Friday, December 13, 2013

Edgar County (KPRG), Paris, Illinois: Manager at airport is out

EDGAR COUNTY Board members Dan Bruner, left, and Jeff Voigt, right, discuss appointing Dale Barkley as interim manager of the Edgar County Airport following the resignation of Jimmy Wells from the post.

A letter of resignation from Jimmy Wells, Edgar County Airport Manager, was accepted Wednesday morning by the Edgar County Board. 

His resignation was effective immediately upon the board’s acceptance.

In his letter, Wells expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve the airport for 25 years as a member of the advisory board and for the last few years as the part-time manager.

He said it is time for another person to move the airport forward. In particular is an Illinois Department of Transportation Grant for more than $800,000 to expand the airport’s apron plus relocate and increase the size of the fuel depot.

The past year was a tumultuous one for Wells as a public and community dividing effort was made by some on the airport advisory board to eject RSB Aviation from the airport’s main hangar.

Rusty Bogue, owner of RSB, leased the hangar to operate a multifaceted aviation business. Bogue died Aug. 27, 2013, when his plane failed takeoff and crashed in a wooded area near the airport.

Two non-flying planes associated with RSB were destroyed by arson in November.

Well’s resignation prompted a meeting at 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, of the county board’s airport committee.

The committee discussed appointing Dale Barkley as interim manager at the airport. Barkley received his pilot’s license in 1962 and has served on the airport advisory board since 2008.

Karl Farnham Jr. explained Barkley agreed to serve as an interim to give the county an opportunity to search for a long-term replacement.

“He made it clear it is short-term, but I’m not sure how short short-term is,” said Farnham.

He added, “I’ve talked with Dale and Jimmy, and they can work together. Jimmy has pledged his cooperation. I think this will be a smooth transition.”

Jeff Voigt agreed an interim appointment is a reasonable approach at this time.

He said Barkley’s experience gained as the interim will be a valuable asset as the airport committee creates a job description for the new manager.

Voigt expressed confidence in Barkley but also expressed concern lest he become overwhelmed early on in the new duties.

“We need to offer the interim assistance with the FOIAs,” Voigt said, regarding Freedom of Information Act requests. “If he gets buried in FOIAs, he will never get off the ground. We have nothing to hide, but people need to understand the staff shortage and the health, safety and operation are prime concerns of the airport.”

Following the committee meeting, the county board met again and accepted the recommendation to hire Barkley as the interim airport manager.

Farnham said the next part of the process is negotiating time and compensation with Barkley. He did not know Wednesday afternoon when Barkley would begin his new duties.

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