February 4, 2009
Historical Seaport Board Announces Staff Reductions
California, Oregon, Wash. sailing schedule may be revised; San Francisco Bay Area bookings strong
Aberdeen – The Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority Board of Directors has announced staff reductions as it works through a challenging economic environment that has resulted in significantly lower revenues. During its regular meeting Tuesday, the board reduced staff by six full-time equivalent positions. One open position will remain unfilled. Capt. Les Bolton, the Historical Seaport’s executive director, also agreed to a 20 percent pay reduction. On Feb. 1, the Historical Seaport had 25 full-time equivalent positions.
Once economic conditions improve, the Historical Seaport is open to rehiring laid off employees.
The board of directors also formed a committee to review all Historical Seaport operations, which may lead to changes in the upcoming sailing schedule for California, Oregon, and Washington. The committee may also recommend changes in the deployment of all Historical Seaport assets, including the tall ship Hawaiian Chieftain. The committee is expected to present its recommendations at a special board meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Seaport Learning Center.
The overall economic climate in the country has led to reduced revenue for the Historical Seaport. Ticket sales for public sailings in January of this year were down 17 percent from January of 2008. During January, both ships were in Long Beach, Oceanside, and San Diego, areas hard hit by the national economic crisis. Bookings this month in Oxnard, Calif., where the ships are currently berthed, Morro Bay, and San Francisco appear strong at this time.
Historical Seaport finances were also hurt by an unexpected bill of $24,000 for repairs to the Hawaiian Chieftain in January. A fundraising campaign to pay this bill is continuing, and the Historical Seaport has strengthened its fundraising strategy with a number of new initiatives and appeals for funds.
“We’re in challenging economic times,” Bolton said. “Under these conditions, our operating model needs to change and we need to be proactive in order to preserve our ability to provide education programs and continue to serve our community.”
The Historical Seaport is moving forward with plans to develop Seaport Landing at the site in South Aberdeen. The board of directors believes the project is central to the long-term viability of the Historical Seaport, as well as a critical opportunity for helping the broader Grays Harbor community through a difficult economic situation.
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