VYTO STARINSKAS / RUTLAND HERALD
The sign at the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport is unveiled on Wednesday.CLARENDON — With a few strokes of a pen, state Agency of Transportation Secretary Neale Lunderville transformed the Rutland State Airport into the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport on Wednesday.
Seven months after agreeing to change the name of the state's second-largest airport, Lunderville and more than 100 aviators, businesspeople and other spectators were on hand Wednesday to unveil the new moniker.
The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce and the Rutland Regional Transportation Council worked for more than a year to come up with the new name, which they hope will better define the airport and the region it serves.
Wearing a green baseball cap with the airport's new name on it, Lunderville signed a letter addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration that will make the name change official.
"The idea when I first heard it sounded like a no-brainer," Lunderville said before the signing. "Especially when you consider the community and region it serves."
While other state airports operate in Bennington and Springfield, neither generate the number of flights nor the regional influence that the airport in Rutland County does, state and local officials said.
The airport in Rutland is the only one in the state outside of Burlington that operates a commercial service. Almost 42,000 flights into and out of the airport were recorded last year alone, airport officials said.
Thomas Donahue, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce, said he and other local officials pushed for the name change to reflect the airport's importance to the region.
"This has been a very important asset for all of Vermont and particularly Southern Vermont," Donahue told the crowd prior to the unveiling of an artist's rendition of a new sign that airport officials plan to erect at the Route 103 entrance to the airport.
Prior to approving the new name, Lunderville polled a number of communities in southern Vermont to make sure there wasn't any opposition to the change.
While the majority of towns didn't express any concern, Bennington officials said they did have objections.
Reached by phone Wednesday evening, Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd said the new name was still a concern among town officials. However, he said the fact that "Rutland" is still part of the name softened the blow somewhat.
"We were concerned when it was talked about it being the Southern Vermont Regional Airport because we're not even certain Rutland is in southern Vermont. But if it actually continues to be named Rutland then it's less of a concern for us," Hurd said.
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