After three years on the job, Missoula County Fairgrounds manager Steve Earle is stepping down. A search committee has narrowed the field of finalists to three individuals, two from Montana and one from Kentucky.

Missoula County Chief Administrator Dale Bickell said on Tuesday that the three come from diverse backgrounds.

"We had 54 applicants, and the three finalists will be in Missoula next Monday," Bickell said. "The finalists are very different from each other."

The first is a name familiar to Missoula, Joe Easton.

"Joe is from Missoula and has a background in events management, minor league baseball, and he put together a very successful airshow in Missoula a few years ago, and he was the interim manager at the Adams Center, and his most recent position was as a manager at the Department of Revenue."

Another finalist is Todd Garrett from Kalispell.

"Todd Garrett is currently a manager in the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department in Kalispell for the fishing access sites division," Bickell said. "Todd will bring a knowledge of government services, is used to our procurement procedures and has a Parks and Rec background from the city of Whitefish, and so brings that different perspective,"

The final candidate hails from Kentucky.

"Our final candidate is Pam Edwards and she's from Kentucky, and she is a certified fair executive," Bickell said. "So, we have someone with private sector experience with Joe, gthe public sector with Todd, and now with Pam, someone with really strong skills from the fair industry."

Bickell said the selection process has three prongs. The staff, the County Commissioners and the public. The finalists will meet the county staff, of which Bickell is the chief administrator, the three county commissioners and then will engage in a public forum next Monday.

"The public interview is at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 29 in the commissioners temporary public meeting room, which is room B 14 in the basement of the county administration building."

Dale Bickell, Missoula County Chief Administrator