Jennifer Catsos, who works with SCRAP Humboldt and is the lead organizer of the Eureka Street Arts Festival, received an appointment to the Headwaters Fund board. (Heather Shelton — The Times-Standard file)
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Jennifer Catsos, an artist who leads the annual Eureka Street Art Festival, will join a volunteer board that contributes grants to promote business growth in the community.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors today approved Catsos’ application to join the Headwaters Fund board on a two-year appointment. Catsos replaces Edward “Buzz” Webb, whose term expired earlier this year.

Since 2003, the Headwaters Fund board has contributed millions of dollars to local businesses and projects, its mission to boost “economic opportunity, prosperity and quality of life” in Humboldt County, according to board materials.

“I am an illustrator and run my own business, focusing on bringing high-quality Humboldt products to the area,” Catsos wrote in her application to the board. She runs Pen and Pine, an illustration company.

She is also the lead organizer for the Eureka Street Art Festival, a yearly project to beautify walls and corners around downtown Eureka. And she is a part of SCRAP Humboldt, an Arcata store that provides an avenue for people to reuse old materials to create art.

Catsos’ appointment to the Headwaters Fund board involved a small bit of controversy. While the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint her, they questioned why several other applicants for the position didn’t receive an interview from the selection team.

Virginia Bass and Estelle Fennell, the 4th and 2nd District supervisors, said they had heard from some of these applicants.

“I don’t have a problem with the choice; I have a problem with why people didn’t get interviewed,” said 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn.

John Bartholomew, the county’s treasurer-tax collector and a member of the selection team, defended the process, saying the group decided not to interview applicants who have thrown hats in the ring before.

Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson, another selection team member, jumped to Bartholomew’s defense.

“There were two standout applications,” Wilson said. “They were professionally put together. They were detailed.”

Fennell said she didn’t want to take away from Catsos’ application, calling her a wonderful candidate, but noted that the selection team ought to have notified the rejected applicants.

“It’s important to know that when people put their name out there, they expect some respect,” Fennell said.

Bass agreed, adding that the hindsight should prompt the team to interview all applicants in the future.

Interim Human Resources director

The board made another appointment today, agreeing in closed session to tap Kelly Barns as the interim Human Resources director following Lisa DeMatteo’s resignation earlier this month. Until now, Barns was the assistant director in the department.

The county officially accepted DeMatteo’s resignation in the closed session. She notified the county of her departure this month shortly after the board had evaluated her performance at the position.

Barns will continue as the interim director “until a permanent appointment is made, or other solution is identified,” according to a county staff report.

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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