Rumor spreads over airport change

Jul. 14, 2013 @ 08:24 AM

Sometimes rumors can prove to be trouble.

For the Rutherford County Airport Authority, a rumor was used for a different purpose than one might think.

On Friday, airport employees as well as hanger operators learned that management at the airport would be changing in August.

However, after investigating the rumor, it was learned by The Daily Courier that the rumor was spread by an Airport Authority member to "see how long it takes rumors to spread."

An airport employee confirmed Friday that Authority vice-chairman Keith Hunter was in the terminal stating the management of the airport would change in August.

Even though the Rutherford County Commission will be considering local legislation which allows them to take over the Airport Authority and move its management under the county umbrella, no changes have been approved or even discussed on the county level.

In fact, at Tuesday's Airport Authority meeting, it was decided that Authority Chairman Bob Howard would continue managing the airport on behalf of the Authority.

"I did it to see how long it takes rumors to spread," Hunter said. "There are people who stir up a lot of things at the airport and I will leave it at that."

Howard said the rumor was started without his knowledge until after the fact it happened.

"Frankly, I didn't think it would go anywhere," Howard said. "If someone said that to me, it would just roll off."

Hunter defended his action by saying the airport has "probably been looking for a manager for a while." He also said there was no other intent in starting the rumor other than to find out how long it would take to spread around Marchman Field.

"Sometimes you have to tell people things to find out who you can trust, see how it comes out and how it gets turned around," Hunter said. "It was not the intent to not trust people. I don't want it to seem like I don't trust anyone because that's not the case."

Howard, when asked if he thought the action was juvenile, said he did find it fascinating just how fast it took anyone to call him about the rumor.

"I don't condone it at all," Howard said. "But, when you get back and think about it, who would have thought it would have gone anywhere?

"I agree that this is rather goofy. But, it is indicative as to what goes on at the airport. I don't like it."

At Tuesday's meeting of the Authority, it was suggested that the newest member of the Authority — Kyle Hankinson — assume the management of the airport.

"I would need to get an idea on the workload because I have a good workload now with military and civilian jobs," Hankinson said during the meeting. "I would like a description of what the expectations are for the manager."

For the time being, the Authority elected to keep Howard as manager, until the county decides what it will do with the organization.

Commissioners asked County Manager Carl Classen for facts and figures regarding the Airport Authority before taking up House Bill 290, which allows the Commission to serve as the Airport Authority, if it chooses.

Commissioners are planning to take up the Authority question during its August meeting.

As for the airport management rumor, Howard said there was no harm intended.

"I can understand how some people would think it was childish," Howard said.