2014-02-06 / Front Page

County continues manager search

Airport manager selected in Dec. backs out, new candidate in line

MANISTIQUE – After voting in December to hire a new airport manager, the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners is once again on the hunt for someone to fill the vacancy. The position had previously been shared by two employees who opted not to reapply for the position under a new county policy requiring all contractual employees to submit an application yearly.

During last Thursday’s meeting of the board, Commissioner Craig Reiter reported the new employee selected to head the Schoolcraft County Airport, downstate resident Jim Oberholtzer, is now unable to take the position.

“Things are not working out as he had planned,” Reiter explained. “It looks like we’re going to have to move on.”

Reiter had initially proposed Oberholtzer as a candidate, following the county’s second attempt to secure applicants. The county’s first advertisement for the position went unanswered and Reiter brought resident Devin Lawrence to the county meeting following the posting in hopes of having the commissioners agree to make him manager. The other commissioners decided since Lawrence had expressed interest after the call for applications deadline passed, and the manager contract had not yet been updated, a second advertisement must be posted.

Now that the second candidate is not a viable option, Reiter said Thursday that he had spoken with another potential candidate, whom he and Commissioner Jerry Zellar – as members of the airport committee – will soon interview.

“It looks very promising,” Reiter said.

The candidate currently lives in Negaunee and works at an airport there, as well as in Escanaba, as a mechanic. Reiter said the candidate is also a flight instructor and would be able to step in this week.

“He’s ready to go,” Reiter said. “He knows the traveling that’s involved. He knows what’s involved in being an airport manager … he would be a great asset to the airport.”

Zellar said he has “kind of a contingency plan” until the new manager is able to fulfill his duties. He indicated he had spoken with Steven Videtich, supervisor of the county’s building and grounds department, and asked if Videtich’s employees could maintain and plow at the airport until another manager is in place.

The county road commission has been taking on the task, Zellar said, and has gone “above and beyond”. However, he noted the county needs better temporary solution.

“I think we’re looking to get by for as little as we can, because we’re poor and cheap,” he said.

Zellar suggested the building and grounds crew take care of the airport on an overtime basis and that Videtich receive 10 percent of the income his employees make while completing this task.

“I think that he deserves something as manager, for the extra duties,” Zellar said.

The other commissioners agreed with this suggestion and voted unanimously to approve it.

Zellar also made the motion to hire the new suggested manager, but Commissioner Al Grimm pointed out the rest of the commissioners don’t yet know the man. Zellar then withdrew the motion and said instead he’d like to interview the new prospect before hiring.

Reiter made the motion that, if the man passed the interview with him and Zellar, that they have the authority to hire him.

This motion was also withdrawn in favor of a motion made by LaFoille for the interview to be conducted by Reiter and Zellar, and the result be brought back to the board for a decision.

The motion was passed unanimously.

In other business, the board voted to extend the current emergency manager contract with Bob Berbohm for one year.

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