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Commission meeting recap: AGFC narrows director candidate list to final four

LITTLE ROCK - A field of 15 applicants for the vacant director's position at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has been narrowed to four people. After reviewing applications and conducting extensive interviews, the AGFC Personnel Committee on Tuesday forwarded a list of four names to the entire Commission.

The four candidates are:
  • Mike Armstrong, currently the Assistant Director of Field Services at the AGFC.
  • Tom Bennett, currently the Vice President of Operations at the National Archery in the Schools Program Foundation.
  • Don Brazil, currently the Deputy Administrator of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
  • Loren Hitchcock, currently the Interim Director of the AGFC.
From this list, the Commission will ultimately elect a successor for former Director Scott Henderson, who stepped down Sept. 1 for another position within the agency.

AGFC Personnel Committee Chairman Rick Watkins announced the finalists during today's committee meeting. "The process has worked well within our committee structure and provided us with great results. I am very pleased because all of these candidates have broad experience that would work well for the AGFC and the people of Arkansas," Watkins said.

One-on-one interviews with the four finalists will be conducted by the entire Commission in executive session Jan. 17-18 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute facility on Petit Jean Mountain. When this process is complete, the Commission will have a public meeting on Jan. 19 to rank the four candidates in order of preference. This candidate list will then be recommended to the Commission at its Jan. 20 meeting for its final approval and selection of a director.

"This system has brought us some excellent candidates for the director's position," Watkins said. "The quality and talent of this impressive list is truly a testament to the value and esteem with which our agency is held, and is due to the hard work of everyone involved in the search."

After the Personnel Committee meeting, the entire Commission met later in the day. In that short meeting, Commissioners approved a budget increase for cost-of-living and merit increases as well as career service payments.

The salary adjustments are a result of Gov. Mike Beebe's announcement earlier this month that the previous pay freeze had been lifted. The increases will become effective during the first pay period of January 2011.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Established a set of procedures for the conduct of Commission business through the use of committees.
  • Approved a fishing regulation change for Lake Monticello. The new regulation changes the largemouth bass slot limit on Lake Monticello to 19-22 inches with a daily limit of eight, of which only one may be 22 inches or longer.
  • Approved a budget increase of $50,000 for legal expenses.