New T or C airport manager has contract through June, search for private operator to begin soon

by Kathleen Sloan | April 16, 2021
6 min read
The municipal airport has recently reduced fuel prices to 10 cents per gallon above its purchase price to get back into compliance with a city resolution governing fuel charges. Source: City of Truth or Consequences

Chad Rosacker was hired as the Truth or Consequences airport manager about a month ago without the city commission being aware of it—a point raised by City Commissioner Frances Luna after Rosacker introduced himself at the commission’s April 14 meeting as the new airport manager and shared his ideas for increasing air traffic and revenues.

“We have procedures we need to follow,” Luna told Rosacker, while also assuring him she is not opposed to his ideas.

Interim City Manager Traci Alvarez interceded on Rosacker’s behalf. She told the city commission Rosacker was “an emergency hire,” since there was no response to advertisements made in October 2020 for a new airport manager. (A high school student was recently hired, also on an emergency basis, the commissioners learned.) Alvarez assured them that Rosacker’s contract ends with the fiscal year on June 30, 2021.

Before Rosacker’s contract expires, Alvarez said a request for proposals will be advertised seeking a private company or “fixed-base operator” to manage the airport—an idea that also was not brought before the city commission for approval.

The city may be looking to privatize management of the airport because it has not broken even in many years, if ever. Usually, the airport operates at about a $130,000 loss per year, requiring transfers from public funds to pay its bills. The 2019–2020 yearly audit, released to the public at the city commission’s April 14 meeting, shows the deficit spending increased to $238,212 last fiscal year.

None of the city commissioners objected to or made further comment about the plan to privatize management of the city airport.

Airport Manager Rosacker told city commissioners the city’s “liability issues” would be lessened if a fixed-base operator managed the airport, while reaping the “benefits” of an operator’s provision of various business services, such as mechanical repairs.

Rosacker said he is “managing the city airport on behalf of my company,” which is Tech 45 Enterprises, LLC. The company was registered September 2020 with the state and has a Las Cruces address.

In an interview with the Sun, Rosacker provided information that seemingly contradicted his statement to the commissioners. Asked whether the city has contracted with him as an individual or as a business, Rosacker said he could not divulge the nature of his contract. Asked if he is getting a commission or portion of any business revenues generated by the airport, Rosacker said he is being paid a “straight salary,” and added: “I have not started a business at the airport.” Rosacker would not reveal his salary.

The city clerk’s office said it would not respond to the Sun’s request for a copy of Rosacker’s contract until April 29.

Chad Rosacker’s LinkedIn profile picture shows him with Virgin Galactic’s mothership, White Knight Two, for which he still serves as crew chief. His position as T or C’s airport manager is part time.

Rosacker told the city commission he has 18 years of aviation experience, including being a pilot, doing flight tests, selling aircraft, engaging in military operations, and performing mechanical repairs and inspections for military and private companies.

Rosacker’s LinkedIn profile states he has worked in Mojave, California, as crew chief for Virgin Galactic’s mothership White Knight Two since 2014 to the present.

He told the city commission he moved from California two years ago and has been living in Truth or Consequences for about a year and a half.

Larry Mullenax, a member of the city’s Airport Advisory Committee, told the Sun in an interview April 15 that Rosacker still works for Virgin Galactic. “That’s his primary job.” He is working part time as the airport manager, Mullenax said.

Rosacker approached previous City Manager Morris Madrid and Alvarez, she told the commissioners, with a proposal that he provide mechanical services at the airport. “We were so impressed with him we asked if he would consider managing the airport,” Alvarez said.

Rosacker took full advantage of the opportunity to sell himself to the commissioners. Among his ideas to increase interest and traffic at the airport, he envisions “getting kids into aviation,” by offering educational programs in mechanics and other subjects. Offering flying lessons in rentable planes is another possibility, Rosaker said. Teaching people how to fly, “at a not-for-profit level,” by tapping local pilots who are instructors would reduce the cost of obtaining a pilot’s license by about 30 percent, he said.

Fly-ins to attract tourists and pilots was another of Rosacker’s marketing ideas.

Tech 45 Enterprises, said Rosacker, “will hire people soon, hire and train them locally”—an indicator that he believes that his company will become the airport’s fixed-base operator.

Rosacker said his wife is moving here soon and will talk to the private businesses in the area “to see how we can support them” through activities at the airport.

“People coming into the area and using services and staying in the area is the sole reason for the municipal airport,” Rosacker advised the commissioners.

A $1.4 million aircraft landed here last week, he reported, sharing his impression that the owner is now interested in moving to the area. “The economic impact” of a wealthy person moving to the area “is massive,” Rosaker opined. In order to attract and impress such clients, however, airport facilities need to be clean and well maintained, he said, and customer service has to be good. Improvements to these areas have been his focus during his first month on the job.

Increasing fuel purchases by 300 percent by the end of 2021 is another goal, Rosacker said. He attributed a 200 percent in fuel business during his first month to recently lowered fuel prices.

