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updated: 4/9/2014 9:13 AM

Former airport manager receives year's salary

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  • Dennis G. Rouleau in 2011 at Chicago Executive Airport.

       Dennis G. Rouleau in 2011 at Chicago Executive Airport.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 

Dennis Rouleau, former manager of Chicago Executive Airport and an employee there for almost a quarter century, will receive a year's salary through his settlement agreement with the airport.

Rouleau will get a total of $144,555 plus about $12,000 for accrued vacation, according to the agreement reached in January.

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He was given half the salary in a lump sum and will receive the rest over six months. The airport will also pay for a year's family medical and dental insurance.

The Daily Herald filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain a copy of the agreement.

Rouleau took a medical leave last summer to undergo a bone marrow stem cell transplant due to a condition called polycythemia vera that produces too many red blood cells and damaged his bone marrow.

At that time he planned to return in 2014, but his future became one of the issues of dispute among Wheeling and Prospect Heights, the owners of the airport, and the board that manages it.

Last fall the two municipalities settled their differences and rewrote their agreement, giving the airport board the power to hire and fire the manager.

Reached Tuesday at his home, Rouleau said he could not comment on the settlement, but said his health is very good and he plans to seek employment in the aviation industry.

"I feel great and everything is doing as planned," said Rouleau. "The stem cells are 100 percent grafted onto my body. I am going to walk a 5K next weekend."

The 52-year-old Rouleau said he wants to continue to make a difference in aviation.

"(His new job) will be in a capacity where I can make a difference because I have a great deal of knowledge, and I'm not going to let it go to waste," he said.

When Rouleau went on medical leave he said his legacy includes bringing tens of millions of dollars in business, construction and grants to the airport. He also said he is very grateful to have found a volunteer transplant donor through Be the Match, bethematch.org.

Robert A. McKenzie, named chairman of the airport board in November, said he could not comment on the settlement.

Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer and Wheeling Village President Dean Argiris both said Tuesday the airport board reached a good settlement with Rouleau.

Helmer praised Rouleau's long service and said he would get great references when seeking another aviation job.

"I think you might call the settlement generous, but based on what he accomplished, if we had to pay the private sector for that it would have been a lot more," said Helmer.

He said Rouleau's accomplishments would fill pages, but the former manager oversaw redesigning and rebuilding taxiways and runways and otherwise changing the airport from one with mostly single-engine aircraft to one that can serve jets.

Helmer praised Rouleau for his ability to create working relationships with both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Argiris called the settlement fair based on what other managers have received over the years.

Helmer said that Rouleau also received his salary during his medical leave.

He called the decision for Rouleau to leave the airport "a meeting of the minds after a lot of talk."

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