Poulsbo Port Manager Stickels retires, will move to New Zealand

Kirk Stickels - Megan Stephenson / Herald
Kirk Stickels
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

POULSBO — Poulsbo Port Manager Kirk Stickels announced his retirement to the Board of Commissioners Thursday night. He will enjoy retirement in New Zealand with his wife.

Stickels has been port manager since 2005; before moving to the Poulsbo area, Stickels was port manager and volunteer firefighter in Sitka, Alaska; fire chief on Bainbridge Island for eight years; and fire chief in Monroe for about 14 years. Stickels became a volunteer firefighter at 14 in the Black Diamond area in King County, according to a Bainbridge Island Review article on his fire chief retirement. Stickels joined the Navy and joined a brigade in New Zealand before moving to Monroe.

"It's a comfortable area," Stickels said of Kitsap. Since moving to Poulsbo, Stickels and his wife have lived on their boat in the Port of Poulsbo. "It's been a nice way of life and not one that we leave without some regret. Despite [government] regulatory attempts, people can still enjoy that way of life," he said of liveaboard life.

Commissioner Stephen Swann said losing Stickels is a "tremendous loss" to the port, and he has been an "outstanding" manager. Swann said commissioners have not yet discussed the search for a new port manager. Stickels said he'll be working with the commissioners on the search, and he encourages current staff members to apply.

Stickels said he has worked to maintain the marina and a high occupancy level, but he wished he could see the completion of C Dock's new ramp and float.

Commission Chairman Tony DeCarlo said Stickels is one of the best managers he's worked with at the port; DeCarlo has been on the commission for 20 years.

"[Stickels] was able to take directions and followed through" on projects, DeCarlo said. "He had the foresight to go look for things and go after things that need to be done. He'll definitely be missed."

DeCarlo said commissioners will discuss advertising the position at a special public meeting Jan. 16, 10 a.m. at the port's meeting room on E Dock. DeCarlo said commissioner will look at external and internal candidates.

Stickels' wife is from New Zealand; Stickels has permanent residency there, and their children have dual citizenship. Stickels said he and his wife are building a house on their New Zealand property now.

“It’s kind of like going back home," he said. But "I would definitely come back." His son lives in Suquamish, and his daughter lives in Snohomish.



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