A chance to make it better
Tonight marks a change in Rutherford County.
Tonight the Rutherford County Commission officially takes over as the Rutherford County Airport Authority when they meet at 5:30 p.m. at the County Annex in Rutherfordton.
It means commissioners take the dual responsibility of sitting on both boards.
But, it also creates an opportunity.
For decades, the Airport Authority has been rife with politics and bad blood culminating with a month's worth of issues starting with the purchase of land and buildings owned by Julius Owens, Commission chairman at nearly double the independently appraised value.
There have been numerous column inches dedicated in this paper on the issues surrounding the problems brought forth by the investigation at Marchman Field.
Tonight is an opportunity to put aside the bad blood of the past and move the airport into its intended purpose — an economic benefit to the county.
But, the new Authority has to tread lightly.
Over the last month, revelations have cast shadows over the airport.
And, more importantly, legal or otherwise, the actions of the past and present Airport Authority have created a breach in the public trust of not just the Authority but in the county.
That is the first task the new board has to address.
Without public trust anything done by this new board — or any future boards — is simply moot.
Foremost, as we have stated before, politics have to be taken out of the mix.
It is common for Washington politicians to show their thanks to large campaign contributors or workers with jobs.
It may be commonplace for Washington, but it has no business in Rutherford County.
We have seen what infusing politics in local policy can do for a local board and the outcome has created more problems than solutions.
The new board needs to make a statement ensuring the public that politics will no longer play a role in county boards and committees.
We hope this situation can be put to rest and Rutherford County can move forward by creating policy that helps our airport thrive. We firmly believe a thriving airport can do nothing but help the entire county thrive.
We also hope those efforts begin tonight.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark