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U.S. Senate approves naming PTI air traffic control tower after Hagan
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U.S. Senate approves naming PTI air traffic control tower after Hagan

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Kay Hagan (copy)

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved Wednesday naming the new air traffic control tower at Piedmont Triad International Airport after former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who died late last year.

The legislation was introduced earlier this month and now goes to the U.S. House for approval.

The $61 million tower debuted in June 2019.

Hagan, a Democrat, served in the U.S. Senate from January 2009 to January 2015.

Hagan was nominated for the honor by North Carolina's Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, along with Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Hagan died Oct. 28 at her home in Greensboro of encephalitis, or brain inflammation, caused by a rare virus spread from ticks to humans, said her former Senate spokeswoman, Sadie Weiner.

Hagan contracted Powassan virus in late 2016, and the subsequent brain inflammation made speaking and walking difficult for her.

“Kay was committed to bringing federal funding to her home airport, and her support during and after her time in public office was a large part of the project’s success," Burr said.

One of Hagan's last public appearances took place on June 5, 2019, when she attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the tower. Hagan did not speak publicly but shared private greetings with well-wishers at the ceremony.

Airport Executive Director Kevin Baker considers Hagan's support pivotal in moving a project forward that wasn’t getting much attention in Washington.

Chip Hagan, Kay's husband, said during the tower dedication ceremony that she was especially proud of the work she did helping PTI to get the air traffic control tower so it can continue expanding.

“She was really committed to trying to do what she could for the airport while she was in office," he said.

News & Record reporter Richard Barron contributed to this article.

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