Airport GM Pete Gwaltney

Big Bear City, CA — While much of the community was on the other side of town for the Team Jordan Romero welcome at BBMS, the Airport District Board was in session for their monthly meeting, being held at the airport in Big Bear City. Among items covered was the ongoing airport building negotiations between Evergreen Properties (which owns 76% of the building, specifically the second floor and the two south wings), and the Airport District (which owns the terminal, including spaces occupied by the Barnstorm Restaurant and KBHR Radio, as well as the airport land, long ago deeded to the district by San Bernardino County). Airport President Jay Obernolte and Director Butch Waymire reported on June 9 that financial responsibilities between the two entities had been agreed upon with regard to repair and maintenance and, at present, respective counsels for the Airport District and Evergreen are reviewing the agreement.

Marge McDonald, who serves as Big Bear City Community Services District President

The heat of this month’s Airport District Board meeting, however, was centered upon comments related to the board and General Manager Pete Gwaltney, specifically those comments written by Marge McDonald and printed in the Big Bear Grizzly. Director Waymire had asked that erroneous comments made by McDonald be addressed on the June 9 agenda and, with McDonald in attendance, the content of these letters was referenced as lies; for his part, GM Gwaltney, with legal counsel in attendance, asked that a retraction be printed. McDonald’s letters had inferred flagrant spending by Gwaltney and the district, suggesting that taxpayers funds held by the district would be fettered away and that “He [Gwaltney] will bankrupt the airport in six months.” This false claim was addressed by Director Julie Smith, who noted, “We have more than doubled the reserves in the last three years.” Smith went on to say that the board will be adding $1.15 million to reserve holdings in this coming fiscal year which, all told, will amount to a reserve balance of $4.65 million for the Airport District by July 2011. In response to demands for a retraction, McDonald said that she had two sources for the information used in her letters to the editor, though did not name them; it was Director Gloria Ann Green who volunteered that she had provided some of that information. Members of the public supported the airport’s call for retraction and, answered McDonald, “I said I would apologize for things that are wrong.”
That said, the board moved on to other, business-related items, including approval of the Airport District Board budget for 2010/11, which accounts for a total income of nearly $2.3 million and yet expenses amounting to $1.1 million.