Port of Kingston sinks its manager position

KINGSTON — After 12 years at the helm, Port of Kingston Manager Gary Johnston’s career there was sent to Davy Jones’ locker Wednesday night.

Port commissioners made the official announcement of Johnston’s termination during their monthly meeting, surprising the long-time employee with the news a few days before the session.

Chief commissioner Tom Coultas said the resolution to terminate the position was strictly a business decision.

“Simply, he worked himself out of a job, as far as a port manager position goes,” Coultas said, noting Johnston successfully implemented the port’s most recent project, a five-year comprehensive master plan.

“In the day-to-day operations, the current staff is more than able and qualified and able to handle that,” Coultas explained. “We thought we could take the resources that are currently devoted to the port manager salary and diminish that position. It could be used for other marina enhancement.”

There is an office manager and four marina attendants employed at the port.

Johnston has taken the port from “a relatively weak financial situation to a moderately stable situation,” Coultas explained.

The port is now looking for a harbor master, who would implement a more hands-on approach to its dealings, instead of administrative, like Johnston did.

Johnston was offered the job but it was “at a reduced authority level and 40 percent pay cut,” he said.

A project manager will be hired to manage the port’s plans for the upland design project with Kitsap Transit and Kitsap County, Coultas said.

“(The termination) was strictly a business decision,” Coultas emphasized. “(Johnston) worked himself out of a job. He did so well. He will do well in (other) port business.”

During his tenure, Johnston completed administrative duties, including earning 10 years of clean audits with the state.

His work with the master plan included installing a boat launch ramp, developing a beach access trail, taking care of major upland improvements and building the new port office and Kingston Cove Yacht Club.

His severance package includes three months of pay and benefits. He has been with the port since May 1, 1991.

“I really enjoy Kingston. My kids, my wife participate here. We will most likely stay in community and I would like to participate more with the community.” Johnston said. “For every one door that closes, there are many doors that open.”

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