Franklin County is looking to replace two of its top managers.
County Administrator Fred Bowen has quit to take a job in Benton County and Troy Woody, general manager of the TRAC event center, is resigning to focus on his solar business.
Commission Chairman Brad Peck said the resignations of the two longtime officials came as a surprise.
Bowen worked for Franklin County for nearly three decades, including 20 years as county administrator.
Benton County has hired Bowen as its road superintendent to head the maintenance division, including snow removal, said Dan Ford, Benton County public works director.
Three years ago, Peck said Bowen should be fired over allegations he mishandled information about an employee with a criminal past who held a key financial position with the county.
Dennis Huston, the county’s former public works accounting manager, is serving 16 years in prison after admitting to embezzling $2.8 million from the county over more than two decades.
On Tuesday, Peck said he hates to see Bowen and Woody leave the county but wished them well.
Woody is leaving the county effective April 10 after managing the TRAC event center for 10 years. He was the general manager of the Pasco Red Lion Hotel before being hired by the county.
He also came under pressure in recent years over TRAC’s financial struggles.
The event center, jointly owned by Pasco and the county, is coming off what might be a record operating loss of nearly $516,000 last year.
Woody has said the loss may be related to the negative publicity that followed talk of turning TRAC into an aquatic center and after a state audit found that TRAC’s cash machines were not properly managed.
Since then, TRAC has outsourced management of its ATMs. County Auditor Matt Beaton said a comprehensive audit, which will detail how TRAC is performing in various areas, will be released soon.
“We’re very close to a final draft being available,” Beaton said.
Woody said he is not leaving because of the audit or the center’s finances. He wants to expand his personal business, Hot Solar Solutions LLC, which sells and installs solar heating systems.
“In order for it to grow more, I need to dedicate more time to it,” he said.
The county will soon advertise the positions, Peck said. He will be looking for strong leadership qualities in the new officials, particularly for county administrator.
Bowen’s annual salary this year was budgeted at $113,184, while Woody made $109,434. Bowen’s new Benton County salary was not available Tuesday.
Peck said he wants someone who is qualified, but not necessarily a county administrator or assistant administrator.
“I’m a firm believer that you hire for attitude and train for skill,” he said.
County Planning and Building Director Jerrod MacPherson is the interim administrator. But Commissioner Rick Miller said MacPherson doesn’t want the job permanently.
Peck said the timing of Woody’s departure is good, since TRAC’s slow season is typically in the summer. That will give the county time to replace him, he said.
“I’m looking for someone who is a capable leader and creative mind, who is business savvy,” he said.
Woody said he will miss the TRAC staff and customers.
“I really learned what a valuable asset these kinds of facilities are to the community,” he said.