Mayor accuses consultant of extortion

The big news to come from the Magee board meeting last week was the accusation from Magee Mayor Dale Berry that the former Magee Airport consultant was attempting to “extort funds” from the City of Magee.

When he was hired by the city in September 2017 Kenneth Aasand told the board that he planned to purchase bulk fuel for a lower price and broker the fuel between Magee and other airports.  He said that he had explained to the board that if he was able to get lower per gallon rates for the city, he would charge the city a fee of 10 cents per gallon. 

In September 2017 Magee Airport had listed fuel for sale at $5.75 per gallon.  Aasand explained that it could be purchased at other airports at $3.50 per gallon and that was why Magee Airport was not selling more fuel.

Mayor Berry said that Aasand said that the real discounts for fuel came when it was bought in three-truck shipments.

The rate which the city was paying at the time was much higher than the rate Aasand was going to provide to the city, despite the 10 cent a gallon surcharge for his fee. 

Aasand entered into an agreement with the city of Magee at that time to work with them for three months as a consultant.

Last year Berry reported to the Board of Aldermen that Aasand attempted to provide fuel for the airport and wanted 10 cents per gallon for fuel that was delivered to Magee.  

Berry stated at this point that he dropped Aasand and was “going to be no party to this.”  All of this occurred last year.

Fast forward to 2019.  Aasand recently reported to the board that he had been “held at bay” by the two dogs owned by Magee Airport manager Ashley Steel when he approached the airport grounds.  Aasand  got the cold shoulder from the board when he presented what had happened.  There was no response from the board, and Aasand was told he used all of his scheduled time on the agenda to address the board.

Before he addressed the board on the matter of the dogs, Aasand said he reported privately to the mayor what had happened.  According to Aasand, the mayor told him, “to get the hell out of my office.” 

When Aasand was asked  why he thought this happened and why the mayor took this attitude, Aasand said it had to do with the fact that as an airplane safety inspector he could not sign off on the safety of an aircraft belonging to a personal friend of Mayor Berry,  during its annual inspection.  Berry confirmed that these actions had taken place. 

Aasand made a proposal to the city that he would manage the airport for a year and the city could make a decision at that point as to whether they wanted to renew the contract. The city did not extend the contract with Aasand.

Mayor Berry stated that Kenneth Aasand had “issues” that were uncovered when one of the city alderman started investigating him.  Aasand had  told the board that there were issues at his former job in Starkville before he accepted the job as consultant here, which the mayor had sought him out for. 

There was reference to his abrupt departure from the Mississippi State Airport at Starkville.  His reason for leaving was not reported, but Aasand said it was because the city of Starkville was not going to fly the state flag and he objected.  He was terminated and filed an inquiry as to the reason for his termination.

Most recently Aasand has been doing annual FFA inspections as a contractor not employed with the FAA. He said since the dog incident he has not come back to the airport in Magee and has advised pilots with whom he works that they should find airfields other than Magee to keep their aircraft.

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