By Lauren Radomski

Elbow Lake — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) visited Elbow Lake Thursday to talk with residents and take in the city’s updated municipal airport, the recipient of about $2.4 million in federal and state funds.

“I do want to say this is the kind of rural project we’d like to see more of,” Klobuchar said from inside the Pride of the Prairie hanger.

Beginning in 1999, the airport board partnered with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Aeronautics in an effort to update the airport. With primary funding through the Federal Aviation Gas Tax, the airport is now home to new hangers, runway lighting and a 3,400-foot tar runway that replaced a 2,700-foot grass runway just a year ago.

“We’re really proud of the work that’s been done here at the airport,” Elbow Lake Mayor Ed Williams told Klobuchar Thursday.

“We wouldn’t have been able to begin this project if we hadn’t had the support of the grant monies. Being able to have an airport like this in Elbow Lake is a real asset.”

Though Klobuchar was not in Congress at the time the airport project began, she sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, as well as the Environment and Public Works Committee, Joint Economic Committee and Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

Klobuchar spent part of Thursday’s visit updating her audience on her first year in Congress and discussing some of the issues facing the country in 2008 — the war in Iraq, health care reform and transportation, for example. Another issue is renewable energy.

“This is a challenge but it’s also a huge opportunity for Minnesota,” Klobuchar said, citing the state’s wind and biofuel resources.

“We’re not an oil state,” she said of the U.S. “We can provide energy in a more efficient way, a better way.”

Klobuchar’s Elbow Lake stop came at the end of her “Main Street Tour” through communities in western and southwestern Minnesota, part of an effort to visit all 87 Minnesota counties in 2008, as she did in 2007.