Borough manager Debra Schnabel hired new employees to fill the director of public facilities, and contracts and grants administration positions.

Ed Coffland is the new public facilities director, pending assembly approval and tourism director Carolann Wooton was hired for the grants administration position.

Coffland, a civil engineer, has worked across the world on mining, and oil and gas projects. He’s worked for coal and metal mines in Peru, Indonesia, Texas, Montana, Oklahoma and most recently for Kensington Gold Mine near Juneau.

Coffland worked for Kensington from 2009 to 2016 as the senior project engineer. His responsibilities included safety and environmental stewardship, design, construction and commissioning of ore-handling crushing and processing facilities, tailings pumping, pipeline and placement, tailing dam planning and mine water treatment facilities among others.

Coffland moved to Haines on July 11 with his wife and bought a home weeks before former public facilities director Brad Ryan was offered a borough manager position in Skagway. Coffland applied for the position on Aug. 15, the first person to submit an application. “We moved up here and got settled and bought a house,” Coffland said. “This job came open and my wife said ‘Why don’t you put in for it’ and so I did.”

Four applicants applied for the position that were worthy of an interview, Schnabel said, although she only interviewed two. “Part of the reason I made that decision quickly is because I’m in the final week of Brad Ryan being here,” Schnabel said last week. “For Brad to unload all of his information to me and then have me try to unload it to a new person seemed formidable. This allowed me the opportunity to get a person for at least a few days of shadowing Brad.”

The hire comes amid borough assembly discussions regarding making cuts to borough staff, although most assembly members said this week that they want to keep the public facilities position.

“I think having as many projects going around the Haines Borough as we do now, asking the manager to pick up the slack would be doing the same thing we tend to do in the borough which is burn out our employees,” assembly member Sean Maidy said.

Assembly member Brenda Josephson said that while she thinks the option of cutting staff positions is still open, she wants to keep a public facilities director.

“I felt that (discussions) were in flux at the last meeting however, I’m very pleased that we’ve hired a professional engineer for the position,” Josephson said.

Assembly member Heather Lende said she’s disappointed that the manager moved forward with the hires while discussions about restructuring staff at the assembly level weren’t resolved. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do when it comes to voting for it at this moment.”

Assembly members Stephanie Scott and Tom Morphet were unavailable for comment.

Three local applicants applied for the grants administration position. Wooton has a background in such work.

“She shows a lot of versatility and flexibility,” Schnabel said. “Primarily her previous experience has been in grants management. She’s very much a detailed person. There were three very considerable applicants.”

Burl Sheldon and Jennifer Motes also applied for the job. Borough code requires that existing staff be given preference in the hiring process.