The cornerstone and a time capsule was installed at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony led by Fremont resident Rick Myers, grand master of the Masons of Nebraska.

The cornerstone ceremony was for the new airport terminal, which had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony in April 2016. At the Central Nebraska Regional Airport, time flies.

Wednesday’s ceremony was attended by Mike Olson, executive director of the Central Nebraska Regional Airport; most members of the Hall County Airport Authority; the general public and by Masons from around the state of Nebraska. Masons traditionally participate in cornerstone and dedication ceremonies for churches and buildings used for worship, for schools and buildings used to promote education, for buildings used by charitable purposes and for buildings used for the administration of “justice and free government.”

Myers said that during cornerstone ceremonies, Masons “use the tools of the building trades” to help teach moral and ethical lessons. He said those symbols include the square, which teach about morality; the level, which teaches about equality; and by the plumb, which teaches about rectitude of conduct. He noted in the original ceremony, cornerstones would be lowered into the ground to serve as the starting point for the building.

Myers said the cornerstone also symbolizes the same three thoughts: Perfect morality, perfect equality and perfect rectitude.

A square, a level and a plumb were handed out to three different Masons. One-by-one, each Mason was called forward to use his instrument to measure the cornerstone, with the first person pronouncing that the cornerstone was square, the second person saying it was level and the third person saying it was plumb. Each person ended his individual pronouncement by saying “the craftsmen have done their duty.”

Corn, wine and oil were individually poured over the cornerstone in a symbolic consecration of the granite marker. Members of the Hall County Airport participated in the ceremony by symbolically applying mortar to the cornerstone.

Although the cornerstone rituals help dedicate a new building and point to all the hopes that the new structure represents, Wednesday’s ceremony also honored the airport’s storied past. The very first dedication took place on Sept. 27, 1937, when the facility was known as Arrasmith Field in honor of Dr. W.W. Arrasmith.

The airfield was commandeered by the U.S. Army during World War II, with the airport going by the name of Grand Island Army Airfield. In 1948, the airfield returned to the city, operating as the Grand Island Municipal Airfield. In 1964, the U.S. Air Force took over the airport, making many improvements to the facility through 1968, when the Air Force deactivated the airfield as a military operation.

Two years later, in 1970, Hall County assumed governance of airport via the Hall County Airport Authority. Eventually, the airport’s name was changed to Central Nebraska Regional Airport.

In 2017, the Central Nebraska Regional Airport had just over 69,000 passenger boardings. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new $14 million passenger terminal was in April 2016, so the second anniversary of that occasion is fast approaching. That means while the terminal is new, it is no longer brand-new.

Even as the cornerstone ceremony was concluding, a view of the airport parking lot showed that more changes are coming: The airport is scheduled to implement paid parking later this month. Although all the barrier arms were placed in a vertical position on Wednesday, those arms are scheduled to soon become operational so they can be lowered and raised as part of the new paid parking system.

The first 90 minutes of parking will be free to allow family and friends be with airline passengers either before and after their flights. The 90 minutes of free parking also will allow people to eat at Afternooners Restaurant without paying a parking fee. The charges will then go to $5 per day for the east parking lot nearest the terminal and $3 per day for the west parking lot, according to one of the pages on the Central Nebraska Regional Airport website.

Reporter

I have covered local education issues for The Independent since January 1990 and have worked for The independent since 1978.

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