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4 finalists in the running to manage the Port of Benton, including Richland and Prosser airports

The Port of Benton will introduce the four finalists to succeed Scott Keller as executive director at a luncheon on Tuesday. The Port of Benton operates the Richland and Prosser airports, the Prosser wine park, Crow Butte park and business and industrial parks in north Richland.
The Port of Benton will introduce the four finalists to succeed Scott Keller as executive director at a luncheon on Tuesday. The Port of Benton operates the Richland and Prosser airports, the Prosser wine park, Crow Butte park and business and industrial parks in north Richland. Tri-City Herald

The Port of Benton will introduce the four finalists to succeed Scott Keller as executive director at a luncheon on Tuesday.

Keller retired suddenly in June after 30 years with the port.

The port supports economic development and job creation in western Benton County, including Richland, Benton City and Prosser.

The board of commissioners meets at 8:30 a.m. The morning meeting will be mostly in a closed-door executive session.

The public is invited to a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. to meet the candidates identified by Prothman, an executive search firm. RSVP to Kelly Thompson, kelly@portofbenton.com.

The commission will return to executive session following the luncheon and could go back into an open public session to make a decision. The post has an advertised salary range of $140,000 to $170,000.

The finalists include two port employees and two external candidates. They are:

Brian Dansel: Dansel is Northwest Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he oversees three agencies in six states. He is a former Washington State Senator and Ferry County Commissioner. He graduated from Walla Walla Community College.

Stuart Dezember: Dezember is a 15-year veteran of the port, serving as director of finance and auditor. He has worked as a tax manager. He earned a bachelor’s in accounting from Central Washington University and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Wade Farris: Farris has been a city administrator in Gig Harbor and Othello. He was an active duty Air Force officer for 12 years and a reservist attached to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a master’s from Ashford University.

Diahann Howard: Howard is the port’s interim executive director and has served as its director of economic development and governmental affairs since 2006. She previously worked for the city of Richland and the Tri-Cities Enterprise Association. She has a bachelor’s in international affairs from Eastern Washington University.

The Port of Benton operates the Richland and Prosser airports, the Prosser wine park, Crow Butte park and business and industrial parks in north Richland.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.
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