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Greg Larsen hired to market pretreatment plant

October 15, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to hire a man with a tourism background to market the debt-ridden Conococheague Industrial Pretreatment Facility.

Commissioners Vice President John S. Shank and Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers voted against hiring Greg Larsen, a former sales representative for the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, because the position wasn't advertised outside of county government.

"I am totally opposed to the way that whole thing was handled. It should have been advertised to the public," Bowers said.

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"It's nothing personal against the man. I just wanted a choice," Shank said.

The other three commissioners defended hiring Larsen, who most recently coordinated the 135th Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam.

"I'm very comfortable with Greg in that position," said Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook. Also voting in favor of hiring Larsen were commissioners James R. Wade and R. Lee Downey.

Bowers said there was a big difference between marketing for tourism and marketing a pretreatment plant.

"I feel if we had gone out to the private sector, we would have gotten some really good responses," he said.

Bowers said the county doesn't have time for on-the-job training in a job as important as marketing the $9 million pretreatment plant, which is projected to lose about $8 million over the next six years unless new customers are enticed to the little-used plant. The county built the pretreatment plant in 1994 in an unsuccessful effort to spur economic development. The plant treats and dilutes a variety of industrial wastes before they enter the regular sewage treatment plant.

Larsen will receive a $32,250 salary and will be placed on probation with evaluations every 90 days.

Larsen said he is confident he can use the skills he's gained in 18 years in the marketing field to boost use of the plant.

"I think obviously there is a dramatic difference between marketing tourism and an industrial pretreatment facility. There will be a pretty dramatic learning curve when I arrive there on Monday," Larsen said.

Larsen was very professional and should be able to handle the responsibilities of the job, Snook said. He also said Larsen had been interviewed and endorsed by county staff as well as Clarence W. Scheer, the chairman of the Water and Sewer Advisory Commission.

Scheer said it was more important to hire somebody with a sales background than someone with technical expertise in pretreatment. He said Larsen has a great skill for getting along with people and should do a great job.

Wade said he was satisfied that Larsen has the marketing experience necessary and said Larsen should get up to speed quickly on pretreatment issues.

Larsen will be evaluated and watched carefully by both the advisory panel and the County Commissioners, Downey said.

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