Parkersburg development director Ann Conageski retiring

PARKERSBURG – The development director for the city of Parkersburg is stepping down in December.

Ann Conageski said she will retire at the end of the year. Her husband recently retired and they have family in Florida, including a soon-to-be grandbaby.

“We’re excited about that,” she said. “Leaving here is a bit bittersweet, there are still projects I’d like to see through, but we wanted to be there for the baby.”

Conageski was hired in 2001 as the city’s federal projects administrator and shortly before the end of then-Mayor Jimmy Columbo’s last term in 2005, she became development director position. Conageski succeeded Steve Brodsky.

Mayor Bob Newell plans to ask Parkersburg City Council to approve City Planner Rickie Yeager as the new development director beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Newell will bring the initial request to council on Tuesday.

“The confirmation for Rickie’s appointment will take place in the council meeting,” Newell said. “I will be asking for a vote as part of my executive message.”

Newell said Conageski’s last day will be Dec. 31, and the reason he is requesting Yeager’s confirmation so early is to give everyone more time for the transition.

The development director “is a very difficult job,” Newell said. “It is federal rules, regulations and laws and federal money. The development department has their hands in just about everything we do.”

Newell said Yeager is “the logical choice” to replace Conageski due to his work as a city planner in the development department and his knowledge and experience. Yeager was the first Parkersburg city planner to have a degree in city planning.

“We’ll also need time to find his replacement,” Newell said, noting the job description requires a city planning degree.

Newell said Conageski began as development director about six months before his first term as mayor began and she has been a valuable asset to the city every since.

“Ann was intrinsically involved in the riverfront project,” he said, referring to Point Park. “Blue Cross Blue Shield, WVU-P’s downtown campus, the list goes on and on what she has done with us.”