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Port staff: Hire public relations professional

Commissioners suggest waiting until CEO is hired.

The Port of Bremerton staff recommended hiring someone to handle public relations for the district during a study session with the port’s board of commissioners last week.

Interim Chief Executive Officer Tim Thomson said port staff felt it was not currently able to perform an “adequate job of updating the public and others of the port’s projects.

“Instead,” he said, “other, less-informed sources are updating the public.”

Thomson noted that large projects such as the airport’s Runway Rehabilitation Project are receiving very little attention, while other projects like the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development receive much more attention.

Thomson said current staffing levels and work loads do not allow staff members to run an effective public relations campaign and there was “an immediate need to convey our positions and projects to the public.”

Because the current port budget has a placeholder for a marketing position, Thomson said the staff’s recommendation was to hire a “public relations/communications professional” on at least a temporary — perhaps for 90 days — basis.

Board president Cheryl Kincer said the suggestion was a “great proposal,” but asked if it was the right time to hire someone given that the port was currently interviewing CEO candidates.

Commissioner Bill Mahan said he felt a “90-day program wouldn’t conflict with the CEO hiring process,” and “(during that time the communications professional) could take care of some things that are important right now.”

Commissioner Larry Stokes disagreed, saying he felt the CEO should come first, and be allowed to set the direction.

“I would like the CEO to come on board and be charged with pointing the port in a direction, not be pointed,” Stokes said.

Since the discussion took place at a study session, no definitive action was taken.

In other meetings this month, the commissioners have met in executive sessions to interview candidates for the CEO position vacated by Ken Attebery at the end of last year.

Administrative Assistant Ginger Waye said she could not answer any specifics about the candidates or the interviewing process, but said that the board had hoped to be able to make an announcement at their next meeting on April 28.

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