Jesse Vinson sits at his office at the Michael J. Smith Field Airport in Beaufort. (Dean-Paul Stephens photo)

BEAUFORT — The Carteret County-Beaufort Airport Authority will complete an assessment phase prior to choosing a permanent replacement for outgoing Michael J. Smith Field Airport Manager Renee Rogers.

This is according to Jesse Vinson, who is currently serving as the airport’s interim manager. The authority tapped Mr. Vinson for the position weeks after Ms. Rogers announced her resignation from the board in late December. Since then, Mr. Vinson has worked to get up to speed with an airport in the middle of a number of projects.

“(I’m) taking a look at the big picture and understanding what that picture is and then separating the individual parts of that big picture as quickly as possible but as efficiently as possible,” Mr. Vinson said. “You don’t want to reinvent the wheel. That’s all we’re trying to do.”

A longtime county resident, Mr. Vinson is no stranger to a public position. He once served as a commissioner for the town of Emerald Isle, as well as having previously served on the Carteret County Planning Commission. Currently, he is a member of the Highway 70/I-42 Corridor Commission.

“I’m pretty well known around the area,” Mr. Vinson said.

The interim manager hit the ground running Jan. 1, when he started at the airport. He said a big part of his job is to help the airport authority choose his permanent replacement.

“The airport authority…called me to help them kind of evaluate the position,” Mr. Vinson said. “And then, working with the board, try to discover the appropriate person for this position.”

To do that, Mr. Vinson said he plans on drawing from managerial-related experience and applying it to an assessment of the airport itself.

“I have a fairly extensive management background,” Mr. Vinson said. “(In 2011,) I retired from the North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division. I was the, I guess you could call it, the main financial officer for that entire division.”

So far, Mr. Vinson said he hasn’t worked at the airport long enough to give a comprehensive diagnosis, but he said even before becoming interim manager the airport’s economic impact on the area was obvious.

“I think that one of the reasons they looked to me is that they knew I was very familiar with the county and economy of the county and how important it is as an entity (and) economic driver for the county,” he said, before adding “you have to understand what this job requires before you can find the appropriate individual.”

Mr. Vinson said while finding the correct person is important, much of the work that needs to go into the airport is a collaborative effort. To this end, he is encouraging the airport authority, Carteret Community College, the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce and county commissioners to have similar goals as those pertain to the airport.  

“There is a lot of things going on here,” Mr. Vinson said. “It’s going to take a lot of involvement from a lot of folks in order to achieve the results that we really need.”

Mr. Vinson is confident he can prepare the authority, airport staff and the eventual incoming manager for the work that remains.

“We’re at a crossroads,” he said. “Everybody has got to pull together if we are going to grow this operation.”

Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.

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