An already twisted search for a new director at the Port of Iberia took a drastic turn this week when the port’s commission voted to extend — and sweeten — the current director’s contract for another two years.

The Port’s commission outlined and advertised qualifications for Port Director Roy Pontiff’s replacement following his retirement announcement earlier this year. The longtime port director, who oversees  a 2,000-acre industrial complex that houses more than 100 tenants, had planned to retire at year’s end.

But amid the search for a new director, which led the port commission to narrow down a lengthy list of applicants to 12 then later six, Port Commission President Raymond Bernard Jr. resigned suddenly to vie for Pontiff’s job. Coincidentally, following Bernard’s resignation, his brother-in-law, also a port commissioner, told The Daily Iberian that Bernard had the majority of the commission’s support for the position and also noted that Bernard did not need to submit a resume, despite Bernard admitting that he does not hold most of the qualifications outlined for the job.

A few weeks later, the commission opted instead to halt the search altogether and extend Pontiff’s contract for another two years. The contract includes two salary increases over the course of two years and also expands the amount of personal leave for Pontiff to 3.5 days per month instead of his current 1.75 days per month.

The commission’s decision to extend Pontiff’s contract comes after it was learned that state ethics laws prohibit Bernard from taking over as director until two years after he resigned his position as commission president.

It’s worth noting that the Port of Iberia receives a fairly steady stream of state and federal grants and has an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion. The current director’s salary will increase from $116,150 to $123,250 on Sept. 1. On Sept. 1, 2013, Pontiff’s salary will be raised to $126,800.

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