Plane request still not flying

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 12, 2013

No new plane for the sheriff – at least not yet, commissioners agreed Wednesday.

Meeks asked the county commission at its November meeting to approve the purchase of a $13,000 plane using money from his law enforcement fund, the discretionary “pistol permit” fund that can only be used to purchase law enforcement equipment or to fund officer training. Under the law, the commission does not have to provide financial backing for the purchase or upkeep; however, approval for its purchase is needed to title the plane as county-owned equipment.

Commissioners told Meeks at that meeting they weren’t against the purchase – just that they wanted more information about the purchase.

“So when we get a call from someone out there, we can defend ourselves,” Commissioner Carl Turman said previously. “We’re going to get the calls. Again, I’m not against it. I think we should provide the sheriff’s office with what they need when they need it – when they can validate the situation.”

Meeks said at the conclusion of that meeting he would discuss the purchase with commissioners; however, County Administrator Brenda Petty said as of Tuesday, Meeks had not provided the additional information.

“I know the plane was on the agenda, but (the commission) felt that since (Meeks) didn’t come see them last week, it didn’t need to be on the agenda,” she said.

Currently, the CCSO has one plane in its fleet – a Ximango Power Glider, which is housed in a hangar at the South Alabama Regional Airport. The plane was acquired in a 2010 “lateral transfer” from the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office. No funds were required to obtain the former U.S. Air Force-owned plane; however, until 2013, the Andalusia Pilot Club provided funds for the glider’s operation and maintenance.

Meeks is only licensed pilot at the CCSO. He obtained his private pilot, single engine license on Feb. 16, 2010; however, Federal Aviation Administration records show that he is not licensed to fly a glider.