By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

In a flurry of activity Tuesday, Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners adopted the 2018-19 budget, approved two leases and voted on a resolution regarding insurance coverage for former port Commissioners Angi Christian, Jan Barbas, Andy Martin and Roger Thompson.

The resolution responds affirmatively to a request from the former commissioners requesting coverage, according to port counsel Martha Rice, but only applies to conduct arising from the performance of their official duties.

The resolution passed allowing the port’s Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO) insurance to cover the legal costs and possible judgements against the former commissioners.

The former commissioners are being sued by former port Manager Gary Dehlinger in state court, and Christian, Barbas and Thompson are also being sued by Dehlinger in federal court.

Dehlinger sued the port and the commissioners after he was terminated in January, reinstated and placed on paid administrative leave four days later and then terminated again after an open hearing in March.

The state suit claims violations of Oregon State Public Meetings Law. The federal, civil suit demands a jury trial, damages of $2.2 million, claims economic and personal damages and demands Dehlinger’s reinstatement.

Martin, according to Dehlinger’s attorney Loren Collins, was not named in the federal suit which alleges, “Christian, Barbas and Thompson denied Dehlinger a meaningful hearing before and after his termination,” by reason of their “prejudgment and bias.”

No court dates have been set for either of the pending suits.

Tuesday’s meeting included a lengthy executive session regarding current litigation or litigation likely to be filed and comprised of the board and Port Counsel Martha Rice as well as Ronald Downs, legal counsel provided by the SDAO.

Interim Manager Kathy Lindley Hall said SDAO training for commissioners and staff had been scheduled at the port June 27.

Harbormaster Travis Webster reported new launch ramps had been installed and said the port would soon begin a sewer project at Zola’s Pizzeria.

The sewer project is necessary for the restaurant and port to meet required updates for the Harbor Sanitary District, according to Hall.

She said the work will cost less than $20,000, will be paid for by the port and begins June 27.

The board approved an updated lease for Kathy’s Corner to include an added 103 square feet of storage space and also switched Bounders Crab Shack from a moorage to a lease.

The lease was changed because Bounders is a restaurant and not a vessel, even though it is located on the docks.

Other port news

•After assurances by Hall that updated port rates had been researched and were based on comparisons with other ports, the board approved the updated rates. The new rates go into effect July 1.

•Recreational fishermen have encountered parking problems during special events in the past, according to Commissioner Richard Heap. He recommended exploring ways to reserve parking for fishermen during events. “We don’t want repeat fishermen to have a bad day at our port due to an event,” he said.

•Commissioner Kenneth Range said a huge and unusable fish grinder was taking space in the building with the fish cleaning station and suggested removing it to create more useable space. He also pointed to a dilapidated building between Pacific Ocean Harvesters and the cleaning station as a waste of space. He recommended demolishing the building and leasing the land.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

20613112