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Layoff prompts call for comissioners, airport authority to address issues

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

The three Fayette County commissioners can agree they are willing to meet with members of the county airport authority after they laid off the manager of the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport earlier this week.

That layoff prompted Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink to call for a special meeting to be held with the three county commissioners, members of the authority board and board solicitor Gretchen Mundorff.

But commissioners Al Ambrosini and Vince Zapotosky said Friday that any meeting would have to come at the request of the airport authority, which decided to lay off airport manager Mary Lou Fast and to terminate her three-year contract.

No replacement was named when the authority board voted 4-1 Wednesday to lay off Fast.

On Friday, offices at the airport were deserted.

Messages left with board members and Mundorff were not returned.

“Given recent events, there can be no doubt there are issues within the (authority) and our Fayette County's airport,” Zimmerlink said in a release issued Thursday.

Ambrosini said Friday that authority board members Matt Thomas and Fred Davis initially requested help from a county employee to temporarily provide a few hours of clerical work each day at the airport.

Ambrosini later learned the authority might instead hire a temporary worker, he said.

Zimmerlink said in an email Friday that she was concerned because authority board member Jesse Wallace voted against Fast's layoff and said, “I'm not going to be a part of this.”

“A part of what? What is going on out there?” Zimmerlink said in the email.

Ambrosini and his wife, Becky, who both are pilots, own an airplane and are airport tenants.

Ambrosini said his wife, who until recently was employed with Uniontown Hospital, laughed when he told her of a rumor that she might be in line to replace Fast.

“You can squelch that rumor. She would not accept the position. She's officially retired,” Ambrosini said.

Zimmerlink has called for the airport manager's position to be filled, even on a temporary basis.

In her email, she said she was waiting to hear back from airport authority board members.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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