Smith reflects on years at Delta County Airport

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Delta County Airport Manager Kelly Smith is pictured in her office at the airport. Smith, who has worked at the airport for almost 15 years, will be leaving her position there today.

ESCANABA — Today marks the last day on the job for Delta County Airport Manager Kelly Smith, who will be officially leaving her position there after almost 15 years at the airport.

“I started in 2004 … and I was the assistant manager and handled marketing,” she said.

According to Smith, she learned a great deal while working in this capacity.

“I never knew what happened at an airport,” she said.

On June 1, 2013, Smith officially became the manager of the Delta County Airport. While Smith has been busy, she said she was glad to be able to work in this role.

“You have so many aspects of the aviation industry, and I’ve enjoyed all of it and working with many (different) people,” she said.

Out of the things she has accomplished during her time as airport manager, Smith said she is particularly proud of her involvement with the completion of the airport’s enclosed boarding ramp.

“It definitely changed … flying in Delta County,” she said. She was also pleased to help improve the airport’s working relationship with the county’s administration.

According to Smith, she decided to retire last July. She noted that the difficulty of dealing with winter weather at the airport was a major factor in her decision.

“It’s stressful … I love the job, I love the people, I just don’t like winter anymore,” she said.

However, this is not the only reason Smith decided to leave her position.

“My husband’s been retired … four years, and our house is finished, so it’s time to take that big sailboat trip we’re looking forward to and just spend more time together,” she said.

Smith will be replaced as Delta County Airport Manager by T.J. Reid, who has been training to enter this position since April 2. Reid said he has a great deal of respect for what Smith has accomplished at the airport.

“The airport is very complex, and it’s primarily because of all the initiatives she’s undertaken over the years,” he said.

Smith said she is looking forward to retirement. However, she will miss the people she has worked with at the airport.

“We’ve all become family,” she said.