OGDEN -- Ed Rich still plans to retire as manager of the Ogden-Hinckley Regional Airport at the end of July despite at least 90 signatures on a petition asking Mayor Matthew Godfrey and the city council to retain him.
Rich said no one in Godfrey's administration has specifically asked him to step down, but he gets the feeling some of the city's top brass would like a different airport manager.
"I kind of think they would like to get someone to push harder for (service by) commercial airlines," Rich said, adding he's been a longtime proponent of regular jet service at the airport.
Rich said he would have considered staying on as manager if the administration had asked, but has already accepted a marketing position with Airport Development Group Inc., a Denver-based planning, design and engineering firm.
Rich became manager of Ogden-Hinckley Airport in 2002. Before that, he worked in the gold-mining industry and was a principal owner of the former Sun Valley Key Airlines, which was based in Ogden and Salt Lake City.
Godfrey could not be reached for comment regarding whether he has received the petition asking that Rich be retained.
City Councilman Doug Stephens said he was unaware of the petition.
Richard McConkie, the city's director of community and economic development and Rich's boss, said he hasn't seen the petition.
McConkie added that Rich has done outstanding work, and noted a major duty of the next airport manager will be to push hard for commercial air service at Ogden-Hinckley and to complete other business development projects.
"That's not to say Ed doesn't have that skill, but we felt, in discussions with Ed, it was time for a change," he said.
Seven candidates are under consideration to replace Rich, and a new airport manager may be hired within a week at an annual salary ranging from about $65,000 to $85,000, McConkie said.
Many of those who signed the petition asking Godfrey and the city council to keep Rich are pilots.
Kim Matthews, a pilot who is also a member of the Ogden Regional Airport Association board, said he signed because Rich is a phenomenal manager. He also believes Rich's familiarity with the airport is invaluable, particularly with the economic challenges faced by aircraft businesses at the facility.
"It's not a good time (to hire a new airport manager)," Matthews said.
James Cutrubus, another pilot who signed the petition, said he also appreciates Rich's service and believes Ogden-Hinckley Airport will only get commercial jet service if it's financially feasible.
"They won't come here unless they can make money," he said.
Meanwhile, Rich said he appreciates those who have signed the petition, but it won't change his retirement plans.
"It's like having a funeral before my death," he said with a chuckle, explaining that the petition drive demonstrates he has lots of friends. "You get to see who comes to the funeral."