New Truckee Tahoe Airport chief talks about his role, community outreach, looming projects
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A pilot, a 15-year public servant and#8212; and with a background in airport planning and natural resource management and#8212; Kevin Smith seems to have the skills to manage the Truckee Tahoe Airport.
Smith, who comes from working as the deputy city manager of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, replaces previous airport general manager Dave Gotschall, who left last fall. Smith began his new role in May.
The Sierra Sun recently sat down with Smith to talk about his background, what he’s doing to get up to speed in his new position and what’s going on at the Truckee Tahoe Airport.
Sierra Sun: So tell us a little about yourself, and how you picked Truckee.
Smith: I grew up in the Bay Area, the east bay, and I spent a lot of time recreating up here as a kid. I spent the last 15 years in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, as the deputy city manager, which was anything from public works to risk management. I’ve stayed active in aviation and#8212; I started flying at 17 and#8212; so I wanted to get more into aviation again. My college thesis was on airport planning, so I’m excited to have this opportunity.
Sierra Sun: How are you getting up to speed on the job so far?
Smith: This is my fifth week on the job and#8212; I’m trying to get up to speed, but I think the first three months will be meeting with different groups, constituents and#8212; I’ve been meeting with the different service districts and the town of Truckee. I’m living at the end of runway 28, trying to get a feeling for the noise impact too. I intend to be available to the public to answer any questions. I’d like to work toward communicating with the community all the benefits of the airport and#8212; the economic engine, Careflight, the forest service helicopter, we even have the Civil Air Patrol based out of here.
Sierra Sun: What do you think of Truckee Tahoe Airport and the community so far?
Smith: It’s unique as a high-altitude, recreation-destination airport. It’s also its own service district and#8212; most airports are owned by cities and counties, but this is its own district, created by the voters. The town has all these service districts that all work together really well, trying not to duplicate services and#8212; which gives the community the opportunity to get involved in all these boards.
Sierra Sun: What’s the airport working on these days?
Smith: The big project is the new administration building. This building was built in the 1960s and added onto twice and#8212; it’s inefficient. We’re hoping to have our ground-breaking in August. We’ll have an information display on the construction site so people can come and see what the project will look like. It will take about 14 months to build, so we’re looking at about November 2012. We’re also moving right along with flight tracking, getting into tests. The hardware is installed and we’re working on the software. We’re hoping to make that information available to the public and the pilots.
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