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Md. Municipal League service an education

August 30, 1999

Richard GrossBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: YVETTE MAY / staff photographer




BOONSBORO - Boonsboro Councilman Richard W. Gross was re-elected in July as the Washington County vice president of the Maryland Municipal League board.

"It's a great challenge and a real great experience," said Gross, 65.

The MML represents more than 150 municipal governments and two special taxing districts throughout the state. The League is a voluntary, nonprofit organization that works to strengthen the role and capacity of municipal government through research, legislation, technical assistance, training and provision of information to members.

Gross, who works part time at G.A. Miller Lumber in Williamsport, has been on the MML board since 1989. Unsure whether he would be re-elected to the Town Council in 1996, he took a two-year hiatus before resuming his MML responsibilities in 1998, Gross said.

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The Boonsboro native's fourth consecutive four-year term on the Boonsboro Town Council expires in May 2000. Gross also served two two-year council terms from 1966-1970.

Although he is no stranger to politics, Gross said he tries to keep public service in perspective.

"You have to realize that the citizens of a community are your bosses," Gross said. "If you ever forget that, you're in a world of trouble."

Gross' vice presidential duties include coordinating all local MML chapter activities with those of the larger body, acting as a liaison between chapters, serving as a direct contact between the MML's first vice president and the district, and visiting towns in which elections result in at least a 50 percent turnover of officials.

His most important job is representing his town's interests, he said.

"I want to make sure the residents of my community are satisfied with how I react," Gross said.

He said he is especially concerned with water and sewer problems, and pays close attention to planning issues, especially in the framework of Gov. Parris Glendening's Smart Growth Initiative.

The League's successful 1999 legislative effort to increase state aid for police protection will benefit small towns like Boonsboro, Gross said.

"It's a hard battle for a small municipality to get those topics through," Gross said. "I want us to have just as an important part as the larger towns."

He said a good working relationship among the diverse members of the MML makes the task easier.

Their individual interests may vary, but board members show mutual respect and cooperation during committee meetings and the MML's six annual board meetings, Gross said.

"We have a great staff at the Maryland Municipal League," he said.

In addition to making new friends and meeting political counterparts throughout the state, Gross said his League work has strengthened his role as a town councilman.

"It's been very educational, and has made me more aware of issues like the Smart Growth," Gross said.

His enthusiasm for his work on the League has affected past decisions to continue running for the Town Council, and may be a factor in the Year 2000 election, Gross said.

"I'm about 60 percent decided," he said.

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