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Editorial: A question of respect

July 12, 1998

Back in January, when Walter Dill, the sparkplug behind the behind the Washington County Ice & Sports Complex, threatened to file suit against the rink's nonprofit board, we said that cooler heads should work out a compromise. That advice bears repeating now that the suit has actually been filed.

For those unfamiliar with Dill, he came forward in April 1996 with a plan for an ice rink he felt could be built by the following January. Because Cumberland Valley On Ice, a Waynesboro, Pa.-based group had already announced plans to build a rink in that area and because local history suggested that there'd have to be a prolonged series of studies prior to any new project, many here were skeptical.

But Dill turned many skeptics into believers, lining up sponsors and other help. The rink opened August 15, 1997, ahead of the Waynesboro facility.

In the flush of victory, Dill was given a three-year contract to manage the rink at $32,000 a year. He resigned weeks later, saying he didn't need to get beaten up by critics just for doing his job. As we said in January, it was unfair and unrealistic to expect him not only to get the rink built, but to manage it as well.

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Most of allegations in his suit - that rink personnel removed a street sign bearing his name and commemorative plaques citing his children for their help and that management reneged on a promise to allow his children to skate for free - all boil down to a perceived lack of respect.

As we said in January, the nonprofit board governing the rink need not give Dill a management role to acknowledge that it wouldn't have been built without his determination. The board's representatives ought to meet with Dill's attorney and promise to replace the street sign, post his children's plaques again and grant the whole Dill family free skating privileges.

At a time when the rink's finances are best characterized as precarious, it does not need the financial drain and bad publicity of a lawsuit. Since Dill has promised any award will be donated to youth skaters, it's clear he doesn't want money, but respect. It's time to give it to him.

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