As work progresses on the Williston Basin International Airport terminal building, a fundraising effort is underway to make the interior of the building just as welcoming as the exterior.

The Williston Convention and Visitors Bureau is leading the effort to raise money to purchase equipment for an indoor playground, as well as artwork for the airport's terminal. The group says the addition of the playground and artwork will add to the overall ambiance of the new airport, bringing an artistic quality to the project. The CVB is looking to raise $2 million for the project by March 31, with about $25,000 of that already secured.

"We are utilizing local, state and federal funding to build a $250 million terminal that will be architecturally stunning," Williston City Commissioner Deanette Piesik said. "We are seeking support from private donors to ensure the inside of the airport is on par with the exterior."

Piesik said she is hopeful that the art and play area will be completed in time for the grand opening of the new airport, which is slated for October 2019. Piesik said a committee was formed in 2015 to assist with XWA's interior, and that the group was looking to create an interactive, educational play area within the terminal. The area would be not only be a place for kids to use up some energy before their flight, but would also be a welcoming sight to new families coming to the area.

"We really want the children's play area to be a place where kids can burn calories before they get on the plane," Piesik said. "The children's area has really been our primary focus. As we have so many young families coming to the area, if that's their first experience into our community, we want them to see that the airport is reflective of the community, that this is a place for young families."

The playground will follow along with the Western North Dakota theme, which will be used throughout the rest of the terminal. One piece of art has already been donated, Piesik added, and she hopes other area businesses and private collectors will consider donating or loaning large-scale artwork for the terminal's walls and walkways.

"Equinor has given us a large bronze ranching sculpture, and we have some very generous donations coming in." she said. "We are organizing an art committee that will seek suitable projects from local artists, Williston State College students and area high schools. We are planning to work up a rotation, so we can showcase different types of art throughout the year. We are confident the public will help us make this a first-class airport."

If you'd like to donate to the project, cash donations will be accepted through the North Dakota Petroleum Council Foundation and the Northwest North Dakota Community Foundation, with donors asked to designate gifts to the XWA Project. For any other donations, contact the Williston Convention and Visitors Bureau at 701-770-9041.

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