2020 Scholarship and Award Recipients

These 2019 award winners are typically recognized at the 2020 MCOA Annual Airports Conference.  There are no pictures of the award recipients to post since the 2020 conference was cancelled. Instead, award summaries and pictures of the project or individuals are being presented. 

Academic Scholarship - Hannah Park
Key Commercial Service Airport: International Falls
Key GA Airport: Grand Rapids
Intermediate GA Airport: Long Prairie
Leadership in Planning: Morris
Oberstar Award: Bob Anderson

Academic Scholarship

The Council has established an academic scholarship for students studying aviation management and currently enrolled at a Minnesota college or university or resides in Minnesota who is enrolled at a college or university outside the state.

Hannah Park

Hannah Park is a sophomore at UND with a double major in Airport Management and Air Traffic Management.  She has an overall GPA of 3.8.  She is active as a volunteer both inside and outside of the school.  She plans on graduating in December 2022.  Hannah is the recipient of the $1000 academic scholarship from MCOA.

Airport Projects of the Year

These awards are reserved for projects that have made a significant improvement to airport operations. The project could be singular, multiple, or a combination of projects that resulted in improved airport efficiency, safety, or facility enhancement.

Key Commercial Airport
 Falls International Airport
Airline Terminal Project

Airport Sponsor: International Falls-Koochiching County Airport Commission 
Consultant(s): SEH, Alliiance, LHB, Bartlett and Associates
Primary Contractor: Kraus Anderson

The Falls International Airport enplanes approximately 17,000 passengers annually. The airport is one of nine airports in Minnesota offering commercial airline service. Bordering Canada, the airport is an international port of entry and typically deals with daily commercial flights (50+ passenger planes as well as numerous domestic and international private flights). International Falls is one of four international ports of entry in Minnesota, making the airport an important economic driver for the region. The airport is important for rural health care, cold weather testing, tourism, and the Boise Paper mill and its vendor,which is the largest employer in Koochiching County. Without the airport and commercial airline service, it is unlikely that these industries would survive.

Over the years, the airport runway has been expanded from 5,500 to 7,400 feet to safely accommodate growth as well as a variety of aircraft and sizes. Likewise, to better serve the traveling public, accommodate growth and integrate security measures for international travel, the International Falls-Koochiching County Airport Commission recognized the need to move on from its aging terminal – built between 1978 and 1979 – by way of designing and constructing a brand-new 25,000 square foot terminal. Funding sources included the Federal Aviation Administration, State Aeronautics, State bonding, City of International Falls and Koochiching County. Significant phasing and coordination was required not only to keep the terminal operation during the entire construction period but also to secure funding over two AIP grant periods and two legislative bonding sessions. Initial project meetings began in 2009 culminating with project completion in 2019.

Key General Aviation Airport
Grand Rapids - Itasca County Airport
Apron Reconstruction


Airport Sponsor: City of Grand Rapids 
Consultant: SEH
Primary Contractor: KGM Contractors


The Grand Rapids – Itasca County Airport required considerable investment to make critical infrastructure improvements by replacing the general aviation apron pavement. The apron reconstruction consisted of removing and replacing approximately 24,000 square yards of existing bituminous and base materials. In addition to the paving, surface gradients and storm sewers were improved to help handle potential flood events by improving drainage. Subsurface drainage was enhanced by the installation of drain tile.

Another improvement included installation of new tie-downs that were installed on the apron, meeting FAA design standards. The projected included multiple FAA safety initiatives, including having the apron reconfigured to meet taxiway object free area standards, eliminating direct access to the runway environment, and removing a taxilane out of the departure surface protected area. The Grand Rapids – Itasca County Airport Apron Reconstruction project was valued at over $1.2M, and included 6,400 tons of bituminous pavement. Ultimately the project improved accessibility to the airport, decreased maintenance costs, reduced foreign object debris, and allowed for improved operational safety for based and transient aircraft. 

