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Two find fault with PenMar appointment

February 08, 2002

Two find fault with PenMar appointment



By SCOTT BUTKI
scottb@herald-mail.com


CASCADE - Washington County Commissioner William J. Wivell and a Cascade community leader said Thursday the County Commissioners erred this week when they appointed a former PenMar Development Corporation official to the PenMar board instead of a Cascade-area resident.

Wivell, the commissioners' representative on the PenMar board, and Karl Weissenbach, chairman of the Cascade Committee, said a qualified representative from the Cascade area should be appointed to the PenMar board.

The commissioners on Tuesday appointed former PenMar Executive Director Jim LaFleur of Smithsburg to the PenMar board. The vote was 3-2 with Wivell and Commissioner Paul L. Swartz voting against the appointment.

PenMar Board Chairman Brett Wilson said the board recommended LaFleur because of the knowledge he brings to the board.

PenMar was created by the Maryland General Assembly to redevelop the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in Cascade.

There were no applicants on file for the board from Cascade-area residents, county officials said.

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Wivell and Weissenbach said Cascade residents probably were unaware there was a vacancy on the board.

They said an appointment should have been delayed while an attempt was made to find someone from Cascade or Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., to serve on the board.

Weissenbach said he has told Wilson and the County Commissioners about the importance of getting a community member on the 16-member PenMar board.

When a seat on the board came open because of the resignation of board member Malcolm Davis, there was no publicity about the opening and it was not advertised, Weissenbach said.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said the county does not publicize or advertise openings for any of its boards. Instead, interested parties are advised to apply for future openings, he said.

The motion approved by the commissioners noted that the next appointment should be a resident of the Cascade area.

"That doesn't appease me at all," Weissenbach said.

Wivell and Weissenbach said they have nothing against LaFleur but felt it was important to have someone from the community where Fort Ritchie is located on the board.

There are board members from Smithsburg, Waynesboro and Frederick but not from Cascade, Wilson said.

Wilson said it's important to get someone from the Cascade area, but he would never suggest appointing someone based on where they live.

Commissioners John L. Schnebly and Bert L. Iseminger said they, too, want Cascade-area residents on the board.

"I think we do want to ensure we have local representation on there," Schnebly said.

However, Iseminger added, "The main thing is get the best person on there."

The state statute that created PenMar put Washington County in charge of making appointments to the board.

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