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Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority to increase in size

June 08, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Council voted 3-0 Thursday to add four additional members to the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority.

Council President William L. “Bill” Stubblefield abstained from voting, saying he did not want to take such an action without all council members present.

Council member Douglas E. Copenhaver Jr. was absent.

The decision increased the airport authority’s board from six to 10 members, with seven being county appointees. The other three are appointed by the City of Martinsburg.

Citing state code, County Council member Elaine Mauck said she believed the decision on increasing membership had to be made before July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

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In response to Stubblefield’s position, Mauck noted that he was not expected to be at the next — and last — two meetings of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

By failing to increase the membership, Mauck said the county could be in violation of state law that requires the appointment of more board members if the county increases the amount of funding it gives the airport authority.

The county and the city of Martinsburg separately voted earlier this year to increase funding for the airport authority by more than $20,000, and Mauck cited state code section 8-29-4, which indicates “each municipality or county shall have one vote for each $5,000 it has contributed to the authority in the form of monies or property.”

When asked how he would have voted had Copenhaver been present for Thursday’s meeting, Stubblefield said “that’s kind of a moot point right now.”

After the meeting, Mauck said the airport has significant potential, but currently has little economic activity compared to smaller airports that serve Winchester, W.Va., and Hagerstown, but have substantially larger budgets.

“This is (about) jobs. We have got to get this thing flying,” Mauck said.

Pilots Michael Folk and Richard Talbott, who have been vocal in advocating for changes in the membership of the airport authority, publicly commended the council members at Thursday’s meeting.

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