Fayette Airport Authority lays off manager
By Cindy Ekas
Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 7:18 a.m.
The Fayette County Airport Authority voted 4-1 Wednesday night to lay off airport manager Mary Lou Fast and to terminate her three-year employment contract.
Authority member Jesse Wallace voted against the furlough just moments after members returned from a brief executive session.
“I'm not going to be a part of this,” Wallace said.
After the meeting, Wallace said he did not think Fast should be furloughed because “she is a good employee.”
“I would like for her to stay,” Wallace added.
Fast declined to comment on the layoff, which is immediate and indefinite.
Mark Shipley, an employee of Aviation Network, an airport tenant that transports transplant patients and organs to various hospitals in the Northeast, talked to Fast after the meeting.
“You have been the best employee this airport has had,” Shipley said as he hugged Fast and wished her good luck in her future endeavors.
Fast had been employed as airport manager for more than four years. Her original two-year contract was extended to three years. She was completing the third year of her contract, which was scheduled to expire in October.
Three of the authority's five members agreed to allow Fast to collect her severance package. Authority solicitor Gretchen Mundorff said the authority members could not discuss the details of the severance package.
Authority members Wallace, Myrna Giannopoulos and Terry Shallenberger voted in support of the severance package. Two members, Matt Thomas and Fred Davis, abstained from voting.
Authority members declined to comment on why Fast was laid off, but they indicated that the stress level at the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport has been very high recently. They would not comment on rumors that several authority members were considering the possibility of resigning.
Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink attended the meeting but did not address the authority or make any comments.
In other business, Mark Shipley of Aviation Network asked the authority to consider entering into a commercial lease for space his company has been renting at two smaller T-hangars. Shipley said his company has been renting the smaller hangars for several months because it needed additional space. Aviation Network has a commercial lease for a larger hangar and office space.
Mundorff was directed by authority members to draft new leases last year. The leases were completed in December, but only 15 of the 40 tenants have signed them.
Russ Jones of PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation said the Federal Aviation Administration requires the authority to have written leases.
If the mandated leases are not in place, Jones said, the authority could be in jeopardy of losing federal funding.
In a recent audit, the FAA listed the leases as one of the findings the authority needed to address.
Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.
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