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New board member named for St. Helens Community Foundation

by: Tyler Graf TOOTIN’ THE HORNS— The St. Helens Community Foundation puts on community events such as the popular weekly summer concert series, 13 Nights on the River.

St. Helens' Community Foundation will soon have a fresh face onboard.

Attorney Robert Salisbury will join the board of the Community Foundation - a nonprofit umbrella organization that oversees a number of popular city events, such as 13 Nights on the River - as its third director.

His decision has attracted kudos from board those close to the foundation.

'His legal knowledge is nice, but what I love about Bob [Salisbury] is that he has the best interests of the community at heart,' said Heather Ebert, director of 13 Nights on the River, who relayed the news. 'He's a man of integrity.'

Salisbury is no stranger to the Community Foundation: His band, The Thurgood Marshall Tucker Band, performed at last year's 13 Nights on the River concert series and will again perform this year.

But news of the new appointment comes as one of the nonprofit's founding members, Keith Locke, faces his own uncertain future on the board.

Locke, a long-time city councilor and civic volunteer, has fielded requests to resign his board position for months. For the time being, he said he will not do that.

At the heart of that conflict are concerns that the 7-year-old foundation has violated its own bylaws by consistently operating under the oversight of just two board directors when three have been required.

Another concern is that the foundation, ostensibly a separate entity from the city, continues to rely heavily on the city's financial support.

Even Locke's biggest ally on City Council, Phil Barlow, has spoken out about the foundation's board, where Locke has held a director position since it was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2005. Charles Grant, a former city councilor, incorporated the foundation and is the other director.

At the June 15 City Council work session, Barlow said the city should distance itself from the foundation, and the level of attention it receives, and thought Locke should open up the foundation and let new people take its reins.

'This is to protect you,' Barlow said, directing his comment across the council's pulpit to Locke. 'We need to pull ourselves away from this because it's not helping us.'

The foundation's bylaws call for one board director to be a sitting city councilor, however.

Councilor Doug Morten added that the make up of the foundation's board has not evolved much in the last seven years.

'It hasn't moved out of the place where it originated,' Morten said, 'and that's a problem.'

For his part, Locke said he plans to transition out of the Community Foundation in the future but has not set a timeline for that to happen.

He said he welcomes new faces to the board, though. Aside from Salisbury, he's been in talks with two other potential board members. He hopes to announce those names in the next three weeks.