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Karl Weissenbach's departure

June 10, 2005

Karl Weissenbach's decision to become deputy director of The Eisenhower Center in Kansas will deprive the community of Cascade of its strongest advocate. We have not always agreed with Weissenbach, but his devotion to the welfare of the community and its citizens is unquestioned.

After the closing of the Fort Ritchie military base, Weissenbach lobbied on behalf of local residents who had been accustomed to walking there for exercise and recreation.

When enrollment at Cascade Elementary School dropped after the base closed, Weissenbach led the opposition to closing the school.

He and others of the Cascade Committee eventually convinced the Washington County Commissioners that keeping the school open would be an economic-development tool to attract new employers to the old base.

But Weissenbach's main contribution was to act as watchdog over the PenMar Development Corp., the local entity created to assist in the redevelopment of Fort Ritchie.

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Weissenbach pushed the board to be less secretive and more attentive to the concerns of the Cascade community.

When the PenMar board decided to demolish the old gymnasium, Weissenbach mobilized citizens and made the case that it could not only be repaired, but was a needed asset for community youth groups.

Weissenbach also has raised questions about the pending sale of the old base to Corporate Office Properties Trust, a Rockville-based company with a number of government agencies as its tenants.

We disagree with Weissenbach on that issue, but activists like him serve the same function as challengers to incumbent elected officials, forcing those in office - elected or appointed - to justify what they do.

In his final statement as director of the Cascade Committee, he urged citizens there to take charge of the community's destiny by becoming an incorporated municipality.

The chief impediment to that happening is that the man most likely to put in the time needed on municipal business is leaving the community. We wish him well.

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