Gary Barnes has managed the Wellsville Airport for decades, minus a few years in the late 1990's. However, in three weeks, control of Wellsville aviation will shift to the five-member Wellsville Town Board. It's not clear if anyone on the town board has any aviation experience. This week, the town board voted to erase the existing contract with Barnes, aka, Wellsville Flying Service. Barnes, 74, will retire effective April 1. The new airport manager will be Will Shutt, a 15-year veteran employee at the local airport. Barnes has nothing but praise for Shutt. The move will add new employee's to the town payroll. Shutt and office staff will become new employee's of the town, says Barnes. As Airport Manager, Shutt will be subject to a competitive civil service exam.
The town plans to take over fuel sales, some inventory and the lions share of liability.
Outgoing manager Gary Barnes told RNN that he will "still be around...running a scaled back Wellsville Flying Service." Barnes said he was actively looking for someone to take over his business, with prospects discussed even today.
Barnes said the airport's "heyday" was when Air Preheater, Whitford, Adelphia and others occupied the facility. Currently, according to Barnes, the primary user of the facility is Otis Eastern, which houses a Beach King Air B at the airport.
Barnes admitted that times were tough at the airport, but he remains confident that the only commercial airport in Allegany County will survive.