Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Another hotel on the drawing board for downtown Fort Worth?

American Airlines mechanic Azreil “Al” Blackman is honored with his name on a Boeing 777 to commemorate Blackman’s 75 years with the Fort Worth-based carrier.
American Airlines mechanic Azreil “Al” Blackman is honored with his name on a Boeing 777 to commemorate Blackman’s 75 years with the Fort Worth-based carrier.

Is another hotel in the works for downtown Fort Worth?

Sacramento, Calif.-based Presidio Companies, owners of the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel, appear to be planning a nine-story, 150-room, Hyatt House hotel.

HRGA Architects in Sacramento has posted a rendering of the hotel on its website, saying the project is in a feasibility study phase. A location is not disclosed.

Calls to Presidio’s Guneet Bajwa, chief operating officer, and Sushil Patel, managing partner, were not returned.

Downtown officials say they have had no contact with the company regarding the plans.

Market studies have shown that there’s demand for more hotel rooms downtown, and this project would join a bunch of others aiming to fill that need. Right now, 1,035 hotel rooms are under construction or in the pipeline.

Those include a 180-room Aloft in City Place; a 162-room Hilton Garden Inn on Jones Street behind Mt. Gilead Baptist Church; a 114-room Fairfield Inn & Suites, which is the renovation of the former Park Central hotel on Houston Street; a 245-room Hampton Inn & Suites on Commerce Street, across from the Fort Worth Convention Center; a 165-room Marriott Autograph in the Sinclair Building on Fifth Street, and a planned 169-room AC hotel on the parking lot that abuts the Kress Building. Sandra Baker

75 years at American

Azreil “Al” Blackman has been coming to work as a mechanic at American Airlines since the days of World War II.

He was just 16 when he joined American as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop for 50 cents an hour. Now, 75 years later, he starts his shift at 5 a.m. each day, spends his day reviewing maintenance paperwork and walking the hangar to check on planes that are being worked on.

Tuesday, the 91-year-old crew chief at New York’s JFK Airport was honored in a ceremony at which he received the company’s first-ever 75-year employee pin — and saw his name unveiled on the side of a Boeing 777.

blackman-1
Azreil “Al” Blackman has worked as a mechanic for American Airlines for 75 years. American Airlines

“I’m proud to be a mechanic. I’m proud to be part of the American Airlines team,” Blackman said at the ceremony held at American’s maintenance hangar at JFK.

American CEO Doug Parker and Robert Crandall, who ran the airline for 18 years, were on hand to honor Blackman.

“Al has worked on nearly every aircraft American has flown since the flying boats of the 1940s to the Boeing 777s of today,” Parker said in a statement. “His hard work and dedication to train and mentor others and safely maintain our aircraft has made us a better airline.”

Guinness World Records also recognized Blackman for the longest career as an airline mechanic. Twenty-five years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration honored him with the Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award, which is given to aviation maintenance technicians with more than 50 years of experience.

“When you like what you do, it’s not work,” Blackman said.

Lockheed’s big hiring day

So how did the big Lockheed Martin job fair turn out?

Lockheed says it offered 860 jobs “on the spot” to applicants Tuesday — 806 for the assembly line and the rest for salaried positions, said Ken Ross, a company spokesman. More than 3,000 attended the job fair at the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel.

Many of those hired for the production line — aircraft and avionics mechanics, painters and material handlers — will still have to take a drug test and a written test before the deal is done, he said.

Lockheed is on a hiring spree as it boosts production of its F-35 Lightning II fighter jet in west Fort Worth. The company plans to add about 1,800 employees by 2020 at the plant, where it employs about 14,000 people, including roughly 8,800 on the F-35 program.

At a similar event in June, the company made 601 job offers — 501 in manufacturing and 100 in areas such as engineering, supply chain and finance. Assembly line jobs pay well — most of those hired Tuesday will make $44,000 to $77,000 a year, depending on experience.

Another job fair is planned for late August or early September, Ross said.

Anyone thinking about attending that one, however, should consider this: A few hours after the doors opened Tuesday, the company was turning away some applicants for the assembly line if they didn’t have experience. People who applied online ahead of time had an edge.

“It looks like they are pre-screening. No experience in aircraft? May as well go home,” Paul Black, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 776 at Lockheed, said on Tuesday morning. “If you don’t have experience, it is going to be tough because there is an experienced person squeezing them out.”

Giving back to law school

While the late Dee J. Kelly was attending George Washington University Law School in the nation’s capital in the 1950s, he was a heartbeat away from the most powerful people in the country.

Kelly clearly was at home there, but his mentor, U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, persuaded Kelly to return to Fort Worth instead. Eventually, he built one of the largest and most influential law firms in town. Still, the lessons learned in law school were never far away for Kelly.

So it came as no surprise when George Washington University announced Monday that the Dee J. Kelly Foundation is giving the school $1.25 million and that the university will rename its Law School Learning Center after him. The contribution was made as part of the university’s $1 billion fundraising campaign.

Dee Kelly
Dee J. Kelly Jeremy Enlow

George Washington University President Steven Knapp said the generous gift will benefit the law school’s faculty and students for generations to come while creating a “living legacy for a great man who was also one of our most distinguished alumni.”

“Naming the LLC is a way to honor the life of my dad and the experience he had at GW Law. This will keep his name connected to the law school for a long time and that’s what he would have wanted. He loved GW Law and Washington, D.C.,” said Dee Kelly Jr., a partner at Kelly Hart & Hallman, the law firm his father helped build, in a prepared statement.

Kelly became known as a power broker and kingmaker in Fort Worth before his death in 2015. Born during the Depression in the small town of Bonham, Kelly eventually built a client roster that included the Bass family and the Moncriefs, John Justin and American Airlines.

Before attending law school, Kelly graduated from Texas Christian University, where he was named a distinguished alumni and served on its board for 32 years. TCU later named its alumni center after Kelly.

The law library at the Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth also is named after him.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko

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