ESCANABA - Following a career at the Delta County Airport that "took off" 17 years ago, Airport Manager Connie Ness has announced her plans to retire.
The Delta County Board of Commissioners recently received a letter from Ness, who expressed her desire to retire effective June 1.
The board voted Tuesday night during its regular county board meeting to approve a personnel committee recommendation to post the open airport manager position. The job will be posted through Michigan Works! and the Michigan Association of Airport Executives. The board will meet as a committee of the whole to interview applicants for the open position on April 29.
Ness, who is a certified instructor for both aircraft and float aircraft, has worked at the airport for approximately 17 years. Half of this time she served as the assistant airport manager before taking over as airport manager for the remaining half.
In her job as airport manager, Ness has been responsible for maintaining the airport and ensuring its safety while also representing the county to the Federal Aviation Administration and the state.
"Some of the things I'm most pleased with now are our relationship with the airline with our commercial service," said Ness. "They're doing really well right now so I hope we can keep that up. We've also been able to do a number of projects to maintain and upgrade our infrastructure."
So what's next for Ness?
"I'm looking forward to doing other things," she said. "There's lots of things to do."
However, Ness said she will miss the people she has worked with day in and day out.
"I will miss the camaraderie out here of the staff and the pilot and aviation community," she said.
Many who have worked with Ness over the years have had plenty of positive things to say about her and her advocacy for the airport.
"She's always been an advocate for the airport and worked to make things better - to Improve services, improve the atmosphere and comfort of the passengers, private pilots and employees," said Delta County Administrator Nora Viau.
Kelly Smith, assistant manager of the Delta County Airport, has worked with Ness since 2004 and said Ness' knowledge and passion for aviation will be missed.
"She's very passionate about this airport and making sure the community, locally in Escanaba and the whole surrounding area, know how much of an economic impact having a local commercial airport has," said Smith. "It's an investment in the community."
Tom Elegeert, chairman of the county board of commissioners, also praised Ness' job performance.
"She's done an outstanding job," he said. "Over the years she's brought the airport to a very high level and she's done a very super job. She's a really good team player."
Vicki Schwab, director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance and a member of the Delta County Airport Advisory Board, has worked with Ness over the past couple years and commended her work.
"Connie did a great job managing our wonderful airport asset," said Schwab. "Connie was very committed to promoting and attracting business to the Renaissance Zone and the development of the Delta Green Aviation and Marine Integrator Cluster. It was a professional pleasure to work with her."
Former county commissioner Darrel Bengry also formerly served on the airport advisory board and worked with Ness for many years.
"She's a great asset. She's a very responsible person and I wish her well," he said. "She's what has made the airport successful, really."