Robert Newlon Airpark worries about future ahead of commission decision

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Countdown to the Big Game on WOWK
February 07 2021 06:00 pm

UPDATE Nov. 24, 2002: Following a contentious two hour meeting, the Cabell County Commission voted to table the issue and take it up at a later date. More on 13 News at 6pm tonight.

CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — There is controversy brewing in Cabell County over a beloved airpark possibly losing it’s lease tomorrow.

The Robert Newlon Airpark has been a pride of the Cabell County area for years.

A sign in front of the airfield. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

It was created in the 1970’s, fell on hard times, and then in 2006 Carl Bailey took over as a manager and owner of the “Fly In Café.”

Carl Bailey, owner of the ‘Fly In Café’ is worried about what the results of the board meeting could mean for his business. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

He says he’s put his blood, sweat, tears, and savings into making this spot the tourist attraction it is today.

From the café to skydiving operations and even RV camping, it’s become an institution in that part of the county.

“We have people that come here from all over the world, literally.” 

Carl Bailey, manager of Robert Newlon Airpark

However, today Carl is worried about what could happen after a meeting of the Cabell County Commission Tuesday morning.

“I have a lease with the Cabell County Airport Authority Board, which is governed by the Cabell County Commission.  They signed this lease that I have back in 2006.” 

Carl Bailey, manager of Robert Newlon Airpark

Carl says it was a 30-year lease with the Cabell County Airport Authority Board.

Now, the commission is proposing to dissolve the board—taking on the responsibility of managing the lease, and having more direct control over the property in the process.

The news of the commission meeting has stirred up concern among those who frequent the airpark.

There is even a petition on urging people to help save the airpark by reaching out to the commission with concerns, and it’s garnered thousands of signatures.

Tim Corbett, who posted the petition, said he thought it might help sway the commission’s decision.

“We hope that the Cabell County Commission does get the word or the feeling that the community supports that venue, supports what goes on at that venue, and it’s a vital part of Cabell County.” 

Tim Corbett, organizer of ‘Fly In’ festival at Robert Newlon Airpark

The president of the commission says it’s much ado about nothing.

“The only thing that’s on the agenda is to dissolve the Cabell County Airport Authority. We appointed them and we have the right to dissolve it.” 

Nancy Cartmill, president of the Cabell County Commission

When asked if dissolving the airport authority would potentially impact the Robert Newlon Airpark:

“It shouldn’t in any way.” 

Nancy Cartmill, president of the Cabell County Commission

Commissioner Kelli Sobonya also says their goal is not to do away with the Robert Nelson Airpark, but simply to restructure the lease.

Still, Bailey and other community members are not convinced.

“I think they are trying to get out of the lease and not pay me nothing, offer me a new lease, which is gonna be, I don’t know what it may be!” 

Carl Bailey, manager of Robert Newlon Airpark

The Cabell County Commission meeting begins Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m.

The public is welcome to attend, and public comment is permitted.

The meeting will be recorded and put on Youtube as well.

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