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Candidate says county needs to catch up in education

July 06, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

Funding for school facilities and help for senior citizens must become priorities for Washington County, according to J. Herbert Hardin, who is running for county commissioner.

"There are still some people who don't fully understand the needs of education and the needs of public safety in this community," said Hardin, one of 24 commissioner candidates.

A retired teacher and principal, Hardin, served on the Board of Education from 1998 to 2002. Since 2002, when he fell short in his bid to become a county commissioner, Hardin has been an active member of the North High stadium committee.

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Hardin, a Democrat, said last week that the county must use rising tax revenues from assessment hikes to fund the schools' operating needs with increases exceeding 1 percent to 3 percent a year.

He criticized the County Commissioners for failing to implement the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance earlier and said the county must build new schools and catch up with its renovations of older buildings.

"We are really behind. We are 50 to 60 years behind in our renovations of schools in this county," Hardin said.

County tax surpluses should be put toward school needs, he said.

All five county commissioner seats are open in the general election, which is Nov. 7. The deadline to file was Monday.

The primary election is Sept. 12.

Hardin, 71, said the county could create tax breaks for senior citizens and disabled people by allowing them to perform tasks and earn credits toward their taxes.

The county should study the salaries of Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies and look at providing better salaries and benefits for firefighters, he said. Some paramedic and firefighter units could be consolidated for greater efficiency, Hardin said.

Hardin, who lives with his wife, Marion, on Meadowbrook Road in Hagerstown, said he would like the County Commissioners to be more visible in the community. He proposed putting their meetings on cable television.

To attract potential businesses and subsequent tax dollars, Hardin said the County Commissioners and local officials, including those in the City of Hagerstown, must work together to sell the community.

"It's got to be sold. We've got to sell this area to any lookers, any potential investors," he said.

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