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Search begins for Apalachicola airport manager

A new interim manager, a good year for airplane traffic and a plan to bring in someone with an eye towards attracting business, are what’s going on at the Apalachicola Regional Airport.

Ted Mosteller, selected as interim manager June 1 after the resignation of Airport Manager Jason Puckett, offered a detailed report on what was needed to at the airport in terms of maintenance.

The commissioners examined the details and largely approved his suggestions.

They also said OK to interim contract, at $1,500 a month, with Mosteller until Sept. 30, at which time the county would like to have a permanent replacement on board.

County Coordinator Michael Moron offered an overview of Mosteller’s duties, which the commission unanimously approved. His actions would be subject to approval by the commissioners, and would include amending the airport layout plan, entering into contracts or leases, or applying for any grants.

Any charges by Mosteller on county accounts would require either approval by commissioners or by staff.

After Commissioner Bert Boldt had moved for his hiring, and Jessica Ward had seconded the motion two weeks ago, Commissioners Noah Lockley and Smokey Parrish had said no to Mosteller’s hiring, preferring Moron handle it until a successor to Puckett had been hired.

Moron proposed Tuesday that to draw up a scope of work, and a monthly fee for a permanent airport manager, a committee made up of Mosteller, Erin Griffith, the county’s fiscal manager; and Andrew Hartman, owner of the airport’s fixed base operator, Centric Aviation, be set up to make a recommendation on those terms.

The commissioners asked that it be presented them prior to the start of budget workshops in late July.

Lockley asked that the position of airport manager include a condition that he or she would succeed at attracting business.

Boldt added that the successful candidate be able to develop a strong relationship with The Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Authority, and have “the historical credentials to develop all of that.”

Commission Chair Ricky Jones suggested that a realistic compensation package be put together. “You add enough qualifications there, you better talk about a different dollar figure,” he said.

“It will be worth it if they put people to work,” Lockley said.

Following a strong report on the traffic numbers at the airport by Hartman’s partner in the business, Tara Maugham,  Lockley  spoke of the need to develop the airport’s business park.

“We need jobs, a lot of them,” he said. “There’s nothing going on and something need to be going on over there. It’s too big an area and no work.”

Centric, Maugham told the board, needs to fill four open positions, airport refuelers and customer service reps. “We’re actively looking for people,” she said.

She said so far this year, 1,985 flights have deplaned there, with 1,100 of them revenue-producing. She said 14 percent are from local pilots, and 86 percent visitors, One-quarter of the flights are jet traffic.

“We’re seeing good positive numbers,” she said.

She said in May, there were 221 revenue producing flights, with 410 passengers deplaning, roughly accounting for 13 visitors per day coming to the airport. She said the airport has produced $30,865 in revenue year to date, and $5,514 in May.

While they have no direct say in the newly-created committee to shape the airport manager position, the Friends of the Apalachicola Regional Airport group has outlined a list of what it believes should be priorities.
“There are still many critical airport issues that need to be addressed – the Master Plan update,” wrote chairman Gordon Hunter, in an email to the group. “The location of the proposed Emergency Operations Center that could potentially interfere with the north/south runway protection zones, the oversight of a new fuel farm grant, clearing vegetation crowding the north/south runway to remove a ‘utility’ status, promoting the establishment of a citizen aviation/airport board, and correcting maintenance issues at the airport.”

It appears at least one of these items – maintenance, has been addressed by both Centric and Mosteller.

Maugham outlined two pieces of landscaping equipment that had recently been purchased, and said that scheduled maintenance on all equipment is being actively pursued.

Mosteller asked for the commission to address runway lights, a generator and a storm sewer, and all three were agreed to by commissioners.

“Since Ring Power quoted some $7,000 to retrofit/repair the control system, after

the hurricane, I have been able to manually manipulate cranking it, until the battery completely died at the first of the year,” Mosteller told them. “Problems include the electronic control board and control sensors (which I was able to patch or bypass) and the injector pump, some $2,000. Ring Power estimates total repairs up to $10,000.”

At the West Ramp storm sewer system, which was re-built in 2008, a sink hole has opened up on the edge of the ramp, Mosteller said. Fill dirt is being brought in by the road department.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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