Sullivan plans to spend Fridays at Yampa Valley Regional Airport until new manager is hired
Steamboat Springs — Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said Monday that he has firmed up plans to fill the role of interim manager at Yampa Valley Regional Airport early this ski season himself.
Sullivan has begun the search for a replacement for former YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel, who resigned effective Nov. 5 after nine years here to accept a similar role at Front Range Airport east of Denver.
Sullivan previously told the Steamboat Today that he does not expect to have a replacement for Ruppel in place before Christmas, meaning the airport will be without a full-time chief administrator during one of the busiest periods of the ski season for YVRA.
Ruppel’s resignation, which was driven by the need to be closer to his wife and son living on the Front Range, came about two months after the retirement of Assistant Airport Manager Dean Smith in August.
The county already had decided not to replace Smith for austerity reasons.
“I’ll plan to spend part of every Friday at the airport, and I really feel confident that with the working relationships our employees have there, we’ll be fine,” Sullivan said. “They know what needs to be done.”
Sullivan added that he met with officials of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. last week to let them know about the county’s plans.
Commissioner Doug Monger said he has faith in the abilities of Maintenance Superintendent Todd Dubois, who is the lead manager taking care of air side snow removal, and of Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting/Public Safety Director Tyler Whitmore, a veteran in that role. The same is true, he said, of Business Manager Doris Mayhan, who will oversee airport contracts until a new airport manager is in place.
“I think we’re going to be fine,” Monger said.
Dubois appeared before the commissioners Monday to gain approval for a replacement part on a backup motorized sweeper that is used to clear light snow from the runway at the airport.
Monger pointed out that most of the airport functions that relate directly to passenger experience are handled by the airlines and rental car companies, for example. When flights into Steamboat don’t operate and ground transportation to Denver International Airport or Walker Field in Grand Junction must be arranged for passengers, the airlines handle those details.
However, Sullivan said he does have a backup plan. He told the county commissioners that former longtime Pitkin County manager Hilary Fletcher works in community planning for Jviation, the engineering firm that consults on long-range planning and FAA construction projects at YVRA. She is available to fill in temporarily at YVRA, with Jviation billing a daily rate, if the need arises, Sullivan said.
“That’s who I’ll call if I have a problem,” he said.
Hayden does not typically experience the full brunt of the harshest winter storms that impact Steamboat Springs, but should a major storm impact the airport, Sullivan said he anticipates the entire community would respond to the needs of stranded travelers.
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