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Port hires new executive director

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Alaska resident will take job at the Port of St. Helens' helm after managing corporations

A new executive director is slated to take the helm at the Port of St. Helens next month.

Port commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday morning to extend an offer to William Anderson of Kotzebue, Alaska.

The decision came after months of recruiting for a new director, following the announcement in June 2016 that Patrick Trapp, the Port's current executive director, would retire this spring.

Anderson, who will start at a $124,000 annual salary, is expected to begin working at the agency March 27. SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Port of St. Helens Commissioners Mike Avent, Larry Ericksen and Paulette Lichatowich discuss matters during a board of commissioners meeting Wednesday, Feb. 8. Commissioners voted Wednesday to hire a new executive director.

Anderson was one of five final candidates considered by the Port. Last month, candidates for the job attended a meet-and-greet session with Port staff and commissioners, touring sites across the county owned by the Port. An advisory committee that included Clatskanie resident Deborah Hazen, former Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde and Scappoose City Manager Michael Sykes was also assembled to evaluate the final handful of prospective new hires.

The following week, commissioners were expected to vote to hire one of the five candidates, but couldn't reach an agreement.

"We were still divided after that meeting," Port President Mike Avent said by phone after Wednesday's meeting. "So we decided to wait until the following Monday and maybe have another meeting, but over the next couple days it weathered out that we were down to one of the two choices. It was only probably three or four days ago that we came to the conclusion."

Avent said one of the candidates on the short list was no longer available for the job, so they offered Anderson the position.

It's unclear when the board of commissioners met for its final discussion about candidates. Before Wednesday, the commission had no advertised meetings since Jan. 25. By law, all decisions by the board must occur during meetings with proper notice to the public.

Anderson currently serves as president and CEO of Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corporation, an Alaska Native corporation that serves as a parent company to other subsidiaries. Before that, Anderson worked with Ahtna Netiye', Inc., Koniag, Inc., and Afognak Native Corporation.

Among the candidates considered was Sean Clark, the Port's current terminal operations manager, a Washington man who served as an executive officer with the as hoc advisory committee asked technical questions of candidates, where commissioners were concerned about whether each finalist would "work together with staff."

Ultimately, he said, Anderson stood out because of his long career working with a variety of businesses and because he interviewed

well.

Avent said, like the last hiring decision, he's got a bit of trepidation, but hopes for the best.

"I was worried about Pat [Trapp] when we changed there, but Pat ended up doing a great job," Avent said. "I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that we have someone that can do a great job and maximize the Port's assets."