Letter to the editor: Concerns from port meeting attendee


At the last two Port of Centralia meetings, Executive Director Kyle Heaton appeared to be out of control, in my opinion, disrupting meetings in an attempt to bully and intimidate me. 

As the Sept. 20 meeting ended, I approached Commissioner Kyle Markstrom to inquire as to when I could expect a response to questions I had asked at the last meeting. He chose to first ignore me then said he had “amendment rights” also and he wasn’t going to converse with me. 

Confused by his strange comment, I calmly told him that if he didn’t want to do his duties, he should resign. As I turned away, Heaton loudly and aggressively told me to leave repeatedly. There was no reason for that behavior since I was not disruptive and I was already leaving. 

During the Oct. 4 meeting when I finished my comment and complaint about the previous abuse from Heaton, I handed commissioners Markstrom and Julie Shaffley (Commissioner Peter Lahmann was attending via telephone) in the same manner as I and others have done in the past. The only thing I said was “here’s a copy.” They said nothing. Heaton, in my opinion, became disruptive, loudly ordering me to “back away from the table or leave.” He loudly exclaimed that we have to maintain decorum, which was funny, since I think he was the only one being disruptive. I tried to explain I was only leaving copies with the commissioners. But, to me, he was out of control and would not listen. 

After this meeting ended, I left, but I quickly returned as I remembered I had left my purse in the room. As I attempted to re-enter the room where the two commissioners were. Heaton and two of their friends still remained. I heard someone use my full legal name, which I do not use there. This concerned me, but I said nothing as Heaton was again loudly ordering me to leave. He finally allowed me to retrieve my purse and I left. 

I have attended port meetings for four years. I personally experienced what I would describe as Heaton’s rude and aggressive behavior for asking questions at the first meeting I attended. And it has now escalated, in my opinion, to bullying, intimidation and harassment as Markstrom and Shaffley look on without making any attempt to put a stop to this outrageous behavior. 

I have encouraged the over 860 members of my Facebook group "Centralia Citizens for an Open and Honest Port" to come to port meetings. But every time someone has attended, they tell me they are not only sickened by the unprofessional behavior of Heaton. But also appalled at Markstrom and Shaffley’s failure to stop Heaton’s behavior. 

I believe that by allowing Heaton’s bullying and intimidation, Markstrom and Shaffley have failed to provide a safe environment for the taxpaying citizens to observe and participate in the business of our port. That should not be tolerated. 


Jan Banevich