Cabell County Commission meeting gets contentious over Robert Newlon Airpark resolution

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — The Cabell County Commission made a decision not to decide the future of the Robert Newlon Airpark today.

President of the Cabell County Commission Nancy Cartmill (left) and Commissioner Kelli Sobonya (right) heard what speakers had to say at the meeting. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

13 News reported yesterday the outcry over the commission’s plans to dissolve the Cabell County Airport Authority Board, which oversees the lease of the airpark.

The meeting today was a packed house full of airpark supporters ranging from lawyers to skydiving enthusiasts. However, the ardent, emotional—and at times angry—message they all had was the same: to leave the airpark alone.

“I don’t want it shut down. It’s a positive for the county and our area. I wanna know why they want to shut it down, or whatever their agenda is, I don’t know.” 

Kimberly Herbert-Maynard, Cabell County resident

“The ‘Fly In Cafe’ and that property—the Newlon Airport—that’s in my district that I represent so I’m here to listen and see what’s going on and help any way I can.” 

Rep. John Mandt Jr., West Virginia House of Delegates District 16

The airpark sits on county land, and the commission was meeting to consider dissolving the board which oversees the 30-year lease of the property to Carl Bailey.

While the county commissioners told 13 News Monday that action would have little impact on the airpark’s operations, many here are suspicious of the motivation behind the action.

“I’ve watched three airports shut down just like this. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Pretty soon, you have no grass runways. This is the last one. We just want to know why.” 

Anthony Fields, flown in West Virginia for 22 years

Dissolving the airport board puts the lease in the hands of the commission, which cannot lease to an individual—meaning Bailey’s lease would have to adjust to the commission’s standards or he would have to relinquish it.

Scott Bias (standing) spoke at the commission meeting about the current lease. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

“That lease was signed in good faith. And it’s been in good faith all this time. There’s been airport board meetings all this time, there’s been insurance all this time.” 

Scott Bias, member of the Cabell County Airport Authority Board

For nearly two hours, 22 people told the commission just why it should leave things as they are.

Residents of Cabell County and supporters of the airpark signed in to speak during the commission meeting. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

“West Virginia, and Cabell County in particular: we get nothing but bad press. It’s all drugs and things like that. Crime. Why in the world would you take something that is positive?” 

Kari Ann Fields, Cabell County Resident

In the end, the Cabell County Commission decided to table the proposal until mid-February, putting some distance between a decision—and today’s contentious hearing.

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