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Mid-Way Airport manager resigns

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JOEY DAUBEN

and MEGAN GRAY

The Ellis County Press

Allegations of corruption, illegal contracts and controversial videos surface

WAXAHACHIE – Years of allegations of corruption, illegal city contracts and controversial videos on YouTube rocked Mid-Way Regional Airport, the airport manager, Cam Fearis, resigned.

His resignation was effective Friday after a closed door executive session in which he requested from the seven-member board – consisting of appointees from the cities of Midlothian and Waxahachie – a three-year contract extension and a pay raise.

Board members and pilots at the taxpayer-subsidized airport said the request wasn’t the "final straw."

Allegations Fearis and other board members had taken vacation trips to a condo owned by one of the companies involved in a controversial lawsuit against the airport were pursued by The Ellis County Press just hours before the resignation, according to employees and board members of Mid-Way.

Board members denied taking trips to a condo owned or operated by the Nay Company; attempts to reach Fearis were unsuccessful after repeated tries to his home and office.

"No, I didn’t stay there," said board chairman Al Castleman of Midlothian.

"I didn’t even know they had one there until I started hearing the same [allegations] as you did and you [Ellis County Press reporter Megan Gray] started asking around.

"I’m aware of it [allegation] though."

Airport operations manager Tammy Bowen, who has taken over in an interim basis at the airport until the board can fill Fearis’ place, said she doesn’t intend to take vacations to the Nay condo.

"I’ve received the e-mails [requesting comment] like many others and I’ve never taken any vacations and stayed at Nay Company’s condo and never intend to," Bowen said.

YouTube & illegal contracts

The airport, located along Highway 287 in between Waxahachie and Midlothian, was sued along with the two cities by contractor Ken Halverson over alleged illegal contracts that both city councils approved to the Nay Company, a Waxahachie-based general construction firm.

Halverson’s string of lawsuits allege that Fearis covered up airport hangars that were in disrepair and potentially life-threatening.

Pilots submitted video footage to The Ellis County Press – which was in turn published to the video-sharing site YouTube.com – showing flooded airport hangars and a Midlothian City Council meeting in which former Waxahachie finance director Carl Wessels is seen instructing the members to enact the contract; audible voice recordings are heard from one of the Midlothian councilmen saying "we normally don’t do these kinds of contracts."

Wessels, shortly after Waxahachie was served with a second Halverson lawsuit, took an early retirement; he is now at the City of Lancaster.

Halverson’s suits specifically allege that Waxahachie and Midlothian violated the law in awarding the six-figure contracts to the Nay Company in 2006 when hangar projects from 2002 were still not completed.

After then-Judge Bob Carroll threw out Halverson’s second suit on a technicality, Halverson re-filed with the new Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 judge, Greg Wilhelm.

Testimony in that case is expected to be presented in January.

In interviews and public statements, Halverson has said he would "walk away" from the suits if both cities paid his legal fees.

"Midlothian’s close [to wanting to be done with it], but Waxahachie told me there’s no way in hell they’ll settle [with me]," Halverson said.

Waxahachie attorneys were overheard in one court hearing saying "we’ll just appeal this anyway."


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