By ABBY SOUZA
Tim Deike resigned two years to the week after becoming the Tuolumne County airports director.
He is leaving to be the Hickory Regional Airport director in Hickory, N.C.
"It was just a fluke thing," Deike said of the new job.
Deike said he and his wife, Sally, had always planned on spending the ends of their careers in North Carolina, and the opening at the Hickory airport offered them the chance.
"It's a foothill airport," Deike said. "So, we'll have the same weather conditions, except when it snows there, it stays."
This will be Deike's second airport management job in the Tar Heel state.
Before taking the Tuolumne County position for about $45,600 a year in April 2001, Deike was operations manager of Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport in Elm City, N.C.
The Hickory airport is about twice the size of the Columbia Airport, Deike said.
With multiple runways and an air tower, Deike said the airport personnel have been looking into bringing in major airlines.
"The first thing I'll attack is the airline issue," Deike said.
He also plans to work on expanding the airport to create better customer service.
"Tim, in my opinion, has done an exceptional job in demanding circumstances," said Daniel Richardson, the county administrative analyst who will temporarily take Deike's place.
This is Richardson's second stint in this position. Before hiring Deike, Richardson replaced Mark Bautista, who held the airport director position for 11 years. He left to manage the Salinas Municipal Airport in September 2000.
Richardson said he plans to keep current projects, like hangar permit revisions and Columbia Airport hangar construction, in the works.
"We want to make a smooth transition," Richardson said.
Because the airport director position is not paid with general fund money, the county can recruit to fill the slot without breaking the current hiring freeze. Airport revenue pays the airport director.
But the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors will still be involved in the recruitment and hiring process, Richardson said.
In his two years at Tuolumne County's airports, Deike had his share of disagreements with pilots and hangar renters. Deike said his management style was a little more strict than airport users were used to.
"Be patient," Deike advised his yet-to-be-found replacement. "Have a little more patience than I had."
Deike's last day will be Wednesday, May 9.
"These airports are two of the best assets I think the county has," Deike said of the Columbia and Pine Mountain Lake facilities. "They need to be given that attention. They deserve public support."