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Gary airport hires former schools treasurer for finance position

Updated: November 14, 2012 10:18PM



GARY — Gary/Chicago International Airport is set to offer a former Gary Community School Corp. business services executive director and corporate treasurer its finance manager position.

The Airport Authority voted 5-0, with members Ross Amundson and Robert Poparad absent, to hire Carolyn Keith of Gary for the $74,000 position. Keith replaces Nikki Thorn, who left in September.

Keith has “stellar credentials,” said board member Roosevelt Allen, who was on the committee who interviewed eight candidates for the position. Recently the business manager for the Dolton Elementary School District #148 in Riverdale, Ill., Keith has also held senior positions with the Federal Reserve and Beatrice Cos. Inc.

The board instructed Interim Airport Director Steve Landry to offer Keith the position Tuesday.

The airport also received a plan from consultant John Clark of JClark Aviation that would move the airport toward self-sufficiency should some catastrophic, unforseen event moneywise happen to it. The plan would establish annual sum targets, and rates and charges models so that the airport would be able to sustain a hit such as the city of Chicago pulling out of the compact, if that were to ever happen. Current rates wouldn’t go up, for example, if nothing changed during the year, according to Clark.

“Chicago can give us six-months notice (that it’s pulling out), and we would have to figure out how to replace that money,” Clark said.

As it stands, the airport is supported by hangar rents and associated fees and charges, such as landing fees and fuel charges, as well as $1 million per year from the compact. Another portion comes from property taxes.

The board is expected to take up and vote on the plan at its Nov. 25 meeting.

Clark said plans are also in the works to establish in writing that Gary is the third Chicago airport because even though the fact is understood within the compact, it’s not written. Doing so would help solidify Gary’s position as the area’s low-cost provider.

“It gives us a competitive edge for commercial carriers,” Clark said.

To that end, board Vice President the Rev. Marion Johnson instructed Clark to remind City of Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino of the airport’s need for carriers.

“Soon, (O’Hare and Midway) are going to be filled when aviation comes back,” he said. “We want to keep (Gary) fresh in their minds.”

In other business, Clark said he would continue visiting the Federal Aviation Administration’s Chicago office and travel to Washington to keep in the forefront the airport’s letter of intent to receive $24 million in additional funding toward the runway expansion. Talks continue to look promising, Clark said, but if the airport is eligible, the timeframe for receiving the funds remains unclear.



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