By Marcia Moore

The Daily Item

RIVERSIDE — Northumberland County took another step to cutting daily operation ties to the Danville Airport this week by paying off the last of an $11,000 debt.

The airport is jointly owned by Northumberland and Mountour counties, but only recently the commissioners have formed an authority to oversee the facility's day-to-day operation.

"Before it was run by the commissioners and we finally took the bull by the horns and appointed an authority, people with more knowledge of running an airport," Northumberland County Commissioner Kurt Masser said.

The property is still owned by the counties and appointments to the authority will still be made by the two boards, but the daily management and operation will be overseen by Danville Airport Authority co-chairmen Craig Lawler and Jack Shelango, along with members Dennis Stahl, Neil Baylor and Bill Mengas.

One last piece of business for the county boards before relinquishing the reins was to pay off a debt for refurbishing the facility. Last Tuesday, Northumberland County approved paying its share, paying $11,153 to cover their share.

But while the counties are backing away from the daily operation, Masser said both boards consider the facility an important asset in attracting industry.

Lawler said the authority will work to make the airport self-sufficient, increase the size of the ramp and remove trees to allow for planes to land in limited visibility.

"The airfield is an economic development tool that we need to create and keep jobs," he said.

There are about 135 weekly takeoffs and landings at the county airport.

"I use it for business, Clyde Peeling (owner of Reptiland in Allenwood) hauls snakes in and out all the time," Lawler said.

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