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Former mayor takes airport manager job

Katie Andersen

The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority on Tuesday agreed 6-0 to offer Katie Andersen the position of airport director.

Board member Craig Neys was absent.

Andersen, the former mayor of Jamestown, was a member of the Airport Authority board during her eight years in office. The selection committee recommendation said Andersen stood out for a strong finance background, a proven ability to move projects forward as a board member and anticipated longevity in the position compared to someone from outside the community.

"The airport is in a transition and going through a growth phase," said Trent Sletto, chair of the Airport Authority. "There was much discussion, and we feel that Katie's skill sets will help the airport keep moving forward."

Andersen, contacted by phone after the meeting, said she informally accepted the position that starts on Monday. The position comes with a $60,000 salary and negotiated benefits following a background check.

"I expect to start working on the strategic goals that have been established and are in process and then to start identifying the next step of initiatives that the airport should work on," Andersen said.

Andersen said she applied for the position because of a strong interest in the airport projects and processes. She said the position relates to transportation on all levels. The airport is key to Jamestown's economic growth and her work will be to help grow commercial flights, general aviation and the industrial development to have an positive impact on the city.

"I love learning new things and I love the challenge of learning something new including all the details of the whys and hows of regulations," Andersen said.

The search committee formed following the Oct. 11 resignation of Sam Seafeldt, previous airport director and secretary-treasurer of the Airport Authority. He accepted an airport manager and treasurer position with the North Platte Airport Authority in Nebraska.

The search committee members included Jim Boyd, retired Airport Authority president, along with current members Keith Veil, Gary Staab and Mark Urquhart. The 15 candidates who responded to the ad were contacted by the committee, with seven semi-finalists given a one-hour video interview and three finalists interviewed in Jamestown, Boyd said.

The other two finalists, Joshua Cothren of Georgia, and Paul Lehnert of Texas, both have previous experience running airports, according to the committee. The applicants were also being considered for positions in their own states.

The committee said it considered that Andersen was not as fluent with Part 139 of the Federal Aviation Administration regulatory procedures for airports concerning safety standards and administrative compliance.

Andersen said she can better learn Part 139 online and through FAA courses. She said her background in business with employees is also a plus for a managerial role.

Urquhart, who attended by phone, said the committee agreed that Andersen's familiarity with the airport through her role on projects gave the committee confidence she would become fluent with all aspects of operations.

"We felt her ability was on the financial side but also with the grant writing and her connections with state and federal government entities," Urquhart said.

Veil said Andersen was a driving force with the airport parking lot renovation and in structuring finances for the airport. She has a clear vision for the future of the airport, he said.

"Plus, she knows us all and knows Jamestown," Veil said. "Katie really did shine well among all the candidates."

The next Airport Authority meeting was changed from Nov. 21 to Nov. 28.

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