Vermilion County airport manager suspended

VERMILION COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – The Vermilion Regional Airport Authority has suspended its airport manager, Alexandra Gale.

On September 26, the VRAA held a special meeting to discuss personnel matters, while Alex attended a conference on behalf of the VRAA. Mr Rodney Hightower, a friend of board member Craig Davidson, is said to have flown from STL to the meeting. Hightower was in their executive session for over two hours. After the executive session, the Council took no action, remained silent and adjourned.

Gale’s suspension is believed to be due to a series of events during his 21-month tenure with VRAA. Gale believes the issues stem from an event where the VRAA held an after-hours trade event on September 30. Gale said she presented her manager’s report at the meeting. The jury did not ask him any questions and did not point out any problems.

Then, on September 22, Gale said Mr. Johathon Myers and Mr. Joe Vincent approached her. The men said they had received complaints, but the two would not reveal who filed the complaint. They told Gale to contact the event attendees and send that information to Meyers and Vincent.

The next day, Meyers told Gale to contact the people who had made statements and said that all statements accompanied the information contained in the written accounts. The bottom line was that the event was a success and Gale conducted herself in a professional manner while representing the VRAA.

On September 29, at approximately 2:30 p.m., VRAA legal counsel Jerry Davis contacted Gale’s attorney to ask if Gale would speak with Jerry Davis and Mr. Hightower before the special meeting at 10:00 a.m. Friday. Hightower allegedly attempted to contact Gale on his cell phone late Thursday evening. Since Gale didn’t know who Hightower was and would have it, she didn’t answer. At that time, the council remained silent.

Prior to the special meeting, the two met with their legal counsel to resolve the issue. However, the board told Gale to resign at this meeting or else the board would “make it difficult for him”. Hightower reportedly made it clear that the board did not want to keep her on as director of VRAA. The Council at the time remained silent.

During the special meeting, the members asked Gale for a written memo or report on the disciplinary investigation. She said she had received no such thing. The VRAA employee handbook requires a “memo or written report” to management with all the facts. An employee must sign a copy of this memo. Then, a copy of the report should be placed in the employee’s personnel file.
Eighteen people spoke on Gale’s behalf at the special meeting on September 30, all in support of her as a manager. “Local businesses have highlighted the importance of his continued involvement in the VRAA, and that his continued involvement is one of the pillars of their success.” While the public voiced their concerns, the Council remained silent.

Subsequently, the board held a four-hour executive session and voted to suspend Gale for 45 days, pending his signing off on the terms of the suspension. They also voted to hire Hightower as a consultant and interim manager. The statement said “the board did not take roll call votes and did not vote on compensation, benefits, etc. for Mr. Hightower.

Hightower released a statement regarding the suspension. He said this was due to a series of events during his 21-month tenure with VRAA.

Gale said she wouldn’t stay silent. “It’s disappointing that one groundless accusation is enough for the board to disregard his accomplishments and his involvement in the community. It is unfortunate that the taxpayers of Vermilion County are footing the bill to pay Mr. Hightower, a friend of a board member, as a consultant and acting director, without any transparency or input from the public. Mr. Hightower does not reside in Vermilion County and does not pay taxes in Vermilion County. was said in a press release. “He has no connection to our community.”

The statement said that Alex gave him time, effort and energy as the manager of VRAA. She wants to put the community first and tell the truth.

Gale wants the VRAA to rescind his suspension and allow him to return to work.

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