Feds looking to hire security workers for Aspen’s airport
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The federal government issued its first call for front-line security employees at the Pitkin County Airport yesterday, beginning the process of federalizing most of the security at the airport.
The Transportation Security Administration posted a notice for job openings in three positions at the airport security screeners and supervisors, and a deputy director of security.
The security screeners will be in charge of looking at carry-on baggage in the X-ray machines at the entrance to the airport’s sole gate area. The deputy director of security will answer to a director of security based in Eagle who oversees security at three airports – Pitkin County, Eagle and Haden, near Steamboat Springs.
The Transportation Security Administration, formed last November in response to ongoing security lapses at major airports throughout the nation, has been hiring and training security personnel for several months. According to a press release from the agency, three airports have been staffed with federal employees as screeners.
The screeners currently working at Pitkin County Airport are employed by a private company under contract with the federal government. Carrington Brown, landside operations director at the airport, said those screeners will need to pass the federal screening and training processes to keep their jobs.
The brief job description on the Transportation Security Administration’s Web site reads: “Transportation security screener duties include providing frontline security and protection of travelers, airports and airplanes by identifying dangerous objects in baggage and on passengers. They also are responsible for preventing those objects from being transported onto aircraft by utilizing diverse, cutting edge electronic detection and imaging equipment in a courteous and professional manner.”
The salaries for screeners range from $23,600 to $35,400. Supervisors earn from around $35,600 and up, and the deputy director of security, who will be in charge of most security functions at the airport, can expect a salary starting from mid-$50,000 range to around $80,000, depending on experience.
“These are good jobs and the TSA is hoping good people who want to work hard apply,” Brown said.
Brown declined to comment on whether the pay for front-line workers would be adjusted adequetly to reflect the high cost of living in the Aspen area.
The government has a formula to adjust compesation upward to reflect the cost of living in places where it is more expensive to live. The administration Web site indicated Aspen-area employees would see an increase of roughly 8 percent to cover the higher cost of living.
A spokesman for the TSA did not return a message asking for information about wage adjustments.
The new round of hiring does not include armed security. The federal government was forced to change its policy requiring local law enforcement officers to man security checkpoints at airports after Pitkin County and other rural communities said they had neither the money nor the personnel available to perform the task.
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The Sylvan Fire burning 12 miles south of Eagle nearly doubled in size overnight into Tuesday morning. The fire has grown to 2,630 acres — a little more than 4 square miles — since it ignited Sunday afternoon.