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City Councilman's comments irk Frye

October 10, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Antietam re-enactment organizer Dennis Frye on Wednesday criticized Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot for publicly criticizing management of the event without first talking to event organizers.

During Tuesday's Hagerstown City Council meeting, Hendershot criticized the organizers of the 140th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam and the Washington County government administration.

Hendershot was critical of the management of the re-enactment, and said if the event had been managed better, additional tax money would not be needed to offset its cost.

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At the County Commissioners Oct. 1 meeting, re-enactment organizers asked the county for more hotel/motel tax money, saying a rainy forecast for the event's final day kept spectators away, decreasing revenue.

The organizers didn't ask for a specific amount, but said additional financial assistance probably would be needed to pay for the event.

Organizers will have more information once the total revenue is tallied in November, Frye, co-chairman of the event's organizing sponsor, the Antietam Commemoration Committee, said Wednesday. It will be known then if the event made a profit and if tax money is needed, he said.

Told of Hendershot's comment, Frye said, "What is atrocious is the councilman's failure to speak with anyone in the know about the facts ... These comments epitomize ignorance."

"Did the councilman contact us about the event? No. Did the councilman ask us for information? No. Did the councilman take a few moments to get the facts? No," Frye said.

Hendershot could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Hendershot said planning for the event should have included worst-case scenarios, including the possibility of bad weather.

The committee considered getting rain insurance but that would not have paid off, had it been obtained, because less than .06 of an inch of rain fell at the site, Frye said.

Hendershot accused Robert Arch, the re-enactment committee co-chairman and Washington County planning director, of a conflict of interest, saying he made recommendations to the commissioners on how to distribute hotel tax funds for the current budget year. The county gave $25,000 last year and this year to the Antietam event, Hendershot said.

Arch said it would be inappropriate to respond to Hendershot because he has never spoken with him.

The city only received $5,000 in hotel-motel tax proceeds from the current budget, Hendershot said.

Hendershot Tuesday also criticized the county administration, saying it was being unfair to the city.

"I have had it with them. I think enough is enough," he said.

The county has "horrible management," he said. He said the problem is not the commissioners but those advising them.

"It is not in my place to respond to comments by elected officials," County Administrator Rodney Shoop said Tuesday. To respond to Hendershot would be inappropriate, Shoop said.

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