North Central West Virginian Airport Faces Second Lawsuit Over Move the Mountain Project

Barring a special session in December, the Benedum Airport Authority wrapped up its business for the year at its November meeting this week.

Airport Director Rick Rock summarized the year as a busy one where several of the airport’s construction projects reached the execution stage. Work continues on the new airport terminal, as well as work on a 105,000 square feet of extra hangar space. Rock said that by the end of the year, the airport will have had around 100,000 passengers come in and out of the facility.

“We’ll continue to maintain relationships with our airport partners and be a good steward for the community,” Rock said. “I think we’re well positioned and keeping an eye on the prize and making sure that we are executing these projects because they’re projects that are going to serve the community for at least 50 to 100 years, y’know?”

Rock made sure to mention his staff, which he credits for the work that’s gone into building the airport.

However, two lawsuits related to the Move the Mountain project are challenging Rock’s aspirations to serve as steward of the community. A second party has sued the airport, adding an additional legal challenge to the one already filed by Maple Lake Club in March.

According to the new court filing made on Nov. 14. All About Dogs LLC alleges that the Airport Authority, along with its construction partners The Thrasher Group and Wolfe’s Excavating failed to properly manage the construction project. This resulted in stormwater runoff that caused property damage and erosion on land owned by All About Dogs.

The business is an all inclusive dog boarding, daycare and training facility. The filing states that due to safety concerns from the mismanaged runoff, the business was forced to cease operations onsite and a proposed relocation proved too costly to follow through on. All About Dogs accused the airport of negligence in the filing and is seeking damages for the business, which is closed indefinitely.

Regarding the lawsuits and the Move the Mountain project, Rock said the project’s purpose was to build the terminal and create additional revenue sources to the airport so it can become self-sustaining in the future as well as create jobs for the local community.

“We went through and felt very confident about putting together a plan that was approved by the state and executed by our contractors,” Rock said. “We feel pretty strong that we did what we were supposed to do.”

In the report she presented to the airport’s board of directors, Tracy Miller, president of the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex, brought up workforce related concerns that other companies have brought up to her in conversation. Of particular concern is the retirement of Rafe Snell, who runs the Harrison County Academy of Aviation Technology program at Bridgeport High. She said having good people who inspire kids to work in the field is important, and that almost every employer is working with Pierpont Community and Technical College on employment needs.

Miller also mentioned she is helping start the second official Women in Aviation International chapter in West Virginia, which she hopes will help tackle the workforce problem in its own way.

“If you go into most of these facilities, you got a bunch of guys working,” she said. “One of the things that Women in Aviation International does is we’re trying to get creative about the workforce. As we get more women engaged that work at these facilities to join our Mountain State WAI chapter, it helps us as a team inspire young girls.”

Finally, Nicole Jones, project manager at Thrasher, was presented an award for the firm’s work on the hanger expansion project at the airport. The award was given through the American Council of Engineering Companies, which gives out an annual award for projections that have been completed within the last two years.

Jones, who led the project, said that the project adds two 44,000 square foot hangers to the airport. Each hanger came complete with support spaces that included offices, restaurants and toolbox rooms. The first hangar was built for MHIRJ, which focuses on aircraft maintenance. The hangar gave the company the ability to service aircraft all the way up to a Boeing 737, a common commercial airliner. The completion of the first hangar made it possible to demolish old structures on the grounds to make room for the second hangar without interrupting any of the airport operations that were carried out of the old buildings.

Jones said the team faced competition from a variety of projects, ranging anywhere from roadways to bridges, multimodal facilities, rails and other airport projects — anything under the transportation category.

The new hangars will allow tenants to grow and expand their operations at the airport without having to go elsewhere. Jones expects that expansion will create more jobs in aircraft maintenance and help further secure the relationship between the airport and its tenants.

“It was a great project to be a part of and we’re just really happy for the airport because we know that it was a long time coming,” Jones said. “For the project to come to fruition and actually see it being built and now it’s occupied and they’re using it, it’s nice to see all that hard work finished.”

Source: North Central West Virginian Airport faces second lawsuit over Move the Mountain project

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