Thomas Keyes

Thomas Keyes, of Westmont, became the manager of the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport after having run a successful business in the Philippines for 10 years.

Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority on Tuesday officially accepted airport Manager Thomas Keyes’ resignation and took the first steps to find his replacement. 

Tuesday morning’s special meeting began with a 45-minute, closed-door executive session to discuss personnel. When the public meeting reconvened, the authority board members voted unanimously to accept Keyes’ resignation, effective Dec. 31.

The board then voted to advertise the vacancy in regional newspapers, including The Tribune-Democrat. Resumes will be due Dec. 20. 

Vice Chairman Jack Babich said the authority’s personnel committee will review applications, along with Chairman James Loncella and Larry Nulton, vice president of Nulton Aviation, the airport’s fixed base operator. 

The group then will present its top two candidates to be interviewed by the full board. 

Keyes first submitted his resignation during the Nov. 19 authority meeting, but then withdrew it after a brief closed-door meeting with the board. 

At that meeting, Babich said the personnel committee would meet again with Keyes to discuss “the issues.”

That meeting with the committee took place Nov. 26, and Keyes again submitted his resignation. 

Keyes did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, but came into the board room after adjournment. 

Babich thanked Keyes for his contributions to the airport during an important year and a half of growth. 

“You are probably the most professional person I have ever worked with,” Babich told Keyes, adding that the board appreciates Keyes’ offer to help with transition until the end of the year. 

Keyes said he plans to remain in the Johnstown area, “if I can find gainful employment.” 

He said he is glad to have served the community as airport manager. 

“I am grateful and indebted to the airport authority for everything it has done for me and for my family,” Keyes said. 

“The opportunity to serve the Johnstown and Cambria County area as its airport manager has been fulfilling.”

Babich said the board will focus less on finding an experienced manager, but look for candidates familiar with aviation. 

“We’ve all become experts on what it takes to run an airport,” Babich said. “We need someone who understands aviation and knows what happens when a taxiway light goes out; someone who can talk to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).”

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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