Cumberland Times-News

April 26, 2013

Airport’s manager gets more authority

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— WILEY FORD, W.Va. — After meeting in an hourlong executive session, the Potomac Highlands Regional Airport Authority voted on Thursday to give any airport manager the full authority to run the airport as he or she deems fit, with the support of the board.

Before going into executive session to discuss employment and legal matters, the authority made a motion to include Mineral County Commissioner Jerry Whisner and former Authority Chairman Max White in the discussion.

“Because they may have some insight on what we are going to be discussing,”  Creade Brodie Jr., chairman of the authority, said.

During a Mineral County Commission meeting on Tuesday, commissioners said member John Felten is resigning from the authority and indicated they would be advertising for someone from Mineral County to fill his seat.

Commissioners also voted to send a letter of support to the authority on behalf of Terry Malone, a former board member.

Lechliter made the announcement after commissioners came out of executive session.

Malone declined to comment on the support, stating that, “it was a legal matter.”

Malone had received “some bad publicity and the commission wanted to support him,” said Lechliter.

Malone, who served as an airport manager for nine years, was fired last year but remained on the board.

In February, following a heated executive session of the authority, Malone and former Chairman Max White resigned during a special meeting because they couldn’t come to terms over fuel that was possibly contaminated.

Malone indicated after the executive session that he would be filing numerous criminal charges against Airport Manager Ryan Shaffer.

Malone indicated that he wasn’t interested in being reappointed to the authority.

Lee Fiedler has also resigned from the authority via a letter and was replaced by Cumberland Councilman Nick Scarpelli.

Also during the meeting, the authority discussed a revision of the bylaws that allows the board to remove a member by a simple majority vote.

The authority voted on the bylaw during their meeting in March and authority member Gregg Wolff said that, previously, an employee who was also a member of the authority had to be terminated.

Lechliter said that under the West Virginia code the board can’t remove a member from the authority. “It’s very difficult for the commissioners to do that,” said Lechliter.

He suggested that the revision to the bylaw should read as follows. “The authority board by a two-thirds majority may request an appointing entity to dimiss one of the member appointments for just cause to be followed by that entities permissable procedure to do such,” Lechliter said.

The removal could be for things like felony and gross ethics actions, according to Lechliter. He said that the governor of West Virginia can remove people from an authority.

Ramon Rozas III, the airport attorney, indicated that Maryland didn’t have any such requirement.

“We are operating under Mr. (Jeff) Getty’s (former airport attorney) presumption that we are governed by Maryland law,” said Rozas.

Rozas asked for the West Virginia statute and he agreed to speak more with Lechliter about the matter.

“I think it’s fine the way it’s wrote up,” said Brodie.