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Members of new Gary airport board announced

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilssecond from left named new Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority appointees Friday including AlesiPritchett left Michael Doyne. Denise Dillard

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, second from left, named new Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority appointees Friday including Alesia Pritchett, left, Michael Doyne. Denise Dillard, right, is the Lake County appointee. Appointees Shontrai Irving and James Cooper did not attend the press conrference. | Carole Carlson | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 1, 2013 6:48AM



GARY — The new Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority board began taking shape Friday with the announcement of six new members.

The seven-member board will be complete when the Porter County Board of Commissioners makes its appointment, possibly on Tuesday.

A new state law calls for the members to take office Sunday.

Gov. Mike Pence named Luke Oil Co. president Thomas M. Collins Sr. of Valparaiso to a four-year term on the board as its president. Collins’ company also owns County Line Orchards in Hobart.

“With nearly 30 years of first-hand economic development experience in Northwest Indiana, Tom Collins Sr. has the skills and unique perspective necessary to lead the Gary/Chicago International Airport Board,” Pence said.

At a press conference at the airport, Freeman-Wilson named Gary residents James Cooper, Michael Doyne, Shontrai Irving and Alesia Pritchett as her appointees. In addition, she announced Denise Dillard of Gary as the Lake County Board of Commissioners’ appointee.

Cooper is vice president-account manager at JP Morgan Chase in Chicago. Freeman-Wilson said Cooper has experience in data analysis, external regulatory reporting and auditing.

Doyne, a previous board member from 2004 to 2009, is president of Doyne’s Marine Inc. in Portage. He is a certified pilot for light sport aircraft.

Irving is an attorney for State Farm Insurance in Crown Point. He is a former Lake County deputy prosecutor.

Pritchett is the director of business services/grant management for the School City of Hammond. She’s a certified public accountant who previously headed business services at Gary Community School Corp.

Dillard is vice president of government and external affairs at Methodist Hospitals.

“These are smart people, that’s why I chose them,” Freeman-Wilson said of her appointees.

Freeman-Wilson said although the names weren’t announced publicly until Friday, the new members have been working behind the scenes, reviewing data and proposals from companies vying to become the airport’s manager through a public-private partnership.

“They’ve been doing their homework for the past 60 days or so,” she said.

Ten companies have submitted proposals and the organization selected by the airport board is expected to invest more than $100 million in the next 15 to 25 years.

On Sept. 9, the new airport board will receive one or more recommendations from an ad hoc committee that has been studying the proposals. Freeman-Wilson said the board will likely take a vote that same day. Officials hope a deal can be finalized with the new airport manager by the end of the year.

The ad hoc committee plans to review the proposals in a 9 a.m. Friday meeting at the airport and could announce its preference at that time.

The airport lost its lone commercial passenger airline last month when Allegiant Air halted service to Sanford, Fla.

Meanwhile, completion of the long-awaited $166 million runway extension project has been delayed until sometime next year after the discovery of ground contamination in July.



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