Gorge Commission selects interim chief


News staff writer

May 17, 2006

The Columbia River Gorge Commission appointed Al Wright of Hillsboro, Ore., as its interim executive director Friday afternoon during a special meeting.

They also approved the working agreement for Wright with compensation of $9,000 per month.

Commissioner Jeffrey Condit, of Portland, said the commission had originally budgeted $8,000 for the position but that Wright had asked for $10,000 per month. Condit said the commission could afford to go up to $9,000 without impacting the budget until the new executive director is on board.

The contract includes a clause requiring a minimum of 24 hours work per week in Gorge Commission offices or where Commission functions take place. Under the agreement, Wright can continue to do other consulting work. The contract is from May 15 until September with the option to extend if needed.

Wright’s background includes work as a consultant for the hydropower industry. He said in a phone interview Monday afternoon that the commission directed him to focus on three priorities including completing the budget presentations for the next biennium to submit to Oregon and Washington by mid-August, to recruit a full-time director for the agency, and tend to the commission’s needs in the interim period.

“Not to deal with plan amendment but to get information to the commissioners they need,” he said.

Wright’s background is in engineering, working especially on the Columbia River and with hydro issues for the past 15-20 years. Wright said he had worked in particular with the Pacific Northwest Utilities Commission.

The appointment follows the departure of director Martha Bennett who held the position for five years. She is now Ashland city manager.

Commission chair Judy Davis, of The Dalles, and Kenn Adcock, of Goldendale, Wash., were the two commissioners physically present. The other seven who attended the meeting joined in via teleconference. The commission consists of 12 voting members.

The next meeting of the Gorge Commission is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 13 at the Best Western Hood River Inn.

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