History of Progress

Interesting Note of History History of Leadership & Public Service


In 1952 voters of Walla Walla County overwhelmingly approved establishing the Port of Walla Walla whose boundaries encompass the entire county. By a 7 to 1 margin, voters favored formation of the public port district, which has broad authority under Washington state law to foster economic development. Besides approving formation of the port district, voters elected the Port's first three commissioners - William D. Ray, a Walla Walla farm implement dealer; William E. Vollmer, a wheat rancher and mayor of Waitsburg, and William E. Falconer, also a wheat rancher.
William D. Ray
William E. Vollmer
William E. Falconer


Formation of the public port district as the county's prime economic development entity culminated an effort initiated in 1938 by the Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce, the Grange and the Walla Walla Farm Bureau. The impetus for establishing the port district in 1952 was the 1954 completion of McNary Dam and its pool, which brought navigable waters to western Walla Walla County. As a result, the Port initially focused on developing industrial sites and facilities on the Columbia and Snake rivers.
Port and River Grain Terminal, Inc. sign lease in 1958 to develop an 800,000-bushel grain elevator at Burbank.


The Port broadened its focus with the development of industrial parks and buildings in and around the City of Walla Walla during the 1970's and 1980's. Projects included building manufacturing facilities for Nelson Irrigation Corporation and constructing Key Technology, Inc.'s corporate headquarters at a cost of $8.8 million.
Key Technology, Inc.
Ground Breaking
Left to Right
B. Loyal Smith, Mayor, City of Walla Walla
Harold Frank, Chairman of the Board, Key Technology, Inc.
Wes Colley, Port of Walla Walla Commissioner
Tom Madsen, CEO, Key Technology, Inc.
Key Technology, Inc.
Ground Breaking
Left to Right
Bud Prince, Chairman, Team Walla Walla
B. Loyal Smith, Mayor, City of Walla Walla
Senator Jeannette Hayner
Tom Madsen, CEO, Key Technology, Inc


In 1989 the Port acquired ownership of the Walla Walla Regional Airport (2,200 acre complex) from the City and County of Walla Walla. Under the Port's leadership the airport industrial park has been revitalized and a new airport terminal building was constructed in 2000 at a cost of $10.5 million.
Walla Walla Regional Airport
Passenger Terminal Facility Dedication
December 2000
Left to Right
Larry Adams, Walla Walla Regional Airport Manager
Fred Bennett, Port of Walla Walla Commissioner
Scott Gruber, Congressman Nethercutt's office
Carol Key, Federal Aviation Administration
Ken Jantz, Port of Walla Walla Commissioner
Jeff Pinneo, Horizon Air
Larry Schwartz, Lydig Construction
Dutch Hayner, Past City/County Airport Board Member
Paul Coppock, The DOH Associates
Paul Schneidmiller, Port of Walla Walla Commissioner
Jim Kuntz, Executive Director, Port of Walla Walla


Four-Laning of U.S. Highway 12
June 30, 2003
Celebration of Progress of US 12


and Celebration of Progress
Four-Laning of U.S. Highway 12 
October 26, 2006
Wallula, Washington
Railex Dedication


Ken Jantz Retires
After 24 years of service on the Port Commission Board, Ken Jantz retires, leaving a legacy of service, leadership and progress.
 ken jantz retires
Incoming District 2 commissioner Mike Fredrickson (Left) with outgoing District 2 commissioner Ken Jantz (Right).


November 2006
Port of Walla Walla receives the Governor's Best Practices in Economic Development award for the Railex Project at the Governor's Economic Development Conference in Vancouver, WA
Railex Governor Award
Left to Right
Paul Schneidmiller, Port Commissioner
Juli Wilkerson, Director of WA State Dept. of Community, Trade and Economic Development
Dr. Fred Bennett, Port Commissioner


Port Receives Port of the Year Award
December 2006
Port of Walla Walla is named "Port of the Year" by the Washington Public Ports Association.
Picture1Left to Right
Fred Bennett, Port Commissioner
Paul Schneidmiller, Port Commissioner
Mike Fredrickson, Port Commissioner


December 2006
Left to Right
Paul Gerola, Economic Development Director, Port of Walla Walla
Devin Stinger, Adamant Cellars
Mike Fredrickson, Port Commissioner
Jim Kuntz, Executive Director, Port of Walla Walla
Paul Schneidmiller, Port Commissioner
Representative Maureen Walsh
Frank Chopp, Speaker
Dr. Fred Bennett, Port Commissioner
Representative Bill Grant