During his interview with the Sun, Rosacker said a “tenant” at the airport brought a copy of a resolution passed a few years ago that set the price of fuel at 10 cents a gallon above the city’s cost. The city had been charging too much, the tenant pointed out. The fuel prices were reduced, Rosacker said, “a few days before I was hired.”

Rosacker told city commissioners there is a “fast-growing” market of travelers who own small aircraft and like landing on dirt air strips, such as T or C’s. These people would likely be drawn to the city airport as a “gateway to the Gila [National Forest].” This could be an advertising focus.

Offering camping capabilities would provide an additional inducement for these small-aircraft pilots to land at the airport, Rosacker told the city commission.

“The airport has good bones,” Rosacker said. With a runway that can handle “medium-sized jets,” the airport should be able to tap into the “corporate aviation” market. “Corporations are used to high-end facilities,” he said.

Military traffic “is always good,” Rosacker said, and the airport’s location far from downtown T or C ensures that aircraft noise would not be an issue.

Improvements to the infrastructure to ensure all clientele “have a good experience,” will have to be made, Rosacker said. Providing a reliable courtesy car to transport people into town is a short-term need; the airport’s current vehicle is out for maintenance. A plan to improve the quality of the airport’s well water by installing a water-softening apparatus to de-calcify the water, possibly with grant funding from the state, is being developed. Washing planes with heavily calcified water, Rosacker said, “could be a liability issue.”

So could loose pebbles on the runway that could fly up and “cause $30,000 damage to a plane.” The city roads department is now regularly sweeping the runways, Rosacker said.

Kathleen Sloan is the Sun’s founder and chief reporter. She can be reached at or 575-297-4146.
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Understanding New Mexico's proposed new social studies standards for K-12 students

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
—National Council for the Social Studies 

Reader Michael L. Hayes of Las Cruces commented: What impresses me is that both the proposed standards and some of the criticisms of them are equally grotesque. I make this bold statement on the basis of my experience as a peripatetic high school and college English teacher for 45 years in many states with many students differing in race, religion, gender and socioeconomic background, and as a civic activist (PTA) in public education (My career, however, was as an independent consultant mainly in defense, energy and the environment.)

The proposed social studies standards are conceptually and instructionally flawed. For starters, a “performance standard” is not a standard at all; it is a task. Asking someone to explain something is not unlike asking someone to water the lawn. Nothing measures the performance, but without a measure, there is no standard. The teacher’s subjective judgment will be all that matters, and almost anything will count as satisfying a “performance standard,” even just trying. Students will be left to wonder “what is on the teacher’s mind?” or “have I sucked up enough.”

Four other quick criticisms of the performance standards. One, they are nearly unintelligible because they are written in jargon. PED’s use of jargon in a document intended for the public is worrisome. Bureaucrats often use jargon to confuse or conceal something uninformed, wrong or unworthy. As a result, most parents, some school board members and more than a few teachers do not understand them.

Two, the performance standards are so vague that they fail to define the education which teachers are supposed to teach, students are supposed to learn, and parents are supposed to understand. PED does not define words like “explain” or “describe” so that teachers can apply “standards” consistently and fairly. The standards do not indicate what teachers are supposed to know in order to teach or specify what students are supposed to learn. Supervisors cannot know whether teachers are teaching social studies well or poorly. The standards are so vague that the public, especially parents or guardians, cannot know the content of public education.

Three, many performance standards are simply unrealistic, especially at grade level. Under “Ethnic, Cultural and Identity Performance Standards”; then under “Diversity and Identity”; then under “Kindergarten,” one such standard is: “Identify how their family does things both the same as and different from how other people do things.” Do six-year-olds know how other people do things? Do they know whether these things are relevant to diversity and identity? Or another standard: “Describe their family history, culture, and past to current contributions of people in their main identity groups.” (A proficient writer would have hyphenated the compound adjective to avoid confusing the reader.) Do six-year-olds know so much about these things in relation to their “identity group”? Since teachers obviously do not teach them about these other people and have not taught them about these groups, why are these and similar items in the curriculum; or do teachers assign them to go home and collect this information?

Point four follows from “three”; some information relevant to some performance measures requires a disclosure of personal or family matters. The younger the students, the easier it is for teachers to invade their privacy and not only their privacy, but also the privacy of their parents or guardians, or neighbors, who may never be aware of these disclosures or not become aware of them until afterward. PED has no right to design a curriculum which requires teachers to ask students for information about themselves, parents or guardians, or neighbors, or puts teachers on the spot if the disclosures reveal criminal conduct. (Bill says Jeff’s father plays games in bed with his daughter. Lila says Angelo’s mother gives herself shots in the arm.) Since teacher-student communications have no legal protection to ensure privacy, those disclosures may become public accidentally or deliberately. The effect of these proposal standards is to turn New Mexico schools and teachers into investigative agents of the state and students into little informants or spies.

