Sunday, April 20, 2014

Temporary operator leaves airport

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 6/21/2013

Though the Ottawa Municipal Airport is running without an operator at the controls, one city official said Friday that doesn’t mean the airport is stuck on auto pilot.

Bryce Rea, temporary fixed-base operator, wrapped up his stint Wednesday at the airport, 2178 Montana Road, Richard Nienstedt, Ottawa city manager, said. Meanwhile, the City of Ottawa is continuing its search for a permanent operator, he said.

Though the Ottawa Municipal Airport is running without an operator at the controls, one city official said Friday that doesn’t mean the airport is stuck on auto pilot.

Bryce Rea, temporary fixed-base operator, wrapped up his stint Wednesday at the airport, 2178 Montana Road, Richard Nienstedt, Ottawa city manager, said. Meanwhile, the City of Ottawa is continuing its search for a permanent operator, he said.

“We will continue to operate with the existing staff we have now,” Nienstedt said. “We are continuing our search for a permanent FBO, but we are being methodical in our approach. Once we enter into a contract [with a fixed-base operator], it would probably be for three to five years, so we want to make sure we get it right.”

The city is looking for a permanent operator to succeed Chuck LeMaster, 80, who resigned in mid-December 2012.

Rea, a December 2012 graduate of the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Mo., earned a Bachelor of Science degree in airport management, Nienstedt said. Rea had been at the airport since Jan. 24.

“Bryce agreed to help us out on a temporary basis, while he was looking for more stable employment in the Oswego area were he lives,” Nienstedt said. “I think he enjoyed his time with us, and he did an excellent job.”

Father and son Lloyd and Mark Switzer, who helped LeMaster operate the airport, agreed to stay to help run the facility, Nienstedt said previously.

City staff and representatives of the airport advisory board are expected to solicit fixed-base operators’ proposals, review each one, interview potential candidates and prepare an analysis of each proposal, which then will be submitted to the Ottawa City Commission for final approval.

In addition to finding a permanent operator, Nienstedt said the airport advisory board and city officials are looking at other ways to keep the airport moving forward.

“I’d like to see us build a maintenance hangar, extend the runway at some point, and I think we need to invest in jet fuel to generate more traffic and business,” Neinstedt said.

Ottawa city commissioners voted in October 2012 to annex about 54 acres of land at 2040 Montana Road, south of the airport, into the city limits for future runway expansion. The airport also underwent a runway reconstruction project from late March to late July 2012.

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