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Controversy lands at airport
Bouldin, Carl D.jpg
Carl D. Bouldin

Warren County Memorial Airport is currently under investigation following serious findings in its operations and Warren County commissioners feel changes need to be made. 

At the county’s Economic and Agricultural Development Committee meeting, airport commissioners voiced the problems they have been having over the past few months with the most recent airport manager, Riley Tindall, who just resigned. 

During discussion, the audit findings and previous embezzlement incidents came up and Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin said the county should take action and replace some members of the Airport Commission. 

“Everyone has told me good things about every one of you, but there was some issues with certain people and it was a common denominator,” said Bouldin. “I am not throwing anybody under the bus, but the Airport Commission probably needs a few changes when their time comes up.”

In 2015, former airport manager John Michael Patterson entered a no-contest plea to charges of felony theft and forgery after he embezzled money from the airport. The county installed new computer systems to make the money more traceable after this. 

Money also went missing in 2020 when Richard Crawford was airport manager. Airport commissioners have asked for a better accounting system.

“After the first one, the county was asked to do a better job of setting a way of better accounting to check everything,” said Airport Commissioner Harry Burck. “And we were told that was going to be done and then it happened the second time with Richard and we have asked again for it to be done where they have better accounting because we don’t see that money. That money when it is deposited goes directly into Darlene Bryant’s office.”

Burck says they tend to get the blame when money problems arise, but they have no way of overseeing it because it goes directly to the Trustee’s office. He says they have asked for a better accounting system because things keep being found during audits.

County Finance Department director Justin Cotten said, “When the two previous instances happened, the county stepped in and there were things put in place. It is my opinion, and this is just an opinion, that some of those things were allowed to slide out. For my suggestion for that issue, there has got to be two people there. There have got to be two people there handling that money. There cannot be one person watching the money and expect it to just stay there all the time. It is too much of a low-hanging fruit.”

Former airport manager Tindall was also doing some things wrong at the airport. 

“He refused to fill out the sales and use taxes properly. He refused to listen to anyone,” said Airport Commissioner Mike Roberts. 

“Yes, that is correct,” said Cotton. “He was doing it wrong and there were people who reached out to me and asked me to look over it with him. We have adjusted that process and it is now being handled in my office.”

“Every time you tried to explain something to him and he would say oh y’all are wrong and I am doing it right and he just wouldn’t listen to anything and we are glad he is gone,” said Airport Commission chair Keith Bouldin.

An investigation is currently underway at the airport due to the recent audit findings. County Executive Jimmy Haley sent an official statement to Southern Standard saying he cannot divulge any aspect of the case against the airport and its operations.