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New director chosen for Rochester airport

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For the first time in more than four decades, the Rochester International Airport will soon be undergoing a change in leadership.

At an emotional news conference on Friday morning in Greenville, Wis., Outgamie County Airport Director Marty Lenss informed local media he would be resigning in order to accept a similar position in the Med City, according to the Appleton Post-Crescent newspaper.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, who is chair of the Rochester Airport Commission, declined to confirm that information when asked for comment Friday. Brede said the hiring process was conducted by the Mayo Clinic, who owns the company that managed the local airport.

However, long-time Rochester Airport Director Steve Leqve confirmed that decision; Leqve previously announced his intention to retire in May after holding that position for nearly 42 years.

An official news release has not yet been issued about the hiring decision, but Leqve said Lenss was selected as the top candidate in a pool of more than 30 applicants from around the country.

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"Marty will do an excellent job," Leqve said. "He's a very good person and very knowledgeable."

The newcomer will leave his current position at the Greenville airport on May 1, according to the Post-Crescent. Leqve said Lenss is expected to start in Rochester later that month, and he's willing to help in the transition.

The Minneapolis native, who has worked in Greenville since 2008, said the decision to leave rural Wisconsin was because of his bloodlines; his wife also is from Minnesota.

"Clearly this decision was hard to leave a community that has cared for my family," Lenss told the Post-Crescent.

"In the evaluation of this process, for us, family just kept coming back. After 22 years out of Minnesota, we are going home."

Both the Rochester and Outagamie airports are served by three commercial passenger airlines, and a mix of freight and private jet services.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson credited Lenss for leading efforts to keep the airport viable during the economic downturn, according to the Post-Crescent article.

Nelson said Lenss also played important roles in creating a partnership with Fox Valley Technical College and its decision to build a $32.5 million public safety training facility on airport property. Lenss also worked on bringing a new general aviation terminal to the airport, which opens in June, and will feature geothermal heating, rooftop solar and natural lighting.

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