ETIRING— Joy Baker, right, pictured with Nome Mayor John Handeland, left, and U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage Commander Capt. Christopher Culpepper last September, is going to retire on May 24, after many years in service to the Port of Nome.

Nome continues search for new port director

The City of Nome is still on the hunt for a qualified candidate to take on the role of port director.
Joy Baker retired from her longtime position as port director a year ago. She has, however, stayed on with the City as a project manager for the port. In that role, she has continued to shepherd Nome’s partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the massive project to expand the port.
But now Baker is fully stepping away from her role as project manager. Her last day is May 24.
“At this time, our city engineer will be coordinating with the Corps on the modification project, and keep the city manager and port commission informed,” Baker told the Nugget. “He has been involved and is up to speed.”
The City of Nome’s engineer is John Blees of Anchorage-based Bristol Engineering Services Company, LLC.
“Bristol Engineering has been working a lot with Joy as we plan for her transition to retire from the City,” said City Manager Glenn Steckman.
Steckman noted that this transition comes at a time when “a lot of the [expansion] project is out of our hands.”
The City and the Corps only signed their official partnership agreement earlier this year. Contractors have until the end of this month to submit bids to work on the first phase of the port expansion. In-water construction on the west causeway is expected to begin next year.
But the City won’t have any say in the contractor the Corps choses. Instead, much of the City’s work over the next several months will involve answering questions and monitoring grants that are already in place as part of the project or grants that still need to be submitted, said Steckman.
“There’s not going to be a lot of activity on the award of the port [expansion] until sometime at the end of September of this year,” when winning bid is likely to be announced, he said. He added that he also did not expect a lot of effort or development from then until next spring, when construction is about to begin.
By that time, Steckman also hopes to have another new hire to take over the role as port project manager—separate from the role of port director.
“This is ultimately an $800 million project,” Steckman said. “It’s going to last several years. For a project of this magnitude, I think it’s good to have another set of eyes keeping an eye on the project.”
Steckman said that the City is getting ready to reissue that project manager job ad soon. For the port director role, this is the third time the City has issued a call for applications. They have been advertising on job boards like Indeed and through organizations like the Alaska Municipal League and Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators.
Steckman said they also plan to post ads in newspapers in larger cities like Anchorage and Seattle. But he noted that it’s been very difficult to find qualified employees that are willing to take on these jobs and to relocate to Nome, citing housing prices.
“That’s been the big challenge,” he said.
Steckman didn’t expect the lack of a port director to impact the everyday functions of the harbor as year’s season of marine activity approaches.
“We have a lot of good staff on hand,” he said. “We’re going to have a very experienced harbor crew returning. We’ve got a lot of experienced people in place this year as the port reopens.”


The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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