Gears earns county’s top spot

After briefly considering the appointment of a temporary county adminstrator to replace the departing Malcolm Fleming, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has named parks director Cris Gears to fill the slot.

Gears’ elevation to the position continues the county’s trend of promoting from within the organization.

“I am flattered and honored,” Gears said at the meeting announcing his appointment. “I didn’t expect this turn of events. I initially approached the board to see if I could help fill the gap, but then decided to try it on a regular basis.”

Gears’ current position will remain vacant for several months, during which time he and the board will determine whether the new job is a good fit.

Gears, 54, first came to Kitsap County in 1998 as director of the Parks and Recreation Department. He left a year later for a similar position in the Bremerton city government, but returned to the county post in 2001.

Prior to this time, Gears spent the majority of his professional life in Minnesota.

Gears will start in the new position Feb. 14, and will work co-operatively with Fleming during the last two weeks of his county tenure.

Fleming, the county’s first administrator, will become Bellingham’s chief administrative officer next month.

“Malcolm has done a great job,” Gears said. “He came in with absolutely nothing, He deserves a lot of the credit for assembling a great management team. We have a stellar cast here.”

Gears said he doesn’t plan any drastic changes in organizational structure.

“For the first months, I will be like a sponge,” he said. “I will learn as much as I can and try to keep Malcolm’s momentum going.”

Gears, who often dresses informally, had a spiffier look at the meeting where his appointment was announced. And Fleming, known for his sartorial talents, lauded the appointment.

“Today marks my seventh year here and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate,” he said. “To have recruited him and then turn things over to him feels right. And I’m glad he has finally learned how to dress.”

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