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Snook will seek re-election

June 11, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, the last member of the board to make up his mind, has filed to run for a third term.

Snook, who was first elected in 1990, joined fellow commissioners Ronald L. Bowers and John S. Shank in seeking re-election. R. Lee Downey and James R. Wade are not running again.

Snook, 40, said the commissioners have helped create 42,000 jobs in three years and have cut the unemployment rate in half to about 4 percent since 1994.

"The last four years, we have accomplished a lot of projects in the county," said Snook, a Republican.

Snook, who lives in Williamsport, was the top vote-getter four years ago and has eight years experience on the board. His father, Martin, was a commissioner for 16 years.

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Snook will have to overcome lingering anger over a water and sewer debt that ballooned to more than $55 million.

Snook said the commissioners have taken a number of difficult but necessary steps to stabilize the Water and Sewer Department.

"I think that's over with. We have turned that operation around," he said.

Snook said it will be necessary to continue using money from the county's general fund to subsidize the department in the immediate future. But he predicted the Conococheague Industrial Pretreatment Plant will start to show a profit in about a year or two.

Extra money should be used to reduce the subsidy, he said.

Snook said forecasts of double-digit water and sewer rate hikes have not come to pass.

"That happened one year. After that, it's all been typical adjustments of about 3 or 4 percent," he said.

Snook said the county should rely more on cash to finance projects rather than borrowing.

He said the county is in a much more secure position than it was 10 or 15 years ago.

"We need to be diversified. Back in the '80s, when we were not and certain businesses went down, it affected us," he said.

Snook said the county must continue to pursue a mix of different kinds of manufacturing jobs in a wide array of industries to insulate it against economic downturns.

Wade has criticized the county's efforts to attract relatively low-paying jobs provided by businesses like TruServ Corp., which is building a 840,000-square-foot warehouse off Hopewell Road. But Snook said the county has not given special benefits to the company.

And he said the project is good for the county.

"It's hard to turn down a $32 million project when they're not asking for anything," he said.

Over the next four years, Snook said he would like to expand the parks and other recreational opportunities and help Hagerstown provide recreational activities at the fairgrounds.

Snook said he also hopes to attract a second airline to the Washington County Regional Airport and come up with a long-range funding plan for the county's public school system, which has come under fire from an educational consulting group.

Snook is married and has two daughters. He owns the Greenlawn Cemetery in Williamsport.

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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