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Town manager Close resigns

June 28, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Hancock Town Manager Lou Close handed in his resignation on June 19, just after a meeting in which he argued with members of the Town Council and members of the Hancock Youth Center, Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said Thursday.

"I'm too old to put up with the hassle every day," Close said Thursday. "It's time to relax and enjoy the years that I have left.

"My wife retired on Jan. 15, so it's time for me to retire."

The Berkeley County, W.Va., native said he's ready to "hang out" and relax with his wife, Carol, his two children and his four grandchildren.

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In one of the disputes, Close sparred with Councilman Darwin Mills about expenses for the Hancock Youth Center. Herb Golden, the chairman of the center's board of directors and Jim Ward, the board treasurer, resigned from those posts during the meeting.

Murphy described Close as "a little rough around the edges."

"And he has a tendency to aggravate people who try to aggravate him," Murphy said.

Murphy, who has served as mayor for six of Close's eight years as town manager, said he likes Close's personality and will miss him.

"If people come in and they're uncivilized, sometimes they get it right back from Lou, and I think that's an interesting trait," Murphy said. "The bottom line is he served me well.

"I have nothing bad to say about Lou Close."

Close, 66, has lived in Hancock for 27 years. He was elected to the Town Council in 1991 and became town manager in June 1994.

He served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, becoming a first sergeant. He owned the Triangle restaurant in Hancock for 13 years.

Close said the best part of his years in local government was serving town residents and doing what's best for the town of 1,720 people.

"I just enjoyed working with the citizens and various government agencies and trying to improve the town," Close said.

Close said he'd miss working with the town's employees.

"I wish them all the best," he said.

Close said the most challenging part of his job was trying to please all the residents and said some of their concerns "could be resolved and some couldn't."

Murphy said Close was responsible for bringing $11 million or $12 million worth of grants to the town and was the brainchild behind the Hancock Youth Center.

"Lou's a real trip to see working with young people," Murphy said. "If someone went to the youth center on Saturday from noon to 7 p.m., they'd find Lou Close sitting in there on his free time."

"He has a wonderful warm spot in his heart for the kids," Murphy said. "He has been very, very dedicated to this town in ways that people don't even have a clue."

Close said if he had it to do all over again, he'd again serve as the town manager.

"It has its good days and it has its bad days," Close said. "But there's a lot more good days than the bad days."

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