Weather Forecast


'Now hiring'

The “now hiring” sign is out again at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

Ten months after Steve Sievek was removed from his post as airport manager and eight months after a search committee was formed, the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission is reopening its application process for the airport manager.

Last month, the airport commission rejected two airport manager finalists it had interviewed.

The commission accepted the search committee’s recommendation to reopen the application process; advertise on its website, in the Brainerd Dispatch and with universities with aviation programs; and to keep the application process open for 10 business days. The commission, also accepted a recommendation to keep the same job description. The search committee members noted they would like to see the hiring process move quickly.

“We’ve been in this process for eight months,” Howard Pihlaja, a retired pilot and member of the search committee, said of the search committee efforts.

Meeting at the airport, with Commissioners Andy Larson and Rachel Reabe Nystrom absent, the commission heard interim Airport Manager Rick Adair state he was waiting for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to decide on which air carrier should be designated to serve the Brainerd airport.

“The sooner we can get a permanent airline service in here I think the better off we’ll be,” Adair said.

The commissioners passed a motion asking Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., to ask the DOT to expedite the selection of an air carrier for Brainerd.

Delta Air Lines informed the Brainerd airport in July of 2011 that it would lose Delta air service at some point. The airline has continued to serve Brainerd airport since the announcement.

In other business, the airport commission:

Amended and adopted the Aug. 7 minutes after changes were suggested by Commissioner Jeff Czeczok. The commission delayed approval of Aug. 17 minutes as the result of changes suggested by Czeczok.

Thanked volunteer Mike Petersen, sponsors and volunteers for the success of the recent Barnstormers tour at the Brainerd airport. Petersen said 581 paying passengers took rides in the vintage aircraft.

Granted preliminary approval of a plan to rent billboard space announcing the selection of a new airline carrier for Brainerd when a decision is made. The airline may be approached to help pay costs of the advertisement.

Learned the tri-annual emergency exercises will be conducted Monday with a plane crash scenario.

Approved a new cafe lease for new owners of the airport cafe. Transfer of the lease to the new owners was approved at an earlier meeting.

Selected a compass design that will be set in the runway as part of the abandonment of Runway 12/30 for the benefit of general aviation pilots. Cost of the compass design installation is about $6,800 with at least 90 percent of the money coming from the federal government. Commissioner Don Jacobson voted no, voicing objections to the cost. Commissioners Beth Pfingsten, Kevin Goedker and Czeczok voted yes.

Decided commissioners could forward ideas for a long-range plan to the interim airport manager at the suggestion of Jacobson.

Requested, at the suggestion of Jacobson, that the airport manager estimate costs of utilities in relationship to airport leases.

Decided to revisit the format in which meeting minutes are presented.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

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