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Port Arthur Councilman names replacement for EDC board member who resigned; CEO replacement process ongoing

A long and at times argumentative Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation meeting ended this week with the appointment of an interim CEO but not legal counsel.

Some decisions were left to be made at a later date.

The three-hour meeting with 30 minutes spent in closed session concluded without fanfare and the naming of Ike Mills to head the organization following a 5-1 vote.

Mills was not in attendance.

The dissenting vote Monday night came from Rashad Harris, who did not state in open session why he voted against the motion.

Board president Darrell Anderson left apologetically near the end of the meeting due to a prior engagement and was not present for the vote on the interim CEO.

Board member Dallas Smith said Mills would serve until a national search is conducted to find a permanent CEO.

Smith took over the lead of the meeting after Anderson’s departure. This duty would have gone to a board vice president but none was selected during the meeting. Instead the issue was tabled until officer elections in January 2022.

Outgoing CEO Floyd Batiste said on Tuesday there is a problem with Mills being named to the position. In order for there to be an interim position, one must first be approved by the city council, which has the final say on EDC matters.

“The addition of any position by the EDC or any other city department must be approved by city council,” Batiste said.

In addition, the board must approve a salary for the position and, currently, an interim director is not built into the budget.

“They moved to hire Mr. Mills as interim CEO but a process must take place prior to that happening,” Batiste said.

Resignations

Once final approval is given, Mills will work alongside outgoing CEO Floyd Batiste, who has served for 17 years there. Batiste resigned in July citing a variety of reasons including a disagreement with the direction the board could be headed.

This includes a discussion among city council members to change the EDC from a Type A to a Type B, which would allow for council members to serve on the board.

Batiste said, in a previous story, he worries the EDC will change and decisions will be made that would benefit certain individuals or organizations.

His last day is Sept. 30

Board member John Chirfras resigned his seat on the EDC board shortly after Batiste, telling Port Arthur Newsmedia shortly thereafter he also disagreed with decisions regarding the board, and there is a lot going on there that he “couldn’t be part of.”

Chirafis, whose resignation went into effect immediately, was appointed to the seat by District 2 Councilman Cal Jones.

At Tuesday’s Port Arthur City Council meeting, Jones appointed Beverly Raymond to fill the empty position. Raymond is a 1976 graduate of Lincoln High School and works for the U.S. Postal Service.

The EDC’s legal counsel Guy Goodson also resigned his post, which takes effect Aug. 15.

The board will host a special meeting Aug. 13. Goodson is unable to attend as he is scheduled to meet with another client.

Finding new legal counsel

Under an agenda item to discuss possible consideration seeking Requests for Qualifications for legal counsel and hiring interim legal counsel for the PAEDC, Batiste said he made contact with three attorneys, two of which submitted resumes, not propositions.

Board member Roosevelt Petry noted all members were asked in email to seek interested individuals and bring the names to the board.

Neither interim legal counsel nor legal counsel was approved during the meeting though several names were mentioned.