Appointees named to airport board

Published 2:45 pm Monday, October 6, 2008

As the three counties who are responsible for the Tri-County Airport Authority continue to make inroads into that entity’s financial condition and operations, officials from each took steps Monday to place the board on solid ground.

In Windsor, Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb reported that neither Bertie, Hertford nor Northampton had recently appointed members to the Tri-County Airport Authority Board.

“The current terms of all the appointees of this board have expired,” Lamb told the commissioners.

He said the county currently had no members appointed who were attending meetings. He further stated that Mike Spaulding had been suggested as an appointee, and had been attending meetings, but had never been appointed by the commissioners.

“In our meeting recently, the county managers felt we needed to get the appointments up to date and recommend that at least one county commissioner serve from each county,” Lamb said. “Our representative was Mr. (Jasper) Bazemore.”

Bazemore died while serving as a county commissioner and has since been replaced on the board by Charles Smith.

Commission Chairman Norman Cherry asked if one commissioner could be appointed to serve in that role and another as a representative of another group.

“You can’t take that hat off,” Commissioner Rick Harrell said. “If they are appointed, they are serving as a commissioner.”

Lamb said Harrell was correct, but added that there was no reason two commissioners could not be appointed. The manager then suggested appointing Spaulding for a two-year interim term then appointing one commissioner for a three-year interim term and the other for a full four-year term.

Commissioner Smith made the motion to appoint Spaulding and Commissioners L.C. Hoggard and J. Wallace Perry to the board. Lamb asked which would serve the full four-year term and Hoggard volunteered for that spot. The board voted unanimously to appoint the three to the board.

In Northampton County, only one member was appointed to the airport authority board. Commissioner James Hester was selected to fill the commissioner seat for Northampton and was appointed to a full four-year term.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins said Dr. John Stanley and Gary Brown were already serving on the airport board representing Northampton and would continue in that capacity. Brown’s term will end next year with the board making an appointment to a full four-year term at that time. The same will be true of Stanley in 2010.

Hertford County Manager Loria D. Williams said the commissioners in that county chose to go the interim route as well. They appointed Commissioner Johnnie R. Farmer to a two-year interim term and then selected O.S. “Buck” Suiter for the three-year interim term. Tom Fretwell, the chair of the airport authority board, was appointed to a full four-year term.

The three county managers have been meeting for the past several months to discuss the operation and financial condition of the Tri-County Airport. The meetings were directed by the three county commissions after the authority requested matching funds for a grant earlier this year.

Commissioners at that time expressed distress that the request came shortly after budgets were passed and also because there was no fund balance for the authority’s budget.

Some commissioners and managers also have questioned the operation of the airport including the contracts for operation of the facility.

The managers are expected to make a full report to their respective boards later this year in regards to the Tri-County Airport Authority.

(Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Staff Writer Amanda VanDerBroek contributed to this story.)