New YVRA assistant manager to take broader job

— The search for a new assistant manager at Yampa Valley Regional Airport is moving forward, an airport official said Thursday.

Dave Ruppel, manager of the Hayden airport, said he plans to bring in as many as four candidates later this month for a round of interviews. The process is expected to produce a replacement for Ann Copeland, who retired in May after 21 years of employment at the airport.

"I'm very encouraged we've got some good people there," Ruppel said of the candidates.

Ruppel, who has been in his role since October 2005, plans to redefine the role of the new hire to include a broader range of airport management functions. He said that decision should not be misinterpreted as dissatisfaction with the performance of Copeland, who served as the airport's terminal and operations manager. She helped the airport through challenges including a massive terminal expansion and the relocation of several facilities.

County Manager Tom Sullivan confirmed he helped Ruppel re-write the job description, which the Routt County Board of Commissioners has approved.

Copeland's replacement will still oversee terminal operations, but the responsibilities of the job will change, Ruppel said. The shift reflects the maturation of the terminal expansion project at the airport, which receives Steamboat's ski season jet service as well as year round commuter flights.

"I'm looking for someone who can help me with the day-to-day operations of the airport," Ruppel said. "The role played in calming concerns with customer service was critical. Now that the terminal is in pretty good shape, some of these issues are not so critical. We've been able to assign some lower-level staff to guide passengers and work with those issues."

Sullivan concurred.

"We're looking for someone with good customer service experience, but also someone who can take on the supervision of division staff," he said.

Sullivan believes hiring the right person for the assistant manager role will help Ruppel continue to work closely with Federal Aviation Administration managers on airport improvement grants.

Ruppel said in June that he hoped to have Copeland's replacement on staff by August. Because his attention shifted to other matters during the summer, he now hopes to have the new person in place in October.

In addition to Sullivan, Ruppel has been consulting with Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association, and Janet Fischer, director of airline programs for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

Ruppel said he narrowed 62 applicants down to the four candidates he hopes to interview.

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