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Ice rink changes draw comments

March 31, 2005

A Hagerstown ice skating coach who was told last week she had 30 days left to coach at the city-owned Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex spoke Tuesday night before the City Council, asking that she be reinstated.

Erin Benedum, 27, said she has been involved in competitive skating for 17 years, and has been teaching in Hagerstown since 1999.

"This is what I do. ... I have put my heart and soul into it," Benedum said.

Both Benedum and rink skating director Jennifer Kaszubski were told last week they were being let go because of a "new direction" the rink was taking.

Supporters of Benedum and Kaszubski also spoke before the council Tuesday during a public comment session.

Maryjane Clark, 13, said she was one of Benedum's students, and has been skating for four years.

Clark said Benedum has a sense of humor, "and I don't get that with other coaches. I have this connection ... and I really like Erin."

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Clark's mother said the management at the rink has not been forthright with their decisions, and the changes taking place need "openness, transparency and accountability."

While the skating rink and the sports complex are owned by the City of Hagerstown, the business operation is run by the Washington County Sports Foundation, a private group.

In response to one of the speakers, Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire pledged the city would look into the matter.

- Gregory T. Simmons

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