Loomis sought new job weeks ago
By Joe Baker
By Joe Baker
James Loomis interviewed for his new job as director of the Gregg County (Texas) Airport on Oct. 19. There was no mention of any sick relatives.
On Oct. 26 he told Mayor Doug Scott he was leaving. The mayor claimed to be surprised and disappointed. Loomis departs the city on Nov. 16. Officially, the story was that he is leaving for personal reasons, specifically, an ill relative.
It is rumored that Loomis salary here was $127,000 a year, up more than $40,000 from the reported starting figure. According to the Kilgore News Herald, Loomis will be paid $90,000 annually in his new job, plus moving expenses of $6,500. Some persons knowledgeable in such matters doubt that Loomis will be paid that much.
Loomis will be the third airport manager of the Texas field, which was established 54 years ago.
Airport board members said Loomis
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departure was not sought by them in any way. Mayor Scott declared it was not linked to Loomis performance here. I believe its exactly what its advertised as. He needs to take care of his family, Scott said.
Eugene Allen, chairman of the airport authority, said airport officials probably wont make any extra effort to find candidates with strong marketing backgrounds.
Its like the MetroCentre, he said. One person cant market that. It takes the whole community.
While here, Loomis declared more than once that it was not my job to market this airport. County Board Chairwoman Kris Cohn said officials were planning to hire a marketing expert to aid Loomis and that there was no animosity related to his leaving.
In Texas, county Judge Mickey Smith told the News Herald that Loomis informed him he would be able to take on both airport manager and marketing duties.
Some have speculated that Loomis may have been asked to leave because of friction between him and Mayor Scott. They say one factor in that situation may have been Loomis refusal to allow some of his security officers to attend the funeral of slain Rockford Detective Kevin Rice or to use the airports squad car to do so. Loomis claimed the squad car was in for service, but it was learned that he had ordered the car pulled out of police service. That action reportedly incensed the mayor.
Local airport activist William OLeary said hes opposed to searching elsewhere for a new airport manager. We should try to use local people, he said. Weve got the experts right here. We better get going.
OLeary said there should be some changes in selecting airport board members as well. The first thing we should require, if theyre on the board, is a review of airport management, he said. He also favors pilots on the board.
Im very sad to see Loomis go. Now is an opportunity to bring in a new approach, said Airport Board Member Mike Dunn.