Drag races a possible solution to Barbour airport budget woes

Following the resignations of four Philippi/Barbour County Regional Airport Authority members on Oct. 17, Barbour County Commission President Jedd Schola announced Monday that he has provided information about possible fundraisers to authority members.

At the Barbour County Commission’s regular meeting, Schola said he had suggested hosting drag races as one way to bolster the authority’s budget.

Airport Authority President Dean Springer, Secretary/Treasurer Alice McDonald, 20-year member Craig Bolton and eight-year member Mike Johnson all submitted their resignations recently. Springer said that he and other members are upset because they do not have an operations budget for day-to-day tasks like replacing light bulbs and mowing the grass. He said the members have become responsible for those tasks in the absence of a budget.

Springer was the only member who cited the budget concern in his resignation.

Schola said he believes the Airport Authority could benefit from hosting fundraisers, like drag races, to raise money for the operations budget it currently lacks. Schola said he knows of a company that will host the races if the Philippi/Barbour County Regional Airport will provide the runway, adding that a regional airport in Greene County, Pa. hosts as many as 10 drag races each year.

“I’m not saying do that (many races) here,” Schola said. “I’m saying one or two a year. It’s possible if this company would even be interested in doing it.”

Schola said he believes there is a local interest in the races. The Elkins-Randolph County Regional Airport has hosted drag races in the past, raising about $15,000 per race, Schola said. Schola said that he went through all the proper channels and that this type of fundraiser is approved through the Federal Aviation Administration.

Such a fundraiser would also have to be approved by the commission and the Philippi City Council, co-owners of the regional airport. No city representatives or Airport Authority members were present at the meeting to comment on Schola’s suggestions, and the commission took no action on the issue at Monday’s meeting.

Schola said the races would cost participants $25 and spectators about $5. Half of the profit would be shared between the company and another chosen agency – in this case, the Airport Authority. The company has its own insurance and waivers.

“They take care of everything,” Schola said. “All you have to do is supply a runway.”

While Johnson’s Airport Authority resignation is already in effect, the three other resignations take effect Dec. 31. All four resignations were tendered by county appointed members. No members have been replaced as of yet. Anyone interested in joining the Airport Authority should contact County Administrator Chuck Foley at 304-457-4339.