Manatee County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace, a fifth-generation Manatee County resident, is assuming a one-year term as chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority.


PALMETTO, Florida – Manatee County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace has been elected to a one-year term as chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, the governing board of Port Manatee.

Whisenant Trace, who has served on the county’s commission and the port’s board since 2016, had her election to the chair position affirmed today [Dec. 19] at the meeting of the Manatee County Port Authority, following her selection at the Dec. 10 meeting of the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners. She succeeds Vanessa Baugh, who held the chair role the past three years.

Also affirmed at the Dec. 19 meeting to serve one-year officer terms in 2020 are Reggie Bellamy, first vice chairman; Misty Servia, second vice chairwoman; and Stephen R. Jonsson, third vice chairman.
Port Manatee’s seven-member governing board is completed by Baugh, Betsy Benac and Carol Whitmore.

Whisenant Trace was the port board’s first vice chairwoman in 2017 and again in 2019. “Serving as chairwoman during Port Manatee’s 50-year anniversary celebration is indeed a privilege,” said Whisenant Trace, whose expansive District One includes the port and surrounding lands. “I join my fellow port board members in commitment to advancing further dynamic diverse growth at Port Manatee, which, interestingly enough, counts agricultural goods among leading commodities handled.”

A fifth-generation Manatee County resident, Whisenant Trace carries on a family tradition of agricultural prominence, having in the 1980s founded Ellenton Nursery Growers with her husband, Craig. In 2015, she was chosen as Manatee County Agriculturist of the Year by the Manatee County Farm City Week Committee – an honor previously bestowed upon her grandfather, Robert Billingsley Whisenant, and her father, Robert Blake Whisenant. She is a member of several local boards, including the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, Tampa Bay Estuary Program Policy Board and Manatee County Value Adjustment Board.

The Manatee County Port Authority board consists of the seven members of the elected Manatee County Commission, but with distinctively separate officers and financial accountability. The authority sets policy and oversees major expenditures for Port Manatee.
Members of the port authority board serve four-year staggered terms, with an annual election of officers.

The authority typically meets on the third Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Port Manatee Intermodal Center, 1905 Intermodal Circle, Palmetto. The meetings are open to the public.

Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while providing for more than 24,000 direct and indirect jobs, all without benefit of local property tax support.

Virginia Zimmermann
Senior Communications Manager
Office 941-721-2323
Cell 941-932-1006

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