Dill awarded contract to run rink

August 30, 1997


Staff Writer

Almost one week after a failed coup to remove the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex's executive director, Walter Dill was awarded a three-year contract, officials said.

The contract was signed Thursday night in the wake of resignations by four members of the Washington County Sports Foundation's board of directors and the departure of three employees.

The nonprofit foundation operates the $2.3 million ice rink at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds. The foundation must repay $1.2 million the City of Hagerstown contributed toward construction of the rink, which opened on Aug. 15.


Dill will be paid $32,000 a year in salary, said Michael Clifford, the foundation's vice chairman. Dill also is an assistant vice president at First Data Merchant Services.

Dill's performance will be reviewed in three to six months, Clifford said.

Mathew McIntosh, who resigned as board chairman on Monday, said Friday he doesn't think Dill has the proper qualifications for the executive director's post.

"He doesn't have any degree in that area. He's not trained in that area. The interpersonal skills I think need to be there, aren't there," said McIntosh, who is director of Hagerstown Junior College's wellness and cardiac rehab center.

Dill could not be reached for comment on Friday.

McIntosh said a national search is needed for a full-time qualified director that knows how to market programs and work with ice hockey and figure skating organizations.

Also resigning Monday were board members Dave Barnhart, LeRoy E. Myers Jr. and Stacey McLeran.

Myers couldn't be reached for comment, but foundation officials said he resigned to spend more time with his family and business.

McLeran said Friday she resigned because of philosophical differences with management. Dill left too many details unfinished, said McLeran, recreation superintendent for the Washington County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Also departing were Jo Ellen Barnhart, who was in charge of marketing, and Paul M. Primeaux Jr., who ran the pro shop.

Margy Everett, the rink's director of figure skating programming, said she gave two weeks notice on Monday because of philosophical differences with Dill.

Everett wouldn't comment further.

Actions `unfortunate'

City Councilman and board member William M. Breichner called the resignations "unfortunate." He said while things weren't going his way at the rink, he didn't think there was reason to resign.

"I've said a number of times, I think the ice rink probably opened a month too soon," Breichner said.

Foundation officials wanted to open the rink before school started, he said.

Another month would have helped, but there still would have been glitches, he said.

Breichner called Dill's directorship of the rink "adequate," but said he deserved a chance to manage the facility he was responsible for having built in a short time period.

The ice rink is doing well and has been received well, he said.

"I think he'll do very well as the general manager for that facility," Breichner said.

"I'm sure he was a bit frazzled from the work and expectations of this thing wanting to work out well," he said.

"His shortcomings are managing a facility and working with personnel, and that will come in time," he said.

Board member Dr. Robert Cirincione also supported Dill.

"I expect him to succeed. I expect the board to give him the support and advice to be successful. The board is ultimately responsible for the success of the rink, not Mr. Dill," Cirincione said.

"Any startup is going have some growing pains," some of which have been ironed out, he said.

Cirincione said he heard concerns from the public, including his family, about when they could go skate.

The first thing foundation officials need to do is firm up a programming schedule so parents know when their children can skate, Cirincione said.

"We are continuing to flesh out the actual, permanent schedule which is just about ready," Cirincione said.

A firm schedule should be available by Sept. 15 for programming through March, Clifford said.

The foundation may print a program schedule similar to that of the Hagerstown Suns to distribute throughout the community, Cirincione said.

Foundation officials said the schedule was delayed because they needed to know what programs the public wanted and to solidify contracts for ice time.

Rink officials are negotiating a five-year contract for ice time with Shepherd College, which is planning to establish an intramural ice hockey program, according to Cirincione and Clifford.

Other possible contracts include promotional events and a college-prep ice hockey team that could scrimmage against colleges in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia, they said.

"Ice is a valuable commodity," Cirincione said.

Besides upcoming contracts for ice time, there will be revenue from the pro shop and snack bar, Clifford said.

"The rink is basically capable of paying for its operations," Clifford said.

Financing in works

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