Texas-based Army vet chosen as new executive director at Port of St. Helens; press release drafted prior to official hiring decision

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Port of St. Helens Commissioners discuss matters during a meeting Wednesday, June 15. Pictured left to right: Commissioners Terry Luttrell, Mike Avent, Larry Ericksen and Paulette Lichatowich.

Douglas Hayes, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, has been tapped to be the new executive director of the Port of St. Helens.

Hayes was officially chosen as the preferred applicant following an executive session meeting Wednesday, June 14, though a press release announcing Hayes' hiring and the vote to hire him had already been drafted prior to Wednesday's official vote.

The press release indicated Hayes had already been given an employment offer prior to the Port's vote Wednesday morning, signaling a possible violation of Oregon's public meetings laws.

Hayes is slated to start with the Port on July 17 at a $116,000 annual salary. He will be given the option to sign up for medical benefits through the Port, or receive a monthly stipend if he declines medical insurance.

Hayes was one of four final candidates being considered by the Port. He scored highest on an evaluation by a hiring committee, which triggered the presumptive press release, Paula Miranda, the agency's interim executive director, explained Wednesday.

Robert Salisbury, the Port's attorney, referenced a "consensus" that had been reached during a prior executive session meeting to discuss the executive director recruitment, but by law, public agencies are not permitted to make decisions outside of open session meetings.

Hayes will relocate to Oregon from Harker Heights, Texas, where he is retiring as a lieutenant colonel with the Army. Most recently, Hayes served as battalion commander at Ford Hood Army base in Texas, according to the Port's press release.

Hayes comes to the agency with a 20-year military background. During his career with the armed services, Hayes led domestic and overseas deployments, and handled economic development effors in Kosovo. He graduated North George College and American Public University in West Virginia, according to the Port.

"It's been a long effort to find the best candidate for the Port," Mike Avent, president of the Port of St. Helens Board of Commissioners, stated in the release. "We feel confident that Douglas Hayes is the best fit for the Port and our community to lead the Port into the future."

Hayes' hiring comes on the heels of a previous employment offer extended to a candidate in February, who declined the Port's offer soon afterward. The agency started a new search for an executive director a few months later, and held a community meet and greet session with the candidates under consideration last week.

"My family and I are extremely excited to be a part of a community known for its work ethic and sense of civic duty," Hayes stated in the press release. "We look forward to being involved and establishing roots in such a wonderful area."

Hayes replaces former executive director, Patrick Trapp, who retired from the agency in April.

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