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Snook knows elected post requires great deal of time

October 30, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A Washington County Commissioner since the age of 32, Gregory I. Snook said there have been times when the elected post has been frustrating.

"I'm human just like everybody else," Snook, 45, said.

Snook, a Republican, said sometimes those frustrations include being hung up on an issue in open session.

"If we don't finish it, we got to come back to it," Snook said.

He also said that being in the public spotlight often brings criticism, but he understands that it's all part of the job.

"As a commissioner, you have to deal with many people," he said. "You have to be open and willing to listen. You have to be able to accept criticism without taking it personally."

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Snook said, however, that being a part of county government also brings a great deal of satisfaction.

"Clearly, the satisfaction outweighs the frustrations," Snook said.

Part of that satisfaction comes with working with the public and being responsible for dealing with county issues, he said.

Since first taking a commissioner seat in 1990, Snook has faced several big county issues, including lowering the water and sewer debt, opening the Forty West Landfill, developing and approving the Comprehensive Plan and the challenge of increasing funding for public education.

"There are challenges every day," Snook said. "As a commissioner, you have to have a game plan. You have to have goals and objectives and deal with them one by one."

In dealing with growth, Snook was most recently part of a board of commissioners that passed the Comprehensive Plan, a multi-page document intended, in part, to direct growth to designated areas.

While he doesn't think the county's growth rate is a big cause for concern now, the Comprehensive Plan puts the county in a position to handle it if it gets out of control.

"It's not a major problem, but it is an issue we need to deal with," Snook said.

County officials have said Washington County grows at about 1 percent a year.

"Clearly we are not like Frederick County, but we need to make sure we watch all the signs that would signal that," he said. "The school population shows that it's not growing. It's flat."

Ten candidates - five Democrats and five Republicans - are running for seats on the five-member board of county commissioners in the Nov. 5 general election.

The commissioners will make $30,000 next year, up from $20,000 this year.

Snook said the post requires a lot of time.

"Being a commissioner is practically a full-time job," Snook said. "As president, you definitely have to spend more time than other commissioners."

Snook was first elected in 1990 and has been commission president since 1994. The president is elected by the other commissioners.

Snook, of 16025 Cloverton Lane in Williamsport, co-owns Greenlawn Cemetery, a human and pet cemetery, with his brother and sister.

He and his wife, Ruthann, have been married 24 years and have two daughters.

Snook said he thinks the county should continue funding improvements at the Hagerstown Regional Airport, especially the planned runway extension, to boost economic development.

He said he expects the next county board to face several challenges, including trying to give public education and public safety its fair share while dealing with anticipated cuts in state funding.

He said the county's cash reserve, which the commissioners have built up over the last four years to about $10 million, might come in handy during hard financial times.

"You had to start years ago, and that's what we did," Snook said. "We have lived within our means, because the state has not."

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