By Nancy Schaar
Carroll County commissioners unanimously appointed the appointment of Al Jeske to the Carroll County Airport Authority board for another five year term recently.
The appointment was delayed since April 26, while commissioners considered information provided to them regarding Jeske’s position on the board while he is also the airport manager.
The appointment for a term of July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2023, was made with the condition that Jeske cannot serve as airport manager in any capacity while a member of the board.
Ohio Revised Code (ORC) states one person may not hold both positions. The Ohio Attorney General’s office ruled several times, as well as the county prosecutor, that it is illegal for one person to hold both positions.
The issue of holding the dual job has been contested for several years. The attorney general’s opinions, the clause from the ORC, and the prosecutor’s opinion has been presented to board members before. But Jeske continued to hold both positions.
In addition, no board member is permitted to receive any compensation. In 2012 when Jeske was appointed to the board for a five-year term, he was to receive fuel for his airplane from the airport fuel farm at cost.
At the May meeting, the airport board passed a motion to abolish the airport manager position. The next statement from the board was to propose and unanimously pass a motion to appoint Jeske as the “board representative to handle day to day questions” at the airport. Jeske voted on both measures.
When airport board president John Cross appeared before commissioners. he presented them with a proposed set of new rules and regulations. The airport has operated without rules or regulations since they were rescinded in 2014.
In the new rules proposed by Cross, is included a clause labeled Section IV that states, “The authority shall appoint a trustee to the position of board representative to handle day to day questions and fuel farm manager to oversee the fuel farm. Both will service without compensation”.
Cross said the Airport Authority did away with the manager’s position and came up with the new job.
Commissioner Lewis Mickley commended Jeske for doing a lot of good and noted he’s been there a long time.
Mickley said that a pilot who recently retired to the area inquired about the open seat on the airport board.
Cross said Jeske is willingly to sign a statement saying he has never received one penny of discounted fuel from the airport.
Commissioner Bob Wirkner asked Cross if the airport has ever considered just having a manager.
“A rose by any other name is still a rose. That still sounds like a manager to me. You can look up manager in the dictionary and still sounds like a manager to me,” said Wirkner. Cross suggested they call the manager an executive.
Wirkner again told Cross no one can be both the manager and a board member.
Cross said that Al’s age, his knowledge of the history of the airport, the community and the facilities are important to the airport. He noted Jeske can handle circuit breakers, problems or repairs with the fuel farm as they came up.
Wirkner pointed out Jeske can’t hold both positions.
“We keep changing language, modifying rules, in an attempt to make a board member and the manager one and the same. What I read in the Attorney General and the county prosecutor’s opinion is that is not permissible,” said Wirkner
Cross said he began going to the meetings in 2012 when Alan Miller was running the meetings at the airport restaurant. At one point meetings were also held in a room at a bar in Malvern.
“It was hard to tell it was a board meeting. We never said the Pledge, it was a round table discussion. I’m not knocking it; it’s just how it was. We’ve come a long way. We got out of the basement (meetings were held in the basement of a nursing home where the door was always locked for almost two years). We are in a nice facility with the door open. Everyone has learned a lot and we are still all ears to any suggestion to help the airport run better and be legal. We are open to any suggestions to help and to be legal,” said Cross.
Commissioner Jeff Ohler suggested the Airport Authority determine whether Jeske’s worth is more as a board member or as the manager. Ohler said it might be easier to find someone for the board than to find someone with the knowledge needed to manage the airport.
After Wirkner again said that the manager and a board member can’t be the same person, Cross said the board had never heard that before. Cross assured commissioners the majority of the board will be willing to accept that.
Wirkner suggested there must be someone who is willing to serve as manager as a service to the community and the airport if the Airport Authority can’t afford to hire someone for the position.
“We can have a manager?” asked Cross. Wirkner and Ohler both replied, “yes!”
“Jeske better not be wearing two hats. You are clear as to what has to happen?” asked Wirkner.
“Crystal clear,” said Cross, who then asked if commissioners appoint the manager, to which all three commissioners replied, “no.”