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New life given to ice rink board

September 23, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

The embattled board of directors of the $2.3 million Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex has been given new life with 11 new members, a credit extension and support services from the city while it searches for an executive director.

City Council members voted 4-0 Tuesday night to provide support to the rink's board until a new executive director is hired to replace Walter Dill, who resigned effective Oct. 15.

Board members want to fill the post by Dec. 15, said board and Council member William M. Breichner. Board members will seek advice from national organizations and other local ice rinks in preparation for what probably will be a nationwide search for an executive director, he said.

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Various city employees, including personnel and finance staff, will help oversee the rink's operation in the meantime, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said he felt the support was needed for the foundation, given "our investment in the rink and the infancy in the operation of the rink."

City taxpayers have $1.2 million invested in the rink, which opened Aug. 15 at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds. The nonprofit Washington County Sports Foundation, which operates the rink, is to repay the money through rent.

Despite the foundation's recent turmoil, it has been operating successfully and city officials want to ensure that continues, Zimmerman said.

The foundation's board accepted the resignations of Dill and Vice Chairman Michael Clifford during an emergency board meeting on Sunday night, Breichner said.

Clifford said Tuesday night that he resigned effective Sept. 15 because the post was too time-consuming.

Dill announced on Sept. 16 that he planned to resign because he did not "need to get beat up" by his critics.

Four board members resigned Aug. 25, including three who said they tried to oust Dill because of his management style.

Board members also approved 11 new members, including former Hagerstown Councilman Robert Schleigh, Breichner said.

Also added to the board Sunday were attorney David Camiletti, Jair Barr, Dennis Corapi, Carroll Foltz, Sheila Gladhill, David Harman, Norval Higdon, Ed Keller, Mike Mittel and Gary Wright.

The other board members are Breichner, Dr. Robert Cirincione, city police officer Brett McKoy, Chris Daniels, Guy McCartney, Tony Miller and Roxanne Ober.

Daniels, the foundation's secretary, is the only remaining officer on the board.

Breichner said a new chair, vice chair and treasurer are expected to be selected at the next board meeting on Oct. 8.

Council members also voted 4-0 Tuesday to give the foundation a 45-day extension to repay a $75,000 line of credit and to amend the lease agreement to allow for more time to obtain a financial cushion.

The line of credit, which was due to be paid back by Sept. 30, is now due by Nov. 15.

Breichner said the board resignations delayed rink officials from getting a bank loan needed to pay back the line of credit.

The foundation needs a loan for at least $335,000 to repay the city, pay the balance of the rink construction costs and have two to three months of operating funds as a financial cushion, said City Finance Director Al Martin.

Bank officials remain willing to work with the foundation, but want to see a financial plan and a restructuring of the board, he said.

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