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City worker will oversee airport

September 24, 2013
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - The job is posted.

Fairmont is accepting applications for an airport manager.

City administrator Mike Humpal told the City Council on Monday that he is anticipating interviews will be conducted in October, with the new position filled in November.

Like most airports its size, Fairmont Municipal Airport had been managed in the past by a contracted fixed-base operator - someone who runs a personal aviation-related business out of an airport - with the hopes that this person has an interest in seeing the airport succeed. Last month, the council approved terminating its contract with fixed-base operator Five Lakes Aviation and switching to a different model.

By having a city employee run the airport instead of contracting out the position, the city hopes to maintain better control of the facility.

Though the council previously approved adding an airport manager to the city's public works department, Councilman Terry Anderson voiced concerns Monday.

"If we're going to grow the airport, we need someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who can help the airport grow," he said, worrying that the limited hours of a city employee will result in poor customer service.

Owatonna and St. Paul have gone the route of hiring a city employee to manage their airports, and they have been able to attract fixed-base operators to help with fueling planes. The difference, Anderson said, is these facilities are much larger than Fairmont's airport.

"I think we're going to be revisiting this soon," he said.

Other council members voiced support for the plan to hire a city employee for the job.

"Mike understands the importance of this," said Wes Clerc. "... We all want it to be successful, and we realize what an important part the airport plays in the local economy."

Councilman Joe Kallemeyn agreed the new model will be a big change and that the council will need to keep a close eye on airport operations, but he also expressed confidence in Humpal's hiring abilities.

"We've done a good job with recent hires, just with looking at people in this room," he said.

In other business, the council:

o Approved an amendment to the zoning code to allow above-ground fuel tanks in B-3 general business district, I-1 light industrial district and B-3 general business district. Installation must be in accordance with Minnesota state fire code and Fairmont's zoning code. A mechanical permit is required for new installations.

o Approved the sale of a vacant lot at 501 N. Park St. for $2,500 to someone who wants to join her neighboring lot and build an addition and/or garage. The city purchased a blighted house in 2009 and had it demolished, and the lot has been vacant since, requiring the city to maintain the property.

o Approved a homecoming parade permit for 4 p.m. Oct. 4. The route will start at Ward Park and proceed north on Downtown Plaza, ending at Fourth Street.

o Set a public hearing on proposed assessments for the 2013 street improvement program for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at City Hall.

 
 

 

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