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Extension of sewer, water to airport is highlighted

Minnesota House DFLers placed a spotlight Monday on a bonding project that Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport officials said they need in order to comply with a State Fire Marshal mandate — the extension of Brainerd water and sewer to the airport.

DFL House Majority Leader Erin Murphy of St. Paul and Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, conducted a news conference at the airport, where they reported that $6.5 million is currently in the House bonding bill for extension of Brainerd water and sanitary sewer service and the replacement of one mile of existing sewer line to the airport. The total project cost has been estimated at about $7.1 to $7.2 million.

Airport Manager Jeff Wig said at the news conference a combination of state, federal and local money would be used once the water and sewer lines cross into the airport property. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has told airport officials it needs to either build its own water pump and tank system or connect to city water by 2016 in order to establish the consistent water pressure that would be needed in order to simultaneously power all zones of the fire suppression sprinkler system at the airport. He also noted that there are about 50 jobs at the airport and he would like to see more airport-related jobs develop.

“We really see this airport as an economic engine,” Wig said.

With the Minnesota Legislature on break until April 22, Radinovich and Murphy took the opportunity to discuss what they see as the House’s accomplishments so far.

Radinovich, a first-term lawmaker, said tax bills providing business tax and property tax relief have passed in the House. Also passed was a supplemental budget that increased funding for broadband infrastructure in rural Minnesota.

Murphy said progress has been made on bread and butter issues, including an increase in the minimum wage that will be enacted during a three-year period. She said that while Minnesota’s economy is recovering, the House is focusing on areas such as outstate Minnesota where that recovery has lagged. She also noted the House passage of the Women’s Economic Security Act, which is designed to close the gender pay gap.

“Too many women are retiring in poverty,” Murphy said.

Efforts are continuing, to make sure the money for the Brainerd airport project remains in the bill.

“It’s a full-court press down there,” Radinovich said.

Also attending the news conference were Brainerd Mayor James Wallin, Brainerd City Council member and Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission member Gary Scheeler, Crow Wing County Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom.

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