The Port of Morrow commissioners decided on Friday to extend the deadline for those wanting to apply for the port’s top position, and that there will be some updates to the application.

As longtime port manager Gary Neal sets to retire at the end of the year, the commission has been searching for someone to step into the role. Now, they have decided to extend their application period until the end of June, in the hopes that a more specific application will attract more candidates.

So far, commissioners said, seven people have applied for the job.

At a special meeting Friday morning, commissioners noted that they had not yet reviewed the seven applications they’ve received, and that those people would still all be considered. The purpose of extending the deadline, said commissioner Rick Stokoe, was to make sure they’d made it available to the best candidate.

“We feel it’s important to do our due diligence, and try to find the best applicant for the port, and the employees of the port,” said Stokoe. “This position is extremely vital, not only to Morrow County but to the region.”

Commissioners said thus far, the advertisement for the position had only been posted regionally, including in local newspapers, as well as some port organizations in Oregon and Washington. The recruitment process, which has been facilitated by the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO), started May 1.

Stokoe said initially they hoped to have SDAO narrow the applicant pool down to 25, and then the commissioners would narrow it down to five.

Commissioner Joe Taylor said they plan to expand the search nationwide.

Stokoe said the initial application did not list a salary range, but the updated one will state that the director’s salary will be between $175,000 and $250,000 annually.

He said the application will also clarify a piece about a “residency requirement.” The initial application stated that the person hired would have to live in the port district, which spans all of Morrow County. The updated application will still require the new port director to live in the district, but will specify that the commission will allow a period of time for the person to relocate.

The commission hopes to have a new manager in place by Oct. 1.

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