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Out of nine applicants, short list for appointed commissioner includes Pat Trapp, Paul Pulliam and Natasha Parvey-Leskowich

Three candidates have been narrowed down to serve as a port commissioner with the Port of Columbia County, including two who previously served or worked for the agency.

The port, which recently changed its name from the Port of St. Helens, began soliciting applicants for an open seat on the agency's board of commissioners last month, after Commissioner Paulette Lichatowich announced she was resigning from the board.

Nine people submitted letters of interest for the open seat, including the agency's immediate past executive director, Patrick Trapp, who retired from the port last year, and Paul Pulliam, a former port commissioner.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Port of Columbia County Commissioner Chris Iverson (left) gives his pick for an applicant review committee member during a meeting July 25. To his right, Commissioner Larry Ericksen listens.Port commissioners were each asked to appoint someone to a citizen committee.

The list of nine applicants was then vetted by the five-person citizen review committee, convened earlier this week to narrow down the list. The committee included: Brian Rosenthal; Brian Fawcett; Chuck Daughtry; Mike Jones, and Bruce Holsey.

"Chris [Iverson] made the recommendation that each commissioner present a representative ... in a committee to review these nine applications," Doug Hayes, the port's executive director, told port commissioners and the public during a discussion Wednesday, July 25.

Port commissioners said they had yet to see the list of nine applicants, and didn't want to, opting instead to review only the final list recommended to them by the committee.

The short list includes Trapp, Pulliam, and Natasha Parvey-Leskowich, who previously ran for a seat on the port board.

While the appointed commissioner will only serve the remainder of Lichatowich's term, which ends in spring 2019, the appointee will be voting on issues during a critical time for the agency.

Currently, the port is awaiting a state Land Use Board of Appeals decision on an ongoing application from the port to rezone more than 800 acres in Clatskanie, from farm land to industrial.

The port is also trying to secure leases with several companies, including international businesses with interest in bringing manufacturing jobs to the county.

Lichatowich was often the lone voice of dissent in decisions involving fossil fuel projects and other endeavors with heavy environmental impacts.

Among the full list of applicants is Chip Bubl, who works at Oregon State University's Extension Service office in Columbia County, and Tom Prevish, who previously ran for a seat on the port board in 2015.

Aside from Parvey-Leskowich, Trapp, Pulliam, Bubl and Prevish, the list of applicants included: Eric Smythe, a county firefighter from Rainier; Steve Hanson of Warren; Alice Todd of Rainier; and Stuart Heaberlin of St. Helens.

The citizen committee met Monday and port commissioners were scheduled to hold a special meeting Friday to interview the top three applicants.

"This is essentially a temporary appointment, and then it's up to them to keep their spot if they so choose to do so," Commissioner Chris Iverson noted during last Wednesday's meeting.

Commissioners indicated they wanted to know whether the applicants for the temporary appointment had any interest in campaigning for the seat at the end of the term.

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