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Black Rock says it will control staff

November 20, 1996

By ELLEN LYON

Staff Writer

Black Rock Golf Course's board of directors took a swing at the Washington County Commissioners' authority Tuesday by announcing plans to take back control of Black Rock employees from the county.

"We are going to bring the employees back under our wing," said Washington County Golf Board member Richard McCleary.

He was referring to a Sept. 19 vote by the County Commissioners to place the county-owned course's assets and employees under the Parks and Recreation Department.

The nonprofit golf board, appointed by the commissioners to operate Black Rock, also voted unanimously last week to amend its bylaws so that it appoints its own members, McCleary told the commissioners.

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McCleary said the board reappointed him and another member, Robert Nichols, whose terms expire this month.

"If you think you can give yourselves power you've got another thing coming," Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said.

"I'm just a little bit irritated ... The line was drawn in the sand this morning by you all."

"What other powers did you all give yourselves?" Commissioner James R. Wade asked. "What kind of responsibility do you see that you have to county taxpayers?"

"The board has built and paid for the club house that is now the taxpayers'," McCleary said. He also cited cart paths and equipment funded with course revenues.

But Bowers said the county paid for the $314,000 club house and "there hasn't been one penny paid back."

County taxpayers pay about $150,000 a year in principal and interest on a $1.69 million bond levied in 1986 for development of the course, county finance officials said. At the end of the 20-year life of the bond the county will have paid out about $2.64 million.

The board leases the 150-acre course from the county for $10 a year, according to a 10-year agreement dated October, 1988.

County officials say they can't find any version of the agreement signed by Bowers, who was commissioners' president at the time.

"That agreement is worth nothing if there's no county signature on that," Commissioner John S. Shank said.

McCleary said it is a valid agreement which the commissioners broke when they voted to put Black Rock under county control.

County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop said earlier in the meeting that the county wants to make some changes in Black Rock's operation, including term limits for board members, county approval of employee hiring and firing and the annual budget.

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