County expands airport leadership during transition

County expands airport leadership during transition
August 23
03:00 2018

County commissioners appointed an expanded board to govern the Smith Reynolds Airport’s transition to being a county department during its meeting last Thursday, Aug. 16.

The airport, located on Liberty Street, is owned by the county and governed by the Forsyth County Airport Commission, a citizens board appointed by the county commissioners. The airport commission was formed in 1949 when counties lacked the ability to form local authorities and joint commissions and such bodies were instead authorized by state statute. This has created some complications with some property purchased for the airport being titled to the commission, while the rest is titled to the county. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants a single owner to apply for its grants.

At the request of county commissioners, state lawmakers passed local legislation to address this issue, putting the airport and its property clearly under the county and giving it the ability to replace the commission with a new board with authority granted by the county commissioners. This transition to the airport becoming a county department is expected to be complete by January of next year. 

During its meeting last week, county commissioners authorized a Smith Reynolds Advisory Board, comprised of the five previously appointed airport commissioners and two new members, to vote on matters effecting the organization and governance of the airport under its new formation as a county department. The advisory board will be meeting at the same time and place as the airport commission and the previously appointed five airport commissioners will continue to vote on matters they’re authorized to by state statute during the transition.

The two new members are Gayle Anderson, former president of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, and David Mounts, chairman and CEO of Inmar Inc.

County Commissioner Ted Kaplan, who is also on the airport commission, said that when the transition is over, the airport’s board will continue to have seven members so it’ll have “broader representation.”

“When we limited it to five, we ended up with a more singular interest in the airport rather than a broader interest, and we hope by adding these two accomplished business people, the airport will become more of an economic asset, at least through the transition,” said Kaplan.

The county commissioners had some thoughts on who should be on that new board. Gloria Whisenhunt suggested a requirement that one member be from outside the city and Everette Witherspoon suggested a requirement for a member from East Winston, both of which Kaplan said was possible as they create rules for the new board.

The transition to being a county department is unrelated to the idea previously discussed by Kaplan of de-annexing the airport out of the city to avoid city taxes and fees. Kaplan said that he didn’t think de-annexation, which would require an act by the General Assembly, was possible, saying there was no will to do it.

Also during the meeting:

*Commissioners authorized a contract for a program coordinator through Insight Human Service Inc, not to exceed $70,000 for the first year, for the new District Attorney’s Treatment Alternative (DATA) program. DATA is for pre-adjudicated inmates at the local jail who are addicted to heroine, opioids or alcohol. It’ll use the drug Vivitrol to help them fight addition as they’re released into treatment programs. DATA involves regular check-ins and testing for at least 12 months. Those who successfully complete the program will have their charges dropped.

*Commissioners approved August Vernon as the new City/County Emergency Services manager. The city already approved the appointment earlier this month.

*Commissioner approved incentives for Catbird Art & Events, LLC  to hold the Big Pour, a new craft beverage festival focusing on craft beer and specialty coffee, at Tanglewood Park. The incentives for the first year will reimburse some of Catbird’s expenses up to $49,100. The festival is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2019.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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