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Bank executive not reappointed to Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority governing board

June 11, 2011

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A bank executive who was named in a 2007 West Virginia Ethics Commission probe of the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority has not been reappointed to the airport's governing board.

Mayor George Karos' nomination of Stephen Cox to a three-year term died Thursday night before the Martinsburg City Council for lack of second to a motion by Councilman Roger Lewis to reappoint Cox, who is a senior vice president of Centra Bank in Martinsburg.

Allowing Lewis' motion to die without comment were Rodney Woods, Gregg Wachtel, Dennis Etherington and Max Parkinson. Richard Yauger, who has yet to attend a council meeting this year due to health problems, and Betty Gunnoe were absent.

Woods and Wachtel's brother, Richard, were separately reappointed to the airport board by the council. Their three-year terms begin July 1. Wachtel was allowed to be excused from voting on his brother's reappointment.

At least three people, including Berkeley County Council member Elaine Mauck, who regularly attends Airport Authority meetings, urged council members Thursday not to reappoint Cox and Wachtel to the airport authority.

Berkeley County resident Michael Folk cited the ethics commission probe of Cox and now-former airport board member Robert McMillan in lobbying against the reappointment Thursday.

Cox, who handles commercial lending for the bank, was ordered by the state ethics commission in 2007 not to vote on matters that involved Arcadia Aviation, which up until May 31 was the airport's fixed-base operator.

In 2007, Arcadia Aviation obtained a $2.6 million loan from Centra Bank and the state ethics commission said later that year that Cox and McMillan were not to vote on issues involving the New York-based company as long as the loan was outstanding. McMillan also served on the Centra Bank board.

Both men have denied violating the state Ethics Act, but also acknowledged "citizens in this state may perceive a conflict of interest when they, as appointed board members of a governing body, vote on matters involving a customer of a business with which they have a financial relationship," according to a conciliation agreement with the ethics commission.

The conciliation agreement cited several actions taken in 2006 by the airport authority, including a vote by both men backing Arcadia's plan for a hangar project.

Berkeley County Council President William L. "Bill" Stubblefield announced at last week's council meeting that he expected Arcadia Aviation to file for bankruptcy, but that has not yet happened, according to the federal court system's online database. Arcadia did not return a message left Friday requesting comment.

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