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Decision on parks chief close

The Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department is close to getting a new director. A meeting on Monday night will introduce all four finalists to the public, giving them a chance for them to talk about how they would run the department in the future.

The position has been vacant since March, when Parks Director Cris Gears was promoted to the county administrator position. While Gears has maintained some control over the department, he said it has not functioned at full strength during this time.

“The staff has done an excellent job in keeping things running,” Gears said. “But there are some things we weren’t able to do, like some improvements at the fairgrounds as the writing of a new parks code.”

The search was managed by the Brimeyer Group, and executive search firm in Hopkins, Minn. Gears said about 36 people applied for the position with a list of six finalists. Two declined to continue, leaving the current finalists.

This bucks the recent Kitsap County trend of hiring from within, since all the finalists are external candidates.

The four finalists are Mark Mauren, assistant director for the Washington Department of Natural Resources in Gig Harbor; Gary Major, director of Recreation and Parks for Orland Park, Ill.; W. Todd Graeff, director of Coconino County Parks and Recreation in Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Gerald Pagac, director of Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs, Indianapolis, Ind.

The director, with an $80,000 to $95,000 salary range, will be responsible for the operation of more than 100 county buildings totaling more than 600,000 square feet, as well as more than 5,600 acres of county-owned park facilities. The department has a staff of 60 and a $10.9 million annual budget.

While it manages facilities year-round, its greatest public visibility comes from August’s Kitsap County Fair.

The public meeting takes place at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Eagles Nest Events Center at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. Each candidate will give a 15-minute presentation, and a question and answer session will follow.

Following the meeting the public will be asked to fill out evaluation forms about the candidate, with the accumulated data used as part of the final hiring process.

Gears said he hoped the director would begin sometime in October.

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