Thursday, December 22, 2016

Boone County Airport Board of Directors gives Southern Airways a southern welcome

The Boone County Airport Board of Directors met Tuesday and welcomed Southern Airways as essential air service provider. Seen here are (from left) airport manager Judy McCutcheon, Dr. Lynn Keener, chairman Bob Reynolds, Tom Benton and Dr. Lad Brooks.

The Boone County Airport Board of Directors met Tuesday and enthusiastically accepted the Department of Transportation’s decision to have Southern Airways fulfill the essential air service contract for the next two years.

Southern Airways CEO Stan Little has already paid for lease space with the airport and plans to add signage after the first of the year.

“We at Southern are thrilled to be bringing air service back to Harrison and Boone County. Judy McCutcheon and her staff are consummate professionals, and working together, I have no doubt that we can make the Dallas and Memphis routes a huge success,” Little said.

“Our low-cost fare structure, starting at $39, means that passengers can make affordable and convenient connections to over 300 cities worldwide, including one-stop flights within the Southern Airways network to Nashville, Destin, and Jackson, Mississippi, through our Memphis hub. Plus, with our new website and booking tool launching in January, these connections will be even easier for folks in Harrison to book.”

Little is hoping to have tickets on sale by Jan. 10 and is optimistic about offering services by Jan. 31. The new website will include Harrison in the daily connections to Memphis and Dallas.

Board member Tom Benton said, “Southern was in all of our top three choices and they are a good solid airline. So let’s get the ball rolling with them.”

The board thanked airport manager Judy McCutcheon for all the time she spent on the phone and hosting the seven airlines who made proposals.

Last month Bob Reynolds asked a committee to review McCutcheon’s salary and make a proposal at the December meeting. After an executive session to discuss personnel, the board voted to give McCutcheon a $4,000 bonus.

“We know that airport directors like ours could be making at least a third more in salary and she could work anywhere. But Judy loves this airport and Harrison. She has often not accepted county-wide raises when she knew the money wasn’t in the budget,” Benton said.

“I’ve known Judy since back in the Skyways days. If there’s anyone who loves this community more than me, it could only be Judy. She’s been airport manager 26 years,” Dr. Lynn Keener said.

“This board has their own budget and sometimes we barely break even,” Keener continued. “So there’s been many years when Judy has been a very valuable employee that has been very underpaid. And at times when Boone County employees who would get a 3-percent raise, she wouldn’t take hers because she knew we didn’t have it in the airport budget.”

Chairman Bob Reynolds added, “And Judy didn’t, and wouldn’t ask for this. She is even embarrassed that we are discussing it.”

McCutcheon agreed about the embarrassment and said emphatically, “I don’t want to be having this discussion.” The board and the crowd laughed at her discomfort. McCutcheon said “Thank you and Merry Christmas everyone,” and the board adjourned the meeting.


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