City delays decision, seeks probe into possible airport board violation

GLADEWATER (KYTX) - Board members for an East Texas airport are asking their city council to remove one of its members.

In November, Gladewater's city council appointed a local oil man to the municipal airport board. Now, the other board members say, either he leaves, or they leave.

Mark Carpenter says he simply wants to serve his community and doesn't know why his colleagues want him out.

He's ran for mayor of Gladewater three times - for city council, four times. All seven times, he was defeated. So two months ago, the city council found a seat for Carpenter on the Gladewater Municipal Airport Board. But after just one meeting, board Chairman Alfred Lacy and other members want him out.

At issue is Carpenter's oil lease business, CarpCo. Carpenter says 100 percent of his operations are at the lease near Cole Bottoms Road south of Gladewater. Lacy says Carpenter is working from his hangar at the airport, but Carpenter says his office at the hangar is his personal office and used mostly to complete paperwork.

Lacy says city ordinance forbids anyone from serving on the airport's board who has a business that financially benefits from the airport and is not aviation-based. Violating that ordinance, he says, also puts the airport in jeopardy of losing grants it gets from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"It violates the city ordinances," Lacy told City Council members at City Hall Thursday night. "I don't think that's proper. I don't think the folks on the board think it's proper. I don't think you think it's proper."

Carpenter says he just wants to serve his community, but when the airport board met in December, board members took a vote for Carpenter's removal from his seat. Carpenter says he abstained from the vote, which required final approval from the City Council.

"It's unfortunate, but you know, change doesn't come easy, and this town has been set in its ways for a long time, and it's starting to make progress," Carpenter said. "Some people don't like progress. I'd like to see the city of Gladewater grow."

City manager Sean Pate says that law doesn't apply to Carpenter, because his oil and gas business isn't based at Gladewater Municipal Airport.

After 45 minutes of discussion, the City Council unanimously tabled any decision on Carpenter. Council members say they want more time city administrators and attorneys to investigate whether Carpenter's service on the board violates city ordinance or threatens the airport's federal funding.


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