Sale of Airport Could Clear Way for Iron-Ore Smelter

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Remember the controversy last year surrounding a proposed iron-ore smelter in Crystal City?

I do, but then that's because I spent weeks journeying to Jefferson County to report on a citizens group's effort to derail the project despite the wishes of City Hall and developer Jim Kennedy of Wings Enterprises.

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The citizens lost their fight when city officials approved the deal this past January, but the smelter issue isn't dead. Not yet anyway. The development still needs easy access to Interstate 55.

Part of that puzzle could be solved tonight when the Festus City Council is expected to vote on the sale of its municipal airport.

The airport -- along with an assemblage of other properties -- could provide a quick route from the smelter to the interstate.

Wings Enterprises is one of the bidders for the 60-acre airport facility, which has been appraised at $2.2 million. The other suitor is a group of investors calling themselves Citizens for Airport Economic Expansion (CAEE). As its name suggests, the group wants the property to remain an airport.

I'll have an update Thursday.

- Chad Garrison

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