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.
- Member for
- 4 years 1 month
BAXTER — Area lawmakers all agreed this year’s government shutdown was bad news but disagreed on how to prevent another one. “We can’t have a state shutdown again,” Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidji, said. Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, agreed the shutdown caused a lot of hardship. He said he is behind a bill that would call for a constitutional amendment that would allow state government to continue operating at what its current spending levels were. Carlson said he favored a bill that would continue state government at a slightly reduced level.
A one-day Christmas shopping season boycott scheduled for Dec. 11 at the Baxter Walmart was called off Friday when representatives of the Marine Corps League, Heartland Detachment, and the store cleared up a misunderstanding about a toy drop-off program at the store. The problem stemmed from an incident earlier in the week when Marine Corps League members said they were told by a Walmart employee that they would not be allowed to collect toy donations for their local Toys for Kids program.
The judicial system is not immune to the consequences of budget slashing. That was the message of six panelists who addressed the League of Women Voters Thursday at the Brainerd Public Library.
The Brainerd Lakes Chamber on Thursday announced the launching of a survey on Brainerd lakes area air travel. The intent of the survey to illustrate to regional air carriers the community use — by both business and leisure travelers — of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. Proponents of the survey said it may potentially lead to increased air service options and better quality service. Steve Mau, chair of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Board, described air travel as an essential cog for area businesses.
Airport Manager Steve Sievek reported Tuesday he had not received any communication from with Great Lakes Airlines since it announced its bid to replace Delta Airline as the primary air carrier at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. Airport officials had asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to rebid the Brainerd proposal but no response had been received. Sievek provided the update after the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission removed him as airport manager and reassigned him to be construction coordinator. He said he will retire around June 1.
What if they conducted a listening session and hardly anyone came to hear? Three House lawmakers explained Republican reforms Tuesday at Brainerd City Hall at a listening session where the three media members equalled the number of members of the general public in attendance. House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood, Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd and Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, answered questions regarding the last legislative session.
The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission Tuesday removed Airport Manager Steve Sievek from his post and reassigned him to a temporary assignment as construction coordinator at 75 percent of his salary. Neither Sievek nor commission Chair Beth Pfingsten would immediately elaborate on the reasons for the reassignment.
Some area lawmakers would like to see part of the state’s projected $876 million surplus used for property tax relief. Others expect there will be little or no cash left after Minnesota’s cash flow account and reserve funds are replenished. They all agreed that Thursday’s projected surplus by state budget officials is a far better situation than the $5 billion deficit they had to wrestle with last year. “It’s great news,” Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd said, “I think most of it can be attributed to the private sector growing jobs.”
Mills Fleet Farm Tuesday reversed an “unfortunate decision” it had made to ban the Salvation Army’s red kettles from its store entrances this holiday season.The decision means the familiar holiday bell ringing will greet Mills customers.
Bob Miller, longtime member of the Brainerd Police and Fire Civil Service Commission, has decided 33 years on that panel is long enough. The retired Brainerd teacher will serve out his term but will not seek reappointment to the board that administers tests to full-time firefighters and police. “I just figure it’s time to let somebody else do it for awhile,” the 91-year-old said of his decision.