Connell fills 2 city positions

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMarch 21, 2014 

CONNELL -- Two high-ranking city of Connell positions have been filled after being vacant for months.

The city council voted unanimously this week to hire Chris Turner of Connell as police chief. Turner is a Franklin County sheriff's deputy. His first day on the job will be April 1.

The council also voted unanimously earlier this month to hire Jed Crowther, also of Connell, as city administrator.

Crowther served as Connell city planner for six years and has been the property development and project manager for the Port of Sunnyside since 2011. He'll begin his new job April 7.

Mayor Blacky Blackwell said he's delighted to have these two important positions filled.

"The first week in April I'll take two hats off and be able to go about my business being mayor. My job isn't to run the city but to take care of the city and make sure it's run correctly. My job is to mingle among the people," Blackwell said.

Turner will take over for Alan Chertok, who has been interim police chief for Connell since former mayor Gary Walton fired Michael Kessler in September 2013.

Blackwell said Turner was a Connell police officer before he joined the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

"He's been a police officer for a long time, 16, maybe 18 years, and has outstanding qualifications. Prosecutors told me that they liked it when his paperwork came across their desk. His skills in that are phenomenal," Blackwell said.

Blackwell said Turner is well known and extremely well liked by Connell residents.

Turner will be paid $71,574 a year to oversee the safety of the town of about 2,600.

Crowther also has an intimate knowledge of the city he'll be overseeing.

He grew up outside Mesa but attended Connell schools from kindergarten through high school. He also served as Connell's city planner from 2005-11.

Blackwell said Crowther was on the original list of possible candidates the city received from Colin Baenziger Associates, a company that specializes in helping governments fill executive positions.

"He was one of our top three choices," Blackwell said.

The council had earlier offered the position to Michael Morales of Yakima but he declined it.

The city administrator position has been vacant since Gian Paolo Mammone resigned in August 2013.

Crowther said he enjoys his job with the port "but I look forward to the opportunity to make a difference in my hometown. Connell is a great community."

He said his focus as city administrator will be on economic development. His role will be to collaborate with the regional strength of the Tri-City Development Council, the Benton Franklin Council of Governments, the Port of Pasco and state agencies to make Connell a better community and to make it more inviting to industries.

Crowther's salary will be $79,616 a year.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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