A field of almost 90 applicants seeking to be the next executive director of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) has been narrowed to three. FCRA will begin the second round of interviews with finalists Thursday (July 11). Interviews are also scheduled for Friday (July 12) and Tuesday (July 16).
The three candidates earning a spot in the second round of interviews are: Lorie Robertson of Lavaca; Daniel Mann of Parsons, Kan.; and Larry Calhoun of Conroe, Texas.
Robertson is the director of marketing for FCRA, a position she has held since December 2013, according to her LinkedIn profile. Mann is listed as a self-employed economic development consultant and administrator on his LinkedIn profile, a position he’s held since March. Prior to that he was the chief executive officer for Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA).
Great Plains is a quasi-municipality commissioned by the Pentagon to transfer and redevelop the former Kansas Army Ammunition plant in southeast Kansas. According to a newspaper report in the Parsons (Kan.) Sun, Mann was terminated from GPDA in July 2018 without cause, with the organization agreeing to pay Mann his normal monthly salary and benefits through Feb. 28 of this year per his contract. A June report in the Parsons Sun states Mann tendered his resignation in June, effective July 31.
Calhoun was listed as the executive director of the Harlan County Economic Development Authority in Harlan County, Ky. However, the county’s EDA website lists Colby Kirk as executive director and One Harlan County. Both logos appear on the website. News reports also show that Calhoun, then executive director of the Conroe Industrial Development Corp. with the city of Conroe, Texas, was terminated because of a “widespread pattern of inappropriate behavior” on April 30, 2006. At the time, Calhoun denied all the allegations. His LinkedIn profile shows he held that position from April 2006 to May 2014. His profile lists him as president of Calhoun Real Estate Services from 2014 to present but was not updated to show the position in Kentucky.
The FCRA executive director position was left vacant when the board voted Feb. 21 that Ivy Owen was no longer able to fulfill his responsibilities as executive director due to health issues, and because of that he would no longer be employed by FCRA. Owen was executive director for more than 11 years, but had not been in the FCRA office since Nov. 21, 2018. He was still officially the executive director until Feb. 21 and did receive pay until that time, although he did not receive full pay, said FCRA Janet Gabrey, director of finance and temporary office manager.
Owen recently filed a wrongful termination claim against FCRA. The board agreed to allow its attorney to enter into mediation with Owen’s attorney regarding the claim following an executive session at the board’s regular meeting June 20.
The executive director position is “a professional economic development position consisting of planning, business and industry recruitment and retention, redevelopment, expansion and/or relocation,” the job description for the position states. The position will involve “considerable public contact” to collect and distribute information on FCRA, Chaffee Crossing, its history and plans for its future. The director also will be responsible for economic development activities, growing and developing relationships with city and government figures as well as potential clients.
The director will be “responsible for managing a maturing entity and ensuring a strong financial plan to support capital improvement projects and operations.” Because of the nature and history of the FCRA and Chaffee Crossing, the executive director would be responsible for preserving historic landmarks among other duties such as implementing projects that support commercial, residential and industrial development, business retention and development of infrastructure. The executive director also will “provide assistance to prospective businesses and industries to obtain information on incentives to attract and develop growth” the job description states.
The personnel committee agreed when developing the job description for the position in March that applicants for the position must have a bachelor’s degree with five years’ experience in economic development, public administration or related field. An equivalent combination of education and experience will be accepted.