Airport manager Jeff Wig has been on the job less than two weeks and things are already getting interesting.
It was discovered Tuesday that someone had run a vehicle into the awning that hangs over the sidewalk in front of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
Who would do such a thing?
That’s exactly what Wig wants to know.
On Friday, Wig said the incident likely happened during the day on Monday or sometime during the night. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning when a Transportation Security Adminstration agent reported seeing the damage that Wig learned of the incident.
The 13.5-foot high awning was hit twice and Wig said it appears whatever vehicle collided with it hit may have hit the structure once, bounced off and hit it a second time.
“I’m not quite sure how you do that and not hear the loud screeching sound,” Wig said.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department is actively investigating the incident, but Sgt. Andy Bradley said so far they have no leads. All regular delivery vehicle drivers have been contacted.
“There’s no sign that it was any of our usual delivery trucks,” Wig said. Bradley confirmed that all regular delivery trucks have been cleared. “No one has sustained any vehicle damage that we know of to be consistent with the damage on the building,” Bradley said.
Wig said insurance adjusters have not yet assessed the damage but he estimated the repair would cost thousands of dollars.
The awning was part of the airport remodeling project completed in 2011. Wig said the awning does not just serve an aesthetic purpose — it also protects the sidewalk in front of the airport from snow and ice.
“This is a safety issue,” Wig said. “Hopefully we can get it fixed as soon as possible — and hopefully it’s not 20 below when they come out to fix it.”
Wig said he is also concerned if temperatures go up over the next couple of weeks they may have a water leakage issue which could cause further damage.
“Thankfully we don’t need to worry about that right now,” he said.
Wig said with the exception of the hit and run incident, his time at the airport is going well.
“People have been very welcoming,” Wig said.
In addition to hiring a new manager, the airport also has a new airline service, a new restaurant and new owners of the airport’s fixed operated business, Airmotive. “It’s an exciting time,” Wig said.
Wig said anyone with information about the airport’s hit and run incident is asked to contact the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department. The vehicle involved is likely high profile and may be missing or have broken reflectors.
“Our hope is someone puts their hand up and says, ‘I did it,’” Wig said.
SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.