McCullough's financial ties, interest cleared

TUPELO – An airport authority member’s
financial ties to a subdivision near the runway is not a conflict of interest, the mayor and the board’s attorney said Monday.
The Daily Journal learned this week that recently appointed Tupelo Airport Authority member Glenn McCullough Jr. is a partner in MGA Investments, which developed the Cottonwood Estates subdivision.
The 126-unit community, one of the newest in the city, is located off Colonial Estates Road in the heart of a residential area split by the airport’s plans to extend its 6,500-square-foot runway.
Under a proposal for lengthening the runway, Colonial Estates could be widened to handle several thousand vehicles diverted by the rerouting of West Jackson Street Extended.
That street lies in the path of the runway project and would need to either close, change routes or run in a tunnel underground.
Neighbors have complained that diverting traffic to Colonial Estates will hurt property values. Many city leaders also worry about such a scenario, even though it’s the preferred solution of the Federal Aviation Administration.
It’s also the favored plan of longtime airport Executive Director Terry Anderson, whom the airport authority fired last week because, members said, they had lost confidence in him.
McCullough was among those who voted for Anderson’s termination.
He and others insist, however, his ties to Cottonwood Estates and his position on the board do not represent a conflict of interest.
“The attorneys said there was no conflict of interest,” McCullough told the Daily Journal. “If there had been, I would not have served on the board but would have supported the airport nonetheless.”
McCullough, a former Tupelo mayor and chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, was appointed to the airport authority this summer by Mayor Jack Reed Jr.
Reed said McCullough disclosed his role in MGA before the appointment and that it was cleared by board attorney Mike Chase. Reed called McCullough “an excellent board member” with vast knowledge of local and regional transportation issues.
According to Chase, “We did understand that ownership interest there and concluded that just because he has that in proximity to the airport doesn’t preclude him from serving on the board.”
Chase also said as long as McCullough recuses himself from voting on matters that could directly affect the subdivision, there’s no problem.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com. Business Editor Dennis Seid contributed to this story.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal