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Two new people join airport advisory group

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Two new members have been added to the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission, with another civic leader approved to continue for a new term after joining the group about three months ago to fill an unexpired term.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh, chairman of the group, also said the commission will decide on a new meeting schedule because of the change in membership.

The five-member commission reviews matters concerning the operations of the Roswell Air Center and provides recommendations to city staff and the Roswell City Council.

Its next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, 912 N. Main St. Members of the public are encouraged to participate by phone or online due to pandemic-related gathering restrictions. The meeting is streamed live on the city’s website, www.roswell-nm.gov. Information about calling in or using an online application to participate is available on the online agenda.

Kintigh selected the new and continuing members for terms starting April 1, with 9-0 approval for the appointments given during the Thursday meeting of the Roswell City Council.

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The new members serving two-year terms will be Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. and the Position 3 representative, and Matthew McDonald, a retired American Airlines employee and the Position 1 representative.

Espiritu will take the position formerly held by city of Roswell Parks Director Jim Burress. McDonald is filling the position that had been held by realtor Riley Armstrong.

Shawn Powell, president of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, will serve a new term as the Position 5 representative. The City Council first approved his appointment in December to fill the unexpired term of Bud Kunkel, a board member of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., who resigned from the commission. The unexpired term ends March 31, and Powell now will begin a new two-year term.

The three join Kintigh and lawyer Amy Coll as the five members.

Powell is a former U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard officer who also served for some time as an associate professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Kintigh said McDonald is highly knowledgeable about maintenance, repair and overhaul businesses (MROs) and that Espiritu will bring both aviation and economic development experience.

“They are not new to this,” said Kintigh. “They know the Air Center, so it is a natural to me.”

McDonald said he worked for American Airlines for 29 years. He served about nine years in Roswell, recently retiring as manager of aircraft storage for the airline carrier.

“I would like to see the airport expand hangar capacity and possibly bring in back-shops in some of the existing facilities that are already there — engine shops, landing gear shops, component shops,” he said. “And along with that comes good-paying jobs.”

Espiritu has been the president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. since October 2019. He is also a former chief master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force and an assistant site manager for an engineering contractor at Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo.

“What I am hoping is that the commission can continue on a path forward for economic development of the Roswell Air Center, and create a more harmonious relationship with the county that will enable us to develop this as the regional asset that it can be,” Espiritu said.

The commission had been meeting on the morning of the third Thursday of the month, which is also when the Chaves County Board of Commissioners holds its regular monthly meeting. That timing had been required due to the schedule of Armstrong, Kintigh said.

Since Espiritu regularly attends and presents information at the Board of Commissioners meetings, Kintigh said a new meeting schedule will be decided on once the commission meets or talks with its new members.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.