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Shank will seek re-election

June 03, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Washington County Commissioner John S. Shank will run for re-election to another term.

Shank, 66, said Tuesday that his top priority if re-elected would be improving the county's education system. Shank said he had confidence in Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr., and that more funding will be needed for education in future years.

Shank, a Republican who is vice president of the current board, said he would be willing to support a tax increase for education if needed, but Bartlett will have to convince him of the need. Any tax increase should be targeted specifically to education, he said.

Education is related to the county's economic development efforts, he said.

"If you don't have well-educated people coming out of schools, you can't expect to attract higher-paying jobs," he said.

The new staff on the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, including Executive Director John C. Howard, will refocus efforts on attracting high-wage jobs, Shank said.

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One tough issue that will face the next Board of County Commissioners is a comprehensive rezoning of the county and a new comprehensive plan, Shank said.

"I will not support downzoning of property without compensation for the owners," Shank said.

More money should be put into farmland preservation easements to maintain the county's rural atmosphere, Shank said.

Maintaining and expanding the county's parks also is a priority of Shank's.

More sports fields and facilities for youth need to be developed, he said.

"Anything to keep the youth occupied in a constructive way will pay dividends down the road," he said.

Shank said that the county's Water and Sewer Department is on the right track after dire predictions were made about rate increases two years ago.

Shank said that rate increases next year and in future years would be minimal. He said the county should continue to subsidize the department from the general fund for now because some of the $53 million in debt at the department was incurred not to serve current users but to enable future economic development.

Shank also predicted the county's industrial pretreatment plant, which had been expected to lose more than $1 million a year because of a scarcity of customers, will break even and start to turn a profit in about a year.

Shank also said the county needs to foster better working relationships with the City of Hagerstown and with towns.

Shank, a farmer and a developer, was first appointed to serve out the term of Martin L. "Marty" Snook on May 1, 1989. He was elected in 1990 and re-elected in 1994.

Candidates have until July 6 to file. The primary is Sept. 15 and the general election is Nov. 3.

The job pays $20,000 a year.

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