Madison County has made its pick for a new regional airport authority created this year by the Legislature.

Legislation scheduled to go into effect on July 1 replaces an existing five-member Jackson Municipal Airport Authority appointed by the Jackson City Council with a larger, nine-member board made up for state-level appointees.

For its selection, Madison County has picked Robert E. Matthews.

Matthews served in the U.S. Air Force and Mississippi Air National Guard, retiring in September 2002 at the rank of brigadier general. Matthews declined a telephone interview Friday afternoon.

Tony Greer, the Madison County administrator, provided Mississippi Today with Matthews’ resume and cover letter for the position.

“My flying experience has allowed me to fly all over the world as well as all fifty states and many of its territories. This has allowed me to see first-hand what other airports have done and what they are doing to meet the requirements to not only survive but grow in today’s aviation industry,” Matthews wrote.

After retiring from the guard, Matthews founded an administrative management firm called M J & G Enterprises; he is currently the treasurer of Madison United Methodist Church.

Leaders from the city of Jackson as well as the current airport board have said they would fight change, including with lawsuits if necessary. On June 14, members of the Jackson airport board and several state legislators held a news conference and cited a new rule from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has oversight of the nation’s airports, claiming it would block creation of the new airport board created by the Legislature.

The rule clarifies the agency’s “authority and policy for monitoring and approving requests to change the sponsorship of, and/or operational responsibility for, an airport from one public agency to another public agency when there is a dispute surrounding the proposed change.”

Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, the sponsor and champion of the changeover legislation, said the FAA rule does not supersede the state law.

Makeup of the regional Jackson Airport Authority

The Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard, or his designee

The executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, or his designee

One commissioner appointed by the mayor of Jackson for an initial term of one year

One commissioner appointed by the Jackson City Council for an initial term of two years

One commissioner appointed by the Madison County Board of Supervisors for an initial term of three years.

One commissioner appointed by the Rankin County Board of Supervisors for an initial term of four years

Two commissioners appointed from Jackson by the governor for a period of five years. One must have a valid pilot’s license from the FAA.

One commissioner appointed from Jackson by the lieutenant governor for a period of five years.

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Ryan L. Nave, a native of University City, Mo., served as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief from May 2018 until April 2020. Ryan began his career with Mississippi Today February 2016 as an original member of the editorial team. He became news editor August 2016. Ryan has a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked for Illinois Times and served as news editor for the Jackson Free Press.