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Airport panel considers manager's job description

Elements of a job description for a new airport manager were aired Wednesday by the search committee appointed to the task by the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission.

The search committee members addressed recent discussion at a joint meeting of the Brainerd City Council, Crow Wing County Board and airport commission in which a council member wondered if the airport panel shouldn’t come under the control of either the county or city. The airport is jointly owned by those two political entities. The city council and county board also control the airport commission’s budget.

Airport commission chair Andy Larson told search committee members that despite such talk the airport panel is an independent entity responsible for overall management of the airport and its personnel. While the airport commission’s structure could someday be changed that fact shouldn’t deter its members from their work, Larson said.

“My view is to focus on the task before us,” he said. “If changes are made in the future, so be it.”

Airport commission member Beth Pfingsten agreed, noting the panel would like the new manager to start June 1.

“I think we still go full speed ahead,” she said. “We are in a fairly stringent time line.”

Members of the search committee, in addition to Larson and Pfingsten, are airport commission member Jeff Czeczok, Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek, Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston, Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl and Howard Pihlaja, a retired Northwest Airlines pilot and Rick Adair, interim airport manager. Sitting in for Dahl was Chief Deputy Debi Backdahl.

Working off a template for a job description, the search committee members said they hoped to complete the job description by next week.

Among points the search committee emphasized Wednesday were that candidates have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in the area of airport management, business administration or public administration. The members wanted to see candidates with five years minimum management experience at an airport; and a pilot’s certificate or the military equivalent was preferred. The committee members also said the airport manager would be the designated responsible authority in the area of data practices. Within a certain time period, they would like to see the new airport manager complete appropriate training related to air rescue fire fighting, National Weather Service weather observations, EMT training.

Stunek emphasized the importance of strong marketing skills.

Larson said the future of federal dollars for regional airports may not be bright.

“It’s so important to work within the region to drive business ... to drive opportunity,” he said.

While members said they probably couldn’t ask the new manager to live in a specific area they would probably specify the person live within a certain response time to the airport.

Possible sites for advertising that were discussed included the American Association of Airport Executives website, the Brainerd Dispatch and universities that granted degrees relating to airport management.

Adair, who stepped down from the airport commission to take the interim manager post, replaced former airport manager Steve Sievek.

Sievek was removed as airport manager in December and reassigned to a temporary assignment as construction coordinator at 75 percent of his previous salary. A memorandum in his file said the reassignment was related to the airport’s failure to ensure the required inspection and certification of de-icing equipment, which resulted in the cancellation of a Delta flight and to his performance in totality.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860