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General Aviation terminal may receive face-lift

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The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Thursday considered giving its general aviation terminal a face-lift in hopes of attracting more corporate jet traffic.

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Commissioner Beth Pfingsten, a member of the general aviation subcommittee, reported on that panel’s recent meeting before the full airport commission on Thursday. Stating that the general aviation terminal was looking a little tired, she said that it was in need of a “pretty significant face-lift” in order to attract more corporate jets to stop there for refueling. She said Federal Aviation Administration and Minnesota Department of Transportation funds are often available for such projects but that they often require a 30 or 40 percent local share contribution on the part of the participating airport. She said a preliminary schematic design for possible improvements at the terminal will be presented at the airport commission’s October meeting.

Pfingsten said she wouldn’t consider the potential cost of remodeling the general aviation terminal as wasted dollars. She said it could be done without “building a Taj Mahal.”

The subcommittee set as a goal a 10 percent increase in fuel sales by 2015, she said. The airport receives a portion of the fuel sales. Pfingsten noted the Great Recession and an aging pool of pilots has diminished the income that was once received from general aviation.

In other action the commission:

Approved a motion to execute a Minnesota Department of Transportation grant agreement for a snowplow at a cost not to exceed $460,198.41 with the federal government paying $412,051 and the airport paying $48,147.41.

Heard Airport Manager Jeff Wig said Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan was researching an opinion regarding the airport’s potential liability related to target shooting that takes place on airport property.

At the conclusion of his report, Wig presented airport volunteer Mike Petersen a picture that was taken when Petersen and his grandson, Jon Barber, dressed in costume and helped with the Ford Tri-Motor airplane rides this past summer.

Heard Craig Miller of Weizenegger Engel Insurance report that a mistake was made and the airport would be covered for property damage related to a potential terrorism attack.

That coverage had been questioned earlier by Commissioner Don Jacobson who asked if the $1,000 spent on that coverage was worth the money.

“It’s not a huge amount of money, but it adds up,” Jacobson said.

Miller said he was working at possibly rectifying the error that was made.

Heard Commissioner Gary Scheeler, also a member of the Brainerd City Council, report his concern with the possibility of the airport being served by a fire district.

Adjourned until 4 p.m. Sept. 17 when a Minnesota House bonding committee will meet at the airport to consider sewer and water extension from the city of Brainerd to the airport.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or mike.orourke@brainerddispatch.com. He may be followed at www.twitter.com/MikeORourkenews.

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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
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