LCSN: Spaceport leadership changes concern former commissioners

January 18, 2011. Retrieved online January 18, 2011 from Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – Some of the former members of the New Mexico Spaceport Commission have expressed concern that the commission, which oversees the $200 million Spaceport America project, is currently devoid of an executive director or a board of directors.

On Friday, Gov. Susana Martinez announced that she had removed the members of the spaceport commission’s board of directors. She had earlier asked for the resignation of executive director Rick Homans.

“There’s no question that the spaceport can bring jobs to New Mexico, but long-term success will require the right leadership,” Martinez said in a statement released by her office. “Given its significant costs, I believe that developing the spaceport to its full potential requires more robust private investment and new leadership to make necessary adjustments.”

The six members of the spaceport board who were removed were: D. Kent Evans, a former Dona Ana County commissioner; Toots Green of Alamogordo; Casey Luna of Belen; Pat Beckett of Las Cruces; Jerry Stagner of Truth or Consequences; and Gary Whitehead of Truth of Consequences.

Evans said he received a “short letter, three sentences,” letting him know he was no longer a member of the board.

“None of the board have been talked to or consulted,” Evans said.

Whitehead, who co-owns a car dealership in T or C, said he “absolutely (was) not” expecting the action, even though Homans was forced out earlier this month. He expected some dialogue.

“I thought they would call meetings and outline goals (for going forward),” Whitehead said. “And then maybe asking for resignations.”

Both men said they’ve been involved in supporting and helping to build the space industry in southern New Mexico for many years and are concerned that the commission, which oversees the $200 million Spaceport America project, is left without leadership.

…Martinez has announced a six-person Spaceport Transition Team to “review and advise” the governor and Barela “on the project’s operations, financing and contracts.”

Tom Hutchinson, chairman of the board for Citizens Bank in Las Cruces and owner of the restaurant La Posta in Mesilla, has been named to the transition team. He said there have been no formal meetings yet.

“We’ve had a couple of phone calls,” said Hutchinson, a former naval aviator.

He said he did not wish to comment about what direction the transition team would take and deferred all questions to Barela’s office.

Other members of the team include: Garrey Carruthers, former governor of New Mexico and currently the dean of the College of Business at New Mexico State University; Sherman McCorkle, president and CEO, SS&TP Development Corporation; Christine Anderson, director of requirements at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Sid Gutierrez, former NASA astronaut and former manager of Strategic Initiatives Department at Sandia National Laboratories; and Dan Keeling, CPA, vice president of internal audit at Sun Healthcare Group.

Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article.


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