Former Bristol, Va., mayor to chair Airport Authority

Hank Hayes • Oct 16, 2012 at 9:14 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Former Bristol, Va., Mayor James Rector was nominated by a Tri-Cities Regional Airport Nominating Committee Tuesday to chair the airport’s new governing structure — an Airport Authority — beginning in 2013.

It would be the first time for a Bristolian to hold the top leadership office in TCRA’s 75-year history, committee members indicated.

Rector’s nomination for a two-year term will be put to a vote Nov. 9 when the Airport Authority officially takes over for the existing Airport Commission governing structure.

Rector joined the Airport Commission in 2007. He currently serves as the commission’s vice chairman and chairman of the Airfield Development Committee.

The Nominating Committee also recommended the current commission slate of officers, headed by Chairman Ken Maness of Kingsport, to be the authority’s officers until the end of the year.

TCRA has been governed by a 12-member Airport Commission since its formation in the 1930s.

In 1964, Bristol, Tenn., sold half of its ownership stake in TCRA to Bristol, Va., for $60,000.

The Airport Authority will have the power to make contracts in the airport’s name, acquire land via eminent domain, borrow money and receive grants.

“We’re going to be our own city, so to speak,” said Nominating Committee Chair Dan Mahoney, an airport commissioner from Johnson City.

In contrast, the Airport Commission functioned as an “unincorporated joint venture.” Each owner had to vote for the airport to accept grants and issue bonds.

Based on approvals from airport owners, TCRA directed the area’s state lawmakers to introduce and pass enabling legislation creating an Airport Authority. That bill passed in 2010, and follow-up clarifying legislation passed the following year. Other airports in all of Tennessee’s major metropolitan areas are governed by an authority.

Airport owners — area cities and counties — are transferring their ownership interests to the Airport Authority but will still be allowed to appoint the authority’s board members.

Rector promised the airport would continue to work for the region under his leadership.

“We are here for the betterment of the entire region. That’s important,” he said.

The Nominating Committee also recommended City Manager Jeff Broughton of Bristol, Tenn., to serve as the authority’s vice chairman.

For more about TCRA go to www.triflight.com.

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