Port board meets with four director finalists

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

April 22, 2006

The Port of Hood River will meet the four finalists for the job of executive director next week.

A list that began with 15 applicants has been narrowed down to the top contenders. These men will be given a tour of the area on Monday and then be interviewed by two panels, one made up of staffers and the other comprised of community members.

“We are excited to be entering into this phase of the selection process. Each of these individuals brings outstanding qualifications and unique experiences to this process,” said Port President Sherry Bohn.

The following candidates will make a personal appearance in Hood River on April 24:

* George Cress, director of planning and development for the Port of Longview. He has overseen construction of a 300-acre industrial park. His responsibilities included setting up the financial framework for infrastructure improvements, establishing design criteria and facilitating public involvement. He manages a $500,000 annual portfolio for office and real estate leases associated with that project. As well as promoting and marketing all port properties, facilities and services.

Cress holds a master’s degree in public administration from Portland State University with an emphasis on public sector labor relations and financial management. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Southern Oregon State College in Ashland.

Lewis Griffin was the city administrator of Liberty Lake, Wash., until December of 2005. He helped establish the new city departments — including a police force — in 2001, overseeing the operating budget and millions invested into public projects. That work included facilitating the construction of a $1.5 million pedestrian bridge over Interstate 90. He managed personnel and implemented of policies, programs and community development plans.

Griffin holds a master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Washington University in Cheney. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration at the same college.

* Michael McElwee is an area manager for the Portland Development Commission. He oversees the Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal District with an annual budget of $15-$25 million and multi-departmental staff of 12. He has been directly responsible for 35 real estate projects, $30 million in property acquisitions and more than $50 million development and infrastructure projects.

McElwee holds a Certificate of Special Studies from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., that focuses on administration and management. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon in Eugene and also studied political science at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo.

* Ron Singel was the economic development director in Wasilla, Alaska. His experience includes personnel administration, community and economic development, and coordinating projects with local, state and federal agencies. His background has also focused on grant writing and supervising budget forecasts. He directed the demolition and cleanup of a former hazardous industrial site along a downtown waterfront under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield program.

Singel earned a master’s in public administration from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio State University in Columbus.

“The commission is looking forward to meeting with each of these candidates to discuss what they can bring to this community in order to help the port continue the momentum that we have going.

And to help find the balance between growth, creating new jobs and our exceptional quality of life,” said Bohn.

She expects a selection to be made and a salary and a start date decided within one week after the applicants visit the Gorge.

The port hired Waldron & Company of Lake Oswego last winter to help find the replacement for Dave Harlan. He left in late November to take on duties as Port Division Manager with the Oregon Community Economic and Development Department.

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