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CVB finds president

January 30, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A "local" man will take charge of tourism in Washington County on March 8, pending criminal, financial and driving record background checks, Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Chairman Ron Vitkun said Thursday.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors approved the new president Thursday on the condition that the background checks be done, Vitkun said. He said the bureau wanted to make sure it had done its homework in selecting a president.

"We want an old 'cover your fanny,'" Vitkun said.

Vitkun said the name of the man will be made public after the background checks are completed. He did not know how long it would take to perform the checks.

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The new president will replace Ben Hart, who was forced to resign on Oct. 27 amid allegations he stole $15,526.49 from the bureau. The money was taken between Dec. 30, 2002, and Oct. 13, 2003, the Hagerstown Police Department said.

Hart is accused of writing checks from the bureau's petty cash account, police said. He was charged in December with one count of felony theft.

If convicted, Hart faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a fine of $25,000 or both.

Vitkun said he has known the person chosen to be the new bureau president for some time. He declined to say why the person was the best candidate for the job, saying providing a description might reveal the man's identity.

The man was chosen from a pool of 33 applicants.

The visitors bureau board was looking for someone who is "financially sound" and has experience in preparing budgets and meeting budget requirements and overseeing staffs, Vitkun said earlier this month.

Vitkun said the board also was interested in someone who is good at communicating broadly with local business and tourism agencies and government officials.

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