Tupelo banker named to Tupelo Airport Authority

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The five-member Tupelo Airport Authority will soon be back to full strength with the naming of Fred Cook to the board.
Cook, a vice president with Renasant Bank, has been recommended by Mayor Jack Reed Jr. to finish the term of Smitty Harris, who resigned in December.
“I am excited that Fred Cook has agreed to be my nominee to fill the unexpired term on the Tupelo Airport Authority Board. Mr. Cook is a banker, a community leader and a lifelong Tupeloan who believes in a progressive Tupelo.”
Cook, whose term will expire in June 2012, was recommended by Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings. The nomination must be confirmed by the City Council, which is expected.
The other authority members are Jim Frerer, Bo Gibens and Glenn McCullough, and Dan Kellum serves as chairman. “I think Fred Cook will be a great addition to the board,” Kellum said.
A branch manager and lending officer with Renasant, Cook has worked at Renasant since 1997.
The board is charged with overseeing the operations of Tupelo Regional Airport.
“One of the main things going in is to become very familiar with the processes and what’s going on,” Cook said.
Before accepting Reed’s nomination, Cook said he asked Reed what was expected of him.
“I told him I wanted to be involved,” said Cook, who also serves on the board of the Family Resource Center and the Three Rivers Planning and Development District.
A native of Verona, Cook received his bachelor of science degree in business administration from Missouri Valley College. He is a 1999 graduate of The Mississippi School of Banking at the University of Mississippi and a 2001 graduate of The Southeastern School of Lending at Vanderbilt University.
Cook may weigh in on a big decision soon. The airport has been without an executive director ever since Terry Anderson was fired in December, a decision that prompted Harris’ resignation from the authority.
The group met Monday to interview an applicant for a second time, but Kellum said the authority also is “keeping its options open by looking at other candidates for the job.”
The airport director reports directly to the airport authority. Like the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Coliseum Commission, the authority has its own budget and operates a little outside of the city’s control, even though it is established as a subset of the city government.
The authority also will have another vacancy to fill when Kellum’s term expires this month. However, Reed has asked him to stay until a new airport executive director is named.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.