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Watertown International adds airport manager, Sunday flight in a night marked by transition

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Watertown International Airport has a new manager and a new flight.

Jefferson County Legislator Barry M. Ormsby introduced the newly hired manager, Grant W. Sussey, to the public at Tuesday’s meeting of the legislative Planning and Development Committee before announcing that the American Airlines subsidiary serving the airport is adding a Sunday evening flight to its schedule.

The airline provides daily service at the airport under a federally subsidized program through American Eagle.

The additional flight was threatened briefly when the U.S. Department of Transportation in October turned down the airline’s request for an increase in funding.

However, “American saw enough merit on that flight to do it on their own dime,” said Mr. Ormsby, R-Belleville, who chairs the Planning and Development Committee.

The airline now will offer 13 flights a week: two per day on weekdays, one on Saturday mornings and two on Sundays.

The second Sunday flight will begin next Sunday, said County Highway Superintendent James L. Lawrence Jr., who has been the airport’s steward for the past seven years.

Transition was a major theme during the meeting as Mr. Ormsby recognized Mr. Lawrence for his years of service as provisional airport manager with a certificate of appreciation from the board.

Mr. Ormsby will step down this year after five terms on the Board of Legislators.

Mr. Sussey, formerly director of aviation at Orange County Airport, Montgomery, was confirmed as airport manager in October.

Jefferson County legislators created the Airport Department this year, citing a period of rapid growth at the facility, where passenger totals continue to rise.

The number of people flying into and out of the airport is on track to increase 18 percent this year compared with last year, according to figures provided by Mr. Ormsby, who also is chairman of the board’s airport ad hoc committee.

Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay M. Matteson and Legislators James A. Nabywaniec, R-Calcium, and Robert D. Ferris, R-Watertown, thanked Mr. Ormsby for his years of service on the board.

“Whether it be wind power, agriculture or the airport, you’ve provided great leadership and you will be sorely missed,” Mr. Nabywaniec said.

“Officially I want to say, ‘Don’t go, Barry,’” Mr. Ferris said.

Jefferson County Trails Coordinator Patrick M. Crast kicked off the meeting with a presentation about improvements to the county’s trail system, including a covered bridge Mr. Crast said was the only one in the entire Tug Hill snowmobile trail system.

The bridge was built with lumber harvested from the county forest, Mr. Crast said.

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