Saturday, July 29, 2017

New manager named for Stanly County Airport (KVUJ)

Stanly County leaders didn’t have to look too far for the next airport director, since he was already on the premises.

Ken Swaringen, a Stanly County native and resident of Norwood, starts as the newest airport director on Monday. Swaringen, 66, retired from the Air National Guard with 28 years of service. In fact, he was part of the first ANG unit to partake in exercises at the Stanly County Airport.

“I’ve always felt the airport is one of the gems of Stanly County,” Swaringen said. “There are a lot of things going for Stanly County at the airport.”

The Air National Guard’s increased presence at the airport has been a vital part of its development over the last 20 years. Stanly’s partnership with the ANG has led to a number of significant improvements at the airport, such as a radar system, control tower, two parallel runways, extended runways and a fire department.

Those additions make Stanly’s airport one of the more unique facilities for general aviation in the state, Swaringen said.

Because of the significance in the relationship between the ANG and the airport, county authorities wanted its new manager to be familiar with Guard practices and well respected in military circles.

“We needed someone who can continue the relationship with the N.C. Air National Guard that David Griffin (retired airport manager) held down,” said Mike Harwood, chairman of the Airport Authority. “Ken is going to do a good job for us.”

As the ANG prepares for a new direction with the introduction of the C-17, an aircraft set to replace the workhorse C-130, the conversion will mean changes at the airport, too.

“Our biggest challenge is staying on pace with their (ANG) missions,” Swaringen said.

In addition to strengthening the relationship with ANG, Swaringen hopes to extend the airport’s training-friendly assets to other military branches.

Other opportunities exist, too. Swaringen said the airport needs to expand its commercial services as well. There are opportunities for expansion with hangars, flight schools and tenants along with a nearby industrial park.

However, part of that realization relies on the addition of broadband.

“It all ties together,” Swaringen added.

Swaringen has been working at the airport as a private contractor that fields an office at the terminal. Since 2013, he has been working as the operations manager of Secure Canopy. The company provides integrated security solutions, including video surveillance, access control systems and structured wiring.

He replaces David Griffin, who retired last month as the airport manager after more than 32 years at the helm.

As airport manager, Swaringen will earn $65,000 annually. Another $9,500 has been appropriated for Griffin to provide part-time assistance with Swaringen’s assistance, according to human resources.

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