Investigation

The Port of Columbia County is revealing an investigation about 'possible misuse of Port funds' by former Port Executive Director Doug Hayes.

The following is an open letter issued Friday afternoon, Oct. 15, by the Port of Columbia County Board of Commissioners.

We are writing to share an update on the leadership transition at the Port.As you know, Doug Hayes resigned at the end of September.

At the time, we did not comment on his resignation because it was premature to do so. We have now gathered additional information, and we’d like to provide you with an update.

We are investigating the possible misuse of Port funds by Mr. Hayes. The alleged improper use came to light after an employee reported concerns to the Port Commission. Mr. Hayes resigned and recently paid the Port back $23,335. This represents the total amount identified.

This was a significant breach of trust, and we will complete a thorough investigation. We are working with local authorities and will be following their lead in that process. We are also conducting an internal review looking back several years.

We are committed to sharing the results of the investigation with our community. We are also evaluating improvements, including possible changes to organizational structure to ensure financial oversight. We recognize that this is concerning news and a distraction to our work.

As the leaders of the Port, our focus is on improving our organization and moving forward.

The letter is signed by each of the Port Commissioners. A port representative told The Chronicle that a police report concerning the investigation has been filed with the Columbia City Police Department.

Follow this developing story here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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