Keller, Yeager board sign five-year employment agreement for airport director position

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The director and chief executive officer of West Virginia’s largest airport is on board for another five years as the leader.

Nick Keller and the Yeager Airport, Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority board of directors signed a management agreement during Wednesday’s monthly meeting to the term of five years for Keller to remain in his role.

As this past week was Keller’s anniversary of taking over for Terry Sayre, Keller told MetroNews this was the first agreement of its kind for a director of the airport to sign.

He said he is thrilled and looks forward to a long future with an airport he has been with since May 2005.

Nick Keller

“I was born and raised in Charleston, I love it here,” Keller said. “I love that I have the opportunity through this job and working with a lot of people to make positive change and implement our vision to make the airport the most important economic engine for the state of West Virginia.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the annual review of the airport director and CEO and board members expressed support for the agreement with Keller. Previous to last September, Keller had been serving as an assistant director to Sayre. He will continue to make $181,000 per year, the same as Sayre made, board chair Ed Hill stated.

Hill complimented Keller’s reliability, preparedness and dedication to the airport as well as his communication to the board. Not one board member voiced displeasure of Keller when given the chance during the meeting.

“He (Keller) has been very faithful to keep us informed on what’s going on and issues that come along and there have been many. I have heard no complaints from employees or any other members of management about Nick’s performance this past year,” Hill said.

VIEW: The employment agreement for Keller, Yeager Airport

Keller told the board that the airport’s work in the first year including the Marshall aviation school groundbreaking, controlling the budget during the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuation of other construction projects could not have been done without all staff and board members. He noted how everyone was on board with organizational meetings when he first took over and that prepared them for 2020.

“We have a good team of employees and I look at the airport staff as a team and even the board is on the team. Without everyone working together, we could not implement the positive things going on,” he said.

Keller, who has an airport management degree from Purdue University, told MetroNews the airport has been able to move forward in the past year, despite record low enplanement numbers in the spring due to COVID-19.

The airport has not had to lay anyone off because of the pandemic and the Marshall University aviation school, U.S. Customs Building and Capital Jet Center extension projects have not seen delays.

The agreement runs from Sept. 23, 2020, to Sept. 23, 2025. There is a severance package in the agreement should Keller be terminated without cause, including eight months base compensation or the amount of time remaining pursuant to the agreement.

There is a list in the agreement that shall be defined as action given to raise termination including gross negligence, malfeasance, failure or refusal to follow lawful, written instructions issued by the board, and conviction of a felony.

If Keller decides to resign during the agreement, there must be 90 days notice to the board. That is an increase from 30 days for previous directors.

The agreement was noted by the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority and signed by Hill, Keller, and the airport authority’s attorney Charles Bailey.

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