By Barbara LaBoe, February 15, 2013, Longview Daily News
Saying they already had the perfect candidate in front of them, Port of Kalama Commissioners promoted longtime employee Mark Wilson to port executive director Wednesday. He will replace Lanny Cawley, who is retiring March 31.
Wilson, 46, is the current deputy director and will become director on April 1.
Commissioners discussed doing a state or national search for new director, as the Port of Longview recently did. They also noted they’d already received unsolicited resumes for the jobs since Cawley’s retirement announcement.
But after a brief discussion they said they were far more comfortable following the “succession plan” they’d put in motion a year ago when they made Wilson deputy director.
“We could go out and get a head hunter and spend a lot of money looking for people with impressive qualifications, but we’ve got a person right here with those same qualifications,” Commissioner Alan Basso said. “I think we have everything we need right here.”
Wilson’s longevity and familiarity with the port and its plans is a major plus, the said. Wilson has worked at the port for 30 years, starting on the grounds crew while in high school.
“Our objective as commissioners is how do we keep this machine working to the best of its ability,” Commission President Troy Stariha said. “If a system isn’t broken, we don’t need to fix it.”
Stariha said it will be hard to replace Cawley, who has been lauded for his leadership in bringing new employers to the area. Wilson, though, will hit the ground running and not lose any momentum on port projects, Stariha said.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Wilson said after the meeting. “And one I’ve been working toward for a long time.”
Wilson’s new salary will be discussed at a future meeting, commissioners said.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Approved a $225,000 contract with Collins Architectural Services to design and manage construction of the port’s new interpretive center and administrative offices building.
• Approved the same mediation agreement the Port of Longview did earlier in the week for the purchase of Howard Island. The ports of Longview, Kalama, Woodland and Vancouver are using eminent domain to purchase the island for disposal of dredge material dug up to maintain shipping lanes. The 168-acre island is at the junction of the Cowlitz and Columbia rivers. Port officials hope mediation will resolve a disagreement with the landowner on the price. Any final agreement would come back before each port board for approval.