Governor Gregoire
Dedication of Walla Walla Regional Airport
Wine Incubator Project
May 17, 2007
Dedication of Wine Incubator Project


Celebration of Progress
Four Laning of US Highway 12 (Phase 3 Complete)
October 18, 2007
Wallula, Washington


Burbank Water System Completed 
The Burbank Water System supplies the Burbank Business Park and the Burbank community with clean drinking water.
 Burbank Water System thm


Dr. Fred Bennett Retires
After 24 years of service on the Port Commission Board, Dr. Fred Bennet retires, leaving a legacy of service, leadership and progress.
 Bennett thm


Port Receives "Going Above and Beyond" Award from Washington State Department of Health for the Burbank Water System
 Burbank Water System Award thm


Celebration of Progress
Four Laning of US Highway 12 (Phase 6 Complete)
July 20, 2010
Wallula, Washington
 Hwy 12 Phase 6 thm


Port Continues Leadership Role in Washington State Penitentiary Taskforce
During the 2010 legislative session, $6.8 million was secured for pre-design efforts for the kitchen, close custody and medium security expansion.


Columbia REA Purchases Melrose Business Park Buildings

columbia rea thm

Columbia REA Purchases Port's Melrose manufacturing building, office building, quonset hut and 10.16 acres for $5,330,416


Burbank Interchange Dedication
June 11, 2012
 burbank interchange dedication


Railex Wine Services Distribution Groundbreaking
August 5, 2012

railex groundbreaking 2 thm 

railex groundbreaking 3 thm
Governor Christine Gregoire speaks at the Railex Wine Services groundbreaking.


Railex Wine Services Distribution Center Completed
 railex wine thm


Today, the Port is one of the most active economic development organizations in the state. This can be attributed to the progressive and forward thinking citizens who created the Port in 1952, and to community leaders who have supported the Port's continued growth through the years.
Click here to learn more about the Port's accomplishments.


Interesting Note of History

When communities elsewhere in Eastern Washington as well as in Idaho were proposing to establish public port districts in 1958, representatives of those communities paraded to the Port of Walla Walla. The Port, then only six years old, already was experiencing a great deal of success in attracting industry to the county. So, port-formation advocates and newspaper representatives came to Walla Walla to see for themselves why the Port here was so successful and how a port should function. At the time, voters were being asked to establish port districts in Chelan, Douglas and Asotin counties in Washington and Nez Perce County in Idaho. The Port of Walla Walla apparently was an inspiring example. Voters in all four counties subsequently authorized establishing public port districts.

History of Leadership & Public Service

Port of Walla Walla Commissioners
Commissioner District #1
Name Term

Kip Kelly


Peter Swant


Paul Schneidmiller thm
Paul H. Schneidmiller

June 2000-2013

Wes Colley thm
Wes Colley

1985-May 2000

Larry Pepin thm
Larry Pepin


W.D. Ray thm
William D. Ray

Commissioner District #2
Name Term

Michael Fredrickson


Ken Jantz thmKenneth N. Jantz


Morris Ganguet thm
Morris Ganguet


Benjamin B. Flathers thm
Benjamin B. Flathers


William E. Vollmer thm
William E. Vollmer

Commissioner District #3
Name Term

RDunningRonald W. Dunning

2010 - Present

Fred Bennett thm
Fred R. Bennett


Robert J. Petersen thm
Robert J. Petersen


Fred Bennett thm
Fred R. Bennett


Charles T. Nunn thm
Charles T. Nunn


C.W. Martin JR. thm
C.W. Martin, Jr.


Henry Garbe thm
Henry Garbe


Earl R. Lovell thm
Earl R. Lovell


William E. Falconer thm
William E. Falconer



Port of Walla Walla Managers
Name/Title Employment
Patrick H. Reay, Executive Director 2016-Present
James M. Kuntz, Executive Director 1990-2016
Roy Nishi, Port Manager 1983-1990
James H. Beddow, Port Manager 1970-1983
Richard M. White, Port Manager 1966-1970
William J. Reid, Port Manager 1961-1965
Elva Bair, Office Manager 1959-1961
Howard D. Besire, Development Operations Director 1956-1959