SEASIDE – A retirement ceremony and roast will be held May 6 at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center for Mary Blake the outgoing general manager of the Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation District (SEPRD).

“It is our way of saying thank you to someone who has given 28 years of most incredible dedication to this community,” Dana Phillips, Seaside city councilor said. “There have been so many things in this community that have been accomplished because of Mary Blake’s direction.”

The ceremony will include an open community program from 2-4 p.m. allowing anyone to share stories, memories and wishes for Blake’s future.

A pre-purchased $25 ticket is required for the dinner/roast segment that will take place from 5-8 p.m. The funds raised at the event will go towards SEPRD scholarships in Blake’s name.

For Blake, the retirement is emotional.

“It is terribly emotional,” Blake said. “This has been my calling. It is a perfect example of happiness for me.”

But Blake said the transition is also emotional for others in the community.

“There have been so many people touched by this organization in more ways that anybody really understands,” she said. “This district has saved people’s lives and helped people get their health and wellness back.”

Bake said the SEPRD is an example of how to take a governmental organization and successfully add the spirit of the community.

“And that’s what we have been successful in doing,” she said. “Now, the next person in this position needs to take it to the next level offering seamless services that brings people together and aligns the accountability of the organization and connects it to the community.”

Meanwhile, the search to find Blake’s replacement has been narrowed to four candidates from the original 65 applications when the process was opened in February. The names of the four candidates have not yet been made public. They are being invited to meet with the board’s three screening panels April 16 during an executive session.

The SEPRD board of directors will make the final decision and offer the job to the candidate of choice.

The SEPRD board, advised by the Special District Association of Oregon in the search, held an executive session earlier this month to narrow the list.

The board is seeking a General Manager with a master’s degree in parks and recreation administration or related field, progressively financial and budgetary management experience, public relations, parks and recreation maintenance and landscaping administration skills.

“The next person to lead the district must be skilled in the various layered and complex financial needs of the district and in balancing our programs effectively,” Michael Hinton, SEPRD chair told the Signal when the search was launched.

Blake’s successor could earn from $60,000 to $70,000 annually depending on experience.

Blake will help in the transition, but her goal is to retire June 12 on her 62nd birthday.

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