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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Mojave Air and Space Port prepares for Witt’s departure

  • Boardmembers at the Mojave Air and Space Port held their last meeting of 2013 on Dec. 17, during which they discussed the announcement of CEO Stuart Witt’s retirement, reviewed the status of the year’s original objectives, and unanimously approved funds for the final completion of the new event center.
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  • MOJAVE – Boardmembers at the Mojave Air and Space Port held their last meeting of 2013 on Dec. 17, during which they discussed the announcement of CEO Stuart Witt’s retirement, reviewed the status of the year’s original objectives, and unanimously approved funds for the final completion of the new event center.   
    Dr. Allen Peterson, Board Director and President/CEO of the National Test Pilot School, also noted that the day marked the 110th anniversary of the first powered flight.
    JoAnn Painter, Board President, reported that Stuart Witt will be retiring as airport CEO as of July 1, 2015.  Painter announced the formation of a new committee, composed of board members, Marie Walker and Jim Balentine, and member-at-large, Harold Smith.
    The committee members will lay the groundwork for the selection of a new CEO and are also charged with evaluating such issues as the airport’s recruitment practices and interview methods.  The three members will serve an eighteen-month term and will report their findings to the board.
    “It took us a year to make the selection of Stuart Witt, so we expect this will be a lengthy process,” Painter said.  
    In his remarks to the board, Witt made a request for funding to complete the final details on the refurbishment of Building 137, known as the “pool building,” which has been transformed into a magnificent, spacious event center with a 23,000 square foot
    auditorium.   
    “I like finishing things on my watch,” said Witt in explaining his request for the reallocation of funds that will allow for the completion of the parking lot, the food preparation area, a block wall, and miscellaneous items, including finishing a fitness area and the “tweaking” of acoustics and audio-visual capabilities.    
    Witt also acknowledged to the board that, at present, the facility is essentially complete, and the original objectives for its remodeling have been successfully met.  “Building 137 is adequate for hosting the Business Outlook Conference in February,” he emphasized.  
    The Antelope Valley Board of Trade is scheduled to hold its annual conference in the event center at the airport on Feb. 21.
    CEO Witt estimated that completion of the center’s “finishing touches” will require approximately $250,000.  “This is not a must-have, but it’s a nice-to-have,” he said, commenting on the elevated standard that the event center’s presence offers for both the airport and surrounding communities.  
    “The center has a social significance that we can’t put a price on.  It will offer a new quality of life here that is greater than the revenue it will bring,” he stated.  
    Page 2 of 2 - Audience member, Bill Deaver, President of the Mojave Transportation Museum, concurred, adding, “You all need to be commended for offering this event center to the region.”  He also indicated that he anticipates that motels in Mojave may eventually be forced to expand in order to accommodate the visitors.  
    Boardmember, Jim Balentine, commented that, while looking with excitement to the future, the board has also been successful in preserving history at the airport.  Building 137, the new event center, is a World War II-era building which originally housed a large swimming pool that was used for pilot survival training.
    Director Marie Walker made a motion to allocate the requested funding, which was seconded by Jim Balentine and unanimously approved by the board.   

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