New Captain set to take helm of Duluth Seaway Port Authority

By KBJR News 1

September 19, 2013 Updated Sep 19, 2013 at 7:09 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - There's nothing to take lightly about the 11,500 jobs the Duluth Seaway Port Authority supports throughout the Northland.

Just don't tell that to soon–to–retire Executive Director Adolph Ojard.

"These are grown men's toys; you can't help but have fun," said a smiling Ojard at Thursday's Board meeting. "It's big ships, it's trains, it's big equipment."

Having served as the Port's Director for over a decade, Ojard's career in maritime and transportation actually spans 40 years.

He says he's ready to hand the helm over.

Ojard relates his fast–approaching retirement to channel fever, when ship crews jump off their vessels and swim to shore in anticipation of dry land. He says it's all part of the joy he feels to reconnect with family.

"What I'd like to pass on to the community is fair wind and following seas," said Ojard, "and goodbye."

Now, Vanta E. Coda II is set to take the helm of the Port Authority, and his 10 years of working in multimodal transportation—from marketing with the Canadian National Railway to Director of Fuel Transportation in Houston—supports his new command over a diverse market.

"There's a great amount of diversity that has to happen in one location, so touching all those points and... commodities allows me to, hopefully, be successful in this venture," said Coda, following Thursday's Board Meeting in which he was introduced to a lively crowd of seasoned Port officials.

Coda, who has lived in the Gulf for the past six years, says he, and his family, are thrilled to return to four seasons—and Duluth's extremes.

"50 days of 96 degree weather isn't normal," laughed Coda, "so I think we can manage."

But according to Ojard, there's one requirement this Executive Director won't bring to the table.

"His wife, I think, is dead against a beard, so I'm afraid we're going to have to live without a beard for the next... 10 years or more," said the silver-bearded Ojard.

...a requirement the Port Authority Board, for now, is willing to let slide.

Ojard says Coda is poised to immediately deal with the excitement that is coming with the various economic developments the Port is undergoing.

Coda becomes the seventh director the Port Authority has had in 60 years.

Billy Wagness

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