Port of Brookings Harbor Board of Commissioners voted Monday to fully cooperate in an ongoing Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into “potential criminal misconduct in the commission of port business.”
The board approved Resolution 499 instructing port staff to “promptly turn over port public records requested by the DOJ that are related to the investigation including public records conditionally exempt from disclosure. …”
The board’s intent, according to Commissioner Richard Heap, was to allow the port to release documents without court orders or subpoenas.
According to Special Agent Mike Bethers, who attended the meeting, the investigation began with documents submitted for review by the DOJ by Curry County District Attorney Everett Dial.
Dial earlier said the documents were given to him by former port commissioner Roger Thompson and included minutes, agendas and leases having to do with unsigned and revised leases between the port and BC Fisheries dating back to July 2015.
When asked if the investigation included the BC Fisheries leases and the emergency contract for the BC Fisheries dock, Bethers said, “This is not necessarily a criminal investigation. There are no subjects or charges at this point, but we were asked to look into it by the DA.”
DOJ Information Officer Kristina Edmunson would also not confirm the scope of the investigation.
However, former commissioners originally called for an investigation into the BC Fisheries dock contract in December.
The former board asked for an investigation into suspected irregularities in the emergency construction for the dock after former commissioner Jan Barbas said he found a signed port resolution — number 447 — in port records without evidence of a vote on the resolution in minutes, agendas or audio recordings.
The resolution, signed Jan. 25, 2016, ratifies and executes an emergency contract with Dave Hoover Construction to repair an existing dilapidated receiving dock, upgrade infrastructure serving the commercial seafood industry and procure materials to meet schedule goals.
It is not clear if documents regarding the emergency contract were included in the material submitted to the DOJ.
Commissioner Kenneth Range said he was not privy to the scope of the investigation and just wanted it to be over so the board could focus on improving the port.
Bethers said with open access to port documents, he hoped to settle the issue in about two weeks.
Other port news:
• Harbormaster Travis Webster reported work the port agreed to do to meet requirements set by the Harbor Sanitary District (HSD) had been completed and included clearing brush from behind HSD’s pumping station, removing and capping the RV dump site and disconnecting and capping the RV restroom feed into HSD’s system.
• The board approved a contract for $679,453 to Bergerson Construction to install pilings in Basin 1 – often called the sport basin — to secure docks. Port Interim Manager Kathy Lindley Hall said the port had received word that Business Oregon would cover the port’s share of 25 percent of the costs. The remainder of the funding will be comprised by federal money from the Public Assist, the Hazard Mitigation Program and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, she said.
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