Intermediate General Aviation Airport
Long Prairie Municipal Airport
Runway 16/34 Extension


Airport Sponsor: City of Long Prairie
Consultant: Bolton & Menk, Inc.
Primary Contractor: Kraemer Trucking & Excavating, Inc.

The project included a 500-foot extension of Runway 16/34 for a total runway length of 3,500-feet. The meat packing industry in Long Prairie has grown significantly over the past 10 years. Two major companies doing business in Long Prairie, American Foods Group and Central Bi-Products, both utilize corporate aircraft for transport of key personnel. Both businesses approached City leadership in 2014 about extending Runway 16/34 at the Airport to accommodate their corporate aircraft. With a length of only 3,000-feet, each company was forced to utilize the Alexandria Airport when conducting business in Long Prairie. This added time and cost to their businesses. The City worked with FAA and MnDOT to justify a runway extension to 3,500-feet, complete an environmental assessment to ensure no hazards, complete land acquisition to acquire full control of the new runway protection zone, and then completed construction of the runway extension in 2019. 

Leadership in Planning

This award is presented to the airport sponsor and consultant that have overcome extraordinary circumstances or created unique solutions in planning at their airport. 

Morris Municipal Airport
Airport Master Plan/Environmental Assessment

Airport Sponsor: City of Morris
Consultant: TKDA

The City of Morris and TKDA worked together to complete airport planning and environmental approvals on a concurrent, dual-track to gain approval for a runway extension. Local business users had expressed a need for a runway length to support business jet aircraft for flights to/from the east and west coasts. TKDA and the City of Morris worked with stakeholders in the ongoing master plan to document this need in accordance with new FAA standards, and developed consensus with stakeholders to “right size” the project considering the need, project impacts and schedule. Once a project was identified in late 2018, the city reacted quickly to secure local funding working together with the business community to allow for flexibility to complete the runway extension project. The Environmental Assessment (EA) was authorized and completed concurrently on an accelerated schedule - with environmental approval for the runway extension secured in only 11 months. Having “planning complete” puts the City in position to secure FAA and State funding for a construction project. The efforts over the past 18 months demonstrates leadership, commitment, and flexibility to quickly complete airport planning tasks to expedite projects to the development phase.

James L. Oberstar Award 

This award is reserved for those special individuals or selected officials who have demonstrated a strong interest and commitment to aviation and airport development in the State. They have provided the initiative, the commitment, and kept the momentum moving to insure other State elected officials recognize the importance and economic benefit airports and their communities provide to our quality of life. Their efforts have successfully maintained a steady revenue stream so that airports, large and small, can continue to grow by development, and thus prosper.

Robert "Bob" Anderson (Posthumously)



Robert “Bob” Anderson was a tireless advocate for the City of International Falls, Koochiching County, the surrounding region, the Minnesota aviation community, and maybe most importantly, for the Falls International Airport (INL). Bob served on the Airport Commission for 48 years, and for 45 of those years, he served as its Chairman and championed over 100 projects at the Airport. The Airport would not be the world class facility it is today without his efforts. MnDOT Aeronautics Director Cassandra Isackson said it best, “Without Bob’s efforts, International Falls, Minnesota would not be welcoming visitors from around the world through their airport front door.”

Bob was instrumental in the development and growth of the Falls International Airport. He took the lead on two terminal building construction projects, the first in the 1970s and most recently the new terminal facility that provides for commercial air service, US Customs and Border Patrol, car rental services and other amenities, including airport administration. The Local Airline Service Action Committee (LASAC) was organized in 1964 with Bob Anderson among the founding members. Bob testified before Congress to the Aviation Ways and Means Committee regarding forming the EAS program that brought funding to many small and rural communities in the United States to ensure they would receive scheduled airline service.

While his legacy will carry far into the future and the accolades surrounding his service to the community are many and well-deserved, it is maybe the smaller gestures that Bob did every day for countless other people that is truly the measure of his legacy.