Chairman: Airport is making changes necessary for future success

As a resident of Carson City for more than 32 years, this is the first time I've felt compelled to publicly respond to such an inflammatory commentary as posted by Bob Thomas (Sunday, Aug. 24).

As the current Chairman of the Airport Authority, I'd like to reflect on the facts (and not simply the emotion), surrounding recent events.

The Airport Authority is 100 percent self supporting and its volunteer members are not compensated. Since its creation in 1989, the CCAA has served the community and its patrons entirely by revenues generated from our airport, together with FAA grant funding for airport improvement projects.

In 2001, the CCAA developed its second Master Plan since 1988, which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors and accepted by the FAA. It includes not only much needed rehabilitation of aging infrastructure, but long awaited safety improvements, such as a realigned runway, wider taxiways, an instrument landing system as well as a new weather reporting station and other improvements.

The FAA began funding implementation of this plan in 2005 when the CCAA purchased additional land northeast of the airport for the realigned runway and new parallel taxiway. This year, the FAA offered Carson City the funds (together with the required 5 percent match from the CCAA) necessary to remove the hill on the northeast side of the airport, which is a serious safety hazard for pilots landing on Runway 27.

When the balance of the improvements are implemented (scheduled for 2011) the FAA and the CCAA will have invested close to $30M in an effort to not only improve safety, but preserve and enhance our airport as an economic engine for the entire community well into the future.

With construction nearing completion on the largest privately funded hangar complex in the airport's history and another similar project about ready to begin, our airport is beginning to see renewed economic development as a result of the Master Plan.

Now to the issue of the Airport Manager, Yvon Weaver.

It's the responsibility of the CCAA to evaluate, from time to time, the vision and strategic plan for the airport. Hundreds of hours were committed to the Master Plan and the future planning of our airport. Re-assessing resources is a routine responsibility. This requires re-evaluating positions to ensure duties and responsibilities support the strategic plan. The CCAA has reassessed the airport's legal counsel, recording secretary and is currently undergoing a review of our airport engineer. It is appropriate that the role of the most important position on our airport, the airport manager, also be re-evaluated!

Mr. Thomas accused the CCAA of a "carefully orchestrated plot." What he neglected to mention was that Mrs. Weaver was not asked to resign, nor was she replaced. She was given a professional courtesy call informing her of an item to be agendized calling for public discussion. At my request, Supervisor Richard Staub, (who has maintained a very good working relationship with Mrs. Weaver over the many years he's served on the CCAA Board), spoke to her prior to this item appearing on the agenda. I did not want Mrs. Weaver to read anything more into this item than what was being proposed. Mr. Staub informed her this item was not about her or her job performance, but simply to allow the Board to discuss in an open meeting the various aspects of considering a full time airport manager versus a part time position.

Richard Staub is not "leading the charge," did not ask for her resignation nor did he terminate or violate her contract. Mrs. Weaver chose to resign at the end of that conversation. Mr. Thomas has forgotten that none of the seven board members on the CCAA have the autonomy to make such a unilateral decision as replacing staff members. It still requires a vote of the majority.

To my knowledge, Mr. Thomas has not attended a CCAA meeting in more than three years. Had he attended a meeting, he would know that Mr. Sullivan is the Citizen-At-Large and not the "City" appointment.

Mr. Thomas, why didn't you take advantage of the August 20 meeting to engage in some constructive dialog on this issue? How sad that your MO is to hide behind your written commentary in the newspaper. Obviously, you allow your emotion to dictate your opinion with no consideration of the facts or an understanding of how the airport has evolved. What worked well 15 years ago may not mean it works well in today's changing environment. To not be willing to "re-evaluate" from time to time promotes complacency and that's not healthy for any organization and certainly not what the airport community should tolerate.

Had you been at the meeting, you would have learned that the only decision made was to have a subcommittee evaluate the benefits of a full-time salaried airport manager as well as what the skill sets should be for the new demands of the Master Plan. None of us know what the final outcome will be. But I can assure you that this discussion will be brought back to an open meeting of the CCAA. Mr. Thomas, I hereby extend my personal invitation for your attendance at this open public meeting.

So long as I'm the Chairman of this Authority, this Board will continue to professionally, objectively and legally address the issues affecting the airport and will remain committed to implementing the Master Plan while moving this airport into the 21st Century.

The Carson City Airport has a very exciting and prosperous future ahead. We collectively have a responsibility to ensure the airport's sound fiscal management as well as the safety of those in and around our airport.


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