The days of three simple letters standing for Lubbock International Airport could be numbered. Instead, it could soon be LPSIA. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but many think city recognition for former Governor Preston Smith, who passed away last October, is long overdue.
Not all agree however. At Monday's city council meeting, Lubbock resident George Scott got up and said, "I don't agree with changing the name to Preston Smith Airport." Of all the people at the meeting, Scott was the only one to speak out against renaming Lubbock's Airport in honor of Preston E. Smith. He says, "I've never seen him in East Lubbock for anything."
Monday, Scott found himself amongst a sea of people who think otherwise. One speaker asked everyone there in favor of renaming the airport to stand up and a crowd of about 40 people did. Another speaker said, "He was truly one of us. He was a West Texan made from the soil and dust in this area." Representative Delwin Jones said, "Lubbock has such a tremendous debt to this particular person."
All the support overwhelmed Preston Smith's daughter, granddaughter and son in law. Some of the kind words spoken were from people they'd never even met. Jan Taylor, Preston Smith's daughter, told NewsChannel 11, "There's just no question. It's a deserved honor." Lauren Burch, Preston Smith's Granddaughter, said, "He always just wanted to be one of everybody. He didn't care what color you were, what you looked like. He was a friend no matter what."
George Scott isn't sold. He still remembers Preston Smith for owning segregated theaters in Lubbock. He questions why a man who already has a school, and a prison named after him, plus a statue on the Texas Tech campus should also see his name raised high at what is currently LIA. He says, "I'm not going to change just because the ex-governor and his daughter and all these people say. He's still a... I could use some words I don't want to use now."
Whether you support changing LIA's name to honor Preston Smith or not, there is a bit of irony to behold. Smith's granddaughter told NewsChannel 11, all the children called him by the nickname "Way," short for up, up and away, a term he used on airplanes with his grandchildren and "Way" just stuck.
The City Council will vote on a second reading of the name change proposal on the October 28th and it's likely it will take weeks or months to actually see the new name at the airport if it is passed. That's mostly because it takes time and money to change all the signage. To update all the road signs and signs at the airport could cost up to $171,000.