Airport advisory commission shuffle continues

Once again, the Archuleta County Airport Advisory Commission (AAC) may be closing in on a full roster … for awhile, at least.

Even as it appears two commission vacancies may soon be filled, one of them — and three occupied seats — may again become vacant, as their appointments expire by the end of March 2009.

The AAC normally consists of seven voting members appointed by the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) and four ex officio members without voting privileges. Ex officio members generally include the town manager, county administrator, the airport manager and the manager of Avjet, the fixed base operator.

Voting members are appointed to three-year terms, while ex officio commissioners typically remain on the commission as long as they retain the position within the entity they represent.

During its four-year history, the AAC has had some difficulty maintaining full membership, especially in 2008. Whether due to untimely member resignations or term expirations, the commission has suffered at least one vacancy, and more often two, in all but two months of this year.

For now, the two commission vacancies include one voting member and one ex officio member representing the town of Pagosa Springs. While the voting member will ultimately be appointed by the BoCC (based on an AAC recommendation and satisfactory interviews), Mayor Ross Aragon will “officially” appoint the town’s ex officio representative.

Because the town’s chief administrator has historically held the town AAC seat, the recent arrival of David Mitchem as new town manager suggests that post is, or will soon be, filled. In fact, during a Tuesday phone interview, Aragon confirmed that he intends to appoint Mitchem to the AAC.

Meanwhile, at last Thursday’s monthly AAC meeting, commission chair Michael Arbuthnot asked that Pagosa Springs resident Lloyd Goheen be considered for recommendation to the BoCC as the new voting member. Following brief discussion, the commission unanimously agreed.

Given Goheen’s impressive aviation resume, including experience as a pilot, maintenance officer, mechanic and builder of his own experimental aircraft, it’s hard to imagine the BoCC refusing his appointment. The only potential fly in the ointment may be the BoCC’s desire to have at least a couple of non-pilot commissioners. At this point, all except one are pilots.

Assuming Goheen (or another as-yet unnamed candidate) does join the commission, the full roster may be short-lived. Whoever fills the voting member slot — which became vacant by the early resignation of former commission vice-chair Pat Artis — he or she will only serve until the end of Artis’ original term, or March 31. At that time, the position will again be up for appointment.

Certainly, once the BoCC has appointed Artis’ replacement, it will give strong consideration to re-appointing him or her in March. In the meantime, three other term positions will also expire in March, prior to which, the persons holding those slots must re-apply for appointment.

For the time being, it’s uncertain whether commissioners Mike Neder, Mark Weiler or Jim Carey will re-apply for appointment, although Carey was just appointed to fill another vacancy in April.

Regardless, Arbuthnot is looking ahead. In a Monday phone interview, he acknowledged that he’s actively seeking individuals interested and qualified to serve on the AAC, in the event one or more vacancies develop next spring.

To qualify, according to BoCC Resolution 2008-53, “Each member of the Commission must have reached the age of eighteen (18) years on the effective date of his/her appointment and shall have served on a working group of the Commission or volunteered for an airport function prior to application for membership on the Commission.”

While permanent county residency is no longer a prerequisite, anyone meeting the above requirements who may be interested in serving on the AAC should contact County Administrator Greg Schulte at 264-8300, or stop by his office in the Archuleta County Courthouse in downtown Pagosa Springs.

chuck@pagosasun.com