DANVILLE, Ill., (WCIA) — Shake up at the Vermilion Regional Airport Tuesday afternoon, both the manager and maintenance manager quit their jobs during a special board meeting.
Alex Gale, the now-former airport manager, was suspended about two weeks ago.
On Tuesday during the afternoon meeting, the airport’s board laid out the accusations against her.
She’s accused of 24 policy violations, including conduct standards with discipline violations, safety failures, ethical decisions, bullying, harassment and drinking while driving on an airport runway.
Dozens were fired up at the meeting, all with a wide variety of opinions.
Some supported Gale, others supported the board. Pilots said the future feels unclear.
The interim manager, Rod Hightower is filling Gale’s position. He read her accusations at the beginning of the meeting.
Hightower said on Sept. 8, 2022, she was driving a non-airport vehicle with a non-airport authority employee on board at a high speed on a runway, after consuming alcohol.
But now, after 21 months in the position, she’s out.
“Please accept this as my formal resignation,” Gale said during the public comment section of Tuesday’s meeting.
“You have proven time and time again that I’m not a human being. I’m just an object that you can chew up and spit out and kick when I’m down,” she said to the board.
Board members said there was witness testimony backing up the violations.
“Ms. Gale has failed to meet acceptable standards of airport operation and management and leadership,” Hightower said.
Gale’s mother was vocal during the meeting, upset with the board. Laughing during comments and yelling “shame on you” at times when members were talking.
Hightower is a friend of someone on the board, he’s temporarily taking her place. He’s not from the area, leaving some people concerned.
“He’s not given the best impression when he’s talked to people,” Larry Owen, a hot air balloon pilot, said.
Jake Magers, the airport’s former maintenance manager, also quit at the meeting.
“I want employee protection, I want safety in a workplace against retaliation, aggressive behavior intimidation, sexual harassment,” Magers said.
He said he trusted Gale, but Hightower disrespected him this past week.
Jeff Williams, a pilot, said he flies in and out of the airport often. He also supports Gale.
“She’s been a really good manager for us,” he said. “She’s always been very good to work with, she’s incredibly knowledgeable.”
But others are standing by the board.
“As a pilot, I can’t condone drinking alcohol and driving a vehicle on a runway. I can’t do it, it’s not funny,” Kevin Davis, a pilot, said.
Hightower will fill the position for now, they did not mention a timeline to fill Gale’s role.