"We're losing a very valuable and very capable environmental engineer," Rohrer said. "I really hate to see him go."
Rohrer said Gross was instrumental in turning around the water and sewer operations and focusing on preventive maintenance that had been neglected under previous supervisors.
Rohrer said Gross also was a key figure in decisions on future water and sewer projects.
Shoop credited Gross with helping downsize the department, saving the county $500,000 a year.
Rohrer said the county would search for a replacement, and said he expected the search to take 45 to 60 days.
Gross was not at work Thursday afternoon and did not answer phone calls at his home.
County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said Gross had done a "magnificent job" of downsizing and stabilizing the operations after the county took over and consolidated subdistricts.
Bowers said the new director should place more emphasis on marketing the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant and increasing the number of users of the county water and sewer systems.
County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said he didn't disagree with the need to market the plant, but said the director should have the technical skills necessary to operate the county plants and deal with new federal and state mandates for clean water.
"We could contract with somebody to market the plant," Snook said.
"I thought he did a great job for the county," said County Commissioner James R. Wade. "He stepped right in when the county was in a very difficult position."
George Gross's salary for 1997 is $53,592, Human Resources Director Alan Davis said. Gross had offered his resignation last January but withdrew it. He had planned to join a civil sanitary consulting firm that was opening an office in Shepherdstown, W.Va.