Former director's sudden resignation prompted county to hire back retired manager

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - A CC Rider bus departs from the transit center in St. Helens. The bus agency is now looking for a new director.CC Rider, the bus agency serving Columbia County, will temporarily bring its former executive director back to help fill in after the immediate resignation of Michael Ray.

Ray resigned his position at CC Rider unexpectedly last week. He was hired in late 2016 to replace Janet Wright, who retired earlier that year.

Columbia County commissioners approved personnel action Wednesday to bring Wright back on a temporary, part-time basis to help manage CC Rider until the county can hire someone to fill the director position. The employment agreement with Wright wasn't immediately made available by the county and neither was Ray's resignation notice.

Ray previously worked as a transit coordinator for the agency under Wright. He was hired after the county's first hire, John Andoh, quit abruptly to attend to family matters, shortly after accepting the position.

Chad Mace, the agency's transit coordinator, said despite Ray's absence, so far, things have been running just fine. Mace indicated he may apply for the director position. The latest director recruitment will mark the third at CC Rider since 2016.

"Michael Ray submitted his resignation notice last week and we accepted it," Commissioner Margaret Magruder said Thursday. She said Ray gave no reason for his departure, and the notice was immediate. Ray

"In order to keep things moving forward, we were lucky enough to have Janet Wright available at least on a limited basis, to give us some assistance."

Magruder said the county has issued a recruitment notice and expects to review applicants after the application period closes.

For at least the past five years, the bus agency has struggled to meet its funding needs. CC Rider relies heavily on grant funding to continue its operations, with some revenue coming in from rider fares, incorporated cities within the county, and Medicaid. The funding from cities has declined over the years, CC Rider officials have stated.

Past ballot measures to increase the county's natural resources depletion fee and divert excess funds from mining operations to fund roads and CC Rider have been rejected by voters.

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