Saturday, November 28, 2020

Steve Vogt hands over Bonne Terre Municipal Airport (1BT) operations to Chris and Gina Harbison

Steve Vogt say's it's been a good run, but he's ready to retire and he's turning over the reins of Bonne Terre Municipal Airport to a couple from Potosi.

After years of making improvements large and small to the airport located on 53 acres on the fringes of Bonne Terre, Steve Vogt is moving on.

City Administrator Shawn Kay has confirmed that Vogt, who has overseen operations at the city-owned Bonne Terre Airport for more than seven years, has indicated he has subleased the operations. Vogt said he is handing over the reins to Chris and Gina Harbison of Potosi.

“We received a letter saying he was going to sublease the airport, the council was briefed on it in the last council meeting, and we hope we can get Mr. Vogt, as well as the new sublease, to the next meeting and go from there,” Kay said.

The next council meeting is December 14th.

“It’s been a good relationship between the city and Mr. Vogt,” Kay said. “Under the agreement, he has the right to sublease, and he seems to be looking forward to traveling in retirement.

"We sure wish him well and thank him for the wonderful things he’s done out there. There have been a lot of upgrades. It’s been a good agreement for the city.”

Kay said as Vogt hands over the keys, the airport is actually close to having another upgrade completed. For the first time ever, the 2,800-foot-long runway will be lit, a project funded by a Missouri Department of Transportation grant.

It’s an asphalt runway Vogt said he had to mow when he first arrived, the grass had grown so densely through the cracks.

“When we started in 2013, there was nothing there but a runway and a ramp. There was a lot of clearing of brush, cutting trees down,” Vogt said. “We built five new hangars which are occupied, built a new office building. Got a grant to re-asphalt, stripe and number the runway.

"We’ve done four air festivals, one during the eclipse, and we had a lot of fun doing them.”

Vogt said airport traffic has slowed to about four or five airplanes a month, but pre-COVID they regularly had double the planes flying in and out of the field. But planes aren’t the only activity at the airport since several groups also regularly meet there: a HAM radio club, Mineral Area Search and Rescue, and Civil Air Patrol, which counts Vogt as a member.

“Civil Air Patrol uses the airport for missions and meetings,” Vogt said. “I’m a member, I’m the director of emergency services for Missouri Wing for the entire state. We’re the people who, if you lose your airplane in the middle of the night, we’re the nice people who come and look for you, among other things.”

Still, it’s time to move on, he said.

“I just turned 69 two weeks ago, which is 23 for the third time,” he joked. “For me, enough’s enough. I wasn’t looking to get out of the business, I was perfectly happy doing what I was doing, but this gentleman made me the right offer, and you know how that works.”

Vogt said he signed over the lease this past Saturday. He and his wife, Terry Scott, got married a couple years ago and they plan to travel around the country in a new RV he just bought, seeing the sights and giving Terry, a photographer, a chance to capture all the memories they make.

“She takes amazing photographs and has won some awards, so we’ll be going places she can see, get photographs of, and I’m going to keep my head down and smile a lot,” he said. “This is my fifth time trying to retire.”

Vogt said he was a broadcast engineer for about 30 years in the De Soto area.

“We’ve tried to make the airport where it was community-oriented, support the north end of the county, and I think we succeeded in what we did,” he said.

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