By Brian Bullock / Staff Writer / firstname.lastname@example.org Santa Maria Times | Posted: Monday, July 25, 2011
Second attempt Thursday to select new director
Having difficulty selecting a new director for the Santa Maria Public Airport Board is nothing new, and the board will make a second attempt Thursday.
The turbulence the board encountered at the July 14 meeting when current directors — President Hugh Rafferty, Vice President Chuck Adams, Secretary Chuck Damiano and Carl Engel Jr. — were unable to pick a successor to Ted Eckert, who passed away in June, wasn’t dissimilar to 2007 when board members struggled to appoint a successor to Michael Houser.
This is the third time since 2000 the board has had to appoint a director. Dick Hulme was appointed in 2000.
Four years ago when the board was looking to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Houser, Engel and Lahr, who had won election to the board in 2004, favored John Will, while Eckert and Damiano voted against the appointment. A second motion to appoint a different applicant, Bob Stahl, also failed by 2-2 vote. It was only when Eckert eventually decided to support Will that the appointment was made by a 3-1 vote. Will was selected from a field of eight, which included Rafferty and two former board members Dick Hulme and Bob Stahl, who applied to fill the vacancy. Will ran for the board in 2006 but finished third in the voting for two seats.
In an eerily similar situation earlier this month, Rafferty and Engel supported former Airport Board member Donald Lahr, while Adams and Damiano picked local dentist and pilot Girard Brenneman, who like Will four years earlier has been a candidate in the past two board elections and finished one spot out of a seat each time.
This year, six candidates applied to fill the void on the board — Brenneman, Lahr, Denis Breslin, Ken Dally, Richard Jensen and Timothy Larson. Breslin and Jensen were unable to attend the July 14 meeting, but after they failed to reach a decision on who to appoint the board members decided to allow those men to remain in the selection process. Airport General Manager Chris Hastert said both Breslin and Jensen have indicated they would like to remain in contention for the position.
Engel said the current situation is similar to 2007 pitting hangar tenants against nonpilots.
“We have a bunch of candidates. We had some good candidates back then, too,” said Engel, a board member since 2000. “I think the board went for John Will because he was a contractor and we were working on the baggage claim area and some other projects.”
At the July 14 meeting, Brenneman, Lahr and Dally turned out to be the top three choices by the directors, each of whom offered their top three choices for the seat. Brenneman and Lahr split the four votes for No. 1 pick, while Dally, a local business owner, pilot and former city councilman in Big Bear, was selected as the second choice by all four board members.
If the board remains deadlocked Thursday, it could opt to hold an election or ask the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to appoint a replacement. Airport Counsel Ray Biering said the election would have to be held 130 days or more after the board calls for it. “If the board opts to go with calling an election, it would have to be in 2012,” he said, adding it would most likely be in November’s general election. In that election, Rafferty, Adams and Engel are all up for re-election.
Posted in Local on Monday, July 25, 2011
By Brian Bullock/Staff Writer email@example.com Santa Maria Times | Posted: Friday, July 15, 2011
The seat on the Santa Maria Public Airport Board of Directors held by the late Ted Eckert will remain vacant for at least another two weeks because the members could not agree on a replacement Thursday night.
The four board members — President Hugh Rafferty, Carl Engel, Chuck Damiano and Chuck Adams — were split on their choices to replace Eckert, who died June 7. Rafferty and Engel picked former board member Donald Lahr, while Damiano and Adams chose Girard Brenneman.
With the decision still deadlocked after the selection process and discussion, Rafferty decided to postpone the choice until the next board meeting July 28.
If the board is still deadlocked at that time, Airport Counsel Raymond Biering told the board it could move to conduct a special election or pass selection on to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. He said the special election probably wouldn’t get onto a ballot until the November 2012 general election.
Six men submitted applications to fill the position — Brenneman, Lahr, Denis Breslin, Ken Dally, Richard Jensen and Timothy Larson. Breslin and Jensen were unable to attend the meeting.
Experience and commitment appeared to be the two most important factors to the board, which said three candidates demonstrated those characteristics.
Damiano said Brenneman had shown a strong commitment to being part of the board by twice running for vacant seats. He finished third in the November 2010 election when only two seats were available and was fourth in the 2008 general election when three seats were vacant.
Brenneman has been a pilot for 38 years and is a local dentist with his own practice.
Rafferty and Engel chose Lahr because he had served on the board from 2004-2008. Rafferty also pointed out Lahr’s commitment to the community as another reason for his decision. Lahr has also been a board member on the Santa Maria Economic Development Association, Boys and Girls Club of Santa Maria and the Santa Maria Valley Contractors Association. He is also a member of the Hancock College Welding Advisory Council and the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Each member was asked to pick his top three candidates for the appointment. Dally’s experience as a pilot, business owner and member of several governing boards in Big Bear made him the second choice of all four members.
Larson was the third choice of three of the four board members.
