In a raucous meeting Tuesday night, Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners worked through their agenda amid jeers from the audience before taking calls for four of them to resign.
President Angi Christian repeatedly reminded spectators to hold comments until the proper time.
In public comments, Gary Klein said he had created a group, The Port of Brookings Business/Citizens Association, and hoped to recall four commissioners for firing Port Manager Gary Dehlinger.
Klein urged those commissioners to, “resign and save the port a ton of money.”
Commissioners were also asked to explain why they fired Dehlinger.
Christian said the board could not comment on anything related to Dehlinger on the advice of counsel.
When contacted Tuesday, Dehlinger’s attorney, Loren Collins, said he had not yet been contacted by the board or port counsel.
Also in public comments, Doug Lewis, a manufacturing consultant, lamented the deteriorating infrastructure at the port.
“This is an emergency — a disaster on its way to the point of no return,” he said. “Is there a plan?”
Commissioner Andy Martin said the board had a list of 100 priorities and were focussed on addressing infrastructure issues.
Commissioner Jan Barbas pointed to work being done to secure up to $27 million through the natural hazard mitigation plan and the board’s work to secure lottery funds and Oregon State Marine Board grants.
Prior to public comments, Commissioner Roger Thompson questioned the write-off on a boat and staff members were at first unable to say why it was not sold for the minimum bid at auction.
A member of the audience shouted, “Don’t you already have a port manager to do that.”
Another responded, “He’s on paid vacation.”
Christian called for order.
Staff member Skylar Windham stepped from the audience to answer the question, and the write-offs were approved.
The commissioners then voted to hold a public workshop on port rates at 4 p.m. Jan. 30. Christian had to quell the crowd twice as spectators called for the meeting to be held later so stakeholders with jobs could attend.
Commissioner Roy Davis expressed concern as the board discussed delegating decisions about temporary pay adjustments to staff member Travis Webster. Davis asked if Webster was a department head now.
“Are we just having him run things now without promoting him or paying him more?” Davis asked.
Barbas said Webster was in charge of outside operations, and staff had suggested he determine temporary duties and pay. Barbas said Webster claimed he was already paid enough.
The board voted to have Webster determine temporary pay adjustments and watch overtime in consultation with Thompson.
Barbas referred to a Forensic Inspection Report done by Dave Gowers Engineering in May 2016 to begin discussion on the Old Commercial Receiving Dock or the Pac Choice Dock.
Gowers’ report concluded, “the dock should be taken out of service until a comprehensive repair solution is developed, and repairs have been implemented.”
Barbas said Gowers, at the port for another matter in November, saw part of the dock was being used and feared “catastrophic failure” could occur.
The board agreed to have engineer Jack Akin inspect the dock Wednesday morning and contact Gowers before making further decisions about the dock.
Bandon Seafood was using portions of the dock.
On Wednesday morning, according to Barbas, Akin declined to look at the dock.
Instead, Davis said he and Barbas met with Dave Hoover of Hoover Construction, Doug Lewis and port staff to discuss solutions.
According to Barbas and Davis, staff decided to close the dock, relocate Bandon Seafood and notify the board.
Bandon Seafood’s buildings and equipment were moved later Wednesday.
In other news from Tuesday’s meeting:
State Rep. David Brock Smith reported progress on various legislative fronts. He said $600,000 in lottery money was coming to help the port and a deal with Business Oregon had resulted in a $1.5 million grant.
Other legislation Smith favored would keep fishing permits in smaller ports such as Brookings Harbor.
He apologized for the surprise closing of groundfishing last year saying the legislature was surprised too. He said he has since worked with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to increase limits this year and to improve communication.
In commissioners reports, Martin said he had sent pictures to OSMB showing the areas slated for repairs and dock installations were ready and necessary landscaping had been done.
Martin clarified OSMB allows small dory fisherman and guides to use the boat launch docks, but they cannot advertise the docks as a business location or meet customers there.
Martin said OSMB suggested the port apply for USDA grants to pay for commercial docks.
Commissioners agreed to explore such grants and work with port businesses to create other loading and unloading locations.
Reach Boyd C. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org