautification project would not have not been possible,” Baker said. “We are so thankful to them for making first impressions more meaningful with an inside look at the variety of things our beautiful city and county have to offer.”
Modern Signs & Graphics President Brian Denney has flown in and out of Lake Cumberland Regional Airport on several occasions but had never visited the terminal until he began working on the project.
“I was blown away by its architecture and beauty,” Denney said. “Getting to help add a little local flare was such a privilege for Team Modern and Modern Signs & Graphics. The community should certainly be proud of this facility.”