Dill resigns from ice rink post

September 16, 1997


Staff Writer

Surrounded by dozens of youth hockey players at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex, Walter Dill Tuesday announced his resignation as the rink's executive director.

The embattled director, who spearheaded the drive to build the facility, touted his accomplishments and said he did not "need to get beat up" by his critics. He said he will leave his post Oct. 15.

"Thirty days ago, we opened this facility with no money in the bank," he said. "We've managed to have eight hockey teams and a pretty good figure skating program."


Dill, the target of an ouster attempt last month by members of the Washington County Sports Foundation's board of directors, said he never intended to remain in charge of the rink for three years. He said he sought a three-year contract only to ensure the viability of the program.

"I just think we built this facility for the kids. We didn't ask to get beat up. We didn't do anything illegal or unethical," he said. "It's very tiring. We haven't taken a paycheck and I don't want one. We built this for the kids."

Under terms of the contract, Dill was to be paid $32,000 a year as director.

Matt McIntosh, who resigned from the board of directors Aug. 25 after his bid to oust Dill failed, said he hoped talented people whom Dill alienated will now return.

"I'm never pleased when a transaction of this nature occurs. We've got a different option and a different course we've got to take now. I take no satisfaction in this," he said.

But McIntosh did not hide his deep disagreements over the operation of the rink. He said Dill's "my way or the highway" management style turned off many parents and employees. McIntosh called Dill "extremely abrasive."

McIntosh said Dill did not have a master plan or the experience to run a successful ice skating rink. He also said Dill's job at First Data Merchant Services made it impossible to devote the necessary time to the rink.

"The bottom line is: It's a full-time job," he said. "You need to have a team effort. It's not a one-man effort."

Paul Primeaux, who helped set up the pro shop before resigning last month, said he would like to return when Dill leaves.

"It's a positive - a big positive sign," he said. "It's good for Hagerstown."

Primeaux said Dill refused to take advice or accept help.

Many parents and children at the rink Tuesday night, however, expressed support for Dill and decried his opponents.

"It seems totally unfair what's going on," said Hagerstown resident Gerard Cook.

Cook's wife, June, suggested parents and children would boycott the rink if Dill is not allowed to continue coaching his two hockey teams as he has asked.

"It's a political thing. He's not bowing out because he wants to - he's being pushed out," she said. "It's like taking Santa Claus away and expecting to have Christmas."

April Cook, 16, said she has liked the Hagerstown rink far better than the one in Frederick, Md. - and not just because of its proximity.

"You're treated as an individual, not a dollar sign," she said.

Sarah Keller, 13, concurred: "I really feel like I have a place to hang out now. It's really fun. I hope it doesn't change much."

Barry Brinkman, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he prefers making the drive to Hagerstown to using a rink under construction near Waynesboro.

"I have no intention of taking my kids out there as long as Walt is here," he said.

Remaining members of the board of directors, who will now conduct a search for a permanent replacement, also expressed support for Dill.

"I think it's unfortunate. Walt was the driving force behind the rink," said William Breichner, who also is a city councilman. "I think some of the criticism from former board members was unfortunate."

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who is not on the board, said he had mixed emotions.

"No Walter Dill, no ice rink. It's as simple as that," he said.

But Metzner said that given the controversy surrounding his leadership, Dill probably made the right decision to step aside.

The Herald-Mail Articles