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Chamber terminates executive director

Action comes as agency is busy planning Harvest and Hops fests

Mary Closson has been fired as executive director of the Hood River Chamber of Commerce, board president Mark Brown confirmed Tuesday.

Brown declined to elaborate on the reasons and the terms for her dismissal, other than to say, “The board decided to go in a new direction.”

The firing took effect Saturday. Brown had said last week that “We’ve put her on a break,” and that Closson was on paid administrative leave after two years, eight months on the job.Closson’s leave took effect Sept. 10; since then, chamber staff and board members have worked together to cover her duties.

“I’m filling in as director, along with Andrew (McElderry) and other chamber board directors,” Brown said.

“We are coming into festival season, with the Hops Fest (Oct. 2) and Harvest Fest (Oct. 16-17) and things are under control. Our staff is just super,” he said.

Closson was unavailable for comment. She was hired in February 2008, after holding a similar job with West Linn Chamber of Commerce.

Brown said he will meet with his executive committee next week to start to “get the ball rolling” on a plan for hiring a new director, but he did not expect action on it until after Harvest Festival is over.

“I’m sure there will be some fallout; some hurt feelings over this,” said Brown, who said “We wish Mary (Closson) the best.

“In her time here she played an active role in promoting the chamber, and the Gorge,” he said.

Brown broke the news of the dismissal to the Chamber Ambassadors on Friday.

Ambassador president Lisa Marie Nelson said, “We just have to step up a little more and be supportive of the chamber in this time until they can get a new director.

“For me, it will mean even more volunteer help, with Hops Fest and Harvest Fest coming up — taking a more active role in the legwork,” she said.

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