City engineer Lanning leaving after 30 years

Jodelle Greiner/Register: Jackie Lanning is retiring Friday after serving the City of Brookings for the past 30 years, including 17 as city engineer.

BROOKINGS – Jackie Lanning will retire as Brookings city engineer on June 18, after more than 30 years of service, as well as many milestones.

“Folks can sure stop down (to the City Engineer’s office) my last week here, if they’d like to say hi, and I can sure visit with people throughout the week,” Lanning said.

She has no specific plans, except to take it easy this summer, celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary with husband Tony, and assess her options for the future. 

“I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be really great to have some time off, just to relax and not … hurry back for my position,” Lanning said.

Working her way up

Lanning grew up on a farm near Utica and attended Yankton schools. She graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a minor in environmental science.

“I graduated in December, so it was a mid-year graduation, and jobs were pretty slim at that time,” Lanning said.

She enjoyed working for municipalities – she interned for the City of Yankton and the City of Littleton, Colorado – so when an engineer’s technician job opened in Marshall, Minnesota, she took it. 

“Marshall seemed like a great fit,” Lanning said. “Being fulltime in Marshall, (I) gained some really great experience in the construction field.”

“I was there about a year and a half and then came to the City of Brookings,” she said.

She started as the assistant city engineer for Brookings on Oct. 1, 1990, and served in that capacity until October 2003.

“Then I was promoted to acting city engineer,” Lanning said.

In April 2004, she was promoted to the position of city engineer, which she has held since then. 

“Seventeen years as city engineer,” Lanning said. “Time sure flies.”

“It has been my distinct honor and privilege to be the third city engineer and the first female city engineer for the City of Brookings,” she said.

Highlights of career

“We’ve gone through several different types of projects that (I was) really happy I was involved with,” Lanning said.

“Our airport project had a pretty lengthy process,” Lanning said, starting with the Airport Master Plan in 2004, a dual track environmental assessment, and the council choosing an onsite reconstruction alternative.

“Then we finished all the full runway reconstruction, so it was really fun to be involved in a process where you go from design concept, all the way through construction and public input and environmental assessment and then finally to completion; so that was really exciting,” Lanning said.

Some of the other projects she worked on included lots of changes to drainage plans and detention facilities.

Adopting a master drainage plan impacted a number of projects over the last 15 years or so, she added.

“Being involved in a number of our really large street projects has been really rewarding. One of the earlier projects I worked on was the downtown streetscape project, which was really unique and involved a lot of coordination with landowners and utility work, and then just underground facilities that were unknown during the time. So that was really a great project,” Lanning said.

The 22nd Avenue project was another favorite.

“We were able to widen the roadways and install new utilities and shared-use path for the public. So those are some of the really large projects,” Lanning said.

She will be leaving behind one project.

“The most challenging and rewarding project has been as project manager on the 20th Street South (interchange),” Lanning said. “It was a great learning opportunity and gave me the chance to work with a dedicated team of engineers and professionals who are committed to a common goal. There are many people who have worked extremely hard over the last year and the project is nearing the bidding phase.”

Lanning has seen several projects recognized:

• Southland Lane Detention Pond: National Recognition Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies 2011;

• Brookings Runway Re-Alignment Project: National Asphalt Pavement Association Quality in Construction Award, 2014;

• 22nd Avenue Reconstruction Project: Gold Project Award in Excellence in Concrete Paving from the American Concrete Pavement Association, 2020.

Professional achievements

Lanning earned a professional engineering (PE) licensure and completed the Leadership Brookings Program in 1994. She’s been a member of American Public Works Association from 1991 to the present, state chapter president in 2018 and 2019, and served in chapter officer positions. 

Lanning has been a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers from 1997 to the present, state chapter president from 2005-2006, and served in several chapter officer and committee positions. 

She won the 1998 Young Engineer of the Year from the South Dakota Engineering Society. She’s been a member of the Board of Water and Natural Resources with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 2011 to the present. A member of Brookings Rotary since 2005, Lanning has been active in the community as a speaker.

Why retirement?

“I’ve been with the city over 30 years, and I’m really looking forward to different career opportunities,” Lanning said.

“I plan on taking the rest of the summer off and spending time with family and traveling, and some projects around the house,” she said.

She and husband, Tony, who is a Title 1 Reading teacher at Camelot Intermediate School, plan to take a road trip, but haven’t decided where they’ll be going yet. Daughter Sarah is a client manager in Chicago; son Conor is a care coordinator in Marshall, Minnesota, and daughter-in-law, Brianna, is a pre-school teacher.

“We’ll be staying in Brookings,” and Tony will be back teaching in the fall, Lanning confirmed. By then, she’s hopeful that she’ll have a clearer idea of what she wants to do.

“Just really kind of open to looking at my options and really trying to take some time to sort of re-group over the summer and relax and decide what I want my next steps to be,” Lanning said.

“I do really want to thank the public and all the people, citizens I’ve gotten to know over the years and they’ve really made my job rewarding,” Lanning said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the public on all the numerous projects that we’ve had.”

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]

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