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PenMar directors supporting LaFleur

June 12, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

CASCADE - PenMar Development Corp. board members reaffirmed their support of Executive Director James LaFleur Monday and criticized what they called "unfounded, unwarranted and apparently orchestrated personal attacks on Mr. LaFleur."

Board members approved a written resolution of support Monday at the close of their monthly meeting.

The resolution came in response to allegations and criticisms by Role Models Academy Inc. officials, who want to open a military-style academy on land at the former Fort Ritchie Army base.

Robert Alexander, founder and president of Role Models, said after the meeting that he would not comment until later in the day. He did not return phone calls Monday afternoon.

Role Models is leasing space from PenMar at the former Army base.

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.

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Using 36 buildings at the base, Role Models will establish an education complex with three dormitories, a chapel, gymnasium, theater and classrooms, Role Models officials have said.

"The PenMar Development Corporation Board expresses its full confidence in the integrity and capability of Jim LaFleur and extends Mr. LaFleur the board's unqualified support," the six-paragraph resolution said.

"The PMDC board is deeply concerned with the unfounded, unwarranted and apparently orchestrated personal attacks on Mr. LaFleur," the resolution said.

PenMar Chairman Steve Hull said he would not specify the nature of the "attacks" nor elaborate on the resolution.

Following a meeting between Role Models and PenMar representatives last Tuesday, Max Andrews, Role Models vice president of operations, accused LaFleur of breaking promises.

Hull said a lease between the academy and PenMar was negotiated in good faith and signed in March.

The board Monday instructed LaFleur to follow up with Role Models on requested lease changes, including giving the organization more buildings than were included in the lease.

Those changes will be addressed in negotiations between PenMar's Prospect Negotiation Committee and Role Models, Hull said.

The committee will consider a proposal by Role Models to use unidentified private money to buy the base, Hull said. Andrews has estimated the cost of the purchase at $25 million to $50 million. An offer will be made within one year, he said.

The first year of the academy, to open in the fall, is to be funded by a $10 million U.S. Department of Labor grant.

Role Models expects to get four more $10 million annual grants but a Labor Department spokesman said those grants have not been approved.

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