Airport board officially cut

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Cloudy skies remain in the future of the Brookhaven MunicipalAirport following Tuesday’s board of aldermen vote to officiallyabolish the board and give city fathers 60 days to consider futurecourses of action.

Although the airport board was abolished, aldermen agreed tolook at establishing an advisory board or reinstating the airportboard at a later date. Raymond Boutwell, filling in for CityAttorney Joe Fernald, said the board had 60 days to adopt rules,regulations and terms of operation for the airport.

Before the vote, Gerry Mosley, a member of the abolished board,urged aldermen to keep the airport. Aldermen voted at their June 6meeting to abolish the airport board and last night’s action was toclarify that vote.

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Mosley told the board that, like the city, private pilots wouldlike to see the airport grow. However, he said they felt the bestway to accomplish that was with a contracted airport manager.

“This airport needs a (manager) that will make this airport afull service airport and not just a filling station,” Mosley said.”The airport needs a business, aviation-oriented operator. If allyou want to do is sell fuel, you can install a self-service cardlock system. You would not need anyone at the airport.”

Mosley also criticized the service at the airport.

“This airport needs to be aviation friendly,” he said.

Mosley continued by giving several alleged examples of poortreatment to visiting pilots by the city’s appointed airportmanager, Benton Furlow. Midway through the second example, though,Mayor Bill Godbold interrupted him.

“If you are going to go step-by-step and criticize everythingMr. Furlow does, then you’re out of order,” Godbold said.

When Mosley persisted in giving his examples, Godbold left themeeting. He returned to the board room after Mosley finished.

Mosley concluded by telling the aldermen that whether theairport is run by the city or the airport board, it is city moneythat funds it. He requested they take a second look at thesituation and keep the board intact.

“You need to keep this board intact, replace the members youwish to replace, require this board to have regular meetings andgive a report to this city board,” Mosley said. “Give the airportboard your blessings in immediately contracting with a full service(manager). Turn this airport around and be strong in building it ina positive manner.”

In making the motion to adopt the ordinance, Ward 4 AldermanJohn Roberts said he would like to “seriously consider an advisoryboard” before a vote was taken.

Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry Wilson said aldermen should goahead and abolish the board, but take a look a recreating itlater.

Roberts agreed that was a possibility and hinted that perhaps itwas personalities that needed to be looked at.

“We had to take it under an emergency situation,” Roberts saidabout the city assuming control of the airport. “But I want a boardthat would work with you (Godbold) and this board.”

Alderman-at-large Henry Newman said perhaps aldermen shouldconsider retaining the airport board, but starting fresh with newboard members.

Terry Bates Sr., Ward 2 alderman, disagreed. He said the twoboards were too far apart in their views.

Bates advocated abolishing the board at present and looking atit again in the future, once the city had addressed the morepressing needs of the airport.

“This way we have a chance to sit down (with representatives ofeveryone involved) and work something out that will help theairport grow,” he said.

The situation has not been aided by The DAILY LEADER, Wilsonsaid, in bringing up negative publicity surrounding the airport. Hesaid he did not like division and said everyone should try to worktogether.

While acknowledging the airport situation had generated somenegative publicity, Roberts said the controversy was not startedwhen the city assumed control of the airport three months ago.

“This is not something this board created,” Roberts said. “Theproblems with the airport board go back much farther than the pastfew months. This board has never denied the airport board anythingin 11 years.”

Godbold said that when he began investigating the airport, itwas in response to complaints his office received about the formerairport manager, Al Jordan. Jordan’s health was not good, he said,and he was frequently absent from the airport.

“We don’t need an airport with a note on the door saying, ‘Callme,'” Godbold said. “That is how I got into it –unintentionally.”

Godbold said the controversy was a waste of valuable time tosuit the needs of the “10 people who use the airport,” and thosepeople had unrealistic ideas.

“They want this run like a super-store, and it’s not,” he said.”It’s just a little sidetrack out there. We’re just a smallairport, and that’s all we’re going to be for awhile.”

The mayor suggested the board consider what was said and vote onthe resolution at the next meeting.

Boutwell said the motion and second had been made and the boardneeded to do something last night. He said the airport wasultimately the responsibility of the board of alderman, and if theairport board had not been meeting, it was their duty tointervene.

“What I have heard addressed here are concerns that arehindering the airport,” he said. “The board is doing the rightthing now by taking control of the situation.”

The vote to adopt the resolution was unanimous.