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Airport Authority chief resigns

Thomas M. Collins Sr. CEO president Luke Oil appointed as president Gary/Chicago International Airport board Aug. 30 2013. Collins resigned

Thomas M. Collins Sr., CEO and president of Luke Oil, appointed as president of the Gary/Chicago International Airport board Aug. 30, 2013. Collins resigned effective Jan. 26, 2014, on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. | Photo provided

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Text of Collins resignation letter:

I wish to resign as Chairman of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority Board effective January 26, 2013.

It has been a pleasure serving as the Governor’s appointed Chairman. I have enjoyed the challenges, learned much, and forged many new friendships during my brief tenure. However as our business continues to aggressively grow I find it increasingly difficult to balance my time and effort efficiently among my various responsibilities.

With the new board that began in September the Airport is moving in a good direction with experienced management and oversight.

I will gladly make myself available to assist a new Chairman in a smooth transition. I thank you for having this unique opportunity to serve the State of Indiana.

Collins on City of Gary YouTube video

Updated: February 5, 2014 6:03AM



GARY — Gary Chicago International Airport Authority President Tom Collins Sr. has resigned from the board, effective Jan. 26.

In a letter to Gov. Mike Pence’s office, Collins cited the difficulty in balancing his work as president and chief executive officer at Luke Oil and his board responsibilities as the reason. A Gary native, Collins, who now lives in Valparaiso, was appointed by Pence in August.

“It has been a pleasure serving as the Governor’s appointed Chairman. I have enjoyed the challenges, learned much, and forged many new friendships during my brief tenure,” Collins wrote. “However as our business continues to aggressively grow, I find it increasingly difficult to balance my time and effort efficiently among my various responsibilities.”

Luke Oil also owns County Line Orchard in Hobart.

Should an appointment not be made, however, Authority Vice Chairman James Cooper will serve as chairman, so Collins’ resignation won’t have any effect on decisions made with regard to the plan to take the airport into a public-private partnership, of which the board will conduct its first reading at its Jan. 13 meeting, according to Airport spokesman James Ward.

Collins made it clear in the last meeting that he was dissatisfied with the agreement’s terms, though he supports it in general.

“We would be entering into a 40-year deal where a development model wouldn’t be presented for a year; as a businessman, I wouldn’t go into an agreement like that,” Collins said. “I would hope for more specifics before entering into an agreement.”

AFCO/AvPorts, which operates all over the country, is the private operator.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she doesn’t think Collins’ concerns about the agreement have anything to do with his resignation, but rather that the job itself is a lot for anyone.

“There are a number of responsibilities, more so now than in the past,” she said. “With the expansion, the P3 process, the environmental cleanup and meeting with the railroads, there’s so much even between board meetings. It’s a very demanding position, and while we’re certainly disappointed in losing him, we understand and wish him the best.”

With Collins’ resignation effective Jan. 26, Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said the governor’s office expects to have a new appointee by then. Collins said in his letter he would help the new chairman with the transition.



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