Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- The search coninues for a new director of the Lafayette Regional Airport Thursday in Lafayette.

A decision is expected by January in a nationwide search for the new director of the Lafayette Regional Airport, a position that unexpectedly became open when longtime Director Greg Roberts resigned in June after allegedly pointing a fake gun at an engineer during a business meeting.

The airport began advertising the position Aug. 15 and has set a Sept. 26 deadline for applications.

A five-member search committee will vet the applicants and send its choices to the Lafayette Airport Commission for a final decision that likely will be made by January, Commission Chairman Matt Cruse said.

“We have already received applications from all over the country,” he said.

The pool so far is made up of five applicants from Louisiana and 10 from other states, according to information from Larry Sides, of Sides & Associates, a firm assisting in the search process.

Sides said the names will not be publicly available until they are handed over to the search committee after the Sept. 26 application deadline.

The search committee is made up of Commissioners Paul Guilbeau, Valerie Garrett and Tim Skinner, Stone Energy President and CEO David Welch and Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux.

“I’m going to be looking for someone who sees Lafayette as fit, someone who wants to be here and wants to get involved and engaged in the community, even beyond the airport itself,” Boudreaux said. “I will be looking for someone who can see Lafayette as a permanent stay and who could really buy in to what we are trying to do here.”

The search committee will conduct first-round interviews via video conferencing, Sides said.

Once the top applicants are chosen, representatives from the search committee will travel to the communities of the applicants for in-person interviews, then decide on the short list to forward to the Airport Commission, which will bring the top applicants to Lafayette for interviews before making a final decision, Sides said.

“Their goal is to bring out the very best,” he said.

The position will pay $100,000 to $155,000 a year, depending on experience and eduction.

The only requirement is that applicants have at least a four-year college degree and some form of leadership experience.

Sides said the applicants also must agree to the public release of their names.

Desired qualifications include 10 years of senior management experience at an airport, accreditation from the American Association of Airport Executives, and a degree in business management, aviation management, engineering or a related field.

The aviation director position became vacant June 15 when Roberts resigned shortly after being placed on administrative leave for allegedly pointing a fake gun at an engineer during a disagreement at a June 11 airport business meeting.

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident and turned over the findings to Lafayette Parish District Attorney Mike Harson, who declined to pursue charges, citing the wishes of the engineer to drop the issue.

Airport Deputy Director Mike Burrows has been named interim director.