Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Authority

After our columns on Allen Wilson (Lauderdale County teacher indicted for assault) and James Michael Self (General Manager of the now closed Shoals Suzuki dealership/former partner in Tom Jones Insurance), we had several question their involvement with the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport. We may not be able to answer all questions at this time, but this should shed some light on a few nebulous areas.

One reader questioned the ownership of the airport, mentioning reports that the facility belonged to the estate of the late Elton H. Darby Sr. While Darby Aviation has business interests based at the airport, records indicate the facility itself is the property of Lauderdale and Colbert Counties. The two counties have vested control in the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Authority.

James Michael (Mike) Self currently holds a three year term that will expire in March 2010. Muscle Shoals City Council minutes for March 2007 indicate that although the position was listed in the newspaper, only Self applied.

Allen Wilson is listed as an officer in the Authority. One reader questioned the legality of his position on the Board should he be convicted of the assault with which he's charged. Since this is not an elected position, the attorney for the Lauderdale County Commission would in all probability rule on whether he would be relieved of his seat on the Board.

It's interesting that until recently, Florence real estate developer Jimmy Neese also served on the Board. Perhaps aviation, like the entertainment industry, draws a particular personality type. We, as do many in Lauderdale County, anxiously await Mr. Wilson's trial.

The Northwest Alabama Regional Airport is owned by Colbert and Lauderdale Counties. The counties established the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Authority, Inc., which operates, maintains, and administers the airport through a seven-member Board of Directors:

Ed Borden -- Chairman
Rick Elliot - Vice Chairman

Allen Wilson -- Secretary/Treasurer

Braxton Ashe -- Member

Wayne Lash -- Member
Hank Robbins -- Member
Mike Self - Member

Matthew Hea - Airport Director