Casey Kaiser hired as City of Prineville's associate planner, will start on June 11

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Casey KaiserCasey Kaiser is stepping down as the local chamber director next month to enter the world of city planning.

The City of Prineville has hired the current leader of the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce to fill its associate planner position. The vacancy was created after senior planner Josh Smith was recently promoted to planning director.

"Of all the things I do at the Chamber, the things I am most passionate about are the community development projects and planning projects," Kaiser said of his interest in the city position. "For me, this is an opportunity to be able to dive deeper into that aspect of community development and focus more of my time on the planning and the projects."

According to City Human Resource Manager Darla Rhoden, Kaiser was one of 13 to apply for the associate planner position. The job does not require extensive background in municipal planning, she said, and Kaiser was chosen because of his knowledge of the city and experience with city-oriented projects. City Manager Steve Forrester also highlighted other attributes that set Kaiser apart from other applicants.

"I had the opportunity to work with Casey in the banking industry when I was a director at Community First Bank," Forrester said. "His organizational skills and knowledge of the banking industry were exemplary. As he moved out of that industry and into the Chamber, I saw the same characteristics at play there."

When Kaiser first joins the city staff on June 11, Smith will train him on the land use planning aspects of the job.

"It is going to be kind of a feel-out thing," Smith said of Kaiser's initial work as associate planner. "He will basically jump right into some of the committees we have."

Those committee include the Downtown Strategic Planning Committee and the Air Quality Committee, both of which Kaiser has been involved with as Chamber director.

Smith also plans to line up some training for Kaiser, however, he believes that most of the learning will happen as Kaiser takes on whatever tasks are given to him.

"You learn as you go. That's how I did it when I got there, too," Smith said. "Every system is different. Even if you have been a planner your whole life, you can't just step into a city and say I know how to do this."

Kaiser told the Chamber Board about his hire "a few weeks ago" according to Board President Travis Garner, and since that time, board members have been developing and implementing a strategy to find his replacement.

"Over the past several weeks, the Chamber Executive Committee has been meeting," Garner said. "Our last meeting, the board set up a hiring and selection committee and tasked that committee with starting the search."

Garner admits that Kaiser's departure came as a surprise, but the board has enjoyed his work as director, and members are excited for his him as he moves on to a new job.

To ensure that the transition is smooth for both the Chamber and the city, Kaiser will remain available to the Chamber even after his start date as associate planner if necessary.

"We do value our relationship with the Chamber. They are key to a lot of our initiatives," Forrester said. "We are very respectful and have every intention of continuing to partner with the Chamber through the transition and beyond to make sure they don't lose a step."

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