By Brian Bullock/Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org Santa Maria Times | Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011
Six men have applied to fill the vacancy on the Santa Maria Public Airport board of directors left by the death of Ted Eckert.
One is a past board member and another finished third in the November 2010 election, when only two seats were up for grabs.
The board meets at 7 tonight in the Administration Building at the airport. The directors will consider the applicants and appoint one of them to fill the position that has been vacant since June 7.
Airport General Manager Chris Hastert said each applicant would have a chance to address the board and then the members will discuss their qualifications and make their decision. “They could pick one (tonight), if that’s what they decide to do, or they could hold it over for more discussion,” said Hastert.
- Denis Breslin, a private pilot for the past nine years, Breslin is an orbital analyst for NASA at Vandenberg Air Force Base and a captain in the California Air National Guard.
Breslin is also a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
- Girard Brenneman, a Santa Maria dentist and pilot with 38 years experience. Brenneman is also a veteran of Santa Maria Airport Board elections. He finished third in voting in the November 2010 election behind top vote-getter Chuck Damiano and Eckert.
Brenneman also ran in 2008, again finishing just one place out of a spot on the board behind Hugh Rafferty, Chuck Adams and Carl Engel when three seats were available.
- Ken Dally, a high-tech business owner who has been a private pilot for the past 30 years and has an airplane hangared at the airport.
Prior to moving to the Santa Maria Valley, Dally was a board member of the Big Bear City Council, Regional Wastewater Agency and Chamber of Commerce where he served as chairman from 2005-2009.
- Richard Jensen, who has been involved in aviation as a pilot, instructor and manager for more than 40 years. His management experience is in federal aviation regulations operations.
For the past 20 years, Jensen has worked as an FAA safety representative to local, regional and national agencies. He is employed as a computer technician in the Orcutt Union School District.
- Timothy Larson, a Santa Maria native who is a local Realtor and business owner.
Larson has bachelor’s degrees in history and business administration from the University of San Diego. He also has served on the Santa Maria Landmark Committee since February 2010.
- Donald Lahr, the owner of Lahr Industrial Welding in Santa Maria since 1982. Lahr was elected to the airport board in 2004 and served one term.
Lahr has also been a board member on the Santa Maria Economic Development Association, Boys and Girls Club of Santa Maria and the Santa Maria Valley Contractors Association. He is also a member of the Hancock College Welding Advisory Council and the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Posted in Local on Thursday, July 14, 2011
By Janene Scully/Associate Editor email@example.com Santa Maria Times | Posted: Friday, July 8, 2011
A contingent of Marines and sailors will prep for future missions in the Middle East by practicing their skills on the Central Coast later this month.
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton will train locally from today through July 21 including at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Santa Maria Public Airport and Camp San Luis Obispo.
The training will be based at Point Mugu and likely will involve some 400 to 500 people including aircraft and ground crews, Capt. Roger Hollenbeck, 11th MEU spokesman. However, the forces training in simulated raids in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties likely will involve 75 to 80. Other missions will be at the Port of Long Beach plus at Rose Valley and Point Mugu, both in Ventura County. They also will involve Platform Hogan, 5 miles off Carpinteria’s coast. The unit is readying for deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions later this year.
At the Santa Maria airport, the Marine helicopters will set up a “forward arming and refueling point” — essentially “giant gas bladders where the birds will come and get more gas,” Hollenbeck said. “It’s not too sexy but (people may hear) additional helicopter sounds around there,” he added.
Aircraft involved in the training will include UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and CH-46 Sea Knight.
Mission planners considered airport neighbors as they developed aircraft routes to reduce the noise signatures created by the training, Hollenbeck said. The goal is “to keep training realistic for Marines without inconveniencing the local public,” Hollenbeck added.
Flight windows are generally in the afternoons and nights to ensure pilots receive needed training in both sunlight and darkness. All aspects of this training have been coordinated with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the training will be effective, and carried out safely, officials said.
At Vandenberg, the Marines will use an old school campus to hone urban rescue training.
“The Marines respectfully request that local citizens who find themselves near the training venues keep a safe distance for themselves and for the safety of the service members,” Marines said in a written statement.
As part the MEU cycle, Marine Corps commanders scheduled realistic urban training for troops. Last year, for example, they trained at Fort Hunter-Liggett, Merced and nearby areas.
The Marine Expeditionary Unit provides a rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime operations from the sea, surface or air.
“This realistic training will prepare the MEU to be America’s forward deployed, forward engaged force,” said Col. Michael R. Hudson, the unit’s commanding officer.
The MEU is composed of a command element and three major subordinate elements; they are Battalion Landing Team 3/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 11, the ground, aviation and logistics elements respectively.
“The real power of the MEU is how Marines organize, train and if required, fight as a Marine air ground task force,” said Hudson. “Training and fighting as a Marine air ground task force allows the Corps to be relevant throughout the spectrum of threats and postured to leverage all opportunities while deployed.”