Parks District narrows director search to two

Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District on Thursday winnowed down its search for a new director to two candidates, but poised to hire its top pick.

With two votes, the Parks Board of Directors gave Board President Greg Davis the authority to offer the job to two respective candidates: Mark Hickok of Redmond, Wash., and Scott Baker, current HRVPRD assistant director.

After opening a public meeting following a closed executive session Thursday evening, the board voted 4-0 to offer Hickok the position.

Then, in a separate motion, the board voted 3-1 to offer Baker the job if the board is “not able to come to … an employment agreement” with Hickok. Board member Mike McCarthy gave the only dissenting vote to that action.

Details regarding salary and benefits for the proposed employment contract were not discussed in open session.

The board’s decision came after a day of panel interviews with three finalists. A technical advisory group and a community group met with the applicants, as did Parks staff. After the day’s interview sessions wrapped up, the Parks Board convened the two committees at Ty Taylor Fire Station before moving into a closed executive session.

After deliberation, they opened a public meeting and gave Davis the authority to extend an employment agreement to either Hickok or Baker.

“They (the board) felt that two candidates would be suitable for the district director position,” outgoing director Lori Stirn said.

Stirn’s last day will be Sept. 29, after almost two decades helming the district. She announced her resignation with a letter to the board in June.

On Friday, Stirn explained Davis will be looking into Hickok’s references this week.

Hickok, who grew up in Washington, has served as Recreation Division District Manager in Redmond for the last four years. His has formerly worked in Flagstaff, Ariz. and Moses Lake, Wash.

Baker has worked for HRVPRD since 2001. He started as a life guard and program supervisor before being promoted to assistant director in 2003. He has since been involved in park development projects and secured grants for the district.

The Park District, a special district, operates under a five-member volunteer board of directors, elected for staggered four-year terms. The district director reports directly to the Board of Directors and is responsible for the direction, administration, and management of the District’s aquatic center, parks, recreation and business operations.

The district encompasses Hood River County with the exception of the City of Cascade Locks.

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