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Dill named executive director of ice rink

June 03, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Walter Dill has been named executive director of the nonprofit group that will head Hagerstown's $2.3 million ice rink under construction at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds, officials said Tuesday.

Dill was offered the job in April and is acting as executive director even though a formal contract hasn't been signed, said Matt McIntosh, chairman of the Washington County Sports Foundation's board of directors.

A five-year contract offering an annual salary of about $32,000 to Dill should be complete by the end of June, said Dave Barnhart, the board's treasurer.

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No one else was interviewed for the job, nor was it advertised, board officials said.

"We looked at every angle in terms of what we need and what we have and the effort he's put in. At this time, Walt is the person we need," McIntosh said.

Dill said he was excited about taking the helm of a project that he proposed city officials undertake.

"I'd like to see my vision carried out," Dill said.

McIntosh said the $32,000 annual salary is competitive for ice arenas.

Rink officials said they have not determined a benefits package for Dill and the other estimated seven employees they plan to hire by the end of the month.

If the salary turns out to be lower than $32,000, Dill said that would be OK.

He said he plans on keeping his job as an assistant vice president at First Data Merchant Services.

Dill said he probably would work more than 40 hours a week, at least from 5 p.m. to midnight seven days a week, at the rink.

"My wife and I have dedicated the next five years to this project," said Dill, 47, of Hagerstown.

Dill had come under heat from former Mayor Steven T. Sager in late March for engaging in poor public relations, resulting in a drop-off in contributions for the project.

Sager had referred to two articles published in The Herald-Mail newspapers in which it was reported the person who became executive director when the rink opens could make $80,000. The newspaper also reported a discrepancy in the educational claims of Dill, who was then the rink's acting director.

In a Jan. 23 interview, Dill said he had a master's degree in computer science. But the registrar's office at the State University of New York at Buffalo said there was no record of a master's degree awarded to a Walter Dill.

Dill said he had been told he met the qualifications, but hadn't graduated because he took some of the required courses at another school.

The anticipated $80,000 salary for the rink's director, which was listed on an application for Washington County Gaming Commission funds, was a high estimate, Dill has said.

The grand opening for the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex, which is half completed, is scheduled for Aug. 15, rink officials said.

Rink time already could be sold out for the year, if all the groups that have verbal agreements formally sign up for the time, Dill said.

Open rink time will be held every day allowing anyone, regardless of age or residence, to skate for $3, he said. The fee can be waived for children who cannot afford the fee.

There also are times scheduled for youth and adult ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating, he said.

The foundation will operate a nonprofit pro shop and concession stand, Dill said. Revenues will go toward the rink's operating expenses.

After the first three months, the concession would be operated by nonprofit groups using the rink or by people who want to volunteer time to earn rink time for their kids, Dill said.

If the foundation gets an anticipated $375,000 grant, it will be within $75,000 of raising its share of the rink's cost, board officials said.

The foundation has raised $717,537 of its roughly $1.3 million share, officials said. Of that amount, $622,000 has been cleared by city officials, who check all cash and in-kind donations.

City Council members will be asked next Tuesday to approve staff verification of another $95,537 raised by the foundation so the city can release another $280,000 of city money for the project, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman. So far, the city has released $400,000 of its $1.2 million share.

Board officials next will concentrate on raising more than $100,000 for the rink's operating budget, Barnhart said.

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