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A changing of the guard will soon take place at the Los Alamos County Airport.
Airport Manager Dave Ploeger, who’s been in his current position for the past four years, will leave the county on Sept. 21 and will go work for the New Mexico Aviation Division.
Ploeger was offered the position of New Mexico Aviation Division Director during the recent, annual State Aviation conference held at Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe. Ploeger will replace the current director, Tom Baca, who is retiring.
“Dave is an excellent choice for this high level position in state government,” County Administrator Max Baker said in a press release from the county Wednesday. “Although it will be hard to replace him as manager of our local airport, we are very pleased that he will be moving on to this great opportunity.
He has certainly helped us develop our airport into a top-notch facility in the time he’s been here and we wish him all the best in his new job.”
Ploeger’s new responsibilities as the NMAD director include coordinating with the state’s different communities, airports, FAA and state agencies to try and find financing for airport projects throughout the state.
He’ll play a role in coordination and funding to help the various entities do capital projects.
He said the idea of applying for the position came about when Baca asked Ploeger if he’d be interested in filling his position when he retired.
“He said he’d suggest to the governor who would be a good replacement,” Ploeger said. “I saw it as a challenging position and I thought it would be interesting.”
Ploeger gave Baca the green light and he was later called in to interview with the chief of staff.
“They offered me the position,” Ploeger said. “It was an interesting position and one I thought I could help out in at a state level. I could help out the airports in the state.”
Ploeger had nothing but positive comments about his experience working for the county. “The county has been so wonderful to work for. I couldn’t have asked for better bosses in Tony and Max. I have enjoyed every minute. I have to leave in that regard and if I didn’t have this opportunity, I’d have stayed at the county until I retired,” he said.
Several improvements have been made to the airport during Ploeger’s tenure. One example is the oversight of the Department of Energy land transfer of the airport to the county in 2008. Staff celebrated the event nearly a year ago and the festivities included a visit from Sen. Pete Domenici.
Baker added to his remarks on Ploeger during a brief interview Wednesday afternoon. “First and foremost, congratulations to Dave in honor of being named state aviation director. It speaks volumes about his capabilities and professionalism and about the caliber of staff we have working for the county,” he said.
Baker said county staff will work internally and will consider whether they need to adjust anything before they go to open recruitment to find a replacement for Ploeger. “We’ll make adjustments if needed, then we’ll do open recruitment,” he said.
The county’s press release noted that Ploeger reported directly to Assistant County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro. “We are very proud that Dave has been selected to lead the New Mexico Aviation Division. He has done an outstanding job for the county during his four-year tenure and will be missed,” Mortillaro said in the press release.
“As we forward future funding requests to the FAA and State Aviation Division, we can be assured that Dave has first-hand knowledge on our project and our goals to enhance the airport and the county,” he continued.
The county’s prepared statement added, “Ploeger has enjoyed a very solid reputation in the aviation arena. He was selected twice by his peers to be the president of the New Mexico Airport Manager’s Association. Ploeger will begin his new position on Sept. 21. Mortillaro indicated that Ploeger plans to remain a resident of Los Alamos and will be instrumental over the next two weeks in transitioning projects and duties for the day to day operations at the airport to other county staff. Mortillaro notified the county council of Ploeger’s resignation this morning.e.