Friday, April 20, 2012

Search for airport chief starts

By ARJAY MORGAN | Special Correspondent
Published: April 20, 2012

ZEPHYRHILLS --   Longtime City Manager Steve Spina left one task undone when he turned over his duties to James Drumm: hiring a permanent manager for the city's airport. At the time of the transition, Nathan Coleman, a city water department supervisor, was serving as interim manager.

Drumm, the new city manager, had other priorities as he took over operation of the city, such as preparing the budget and getting acquainted with the city and its leaders. But he set a June deadline for hiring an airport manager, so the search is under way.

The city has a unique way of dealing with its airport. There is a Zephyrhills Municipal Airport Authority, its members appointed by individual council members, but the authority does not have the power to hire or fire airport employees. Its job is to oversee airport operations, set policies and priorities and report directly to the city council.

Airport employees work for the city, so they are hired and fired by the city manager, who also reports to the council but has sole responsibility for employees.

That's why Drumm was sitting at a side table in his office this week riffling through a modest stack of résumés and applications. Salary range for the manager is $52,426 to $78,624 a year. The candidates for the job had been winnowed down to four likely prospects.

One of them is Coleman, who is a licensed pilot and who has been plowing through the minutiae of airport operations since March 2011 when he was assigned the job by Spina, who had fired five-year manager Trina Sweet. His experience managing an airport is listed as managing the Zephyrhills airport.

Others on the short list are:

    Stephen Quilty of Lutz, who served as airport manager at Athens, Ga., and assistant manager at the Fayetteville, Ga., airport. He holds master's and bachelor's degrees, and he was a professor of aviation studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, from 1991 to 2008.

    Katherine Hale, San Antonio, Texas, whose last job was assistant airport manager in Kirkuk, Iraq. She holds a bachelor's degree in business from Texas Christian University and a master's degree from Regis University, Denver, Colo.

    Michael Handrahan, Winter Haven, who is an airport operations specialist at Lakeland-Linder airport. From 1983 to 2011, he was general aviation supervisor for Dade County.

Drumm says he plans to set up interviews the last week of April, "and then we'll see if there is a front-runner." If not, there might be a second round of interviews. He says he hopes to have a new manager on board "by the end of May or the first of June.


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