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Airport harassment incident prompts calls for investigation

  • Updated
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QUEENSBURY -- Two Warren County supervisors have called for a county investigation into why police were summoned to investigate whether a government critic illegally harassed the county airport’s manager.

The complaint by Warren County Airport Manager Ross Dubarry was made after Queensbury resident Travis Whitehead had a confrontation with him at the airport July 18.

Two Warren County sheriff’s officers visited Whitehead’s home later that day, but police said no criminal charges were warranted.

Whitehead acknowledged he became angry and called Dubarry a “sorry son of a bitch” after overhearing a phone conversation Dubarry was having in which he was purportedly formulating an excuse to avoid a meeting with Whitehead and Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Mark Westcott.

Westcott and Whitehead are members of a group that has questioned a number of airport decisions, including the planned extension of the main runway and cutting of trees around the airport.

The criticism has turned acrimonious at times, which along with the police involvement was a topic of discussion Tuesday at a meeting of the county Board of Supervisors Facilities Committee.

Westcott and Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty said they wanted to know how police came to be sent to Whitehead’s home.

“It seemed like an extreme response for the situation, in my opinion,” Westcott said.

Warren County Sheriff Bud York said Dubarry called county Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree after the confrontation to report it, and said that he wanted to file a complaint if any laws were broken. Officers were sent to Whitehead’s home to interview him to get his side of the story, York said.

Sheriff’s officers and the Warren County District Attorney’s Office determined no charges were warranted.

Westcott said he and Whitehead went to the airport that morning to get a copy of an airport map before the county board meeting the next day.

Whitehead said he stopped outside Dubarry’s office when he heard him on the phone, but was taken aback by what he heard.

After Whitehead heard Dubarry’s phone conversation from outside his office, he confronted him and followed him out of the building, at one point calling him a “sorry son of a bitch.”

Westcott was arriving at the building at that point, and caught the end of the exchange.

Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Rachel Seeber said she had concerns about second-guessing a county employee’s calling of police if they believed they were in danger.

Westcott, though, said “safety was not an issue.”

Westcott said he had made numerous requests for the map in the weeks prior, but Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson said he had twice provided it to Westcott. Westcott, though, said the one that was given to him was not the one he sought.

Dubarry had no comment on the matter after Tuesday’s meeting. Dusek also had no comment, saying he was still looking into the situation.

Beaty and Westcott have also questioned whether county leaders are looking into allegations that Dubarry was heard apparently fabricating an excuse to avoid a meeting with a supervisor and county resident.

Westcott also took issue with county officials not answering questions on airport issues posed by the public at public meetings, particularly a recent public hearing on an eminent domain proceeding.

County Attorney Martin Auffredou said responses would be provided as required for public hearings.

Queensbury Supervisor John Strough said discussion of airport issues “has not been polite, has not been civil” recently.

“I have to note the temperament has not been pleasant,” Strough said.

Whitehead was not at Tuesday’s meeting.

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