Ridenour will replace Carolyn Motz, who retired from the position Jan. 1.
The Washington County Commissioners approved Ridenour's appointment by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Bill McKinley opposed.
The promotion was effective immediately.
Ridenour was among 27 people to apply for the position, Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said. Eight of those were selected for interviews, he said.
Ridenour, a Maugansville native, has served as the airport's fire chief since the airport fire station was created in 1996. Before that, he was a 911 dispatcher for Washington County for 12 years.
Ridenour's work at the airport extended far beyond overseeing fire and rescue operations, Kroboth said. In recent years, he assumed duties such as overseeing major capital improvement projects, developing the airport's budget, developing emergency plans and supervising the work force in the manager's absence, he said.
Ridenour's new salary will be grade 18, step 3 on the county pay scale, or $69,457 per year, Kroboth said. He was previously at grade 14, step 7.
"I look forward to working with our Economic Development Commission for the county and working with the county administrator and everybody on the county board to grow the airport," Ridenour said after the commissioners' vote. "That's the whole purpose behind it — the airport is a huge economic engine for Washington County, and it is our hope that we continue to do that for the benefit of the county."
McKinley said after the meeting that he supports Ridenour but voted against the appointment because of issues related to the process for finding a new director.
"Mr. Ridenour has my undivided support — 120 percent," McKinley said.
Ridenour said after the meeting that he has a letter of recognition for completing a management program at Hagerstown Community College and plans to continue toward an associate degree in management.
In addition, he is scheduled to participate in a certification program through the American Association of Airport Executives that includes a weeklong airport management course, scheduled for March.
Motz was airport director for about 15 years. In July, when she announced her intention to retire at the end of the year, she said she felt it was a "good time" and said she had already put off her retirement longer than planned.
A search committee began a nationwide search for a new director in September. The committee included Kroboth, Motz, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray, Airport Advisory Commission Chairman Brett Wilson, Economic Development Director Timothy R. Troxell and Ashish Solanki, the Maryland Aviation Administration's director of regional airport assistance.
In the coming weeks, the commissioners will be discussing recommendations to restructure the Airport Department to better reflect the job duties for each job classification, including the airport fire chief position, Kroboth said.