This PED proposal for social studies standards is a travesty of education despite its appeals to purportedly enlightened principles. It constitutes a clear and present danger to individual liberty and civil liberties. It should be repudiated; its development, investigated; its PED perpetrators, dismissed. No state curriculum should encourage or require the disclosure of private personal information.

I am equally outraged by the comments of some of T or C’s school board members: Christine LaFont and Julianne Stroup, two white Christian women, who belong to one of the larger minorities in America and assume white and Christian privileges. In different terms but for essentially the same reason, both oppose an education which includes lessons about historical events and trends, and social movements and developments, of other minorities. They object to the proposal for the new social studies standards because of its emphasis on individual and group identities not white or Christian. I am not going to reply with specific objections; they are too numerous and too pointed.

Ms. LaFont urges: “It’s better to address what’s similar with all Americans. It’s not good to differentiate.” Ms. Stroup adds: “Our country is not a racist country. We have to teach to respect each other. We have civil rights laws that protect everyone from discrimination. We need to teach civics, love and respect. We need to teach how to be color blind.”

Their desires for unity and homogeneity, and for mutual respect, are a contradiction and an impossibility. Aside from a shared citizenship, which implies acceptance of the Constitution, the rule of law and equality under the law, little else defines Americans. We are additionally defined by our race, religion, national origin, etc. So mutual respect requires individuals to respect others different from themselves. Disrespect desires blacks, Jews or Palestinians to assimilate or to suppress or conceal racial, religious or national origin aspects of their identity. The only people who want erasure of nonwhite, non-Christian, non-American origin aspects of identity are bigots. Ms. LaFont and Ms. Stroud want standards which, by stressing similarities and eliding differences, desire the erasure of such aspects. What they want will result in a social studies curriculum that enables white, Christian, native-born children to grow up to be bigots and all others to be their victims. This would be the academic equivalent of ethnic cleansing.


This postmortem of a case involving a 75-year-old women who went missing from her home in Hillsboro last September sheds light on the bounds of law enforcement’s capacity to respond, especially in large rural jurisdictions such as Sierra County, and underscores the critical role the public, as well as concerned family and friends, can play in assisting a missing person’s search.

Reader Jane Debrott of Hillsboro commented: Thank you for your article on the tragic loss of Betsey. I am a resident of Hillsboro, a friend of Rick and Betsey, and a member of H.E.L.P. The thing that most distresses me now, is the emphasis on Rick’s mis-naming of the color of their car. I fear that this fact will cause Rick to feel that if he had only gotten the facts right, Betsey may have been rescued before it was too late. The incident was a series of unavoidable events, out of everyone’s control, and we will never know what place the correct color of her car may have had in the outcome. It breaks my heart to think that Rick has had one more thing added to his “what ifs” concerning this incident.

Diana Tittle responded: Dear Jane, the Sun undertook this investigation at the request of a Hillsboro resident concerned about the town’s inability to mount a prompt, coordinated response to the disappearance of a neighbor. From the beginning, I shared your concern about how our findings might affect Betsy’s family and friends. After I completed my research and began writing, I weighed each detail I eventually chose to include against my desire to cause no pain and the public’s right to know about the strengths and limitations of law enforcement’s response and the public’s need to know about how to be of meaningful assistance.

There was information I withheld about the state police investigation and the recovery. But I decided to include the issue of the car’s color because the individuals who spotted Betsy’s car emphasized how its color had been key to their identification of it as the vehicle described in Betsy’s Silver Alert. Because the misinformation was corrected within a couple of hours, I also included in this story the following editorial comment meant to put the error in perspective: “The fact that law enforcement throughout the state was on the lookout in the crucial early hours after Betsy’s disappearance for an elderly woman driving a “light blue” instead of a “silver” Accord would, in retrospect, likely not have changed the outcome of the search” [emphasis added].

I would also point to the story’s overarching conclusion about the inadvisability of assigning blame for what happened: “In this case, a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances, many of them beyond human control, hindered the search that it would fall to Hamilton’s department to lead.”

It is my hope that any pain caused by my reporting will eventually be outweighed by its contribution to a better community understanding of what it will take in the future to mount a successful missing person’s search in rural Sierra County.


One of country’s biggest landowners having hangar problems at Truth or Consequences airport
by Kathleen Sloan | July 23, 2020

Tanya and Zane Kiehne own 345,000 acres of land across seven counties in New Mexico and seven counties in Texas, being 31st out of the…

1 thought on “New T or C airport manager has contract through June, search for private operator to begin soon”

  1. Le Roy Henderson

    Why is it that we always get these “hot shots” with all these big-shot ideas that do not fit with our county’s economy, as they are reaching for our pocket book?! I was a pilot years ago, and there has been little real growth in use at our little airport. The airport has grown via grants and tax dollars, yes, but with no return—as we see from the deficit it runs year after year. The busiest our little airport ever was, was when Larry Bechtel of Elephant Butte and later of Cuchillo used to get Civil Air Patrol events there. That was in the 1960s!

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