PORT TOWNSEND — The Port of Port Townsend has reorganized its management structure and personnel in the wake of two retirements.
Retiring operations manager Terry Khile, 55 — who worked for the port for 34 years — has been replaced with Chris Sparks, a Sequim resident since 2000, who had led the maintenance department since 2018, according to Scott Wilson, communications consultant for the port, in a press release.
Also, retiring Environmental Specialist Terry Taylor has been replaced by Kimberlie Webber.
Sparks, 46, is at the lead of the port staff reorganization that brings together for the first time in decades the maintenance crew and the yard crew, Wilson said.
While Khile was in charge of the Boat Yard and moorage at the port’s three marinas — Boat Haven, Point Hudson and Quilcene’s Herb Beck Marina — maintenance was a separate department. The marina moorage job that had been folded into Khile’s job is now separated into its own department and managed by new Harbormaster Kristian Ferrero.
As maintenance department manager, Sparks oversaw the work of a crew that grew to nine. In the reorganization, Sparks continues to lead maintenance while also overseeing the seven Boat Yard crew members. That places about 16 employees — about half the port’s staff — under his guidance, Wilson said.
The result Sparks expects will be that staff will be able to share the workload when it spikes in one part of the operation.
“If, say, the Yard doesn’t have a lot going on, we can move people over to help Maintenance,” Sparks said in the release. “Or if the Yard is busy, we can get some help from Maintenance. It can bring a team aspect, where everyone is helping everyone out.”
In Clallam County, Sparks was a house painter, a general contractor, an assistant manager at Home Depot in Sequim and manager of the lamination department at Westport Marine in Port Angeles.
During some of those years, he also baked donuts for his own company, “Hooked on Donuts.”
“I baked donuts by night and painted during the day,” he said.
When Larry Aase retired as the port’s maintenance manager in 2018, Sparks took the job.
His recent promotion to Operations Manager has resulted in other promotions of other longtime port employees.
Sean Smith is now the Lead of the Yard crew, which operates the three Marine Travelifts. David K. Johnson is now the Lead of the Maintenance crew.
Another part of the reorganization put all of the customer service staff in the moorage offices under the new harbormaster.
Ferrero, who has worked for the port since 2014, oversees a staff of seven that includes all of the front-line customer service representatives.
What Ferrero calls “team captains” for each of the moorage offices have been named: Brittany Bolling for Boat Haven, Jennifer Mitchell for Point Hudson and Shannon Meehan for the Yard. Michelle Dew has primary responsibility for Quilcene’s Herb Beck Marina.
Kelsey Seiler and Chuck Fauls round out the customer service staff, with one position open.
Ferrero aims to have his staff more visible on the docks so they can interact with boaters beyond just getting assigned a slip or a haul-out.
“I encourage any and all conversations with people,” he said.
Ferrero grew up in Edmonds. He spent time at WSU, where he met his future wife, Danielle. His parents have property at Cape George, so he moved there when he joined the port as yard laborer in 2014.
He was promoted over time, operating the lifts and getting things done in the yard, before an injury brought him into the Boat Haven moorage office.
His promotion to the harbormaster post was on Jan. 15.
His wife, Danielle, works in the accounting office of the Port Townsend School District and is also assistant girls’ basketball coach for the East Jefferson Rivals.
Webber, the port’s new environmental specialist, graduated from Port Townsend High School in 2009. She has worked as a salmon surveyor, habitat restoration specialist and office manager of the Northwest Watershed Institute, working there from 2019 until recently.
She’s about to obtain a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Oregon State University. She obtained her associate’s degree from Peninsula College.
At the port, Webber, 31, is responsible for ensuring that work done on boats, whether on the land or in the water, complies with environmental regulations.
“I see myself as an educator working closely with people whose livelihoods are based in the boat yards,” she said. “I want to work with them so that we can keep the port open and healthy for everyone.”
Khile worked under the direction of eight executive directors during his tenure at the port.
He had done just about every job at the port since 1988, Wilson said, when he started walking the docks as a moorage attendant just two years out of high school.
He has worked the marinas, been a laborer in the yard, driven first the smaller and then the largest of the Travelifts that carry boats, helped launch environment compliance programs, run the Point Hudson Marina, been the yard boss and finally served as Operations manager, a post he held for the last four years.
Before Khile graduated from Port Townsend High school in 1986, he was a star on the wrestling and football teams, Wilson said.
He spent a couple years after high school doing commercial fishing in Alaska, but when back in Port Townsend he also got jobs as a swimming pool lifeguard and at Harper Shell.
When Khile was hired, George Yount was the port’s manager. Over the years to follow, Khile worked for Bill Toskey, Lloyd Cahoon, an interim team of Ken Radon and Kathy Holmgren, Larry Crockett, Sam Gibboney, Jim Pivarnik and now Eron Berg.