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Port of St. Helens executive director announces departure

The executive director of the Port of St. Helens says he plans to leave the agency next year.

During a regular port meeting Wednesday, June 8, Patrick Trapp told port commissioners that his planned exit timeframe is March 2017.

PORT OF ST. HELENS PHOTO - TRAPPTrapp started as executive director with the agency in February 2011.

He said by phone Thursday that he has yet to submit a formal resignation, but he's informed commissioners that he plans to either retire or resign next spring, depending on the port's needs.

“I told them all informally, but I just wanted to remind them,” Trapp said.

He said he wanted to give the port plenty of notice, to allow time to find a new director, which can be a lengthy recruitment process.

Trapp, who has a 30-year background with the U.S. Coast Guard, was hired using a national employment search. He moved from Virginia to take the job in Columbia City.

"It's a pretty long process to find a replacement," Trapp acknowledged. “When I came on board, it was a five month process."

The executive director said his planned departure was motivated by family care needs, which will require him to be out of state to provide care.

“It would be unreasonable to expect the port to accommodate that," Trapp said.

It's unclear whether the split will be a retirement or resignation, because state laws governing retired public employees could significantly limit the number of hours Trapp could work for the port after his departure, if the port needed him to.

“That's why I did not submit a written resignation or retirement," he explained.

Addressing speculation that he may be leaving due to a new makeup on the port's board of commissioners, Trapp said that wasn't the case.

"Have things changed? Oh absolutely, but that doesn't mean it's a negative reason,” Trapp said. “Personalities change and when you're working in a supervisory subordinate position, you adjust, that's just what you do. I've done that for decades in the military. [The commissioners and I] always had candid discussions on things, but this is truly a family decision."