By CAROL COMEGNO
The Tweeter Center's former director has become the chief operating officer for the Battleship New Jersey Memorial and Museum.
The nonprofit Home Port Alliance, which operates the museum, appointed Troy Collins of Voorhees to the new post Wednesday night at the first of four public meetings this year.
Donald Norcross, alliance vice chairman, said Collins will oversee day-to-day operations - staff, maintenance, programs and finances. He was chosen from 77 candidates nationwide who applied in what Norcross described as an exhaustive search.
"He is exactly what we need for a waterfront attraction. We believe he was unique among the list of candidates because he took a waterfront venue - the Tweeter Center - and made it successful," Norcross said.
The alliance would not release Collins' salary, but two board members told the Courier-Post it would be about $90,000.
At the end of 2001, Collins left as executive director of the Tweeter Center, an entertainment complex on the Camden Waterfront. The USS New Jersey - the most decorated battleship in U.S. naval history - sits at a pier near the center.
Since January, Collins has been working as an independent consultant.
"I believe in the ship, and I am impressed with what she has to offer the public," Collins said. "I think she is a must-see not only for people in the Delaware Valley, but nationally."
The board met Wednesday at the Camden County College campus in downtown Camden.
The alliance's board decided earlier this year to retain retired Rear Adm. Thomas Seigenthaler of Haddonfield at a comparable salary to Collins'. But it changed his role from executive director to the new post of chief executive officer, putting him in charge of development and curatorial matters.
Collins will assume Seigenthaler's previous duties.
Norcross said Seigenthaler is focusing on curatorial aspects of the operation as well as making public appearances to help attract donations from corporations, foundations, groups and individuals. State money has dwindled because of a budget shortfall.
Admissions and on-board programs cannot cover the estimated $5 million-a-year museum operation, Norcross said, making nongovernment donations essential to the museum's success.
In addition, the board hired James Wellen of Voorhees to another new post. He will be development director, a job that aims to formulate a better fund-raising plan. Wellen is the former executive director for the Girl Scouts of Camden County.
In other business, the board appointed a committee to review the performance of Hill International of Willingboro, a project management firm. The alliance paid the group about $1 million to oversee the fast-track construction of a $6 million pier for the ship by a marine contractor.
The board is concerned that the pier project took too long and came in at a cost about $600,000 higher than expected. Hill International could not be reached for comment late Wednesday night.