Wingnuts, airport board sign agreements

County Attorney Clyde Richert reviews proposed contracts with Wingnuts owners during a special-called meeting of the Springfield-Robertson County Airport Board on May 9.  CHERI REEVES 

After months of negotiating, contracts were signed between Wingnuts Aviation, LLC and the Springfield-Robertson County Airport Board with both parties agreeing to work together for four more years.

Negotiations continued to take place between each party’s attorneys up until the final hours for signing off on the contracts at a May 9 special-called meeting.

Under consideration were three documents: A lease agreement, an FBO/airport management transition agreement and a mutual release of claims, allowing Wingnuts owners Chris and Anna Ferraraccio to continue on at the airport facility, running a maintenance business.

The release of claims included the dismissal of the $3 million lawsuit against the City of Springfield, Robertson County, the Springfield-Robertson County Airport Board and Henry “Hawk” Ruth, chairman of the board.

The Fixed Base Operator (FBO) contract with Wingnuts had expired on Feb. 13.

A 90-day negotiating period between the airport board and the aviation company for its maintenance operations was set to expire on Monday, May 13. During that period, Wingnuts continued on with its previous duties at the airport.

Negotiations came down to the wire

The day prior to the scheduled signing, board members and officials were notified that the owners of Wingnuts Aviation had called off the planned agreements and would be continuing its lawsuit, according to County Mayor Billy Vogle.

Two more hours of negotiations continued once Thursday’s meeting began, discussing and negotiating items in each of the three agreements.

It was the lease agreement that contained the questions from board members, who were reading the documents for the first time.

Board member Neil Petersen said he felt blind-sided with the final contract presented to them.

“I’m not happy with this and I’m not happy with the way this has been handled on the Wingnuts’ side,” Petersen said. “But I’m willing to vote for it.”

In addition to the buildings and tie downs the Ferraraccios would be leasing, final negotiations included items such as the number of parking spaces that would be used by the aviation company, details on insurance requirements and restrictions and the height of the grass restrictions and other maintenance requirements in the leased areas.

The board would be required to notify the Ferraraccios one business day prior to any inspection, repair or maintenance of the facilities leased. The lease agreement goes into effect on Monday, May 13.

The four-year contract, for a rental fee of $2,000 per month, includes the current terminal building and offices, the main hangar, the maintenance hangar, 13 parking spots, two handicapped parking spots and seven tie-downs for airplanes.

The Mutual Release of Claims document, yet to be signed by all parties, requires final approval by both the City of Springfield and Robertson County governmental boards since they were sued along with the Springfield-Robertson County Airport Board.

That signature of Mayor Ann Schneider and Robertson County Mayor Vogle will be authorized at the upcoming board meetings later this month. Once all signatures are collected, the actual court dismissal paper will then be filed by the attorneys and the judge will sign off on it, according to Richert.

Vogle said in the future, he looks forward to working with a new airport manager and the use of a new terminal that is scheduled to be completed this summer.

“This county is growing,” Vogle said. “This airport is going to be very important to the future of this county. I am satisfied that this process appears to be over. I’m hoping for the best, but I’m glad it’s over.”

The Connection reached out to Anna Ferraraccio of Wingnuts for comment following Thursday’s meeting, but did not hear from her prior to the print deadline.

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