by Nora Edinger
BRIDGEPORT -- Airport authority officials expect to file a lawsuit against the state this week -- a scant two weeks before the board is scheduled to be reorganized.
"We're probably going to be approving the form of the lawsuit in the next day or so," said Roger Diaz, president of the Benedum Airport Authority of the Harrison-Marion Regional Airport.
The lawsuit will challenge the constitutionality of a new state law that changes the structure of the authority as of July 1. It will be filed in Kanawha County by the Charleston firm of Winter, Johnson and Hill.
Diaz said the lawsuit has nothing to do with the personalities involved in a three-month dispute over who should appoint members to the bi-county board.
Late in the Legislative session, the board was restructured in a way that removed most appointment-making authority from the Harrison and Marion county commissions. Those two counties own the airport.
However, the personalities involved in the dispute were already in evidence Tuesday.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Timms was appointed to the outgoing board this week. He filled one of three vacant slots.
One of his first acts was to vote against ordering signs to reflect the airport's name change. He prefers to keep the name Benedum Airport.
In May, authority members voted to change the name to reflect the airport's bi-county nature.
Jim Sago, a Marion County commissioner and authority member, was angered by Timms' dissent.
"Give them (Marion taxpayers) a little recognition, that's all," Sago said. "All it is (saying is), 'Hey folks in Marion County, thank you.' "
Although the sign measure passed, Timms said he was glad to represent the city in which the airport is located.
"We don't know what is going to happen," Timms said of the board's structure. The new board automatically includes Bridgeport's city manager but not the mayor.
"We just want to make sure that Bridgeport has a seat at the table."
Ironically, should the current board remain in power, he may have more than a seat. Timms was appointed to the authority's five-member executive committee Tuesday.
That move was related to a change in authority bylaws that became effective June 1. The new committee consists of two county commissioners from Marion and Harrison and one at-large member from the board.
Timms nominated himself because of his engineering experience. He was voted in unanimously.
In other airport business, Harrison commissioners also appointed Bob Glotfelty to the board. He is a retired financial advisor and stock broker and a former member of the Clarksburg Water Board.
Marion commissioners appointed that county's Chief Tax Deputy Steve Eness to fill the remaining seat.
Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.