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Hernando airport manager Don Silvernell will retire in July

BROOKSVILLE — After 13 years at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, manager Don Silvernell will retire this summer.

Silvernell, 61, led the 2,400-acre airport through a period of expansion of the surrounding industrial parks and the recent construction of an air traffic control tower at the facility.

The nudge into retirement was the birth of his first grandchild nearly eight months ago. Silvernell said that he and his wife, Kerri, kept looking at each other, saying: "We're missing all of this,'' and that clinched the decision.

After Silvernell's retirement takes effect July 1, he and his wife will move to Boise, Idaho, to be close to their daughter's family. They bought a house there a year ago, and Silvernell has been fixing it up during several "working vacations."

Silvernell came to the Hernando airport as deputy director in 2000. In February 2003, he took over the operation, first as interim director and then as director.

"It's been a good run,'' he said. "We got a lot accomplished.''

"He'll be missed,'' said County Commission Chairman Dave Russell, who served for several years as the commission's airport liaison. "Don has been a tremendous asset to the airport.''

Russell noted that Silvernell grew up in private airports and brought that experience to the county. He also praised Silvernell's rapport with state Department of Transportation officials, which has been key to obtaining funding for numerous projects at the airport.

"Don has always had the ability to do his own thing, do what is best for the airport. He did well fending off political heat,'' Russell said.

Prior to working for the county, Silvernell's family owned the old West Pasco Airport, and he worked there for 10 years. After the airport was sold and became the Tampa Bay Executive Airport, Silvernell stayed as its manager for another decade.

After a few years in Montana, he returned to the Tampa Bay area and was hired for the Hernando airport job.

"I've enjoyed working for the county,'' Silvernell said. "I'm going to miss it, but the little one draws.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.