The fate of Huron County Airport and its potential manager is up in the air.
Airport manager Sandy Gordley, the only paid staff at the county-owned facility, is poised to retire from what she calls a thankless job.
“I’m not pointing fingers,” she said Tuesday after an airport board meeting. “It’s just unfortunate.”
A contract between the airport and Gordley’s company, the Norwalk Ohio Flying Association, will expire at month’s end.
Airport board president Dennis Sokol proposed hiring Gordley on a part-time basis starting Oct. 1, an arrangement that could last for six months.
Gordley, 67, a longtime pilot and off-and-on manager at the airport since 1998, has her plane up for sale and plans to move to Florida.
She’s asked that she be allowed to fly south in the winter — January through March — a request Sokol said may be fulfilled since Gordley can attend to most of her duties remotely during those slow months.
While she may leave the airport business entirely, Gordley said she’s considered some consulting work for other airports seeking grants.
Sokol said he wants the board to have a chance to consider the proposal, then meet again next week to discuss it.
Gordley would then have to accept the terms of a new agreement, which would include working about 20 hours a week at half of her $40,000 salary.
Sokol said the board would ideally replace her with someone who operates as both an airport manager and runs a mechanical service — essentially operating independently while leasing land from the county.
At a minimum, the airport needs someone to fulfill basic revenue-generating duties — selling fuel, renting hangars and paying bills.
There are a few alternatives, Sokol said, such as running the airport without hired employees and a board only, the way the island airports are run.
Another possibility: Use an intern from a college airport training program.
Sokol said he’d like to discuss the options sometime next week in an executive session, since it involves personnel.
But at Tuesday’s meeting, Carl Essex, of the county highway department, said a closed session would likely violate open meeting laws because discussing Gordley’s contract is tantamount to discussing a contract with an outside company.
Sokol said he would consult with the county prosecutor before scheduling the meeting.
In the meantime, the board will meet again soon to discuss the future of the airport — a topic hotly debated by county commissioners and others in recent months.
Officials scheduled a public meeting for 10:30 a.m. Sept. 28 in the county administration building, Room B, to come up with a “workable solution” for the future of the airport.
The county has significantly decreased its contributions to the airport in recent years, and officials have questioned whether the small airport has enough income to stay afloat.
Commissioners aren’t required to fund it, and said they ultimately want it to become self-sufficient.
Through Sept. 7, the airport reported total expenses of $117,144 and total income of $103,472. The airport’s main sources of income are fuel sales, which totaled $66,381 so far this year, and hangar rentals, which totaled $27,282.