Cumberland Times-News

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February 20, 2013

Airport chair, board member resign after a heated meeting

WILEY FORD, W.Va. — Max White, chairman of Potomac Highlands Airport Authority and Terry Malone, board member, resigned after a heated executive session Wednesday. Following the session, authority members voted to appoint Creade Brodie Jr. as chairman and to find two other members from Mineral County.

The resignations occurred because White and Malone couldn’t come to terms over fuel that was possibly contaminated, according to Malone. Malone felt that it was dangerous to utilize 10-year-old jet fuel.

“I’ve gathered up six people in body bags since I’ve been here and I don’t want to do it again,” said Malone. “When they started mixing old fuel with new fuel they endangered lives.”

After resigning from the authority, Malone spoke with the media about filing criminal charges against Airport Manager Ryan Shaffer alleging safety violations, extortion charges, insurance fraud, falsification of employee time cards, preferential treatment of board members, ethics violations and awarding contracts without going to bid.

Following the executive session, authority members voted to make a statement in support of Shaffer.

Malone served as airport manager for nine years before he was terminated last February. Following his termination Malone remained on the authority as a member.

Authority members voted to go into executive session to discuss the conduct of board members and employees.

“We are going to go into executive session to discuss a couple of allegations. None of it has been talked about, but some people know about it,” said Lee Fiedler, authority member. “It should not be brought out in public. It may be nothing at all and it may be something that needs investigation.”  

Malone requested that if he was the topic of discussion that it be aired in open session.

“I think we should all do this whole thing in front of the media and everybody,” said Malone. “We didn’t drag these people from wherever they came from to tell them to leave. If I am going to make allegations of illegal activities or whatever let me do it in front of everybody.”

White said that whether it was discussed in open session or executive session depended on what set of laws the authority was operating under. Authority members have been debating whether they fall under West Virginia or Maryland laws.

In January, the authority approved the purchase of a fuel reclaiming device, also know as a sump saver. The sump saver recycles and cleans old fuel so it can be put back into the airplane.  Malone voiced concerns over the fact that the recycled fuel was not tested for quality by a professional. Malone also voiced concerns that the fuel sits in the open and anything could have been added to it.  

“I once caught someone trying to put cooking oil into the fuel,” said Malone.   

Malone said he spoke with someone from Maryland State Police about the fuel because he couldn’t get in touch with Airport Manager Ryan Shaffer.  

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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