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Curry County director resigns

Curry County Administrative and Economic Development Director Jan Hayes resigned Thursday, but not before giving accolades to commissioners David Itzen and David Brock Smith — and publicly chastising Commissioner Susan Brown.

“I owe much to you,” she told Itzen. “You’ve got so many great economic development projects going that hadn’t been done in the past.”

Itzen and Hayes have worked in the past year with Neighborhood Umpqua on an Oregon Solutions Housing Stock Upgrade Initiative that will help manufactured-home owners with repairs of aging houses, and the Forest Collaborative that seeks to get loggers back in the forest in conjunction with a start-up pyrolysis firm north of Gold Beach that wants to transform the slash generated from those operations into other fuels.

To Smith she said, “You have taken on a financial crisis and come up with a budget. We saw this coming, and you only had a short time to work it out. I know you have the best interests of the citizens of Curry County at heart.”

She wasn’t so kind to Brown — citing her among the reasons she’s resigning.

“I have probably spoken to you five times,” Hayes said. “You have said some things in public meetings that were unprofessional and unnecessary in regards to my staff.

“You’ve said you would do our work — that’s a lie. You don’t type up minutes, you don’t put the agenda together; I haven’t seen anything come from you as a commissioner. I hope the people in the county hold you accountable.”

Hayes specifically cited a meeting earlier this month in which Brown defended the building and planning departments, saying they didn’t have enough room to accommodate the Neighborhood Umpqua staff, currently in the Rush Building down the street in Gold Beach.

“It was inappropriate to contact (Neighborhood Umpqua) and tell them we’re displacing employees,” Hayes said. “We were asking one employee to move across the hall. I think it’s a territorial thing. I hope you can work with Neighborhood Umpqua. It’s really sad what’s occurred here.”

Brown had nothing to say in response.

Itzen said Hayes resignation was a shock.

“I’ll be really sad to see you go,” he told her. “You’ve done a lot of really, really good work.”

“You see the quality of and quantity of work that gets done; it is very unfortunate we are losing you,” Smith said. “It’s a difficult position to replace, especially with the housing initiative, the Forest Collaborative, the other economic development projects. I truly believe your work with those will affect the citizens of Curry County positively for years to come.”

Hayes’ last day is July 7; she said she intends to return to Bend.

She wasn’t the only one resigning, although Parks Director Mike McGuiness did not attend the commissioners’ meeting to say so himself.

He said he felt the board’s approval to transfer parks to the juvenile department was a personal slight, although commissioners repeatedly told him it was “not about personalities.”

His department was transferred to Ken Duket’s juvenile department last week, as McGuiness originally intended on retiring at the end of the month. The transfer would have allowed McGuiness to bring Duket up to speed on county park maintenance issues so he can more smoothly get his juveniles into the field to conduct much needed work, notably at Lobster Creek Camp Area east of Gold Beach.

Duket had a list of things he needs to get done — from getting keys to killing mold — before that campground can open in July. The Boice Cope campground, adjacent to Floras Lake in Langlois, is ready for the summer season, he said.

He also wants to update the website and reservations system, get the kitchen stove-hood certified for fire suppression, replace the interior door that has been used for a food preparation counter and ensure water tests are underway before the popular area is open for business.

“In taking this over, I don’t know everything that needs to get done,” Duket said. “It’s not a personal thing; this is county property and we provide a public service.”

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