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County Administrator Shoop announces retirement

September 20, 2006|By TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Washington County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop announced his retirement Wednesday, the latest wave of change affecting the county's leadership.

Shoop's announcement comes in the midst of an election that promises new County Commissioners.

Longtime Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook isn't running for re-election and Commissioner Doris J. Nipps was defeated in the Sept. 12 Republican primary.

The county also is in the process of attempting to change its form of government from commissioner to charter home rule.

Shoop, 60, said he feels now is the right time to step down after nearly 12 years as the county's top staff member.

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"It's the right time in my life and my wife's life to begin this transition," said Shoop, who plans to spend more time with his wife, Judy, at their South Carolina condominium.

Shoop's salary is $110,299. The pay range for the job will be advertised at $81,567 to $130,507.

Shoop will stay in the role until after a new administrator is hired and introduced to the position.

The county expects that to happen by mid-January. The current board of commissioners will begin the job search, but the new board will interview the candidates and select Shoop's replacement.

Commissioner John C. Munson said Shoop's retirement is effective Feb. 1.

Munson said he disagrees with the time Shoop chose to retire. He said Shoop is working on putting the fiscal year 2008 budget together, which the commissioners will begin going through in mid-February.

Munson said he thinks Shoop should either stay until the new board of commissioners adopts the budget in late spring or retire effective Dec. 5, when the new commissioners take office.

"I wish him luck," Munson said. "We didn't always agree, but a lot of times we did."

Other commissioners praised Shoop's leadership and said he would be missed.

"It's going to leave a big hole," Nipps said.

Nipps and Commissioner James F. Kercheval said Shoop has been able to balance managing 800 to 900 county employees while dealing with a five-member board of commissioners that changes every four years.

"It's a difficult job, because he does have five bosses," Nipps said.

She said Shoop has been able to gain the respect of county staff.

Kercheval said a program that Shoop created for new commissioners helped him adjust when he was elected four years ago.

The initiation program includes meeting with division and department heads to learn more about government operations.

"It certainly will be a challenge when you look for somebody to fill his shoes," Kercheval said. "I think Rod has done a tremendous service to the county over the last 12 years."

Shoop served for two years as manager of Hagerstown Regional Airport before being hired as county administrator in 1995.

He was hesitant Wednesday to take credit for several accomplishments, saying county staffers have also contributed.

Among the successes he's proud of include the county moving from poor financial status to major upgrades in bond ratings; strengthening county government work force through training and leadership development and increased wages; and the creation of long-range fiscal and operational plans to keep the county running effectively and at low cost.

Shoop said his management philosophy was to give division and department heads the authority they need to do their jobs effectively while holding them responsible for the outcome. His motto was one he learned while serving 20 years in the U.S. Air Force: "Make it better, make it happen, and make it last."

Shoop said he thinks the employees in place now will be able to keep the county's successes in place.

"I think our organization, with the leadership we have, is poised to make it last in Washington County government, and I feel very comfortable that that will happen over the next many, many years," Shoop said.

Snook, who has been a commissioner for Shoop's entire county career, called Shoop's financial management skills excellent.

"I'm going to miss his leadership for sure," Snook said. "He's been a good leader and a good friend. He's going out at the top, and I wish him the best."

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