Originally created 04/22/00

Takes issue with airport editorial



In response to the April 18 editorial "Airport high jinx" I would like to share a few comments. I take issue with the negative tone of the statement made about "mob mentality taking over." It was not mob mentality in any stretch of the imagination, but rather it was due process whereby a decision was made with a majority vote. The Augusta Aviation Commission sees this decision as a door opening to progress for our city rather than "setting back our city's progress by years."

The statement that certain commissioners "didn't bother to offer an interim plan" for proper airport management is in error. County Administrator Randy Oliver and City Attorney James B. Wall were both advised that in the event of the termination of Al McDill at the April 13 Aviation commission meeting, Timothy E. Weegar, airport operations manager of the Augusta Regional Airport, would be named interim director.

Mr. Weegar's qualifications include 14 years of experience in airport operations with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical studies and airport management from Embery-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and certified public management from Florida State University. He is an accredited airport executive and a licensed commercial pilot. During Mr. McDill's tenure, over 80 percent of the airport employees have already been under the direct supervision of Mr. Weegar in his position as airport operations manager at the Augusta Regional Airport.

I concur with portions of your statement regarding Skyfest 2000. It was a "tremendous success and a profitable event," however the management of the air show left a lot to be desired. As a commissioner, I was very disappointed to learn of the price gouging on refreshments such as a $4 price tag for a lemonade when I had received assurances from Mr. McDill that this sort of thing would not take place.

For the record, I purchased $150 worth of general admission tickets to Skyfest 2000 and I did not use, sell or give away one single complimentary ticket. Additionally, I incurred the personal expense of entertaining several members of the Blue Angels flying team at my residence, which was most enjoyable.

The seven commissioners who voted to terminate Mr. McDill's contract due to philosophical differences are of the opinion that the community has already suffered an "economic setback" under the leadership of Mr. McDill.

By the way, many of the people to whom I gave tickets were unable to attend Skyfest 2000 due to the poor traffic management, etc. of the air show. However, I have no intention of requesting refunds on these tickets that I paid for personally.

W. Rodger Giles, Augusta

(Editor's note: The author is a member of the Augusta Aviation Commission).