Karen La Bonte has been named the new public works director of Cannon Beach.
La Bonte started with the city as assistant public works director in September, but has been serving as the interim director since her predecessor, Jim Arndt, retired in March.
She was chosen out of a pool of five other candidates, City Manager Bruce St. Denis said.
“Karen has served as interim public works director with distinction and has guided the department through some difficult times,” St. Denis wrote in a statement. “I have watched her work with staff and citizens and am impressed with both her interpersonal skills and energy.”
Before coming to Cannon Beach, La Bonte worked at Verizon Communications for 30 years as Engineering Director, facilitating project planning and construction across the country. After retiring in 2006, La Bonte decided to pursue winemaking and bought Trio Vintners winery in Walla Walla, Washington. But after facing some health issues, she closed the winery and decided to retire again in her favorite vacation town of 22 years: Cannon Beach.
“I’ve always considered it my decompression place,” she said. “It’s where I always thought I would come to retire.”
But less than year after the move, La Bonte decided retirement “just didn’t fit” her, and applied for the assistant director position.
“It just felt like a good fit. After meeting Jim and the rest of the staff it felt like home,” she said.
La Bonte said as director she hopes to continue to build a strong network between the city, residents and business owners.
“I just hope to make a positive impact,” she said.