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Chamber hires former Winslow mayor as executive director

"Former Winslow and Bainbridge Island mayor Sam Granato recently was hired as the new executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce.Granato, a former state social services official and co-owner of two Bainbridge Island movie theaters, started work at the chamber Tuesday, Jan. 2. Also starting work at the chamber Tuesday was Denise Lee, the new operations manager.Granato, who presided over the annexation of Bainbridge Island into the previous city of Winslow, said he took the job in part as a means of staying active.I'm actually a minority partner in those other businesses. They don't take up a bunch of my time, and I like to keep busy, Granato said. I saw a great opportunity. I was extremely impressed with the board of directors and their vision for Silverdale.Granato holds bachelors and masters degrees in social work from the University of Texas at Austin, and worked for 30 years in social work management, primarily for state and federal governments. He has lived in Kitsap since 1978 and has owned businesses here since 1982. Silverdale Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Hitchings said the chamber board was impressed with Granato's history of community involvement.By his resumé, you can immediately see that Sam understands community and the roles various community groups, like the chamber, play, said Hitchings, a marketing representative with the Central Kitsap Reporter. He's very well-known, very well-liked.Granato admitted he's not familiar in great detail with Silverdale, but cited that as an advantage. I don't come with an agenda, pre-set, he said.He also added that during his term as mayor, he developed extensive contacts through serving on such countywide boards as those for CenCom and Kitsap Transit.Granato and Lee assume their 30-hour-a-week jobs as the chamber begins an office reorganization.Lee replaces former operations manager Betty Sue Jameson, who left the chamber Nov. 24 after obtaining a job with a federal government contractor. The executive director position had been eliminated March 17 2000, after the resignation of Mary Graves. The reorganization effort conceived by the 2001 chamber board restored the executive director position.As executive director, Granato will be responsible for outreach to the community, civic groups and government agencies, while Lee will handle day-to-day office management.Primarily, I'm going to be focusing externally, on the community and establishing communications and relationships with the various planning groups and government groups that affect the Silverdale area, said Granato, who also served two terms on the board of the Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce.Hitchings, who chaired the committee that vetted candidates, said she was surprised that someone of (Granato's) caliber and stature was available. "

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