Updated: 09/25/2013 3:38 PM
Created: 09/19/2013 5:23 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
The executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority announced his retirement in May, and today the agency's board appointed the next man to take the helm.
The current executive director, Adolph Ojard, said shipping has been the lifeblood of the Twin Ports. Ojard said the industry has an economic impact of hundreds of millions of dollars and employs thousands in the region. He said directing the port for 10 years has been an honor and pretty fun.
“These are grown men's toys. You can't help but have fun. It's big ships. It's trains. It's big equipment,” Ojard said.
Ojard's love of shipping remains, but he said retirement will allow more time with his family that lives on the East Coast.
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Vanta Coda replace Ojard on Oct. 1.
Coda has 20 years of experience in multi-modal transportation. Although Coda's been living in Texas near the Gulf Coast he said his family is ready for a Northland winter.
“Listen, I've dealt with extreme weather right. 50 days of 96 degrees isn't normal so I think we can manage,” Coda said.
He said his family is excited to experience the Twin Ports. Coda said his son even gave him advice when applying for the job.
“He had done his research on the internet, and just before I came up for the interview he looked at me and said, 'Don't blow it Dad,'” Coda said.
Ojard said he's ready to step down but is jealous Coda gets to work with a $10 million TIGER grant.
“We've got grant money for the development of a new dock and new platform for economic development. We've got the U.S. Steel property that we're getting more and more involved in,” Ojard said.
He said Coda has the skills to move the port forward during this exciting time.
Coda will take over as executive director in October, but Ojard will remain in a supporting role until the middle of next month.
Suspects In Custody After UMD Gun Scare; Students Call Alert Confusing
A gun scare at UMD closed down Kirby Drive near campus for about an hour Thursday morning. Students were notified via email and text message, but some said the alert was confusing. University Police said they were called to the Kirby Plaza Bus Hub where a witness saw two suspects with what looked like a weapon.
3 Iron Range Departments Battle Chisholm House Fire
Three fire departments responded to a blaze at a Chisholm home Thursday night. According to Pete Makowski with the Northland FireWire, emergency crews were called to the home on the 300 block of 10th Street Northwest around 7:30 p.m.
Ely Bear Researcher Lynn Rogers Defends Method
Minnesota bear researcher Lynn Rogers is defending his methods as he tries to win back his research permit. Rogers testified Thursday at an administrative hearing. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports Rogers says while the bears he studies may be habituated to people from feeding, the animals aren't more dangerous.
Minn. Lawmakers Mount New Push Against Sunday Liquor Ban
A Democratic state senator and Republican representative are offering fellow legislators a range of different routes to what they say is an inevitable destination: repeal of Minnesota's prohibition on Sunday liquor sales. Democrat Roger Reinert of Duluth and Republican Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie are teaming up to weaken or scrap the ban. They laid out their strategy at a press conference Thursday.
Minn. House Backs $500M Tax-Cut Bill
The Minnesota House has given overwhelming approval to a $500 million package of tax cuts and repeals. Thursday's 126-2 vote comes just more than a week into the legislative session. The bill heads to the Senate, where leaders haven't publicly embraced the plan.