Office of Emergency Management vacating its airport offices to ensure FAA compliance

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

BERRYVILLE -- The Carroll County Office of Emergency Management is in the process of vacating a facility at the county airport to comply with federal grant obligations, County Judge Sam Barr said Friday.

The move follows a Nov. 19 meeting in which officials from the airport and the county courthouse sought an agreement to avoid having to refund $1.6 million to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Those grants, received over the past 20 years, carry certain obligations. Among these are requirements that the airport be as self sufficient as possible and that airport facilities be used only for aviation related purposes.

Airport officials said these requirements were violated by the OEM's occupation of the building.

On Nov. 19, commissioners tentatively agreed to allow the county to stay in the facility for the next year in exchange for some $6,600 of in-kind road work on airport property.

That agreement, once finalized, would still have to be approved by the FAA.

Even though commissioners declined to evict the county, OEM Director Nick Samac and Barr said they wanted to ensure the airport was in compliance while FAA approval of the lease agreement was pending.

"We want to make sure that no one gets into any trouble," Samac said, "and want to do what's right."

Samac said he had begun vacating the facility on Nov. 27 and moving his office's equipment to the county road yard.

On Friday, Airport Manager Sheila Evans and Commission Chairman Dave Teigen said they had not been consulted about the move. They reiterated past complaints about lack of communication from the courthouse.

"I don't understand why we have not received a phone call from anyone," Teigen said.

The commission chairman said he had called Samac after Evans noticed workers loading some equipment onto a trailer at the airport, but, several days later, he had still not received a response.

Teigen said that if Samac had called, he probably would have been told the move was unnecessary.

He noted the county had been aware of the noncompliance for two years and done nothing, and that the FAA was more concerned with moving forward than looking backward.

A few more weeks of noncompliance probably would not hurt their case, Teigen said.

"They're going through a lot of extra work."

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