The Washington Army National Guard is another step closer to relocating operations to Pangborn Airport near East Wenatchee. 

The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority Board of Commissioners has signed off on a lease agreement for the Guard to take over the airport's Executive Flight building and house its air fleet at the airport. 

Port CEO Jim Kuntz says the Port Authority will benefit financially and the area will receive a boost. 

"I think we did OK," said Kuntz at the port's most recent meeting. "And I'm excited to have them here." 

The National Guard will start paying rent on the Executive Flight building this month, but won't actually move in until next April. 

The permanent Guard post at Pangborn will provide several benefits for the region – primarily improved response times during wildfires. 

The National Guard is relocating to Pangborn from Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane. 

The move will bring with it 28 full time jobs and a fleet of nine helicopters. The fleet includes six UH-72 Lakota helicopters and three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.  

The local economy is seen as a big winner in the agreement. For one weekend a month, roughly 100 reservists will visit the Wenatchee Valley for training, which means potential hotel and restaurant dollars. 

The deal calls for a 10 year lease, starting this month, with an option for the National Guard to renew for five more one-year terms. 

The Guard will pay $31,304 a monthly, or $375,653 annually, with a 3.5% annual rent increase. Kuntz said the Guard came in asking for a 2.5 percent annual increase, but he insisted on 3.5 percent, given current inflation rates.  

Also, the guard will pay $29,141 a month until Airlift Northwest relocates from the Executive Flight building. 

The deal includes the guard paying utilities, although the Port will pay utilities and charge the Guard for the expense until the guard occupies the entire building. 

The port will continue to pay for landscaping, snow removal, and other services but will charge the guard for the expenses. The Guard will pay for janitorial services.  

The guard can’t use the port's fueling facility without a written agreement from the port because the state does not include fueling costs in leases. 

The lease was signed off by Washington State Military Department Assistant Director Richard Bushnell and Assistant State Attorney General Alex Straub. 

The port will lose $205,000 annually from current tenants at the Executive Flight building, including  several jet owners, Airlift Northwest, and engineering firm Ardurra. Kuntz said he expects Ardurra to move with Port employees from the Executive Flight Building to the Confluence Technology Center. 

The Port has 17 employees relocating to the Center in Olds Station.  

Kuntz said all furniture will stay in the Executive Flight building, except computers. 

He said it would be the easiest option, otherwise the Guard might want a discount in rent with furniture removed. He said it would likely cost $85,000 for new furniture for port employees. 

With all costs and revenue streams figured in, the Port will make a profit of $231,756 in the first year. “That's good for the airport," said Kuntz. “It’s not a lot, but it is what it is. We’ll net $231,000 and then rent goes up 3.5 percent a year.”  

In addition, a parcel could be purchased by the Guard from the port with the intention of building a 60,000 square foot hanger in the future. 

The Guard is planning to ask for up to $35 million in federal money to build the hangar on 28 acres near Pangborn. About 14-acres of the site is currently owned by Santa Cruz Farms with the remainder already belonging to the Port. 

The two parties are also exploring options for connecting water, power and other utilities to the proposed site. 


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