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Hardin lists priorities as public safety, education

October 23, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of profiles of the 10 candidates seeking election to the Washington County Board of Commissioners. Tomorrow: Bert Iseminger




scottb@herald-mail.com

Herb Hardin is ready to put on another hat.

He has worn the educator hat for 43 years, starting out as a health and physical education teacher in Warfordsburg, Pa., in 1958, and serving the last four years on the Washington County Board of Education. His term ends in November.

Now, he is asking to be elected to one of the five Washington County Commissioners seats.

Hardin came in fourth in the Democratic primary. Of the 10 advancing to the November election, he was the sixth-highest vote-getter.

He knows some question why he is trying to move from the School Board to County Commissioners.

"I am not in this for the dollars. I am not in this for recognition. I really would like to see Washington County be a thriving center of life in Maryland and in this country," Hardin said.

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He moved to Washington County in 1968 and taught social studies at Smithsburg High School. He became vice principal at South Hagerstown High School in 1971 and eventually worked his way up to principal of Williamsport High School in 1993.

He retired as an administrator in 1997. He is married to Marion, and they have three children, Cynthia, Brian and Stacey, and four grandchildren.

By serving as a County Commissioner, he hopes to help leave Washington County a great place for his grandchildren, who attend local public schools, Hardin said.

The two main priorities of Washington County should be public safety and education, he said.

He thinks the county should do a classification study to make sure deputies are being paid enough.

The county also needs to implement one emergency communications system for all agencies so they can easily communicate with each other, he said.

He also wants the amount of money going toward education examined.

The Board of Education has a tremendous work force with excellent employees and a good administrator, he said. If the education system is going to move forward and improve, it probably will need more financial support from the county and state government, he said.

The county needs to do maintenance as it plans for growth, he said.

It must maintain parks and historic sites, as well as interstates and roadways, he said.

He wants to ensure there is a sufficient water supply for future growth.

He supports a county proposal to prevent large residential developments from being built in rural areas for a year but hopes it does not hurt the construction industry and contractors.

He is particularly concerned about how development would impact the water supply in Washington County.

Hardin said he thinks the county is taking longer than is necessary to amend and implement its Comprehensive Plan, as well as improve its Adequate Public Facility Ordinance. It should not have taken four years to amend the plan, he said.

The Comprehensive Plan, which lays the groundwork for the county's development over the next 20 years, includes changes in density requirements for some properties.

Hardin said he thinks there should be more economic development in the county, drawing more high-paying jobs.

The construction of the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center in downtown Hagerstown should help the county a great deal, both attracting companies and helping retain students who might otherwise go to college elsewhere, he said.

He has opinions on other county issues as well:

  • He is concerned about the size of the county's water and sewer debt, but is comfortable with a county plan to reduce the debt.

  • Hardin supports government funding of a new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns as long as the only county government money comes from the hotel-motel tax.

  • He is disappointed the U.S. Army has not transferred ownership of property at the former Fort Ritchie Army base to the PenMar Development Corp. If the Army had transferred the land, redevelopment efforts on the land would have been more successful, he said.

  • Hardin said he does not want to judge the current County Commissioners over a controversy about whether former Economic Development Commission Director John Howard received compensation as part of his retirement.
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