Robin Turner was fired Friday from his part-time job as assistant manager at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport.
His termination was effective immediately. It came after the airport authority’s board met in executive session for about 30 minutes with its attorney, Dan Radakovich, for personnel and possible litigation.
The board made no decision Friday involving litigation. Radakovich said he hadn’t received any paperwork about pending lawsuits.
Turner’s dismissal was the second in less than a week of in-house cleaning that a new board started Wednesday by ending the employment of airport Manager Stephanie Morgan. She made $90,000 a year in the position she had held since May 2017.
Board members have provided no specific reason for their separate decisions about Turner and Morgan.
“Employment in Idaho is ‘at will,’ and so we exercised our right,” said board member Chris Clemens after Friday’s meeting.
Clemens voted with board members Deb Smith, Mandy Miles and Gary Peters to end Turner’s employment. Chairman Jim Bennett was absent.
Neither Turner nor Morgan will receive severance pay, said Clemens, who was appointed Friday by other board members to serve as interim manager on a volunteer basis.
Turner made $30 per hour and worked about 19 hours per week, equal to about $30,000 annually if he worked 52 weeks a year. He retired as airport manager in 2014 after 30 years in the position.
Attempts to reach Turner on Friday after the meeting were not successful.
Turner faces a misdemeanor count of obscene live conduct in a public place in connection with an incident that happened on the airport’s second floor about one year ago. Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez issued the citation after someone asked him to investigate.
Turner has pleaded innocent, and the case is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 31. He has filled in several times as interim manager when the airport was between managers.
This time, the board has turned to Clemens to oversee day-to-day operations temporarily.
Clemons recently founded a company called Hamilton’s West, a commercial and industrial construction contractor that also provides consulting on federal projects.
The board expects to appoint someone within a few weeks to serve as interim manager for 60 to 90 days during a search for a new manager. The board has indicated members will seek a charismatic leader with experience resurrecting airports.
The airport encountered numerous challenges during Morgan’s tenure, including the withdrawal of Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines. Horizon had provided about 60 percent of the commercial passenger service at the Lewiston airport with its Seattle and Boise flights. SkyWest is the only remaining carrier, offering flights to and from Salt Lake City.
As the board seeks a new manager and identifies options to restore the passenger service that was lost, Clemens will staff the office. Clemens said he will be talking with Federal Aviation Administration officials next week in an effort to get up to speed on the status of a number of projects.
The airport is nearing completion of a $5.09 million operations building to house a new firetruck, snow removal equipment and administration offices. It also is preparing to install a new lighting system to replace reflectors on major taxiways and to rebuild the shorter of its two runways. The bulk of the money for those projects comes from the FAA.
The airport board will meet again after Thanksgiving to talk about what Clemens learned in what is expected to be the first of weekly meetings.
“The urgent need is to get a handle on the day-to-day operations of the airport,” Clemens said.
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