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Hagerstown sewer manager to retire

February 20, 2002

Hagerstown sewer manager to retire



By DAN KULIN
dank@herald-mail.com


After 17 years as manager of Hagerstown's sewer department, Rick Thomas will retire in June, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said Friday. The city is currently seeking a replacement.

Thomas informed Zimmerman of his retirement date in January.

Zimmerman said "there's no relationship" between Thomas' pending retirement and recent problems at the sewer plant.

"Rick has done an excellent job and overseen a lot of improvements to that facility," Mayor William M. Breichner said.

"I'm thankful he was here during this crisis," he said.

The city sewer plant off Frederick Street was shut down Saturday, Feb. 9, after chemicals entered the plant, killing the sewage-eating bacteria used to make waste water more treatable. Since then, about 5.6 million gallons of partially treated waste water has been flowing from the plant into Antietam Creek, and then into the Potomac River.

The quality of the waste water coming from the plant has been improving. The plant implemented a chlorine disinfection process Tuesday, and has been growing new bacteria that helps break down complex bacteria and chemicals.

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Thomas, 51, first came to work for the city as a summer laborer at the sewer plant in 1972.

He was promoted to manager of the city Water Pollution Control Department in November 1984, and has held that position since then, city Human Resources Director Donna Messina said.

Thomas said his last day on the job will be June 21.

"The city's been wonderful to me," Thomas said. "It's been an excellent place to work.

Thomas is a Hagerstown native and graduate of North Hagerstown High School. He said he has no specific plans for retirement.

The city ran an advertisement in The Herald-Mail newspapers Friday seeking a new Water Pollution Control Department manager.

Zimmerman said he hopes to have the next sewer department manager hired in May.

The City Council would have to approve the hiring of a new department manager, he said.

The new department manager would be paid an annual salary between $57,704 and $70,553.

Thomas' current salary is $70,553 a year, Messina said.

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