Sunday, November 11, 2018

Mount Airy-Surry County Airport manager hired at $56,892

DOBSON — A manager has been hired to oversee operations at Mount Airy-Surry County Airport on behalf of the county government.

County officials announced the appointment of George Crater Thursday. He has been employed as planning director with the town of Elkin since 2006, a role including responsibility for management and oversight of Elkin Municipal Airport.

Crater’s salary in the new position will be $56,892 annually.

“He’ll start full-time Jan. 1,” Assistant County Manager Sandra Snow, who handles human resources functions, said Friday.

The appointment of the airport manager is part of a recent trend of county government becoming more involved in the operations of the facility located in the Holly Springs community.

This stems from a shakeup of its governing board, the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Authority, in May 2017. That’s when all five members of the Surry County Board of Commissioners replaced members of the authority with themselves after an audit review of airport operations.

Since then, the authority has been operated as a blended component unit within Surry County government, including the relinquishing of day-to-day management and fiscal oversight to the county.

Traditionally, the management of the airport has been contracted out to a third party, a fixed-based operator (FBO), a role filled by Ra-Tech Aviation in the recent past.

With the hiring of Crater, Ra-Tech will remain in that capacity at the airport, providing aeronautical services such as fueling, common hangar space, tie-down and parking, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction and others.

The airport manager will have a different set of responsibilities, Snow explained Friday, which are more administrative in nature and reflect the increased county government involvement in the facility.

Commissioner Larry Phillips, who represents the Mount Airy district, describes the new job as compatible with a department-head position.

While it represents a first for Mount Airy-Surry County Airport, the presence of a manager is mirrored at airports in other counties that have a similar operational structure, according to Phillips. “It’s not uncommon,” he said Friday.

Snow echoed that.

“After the airport authority changed over (to the county), we made numerous visits to airports throughout the state,” she said of Surry representatives. “And it was the model most airports used.”

Snow added that Ra-Tech Aviation “does a great job” as the fixed-based operator.

Commissioner Phillips also said the appointment of Crater does not reflect any problems with the present operation of the local airport.

“I don’t think it’s reactive; I think it’s proactive for the long-term plans that we have for the airport and future growth,” he said of county officials. “It’s the right move to make.”

Funding for Crater’s position was included in the 2018-2019 county budget, Snow said. “We’ve been advertising it since Aug. 1.”

Four people applied for the job.

Increased focus

Crater’s airport oversight experience includes short- and long-range planning for general aviation challenges, directing administrative and financial activities, new hangar development, capital improvement programs, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and North Carolina Division of Aviation (DOA) grant compliance and coordinating with engineering firms.

The incoming manager has additional experience county officials say will be beneficial in his role as airport manager.

This includes public relations with airport tenants, stormwater administration, serving as a member of the Northwest Piedmont Rural Planning Organization Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC), land-use planning and code enforcement and experience as a volunteer firefighter with the Elkin Fire Department.

Crater graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a B.S. degree in business administration/economics. He also holds a certificate in municipal administration from the School of Government at the UNC Chapel Hill.

“I would like to welcome George to our team, and we look forward to working with him,” County Manager Chris Knopf said in a statement. “His experience in public-sector airport management will bring much-needed day-to-day oversight to the airport’s operations.”

“I am looking forward to this opportunity of working with Surry County and surrounding municipalities,” Crater said in a statement. “It is exciting to be involved in the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport program and all the projected growth.”

“The aviation program is and will continue to be an asset to many surrounding communities — again, I am excited for this opportunity Surry County has given me.”

Original article can be found here ➤

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