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Massena Chamber board fires executive director

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MASSENA - The Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be looking for a new executive director after firing Michael J. Gleason on Friday.

“Mike no longer does work with us. We will be looking for a new director,” board President Susan E. Stiles said Monday. “We wish him well in his endeavors.”

Ms. Stiles said despite the absence of an executive director the chamber would remain open for business with Associate Director Penny Pullmain handling the day-to-day activities.

“The chamber is still open for business with normal business hours. The Concerts in the Park will still proceed on Thursday nights along with all of our events that are coming up. We have our staff that is there,” she said.

The chamber, which recently held its annual Downtown Block Dance and Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show, is preparing to have a presence at the upcoming Bass Anglers Sportsman Society’s Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown from Aug. 8 to 11 in Whittaker Park, Waddington. There, they’ll have a booth set up to sell some of their items.

They are also beginning work on their annual Harvest Fest, which will be held Sept. 7 in downtown Massena.

Mr. Gleason’s role on local boards, such as the St. Lawrence County of Chamber, will be filled by Massena Chamber board members, Ms. Stiles said.

“Board members also serve (on those boards). That’s where the board and the president will have to fill in,” she said.

Mr. Gleason had served as executive director since Oct. 15, 2007. Prior to that, he was a member of the chamber board and had resigned his position on the board prior to his appointment. He had previously served as an account executive for Martz Communication Group.

Board members and Mr. Gleason had reportedly clashed in recent weeks over the day to day operations of the chamber officer.

Mr. Gleason took over for Gert Jurkovich, a former chamber executive director who had been hired as interim executive director after Paul A. Haggett tendered his resignation in August 2007 at the request of the board of directors. Mr. Haggett had served as the chamber’s executive director for 8 1/2 years.

The chamber board had received 23 applicants to replace Mr. Haggett and several were called in for interviews before a search committee narrowed it down to four candidates who were called back for second interviews. Mr. Gleason had emerged as the top candidate and, after his appointment, he worked with Ms. Jurkovich during the transition period.

“I’ve enjoyed my 14 years of serving the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce as a board member and as executive director. It was a pleasure serving the Massena community. I basically transplanted here for family reasons and I’ve enjoyed my time as a board member and executive director,” Mr. Gleason said.

Ms. Stiles said they expected to advertise for a new executive director soon. In the meantime, she said, chamber board members will step up to the plate to handle some of the workload.

“At this point our plans are to put an ad in the paper,” she said.

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