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EDC director has retired

June 13, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

John Howard, the executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission since September 1997, has retired.

The Washington County Commissioners accepted his retirement at Tuesday's commissioners meeting.

Howard, 63, has been on paid administrative leave since late March, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said. His retirement was effective May 8.

Snook would not say why Howard was on administrative leave.

Howard said he voluntarily retired and went on leave while he tried to decide what to do next with his career. He said he has not decided what that will be, but plans to find a new job.

Human Resources Director Alan Davis and County Administrator Rodney Shoop refused to say whether Howard received a retirement package, saying it was a personnel matter.

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The EDC is part of county government.

Howard's annual salary was $82,067.

Tim Troxell, 36, who has been EDC assistant director since Oct. 12, 1998, has been named acting executive director. Troxell will receive a temporary 10 percent increase to his $59,635 salary, Davis said.

Snook, an ex-officio EDC member, said that when the EDC holds its regular monthly meeting this morning, he plans to discuss Howard's retirement and Troxell's temporary promotion.

Snook said he will tell the EDC that the commissioners have not decided when a search for Howard's replacement should begin.

The commissioners may decide to postpone a decision about the position until after the November elections, Snook said. All five commissioners seats are on the November ballot.

At least one member of the EDC said he thinks it would be a mistake to delay a search because it could result in missed economic development opportunities.

"Any time you delay, we are losing ground," said EDC Vice Chairman Douglas S. Wright, who said he was not speaking for the commissioners.

Howard said he was proud of the EDC's efforts to get companies to move to Washington County and create jobs.

Howard said he is proud that during his tenure the EDC earned Accredited Economic Development Organization status from the American Economic Development Council. Only about 30 governments have that accreditation and Washington County is the only one in Maryland, Howard said.

"That evidences the strength that we have to be able to work effectively with both our existing business and industry partners and those we choose to recruit here," he said.

Other work he said he was proud of included assisting with the relocation of the corporate headquarters of Garden State Tanning, major renovations to Valley Mall, expansion by Phoenix Color Corp., and the construction of major industrial and distribution facilities by Andersen Windows, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, California Microwave, Pavestone and PetsMart.

Howard said he also was proud of his work on industrial parks, Prime Outlets at Hagerstown and the Centre at Hagerstown.

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