By Jackie Stone

Killeen Daily herald

A decision on a new executive director for the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation may be made as soon as today, more than two months since the position was vacated.

In an early special meeting today, members of the CCEDC board of directors will interview the three finalists for the position.

Board members met the finalists for the first time Friday for a tour of the area that included ongoing CCEDC projects and bragging rights, as well as problem areas and potential development possibilities the new executive director will have to work with.

Chloe Johnson, whose Austin-based firm Johnson and Associates helped with recruitment, said the tour was an important chance for the finalists to familiarize themselves with the area and the leadership they could be working with soon.

"I tell the board they need to go on a tour to see the good, the bad and the ugly," she said. "They need to see everything as it is, and tomorrow during the interview they can present their talents and their strengths so they can meet the goals of the EDC."

The CCEDC narrowed the field down from 43 qualified applicants to the three finalists, said CCEDC Marketing Director Monica Hull.

The three finalists - all men - toured the city along with spouses and board members. Finalist Harold Dean and his wife, Cheryl, came from Cedar Park. The other two finalists - Polo Enriquez and Doug Hutchinson - came from California and Florida, respectively.

"They're relocating and bringing their families so it needs to be a match for them as well as the EDC," Johnson said.

The tour began on the east end of town at Constitution Drive, where board members discussed the soon expected Fort Hood land swap, the extension of Constitution Drive and plans for a U.S. Highway 190 bypass.

The tour continued through the downtown area to the west end, pointing out empty storefronts as well as new businesses to show the mixed economic situation the new hire would be coming into.

The finalists were also given tours of Fort Hood, Texas A&M University Central Texas and Central Texas College, including a special screening at the Mayborn Planetarium and Space Theater.

CCEDC board Chairman Dan Yancey said he expected the tour to give the finalists a starting place for the interviews today and prepare them to ask their own questions.

"The interview process is not a one way street. We want them to be engaged and so the better educated that they are about this area, the better off we all are," he said.

After meeting in executive session to conduct the interviews, the board will reconvene in open session.

Board members may or may not make a final hiring decision today.

Jerry Conner, the former executive director, submitted his resignation in October and officially left at the end of January.

Contact Jackie Stone at Follow her on Twitter at @KDHcoveeditor.

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