Development Commission Can't Find A Director - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/15/05

Development Commission Can't Find A Director

Development Commissioner Elmer Williams opened his committee meeting with a discussion about the messy executive director situation.

"It's time that we get this process going and moving forward," he said, because for almost a year, this board has been without a permanent replacement for Mike Olivier.

Frank Castiglia is president of the Harrison County Development Commissioner.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we can find a qualified person to take us where Harrison County needs to be," he said.

The development commission thought it had its man when it negotiated a $145,000 deal plus incentives with Brent Christiansen. But in media reports, Harrison County supervisors balked at that salary. And since they actually hire the executive director, Christiansen decided to withdraw his name.

"Here we are a year later, and we still don't have an executive director," Williams reminded his administration committee members.

Admittedly frustrated commissioners were suddenly debating amongst themselves over the agency's immediate and long term future. Should they find their own candidate, or should they use one of the remaining four from their consultant's list?

Commissioner Sharon Bentz said it was time to work more closely with supervisors.

"The past is the past. The future is the future. We must go forward," she said.

But moving forward proved to be very difficult. Committee members were split on a plan to work with supervisors on salary and incentive guidelines for the next executive director. So, Castiglia asked a small group from his agency and the board of supervisors to tackle that task together.

"Again, there are qualified applicants that I feel and I know we can get in here to take us where we need to go," he said.

Commissioner Bruce Nourse said a county with so much potential deserved to find a top notch development leader.

"I think we would be doing a disservice to the citizens of this county if we don't make a bonafide effort to hire the best economic development practitioner in the country," said Nourse.

The Harrison County Development Commission has no timetable to hire a executive director. For now, the agency will continue to be run by interim director Bill Hessell.

by Brad Kessie

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