Sparks fly at commission meeting: McClung scrapped from airport board

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The motion by Commissioner Tammy Shifflett-Tincher and a majority of two Greenbrier County Commission members was all it took to brusquely remove Commissioner Mike McClung from his long-held position on the Airport Authority board (GVAA) at the Tuesday, Mar. 26 meeting. McClung departed the chambers after the vote.

Tincher said, “I have attended the meetings [at the airport] and I would like to see more collaboration and cooperation within the community.” She motioned to remove McClung, “to be replaced by myself.”

Before McClung left, during the discussion period prior to the vote, he had a lot to say, beginning with the statement, “This is not about removing me from the Authority board. It’s about removing the airport director [Stephen Snyder].” Referring his importance on the board, he said, “Oh, they’ll get along just fine without me. But I shall not give up my seat.”

McClung described the conditions in place at the airport when he was first appointed to sit on the board, and found – along with the other board members – that for two decades, the previous airport administration had hidden operations in place, including “…deals, preferential treatment, free use of equipment, running of own businesses,” and more. He said eventually an FBI visit was called for. McClung said that by then Snyder was installed as airport manager and was prepared with evidence ready for presentation to the FBI, which also prompted a visit from the IRS.

McClung attributed the bulk of airport facilities reboot to Snyder’s efforts, including overall new business, higher passenger counts, new structural improvements and equipment, and first rate security renovations. “These things don’t just happen,” he said. “Someone is working it. Stephen Snyder is the reason why.”

“To get rid of me so you can fire that man [Snyder]… is reprehensible – and illegal,” he said, referring to a letter from the prosecuting attorney, which held that no member of the five-person authority could be removed without demonstrable cause, advance notice and the opportunity for a hearing.

“As a member of the commission, from time to time,” he said, “it can feel like you have a mark on your back. But this one feels like stabs at the heart!”

Later, at the close of the meeting, Rose said that while he and Tincher each have four to five boards and commissions they serve on, in addition to their seats on the county commission, McClung’s appointment on the Authority board is the only other position he has in conjunction with his seat on the commission. Rose said he and McClung have worked together for several years, and he didn’t want to make this issue personal, “but, McClung will be removed if he does not step down.”

GVAA Board President Lowell Johnson and McClung pushed to create an air service specific Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) as a means of support toward generating more air traffic flow to the area, Rose said. “McClung supported Snyder 110 percent” in this effort. “There’s no denying that Snyder has done a good job at the airport,” he said, though he also “did things the commission members disapproved of.”

Rose countered McClung’s view of the prosecuting attorney’s opinion in the letter.  With two commissioners’ approval, a commissioner’s appointment on a board or committee can be changed at any time. “We are within our rights to take this action,” he said. “This was not an illegal action as McClung stated, and the decision was not taken lightly.”

“Commissioner Tincher on the board will bring a fresh perspective and not be a rubber stamp for Snyder,” Rose said. “I have total confidence that Tincher can make improvement to the airport board.”

In other business:

  • There were four public comments supporting Commissioner Mike McClung, including Lowell Johnson, Wendy and Cole Snyder, and Dave Neely.
  • Brett Napier and Tia Walkup were recognized as first and second place winners in a Poetry Out Loud Challenge. State-wide, 4,000 students were competing to win a $20,000 scholarship. As each challenge proceeded, knocking down more and more contenders, down from the Top 20 to the Top 10, until it came down to the Top 5, where Napier, a Greenbrier East student, took first place, and Walkup, from Greenbrier West, took second place. There are a couple more challenges for Napier and Walkup to compete in before reaching the final challenge. They appear to be up for it.
  • Deputy Director of Homeland Security Paula Brown gave the commission an update on the Greenbrier County RISE Program as part of the flood recovery efforts since 2016. Now two and a half years after the flooding waters overcame several communities in Greenbrier County, many families are still waiting for a dry place to call their own. She gave a brief measurable summary that included a total of 122 houses in various stages of the process toward completion (4), those signed for renovations (15), and those still in case management (103). These figures reflect “the slow cost of disaster playing out in Greenbrier County,” she said.
  • Child Abuse Prevention Proclamation and a Children’s Memorial Flag Day Ceremony on Friday, Apr. 26, at noon, in front of the courthouse approved.
  • Assessor Joe Darnell was approved to hire Sherrie Crookshanks.
  • Board appointment approvals include: Brandon McConnock and Justin Hedrick to the 911 Advisory Committee; and Ron Magruder, Todd Rambles and Rick Parker to serve on the Arts and Rec Committee, with each to represent a different part of the county.
  • Matt Ford was appointed as the new Meadow River Trail Coordinator, a position held by the recently deceased Doug Hylton, who once said, “If I quit, it’ll take a lot of people to replace me.” And it’s true, it will, but Ford, who’s worked with Hylton for many years, through much of the processes in acquiring the trail from CSX and the struggle with the abandoned sections of the track after the flooding, is well equipped to take on one of Hylton’s many unfinished projects.
  • Fair Housing Month Resolution approved.
  • A resolution to adopt the new version of the 2015 State Building Code, per the WV State Fire Marshal was approved.
  • The 2019/2020 Fiscal Year County Budget was approved.
  • MTA funding request doubled from last year [$4,000]. Rose and Tincher approved the $8,000 funding amount. “We will commit for this year and see how it goes,” Rose said.
  • Howards Creek Dam fund request 2019-2020 fiscal year for $2,200 was approved, to be matched by the West Virginia Conservation Agency, according to Brian Farkas, executive director of WVCA.
  • Court security grant application for camera upgrades, estimated at $24,000, approved.