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County wavers on waivers rule

March 25, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

County wavers on waivers rule

Washington County's athletes can play ball in county parks without signing individual waiver forms.

The Washington County Commissioners decided Tuesday to stop forcing thousands of athletes or their parents to sign waiver forms before the athletes can play on county-owned fields.

County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop recommended scrapping the individual waiver requirement, which went into effect this year without approval of the County Commissioners.

"I don't think it's feasible at this time to do individual waivers," Shoop said.

Shoop said he didn't feel the waivers were necessary because sports leagues must sign waivers as part of a lease agreement to use a field at a county park and provide $1 million in liability insurance.

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Count Attorney Richard Douglas had recommended implementing individual waivers as an additional layer of protection for the county. Douglas said the waivers, which were requested by the county's risk management administrator, would give the county's insurance company another tool with which to fight lawsuits.

The commissioners agreed with Shoop, and directed a committee, of which Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis is a member, to review county liability issues at parks.

County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers, who had called the waiver form "bureaucracy at its worst," also questioned the $1 million liability insurance requirement.

Bowers asked if a church with a one-day softball tournament would have to provide insurance. Shoop said the church would have to do so.

Bowers said he didn't believe that shouldn't be required.

YMCA Youth Director Jim Klein said elimination of the waiver requirement will save him and volunteers a lot of time and hassle because they won't have to collect the forms.

"I'm very grateful for the acknowledgement for what I agree to be a bureaucratic nightmare like Mr. Bowers had said," he said.

Douglas said a claim made against the county after an athlete was injured last year helped prompt use of the waiver form.

Lori Taylor, the Washington County Agricultural Education Center coordinator, had been collecting the forms for the county.

She estimated that at least 5,000 people would have had to sign forms in about 15 leagues, including baseball, soccer, softball and football.

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