Carroll board lets firm keep airport lease; Despite troubled history, WestAir pact OK'd, 2-1


A divided Board of County Commissioners agreed yesterday to continue leasing the Carroll County Regional Airport to WestAir II, despite the firm's struggles with debt, an embezzlement scandal and management problems.

In a 2-1 decision, the commissioners approved a contract with WestAir II, a partnership of Richard Jones, a physician, and June M. Poage, who has run the county-owned airport since 1979.

Under the agreement, WestAir profits from hangar rentals and fuel sales. It pays the county rent and gives it a portion of the fuel revenue.

The commissioners questioned the partnership after they learned of a number of problems with WestAir, including $90,000 owed to the county for unpaid fuel, rent and other bills.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier objected to continuing the county's relationship with WestAir, based on the company's history of financial problems.

In a two-page statement, Frazier listed a number of problems with WestAir, including repeated late payments and poorly kept records. She also criticized the county for failing to oversee the troubled company.

Many of Frazier's concerns about WestAir stem from a number of unpaid bills in 1998. Poage, who was WestAir's sole owner at the time, said most of her debt stemmed from from an embezzlement scheme by a former employee.

Pub Date: 10/20/99

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