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Hal Hart getting to know Juneau with root beer floats

Reception with root beer floats welcomes new CDD staff

Posted: August 23, 2012 - 12:11am
Hal Hart, the new Director of the Community Development Department, talks with department employees during a root beer float social on Wednesday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Hal Hart, the new Director of the Community Development Department, talks with department employees during a root beer float social on Wednesday.

Hal Hart, the City and Borough of Juneau’s new Community Development Department director, arrived in Juneau Sunday night – and he’s been learning about his new home ever since.

At a reception for new CDD staff on the fourth floor of the Marine View Center Wednesday afternoon, Hart said he has been “learning the downtown (and) learning the community as much as I can” since starting work Monday.

Planning Manager Greg Chaney, who served as acting director and was a finalist for the permanent job before Hart’s selection earlier this summer, said he has been working with Hart to bring him up to speed on local issues.

“We deal with so many different issues, and for someone new to come in, there’s just a whole lot of information we just need to tell him about,” Chaney explained, root beer float in hand. “What’s amazing is that … every hour of every day, there’s several new issues that we bring him up to speed on. He’s got the broad background in administration and planning, but there’s so many unique, Juneau-specific issues that we’re working through.”

Hart, who has previously worked in planning and development at the city, county and state level in Washington and moved to Juneau this week from Bothell, Wash., quickly dismissed any comparison between Juneau and his former stomping grounds.

“Juneau is its own community,” Hart said. “I think it’s one of a kind.”

Chaney said Hart will get the hang of things in time, noting that he has only been in Juneau for a few days.

“Certainly up to a certain point, the learning curve will flatten out and he’ll start going on,” said Chaney. “But he hasn’t even been here a week.”

Administrative assistant Brenwynne Jenkins, who also started Monday, is new to Juneau as well.

“I love the culture of Juneau, and it’s gorgeous here,” said Jenkins, who recently moved to town from Anchorage but said she is originally from the Charlotte, N.C., area. “Completely opposite of what I’m used to.”

Like Hart, Jenkins said she is working to acclimate to her role.

“I just have to learn the phraseology of everything,” Jenkins said.

Hart said he has been learning from local merchants as well.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of store owners and others, asking them about how things are going,” said Hart. “It’s just been awesome.”

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