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United Way honors service

March 26, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Surrounded by friends and colleagues, Robert E. Ernst II was enjoying the United Way of Washington County's annual meeting/luncheon Thursday when his friend Robert T. Barnhart began describing the winner of the 2004 service award.

"As soon as I heard the words 'he started as a busboy at the Airport Inn,' I knew," Ernst said after being named this year's award winner.

Barnhart went on to describe Ernst as an asset to the United Way, which he has served for 24 years, and to Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust, where he is president and chief executive officer.

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"First and foremost with Bob is his dedication," Barnhart said, presenting Ernst a plaque with a clock on it for his service.

Ernst began his remarks by recalling the late Jesse L. Kagle Jr., longtime United Way executive director, for whom the annual award is named.

"I met Jesse when I was new to United Way and he taught me that if you take care of your community, it will take care of you," Ernst said.

Ernst also acknowledged Audrey Kagle, who attended the meeting to represent her late husband.

Ernst became involved with United Way after graduation from Frostburg State University. He has served in a variety of positions since 1980 when the campaign raised $819,000 - an amount that almost doubled when he was campaign chairman in 2002 and the agency raised $1,623,000.

It was announced Thursday that Ernst will co-chair the 2004 campaign, which begins in September, with incoming United Way President Art Callaham.

Margaret Ann McCarty was the recipient of the annual United Way scholarship, which also is given in Kagle's honor.

McCarty is a single mother of two who attends Hagerstown Community College. She is pursuing a career as a counselor with a special interest in working with teens.

"This scholarship will allow me to continue my studies at HCC," said McCarty, 38.

McCarty, who is raising a 20-year-old and a 10-year-old, said she wants to be an example to others who want to improve their lives.

"I want people to realize there is hope out there," McCarty said. "I'll be there to help others because of this award."

McCarty was nominated by the Washington County Community Action Council, a United Way agency.

Through her course work at HCC, McCarty completed a project at the Community Action Council and showed a great deal of understanding of client needs and problems, said Dave Jordan, the council's executive director.

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