The Pine Bluff Civic Auditorium Complex Commission voted 6-0 Tuesday to re-start a search for a new director of the Pine Bluff Convention Center. This decision came after an executive session in which Commissioners Ethel Cogshell, Gary Wilson, La’Tasha Woods, Lisa Kosmitis, Wil Jenkins and Monique Bedford convened.


Before the executive session, they voted to continue an existing search process in which 23 people applied for the position. After the executive session, Wilson withdrew a motion to this effect and the commissioners voted to rescind their votes on continuing with the first search process. Bedford asked Woods about the deadline to hire a director. Woods responded that the deadline passed on July 1.


Woods said the first search involved members of the Civic Auditorium Complex Commission and the Advertising and Promotion Commission. Woods said the Civic Auditorium Complex Commission will allow the Advertising and Promotion commissioners to give input on the applicants but not to vote on hiring candidates.


The director will manage the convention center and the advertising and promotion commission fund for promoting the city. He or she will oversee a staff of 16, supervise marketing and sales operations of the convention and visitors bureau, make sales presentations to customer groups, work with the state legislature and represent the city on regional and state boards and commissions.


Pine Bluff Convention Center accounting clerk Betty Brown takes the minutes of the meetings. She said that two of the 21 applicants have withdrawn their names. One person accepted another job and another person suffered the death of her husband, she said. Three Pine Bluff Convention Center employees have retired since December 2016, Brown said. As a result, the commission needs to hire a director who will then hire the other two positions, she said.


Woods said that the commissioners interviewed nine of the original 23 applicants and then sent rejection letters to five and sent letters of interest to four people. Sheri Storie, interim executive director of the Pine Bluff Convention Center, assumed this position after then-director Bob Purvis retired earlier this year. Storie applied to be the permanent director and is one of the four candidates who received a letter of interest.


After the executive session, Cogshell said she opposes Storie taking part in discussions on the search for a next director. Storie agreed and recused herself Tuesday on her own volition before a discussion on the search for the next director began. Woods said the commission will contact the four people who were already interviewed and who were considered strong candidates, then invite them to re-apply.


With respect to re-starting the search, Woods said they will advertise the position in the Pine Bluff Commercial. Storie said the commission will also advertise the job opening on the Destination Marketing Association International web site, the International Association of Auditorium Managers web site and on the city of Pine Bluff web site. Woods said the commission will re-advertise the job opening starting Tuesday, July 25. She said the commission did not state the compensation package in its initial advertisement and is undetermined as to whether it will do so in the second advertisement.