PenMar problems blamed on LaFleur

June 06, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

A Role Models America Academy Inc. officer Tuesday publicly accused the PenMar Development Corp. executive director of breaking promises and causing problems regarding the planned school at the former Fort Ritchie base.

Max Andrews, Role Model's vice president for operations and development, said PenMar Executive Director James LaFleur keeps "pulling out the rug from under us."

PenMar is the Maryland General Assembly-created organization charged with bringing in businesses to replace the 2,000 jobs lost when the base closed in September 1998.

Andrews questioned why the former base has not gotten any new tenants since LaFleur became executive director in February 1999 and why the redevelopment efforts have not succeeded as they have at other Army bases.


Among the broken promises, he alleged, was a commitment that Role Models would be able to use part of a building that was to become a museum. The building is now going to be used for PenMar office space, he said.

Role Models originally was offered more buildings than the number included in the final lease, he said.

Role Models signed a lease in March, despite the changes, because the organization was operating with a tight time frame, Andrews said.

Andrews said problems and "personality conflicts" were described to the Washington County Commissioners during a closed session Tuesday.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and County Administrator Rodney Shoop would not comment on that discussion.

LaFleur said he couldn't comment on the allegations. Board members Malcolm Davis and Wayne Alter attended the meeting but said it would be inappropriate for them to comment.

LaFleur's only comment was that representatives of Role Models are invited to PenMar's monthly board meeting, which will be held Monday.

Before the closed session, Andrews and Robert Alexander, founder and president of Role Models America Inc., a Maryland-based national nonprofit organization, gave a project update.

The academy is on schedule to open with 100 juniors in the fall, Andrews said. There will be 250 more in January and enrollment will total 535 by spring, he said.

There are 21 employees and that number will increase to about 60 by September and will reach about 200 by next spring, Andrews said.

Role Models has received resumes from about 250 people even though the positions won't be advertised for another few weeks, Andrews said. They do not have a phone number yet but will have one soon.

Resumes can be mailed to the academy at P.O. Box 900, Cascade, MD 21719.

Andrews complained that LaFleur has not allowed the company to use base property to interview potential employees. Instead they have used hotel rooms for interviews, he said.

During Tuesday's meeting , Role Model officials were told they can start using the leased space within the next week, he said.

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