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Management firm quits Hagerstown ice rink

January 02, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex at the city fairgrounds is back under local management.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based JRV Management Inc., hired to operate the rink last March, resigned as the complex managing company Dec. 27, said the chairman of the nonprofit group which oversees the complex.

Carl Langford, a complex employee since it opened in April 1997 and the previous manager of the skating rink, has been promoted to general manager of the complex. It includes a hockey equipment shop.

Langford will report directly to the Washington County Sports Foundation Inc., which oversees the facility, said Gary Wright, the foundation's chairman.

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Wright said the change in management will not affect the rates or hours of operation at the rink.

During a telephone interview from his Florida home, JRV President Jack Vivian said his company resigned because of mounting unpaid bills, which he said included $22,500 owed to JRV, and an apparent unwillingness of the owners to borrow money.

"We just can't work like that," Vivian said.

Vivian said the rink had "great potential," but that the owners provided "weak leadership."

According to Wright, JRV officials told the foundation's board of directors in November that JRV would stop managing the complex unless the foundation borrowed about $150,000 to pay off mounting debts.

Wright said the foundation's unpaid bills include at least $56,000 in unpaid rent and a $15,000 electric bill, both owed to the city.

The foundation also hasn't paid JRV the $4,500 monthly management fee for at least three months, Wright said. Vivian claimed his company hadn't been paid for five months.

Wright said the foundation's board decided not to negotiate with JRV.

Wright said that JRV had done a good job organizing activities at the rink. However, he said the company was not good at promoting the rink, and it was unclear whether the company's management contract would have been renewed in March.

"We need more publicity. We need someone who is going to call the schools, call the churches. And JRV didn't do that," Wright said.

When asked to respond to that statement, Vivian said, "You need capital to run a business."

Wright said there are currently no plans to hire another firm to manage the rink. However, the foundation is expected to hire someone within a week to spend five to 10 hours a week promoting the rink, he said.

The foundation is also planning to launch a fund-raising campaign in March.

According to Wright, two people lost their jobs at the rink with the change in management.

Tom Hawkswell, who managed the equipment shop, and Mike Olson, who was the general manager of the complex, were both hired by JRV and have been reassigned to other JRV-run rinks, Wright said.

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