New Steamboat airport manager named

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ongtime Steamboat Springs Airport employee Mel Baker has been promoted to replace Matt Grow as airport manager.

City officials said the decision to promote from within instead of advertising nationally for Grow's replacement was made with the awareness that the way airports in the Yampa Valley operate is in a state of change. The goal was to preserve management flexibility.

"We didn't want to take any steps that would preclude closer coordination of some aspects of the way Steamboat Springs Airport works with (Yampa Valley Regional Airport) and other airports in the area," City Manager Paul Hughes said.

Hughes said Baker, working with colleague Will Rogers, has a strong track record in overseeing aircraft operations.

"Mel is the guy to do all of the airside stuff," Hughes said. "He's done a really good job. The pilots say he and the staff treat them really well."

The city serves as its own fixed-base operator, providing services to general aviation aircraft owners that are handled by the private sector at many airports.

"I think morale of the airport staff is very good right now," city Transit Director George Krawzoff said.

Grow left his position to take a job in another state.

The position of airport manager at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, which receives all commercial aviation in the valley, recently opened when Jim Parker was asked to resign from the post.

Hughes said the Yampa Valley Airport Commission is taking a fresh look at how the three airports in the valley (including the Craig Airport), are marketed to the various segments of the aviation industry. YVAC serves the city and Routt County in an advisory capacity. Craig also is represented on the commission.

The YVAC voted March 10 to ask city and county staff members to prepare a chart detailing the pluses and minuses of reorganizing as a rural transportation authority. Under state law, an RTA could ask the voters for permission to levy taxes and would own the airports.

The Gunnison Valley, Roaring Fork Valley and Colorado Springs currently have RTA's.

"The question is, 'Do we see an advantage to de-politicizing the airports and having them owned by a single entity?'" commissioner Ulrich Salzgeber said during the March meeting.

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