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JDA executive director resigns

By Staff | Jul 12, 2013

The executive director of Rugby’s Job Development Authority has resigned after five years on the job.

It was announced at Wednesday’s meeting of the JDA Board that Brenda Foster had offered her resignation to the executive board at a meeting earlier in the week.

Foster said the increase in marketing Rugby was one of her biggest accomplishments.

“I think the marketing is probably one of the biggest ones,” she said. “We have policies and a website, more printed materials and brochures. I think the public knows more about what the JDA is doing. We’re more transparent and accountable.”

Since Foster took over, the JDA has purchased the Johnson Clinic building, which it is now renting as well as having a hand in purchasing the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center, which was recently paid off by Pierce County.

Foster also said major achievements included the renovation and sale of the old Ben Franklin building and purchase of the Lyric Theatre building.

“The city is benefitting from that,” she said of the Ben Franklin building. “It sat empty for years and now we have a nice business in there.”

The Friends of the Lyric has quickly raised nearly all of the funds for a digital upgrade and is renting the building from the JDA.

“The theater is more of a community development project, but it all fits into economic development,” she said. “Everything has to work together.”

Foster also pointed housing and labor studies completed since she’s been at the JDA as being beneficial to the city.

Foster said she was uncertain of her future plans, but said added she has her real estate license and she and her husband own a bar in Wolford.

The board briefly discussed options for replacing Foster, who offered to work part-time through August to ease the transition.

JDA coordinator SyAnn Graber will take on most of the duties in the interim, and the board may not be looking to replace Foster immediately.

Part of that decision may boil down to finances.

JDA Board Kipp Johnson announced that the people who committed to purchasing five lots in the new Chalmers First Addition had backed out, leaving all of the lots in the development unsold.

The JDA, as the landowner, is responsible for special assessments on the properties, totaling approximately $195,000 the first year and averaging around $190,000 the next two years if none of the lots are sold.

The JDA, which receives a bulk of its funding from a percentage of city sales tax, took in $122,719 from that source in the first half of 2013.

“We may not fill the position for a month or two or six months,” Johnson said. “We have to seriously take a look at what we can do.”

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