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Following passage of a bill establishing an independent, state-sanctioned airport authority, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority met officially for the first time on Friday, August 17.
The first order of business was to seat the board, and this was partially accomplished. The new state statute calls for the board make-up to include the following: two appointees from the City of Asheville, two from Buncombe County, two from Henderson County and one member appointed by these six.
During the transition from the Asheville Regional Airport Authority to the new board, the statute allows for carry-over of existing board members, with eligibility based upon their remaining terms. Four board members, Jeff Piccirillo (four year term) and David Hillier, Bob Roberts and Martha Thompson (two year terms) carry over to the new Authority. Because of the carry-over of existing terms, for the next two years the board will consist of three Asheville City appointees, two Buncombe County appointees, one Henderson County appointee, and a seventh member appointed by the six.
After the first two years, the makeup of the board will be set forth as defined in the new statute. Hillier, an attorney with Gum, Hillier McCroskey, P.A, began his term on the Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board in 2006, and has most recently served as chairman. Piccirillo, a long-term Asheville resident and food and beverage executive, has served on the board since 2008, most recently as secretary-treasurer. Roberts, Regional Vice-President of First Citizens Bank Trust, has served since 2010. Thompson, an executive with Progress Energy, has also served since 2010.
Additionally, Henderson County and The City of Asheville each have appointments to fill on the new board, and Henderson County seated Andrew Tate at Friday's meeting. Tate is President and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development.
The City of Asheville's unfilled seat will remain open until an appointment is made, at which time the seated six members will appoint a member-at-large. The City of Asheville wished to seat Mayor Terry Bellamy to the board; however, the statute does not allow for elected officials to be seated.
In relation to the establishment of an independent airport authority, David Hillier, GARAA board chairman had this to say: "It is a positive day for the airport and the region. We are forging ahead as the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority, and have many procedural details to resolve as the transition progresses. However, the effort will be worthwhile, as the organizational structure provided by the new law will enable the airport to operate more efficiently and effectively."