County taking reins at airport

By Andy Winemiller -

DOBSON — A major change to the team managing the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport began more than a week ago and will continue Monday evening.

The Surry County Board of Commissioners will consider appointing themselves to the five vacancies on the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Authority at the county board’s meeting on Monday.

The vacancies were created earlier in May when county officials informed two county appointees to the seven-member airport board that they would not be reappointed to the board. Three others signed letters of resignation which had been prepared in advance by county staff.

According to information included in the meeting agenda packets of county commissioners, one of the first orders of business for the airport board consisting of the five county commissioners and two members appointed by the city of Mount Airy will be transferring the management of airport finances to county staff.

The move is needed to “absorb oversight of the (airport) authority within county government,” according to the memorandum.

Graham Field, a parcel of property owned by the county which sits across from the L.H. Jones Family Resource Center in Mount Airy, will also be a topic of conversation for county board members.

The city of Mount Airy has asked for the deed for the parcel, which includes a baseball field. The city has leased the field from the county for the past decade and had previously asked the county to deed the property to the city for no cost.

At a prior meeting, county commissioners asked county staff to compile some historical information regarding the county’s sale of the Dobson Square Park property to the town of Dobson. Records included in commissioners’ agenda packets indicate the county sold that property to the town in 2013 for $125,000.

Earlier in the meeting, Amazing Grace Baptist Church Pastor Jonathan Barker, who also heads the Surry County Sheriff’s Office Ministry, will ask commissioners to consider allowing his church to place the U.S. motto of “In God We Trust” on the Surry County Sheriff’s Office building.

The county board approved the same course of action when the U.S. Motto Action Committee offered to place the words on the Surry County Courthouse and the Surry County Government Center in 2015. The U.S. Motto Action Committee payed to install the motto on those two buildings.

According to an email from County Attorney Ed Woltz, the county should face no legal repercussions should it approve the latest motto request. The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals “okayed” such action in 2005, and the U.S. Supreme Court opted not to hear an appeal in that case.

Woltz’s email also indicates he has been researching the “legitimacy” of placing “In God We Trust” on Surry County EMS vehicles for county staff.

The motto appears on sheriff’s office cruisers and on the county’s ambulances.

Monday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Surry County Government Center, which is located at 118 Hamby Road in Dobson.

By Andy Winemiller

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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