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Administrator Shoop to retire in early 2007

September 21, 2006

The announcement that Rod Shoop will retire as county administrator in early 2007 was unexpected, but not a complete surprise.

Commissioner Greg Snook's decision not to run and Doris Nipps' primary defeat guarantee there will be at least two new people on the county board. In such situations, there is always a break-in period during which new elected officials tend to question all the procedures that are in place, even those that are time-tested.

And, after more than a decade of county service, first as the airport administrator, who could blame him for wanting to spend more time traveling and visiting with friends and family?

The release announcing Shoop's retirement said there are three achievenments of which he is most proud, including:

Overseeing the upgrading of the county's bond rating, which affects the cost of borrowing money for public works and other purposes.

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Building a strong and dedicated work force and initiating an employee-safety program and a wage study that improved the county's salary scale.

Beginning a strategic planning process that developed long-range budget and operational plans.

Shoop also began an orientation program for newly elected commissioners in 1998 and wants to begin that for the next county board as soon as possible after the November elections. That's so, the release states, that the new county board can "focus on the hiring of a new county administrator in a timely manner."

We agree, if "timely" means not dragging the process out for six months with an expensive consultant directing it.

Citizens elect the commissioners to make such decisions and if they need help, the Maryland Association of Counties should be able to supply it.

That said, there is no need for the new board to rush the selection. There are competent managers in county government who can take the helm, if Shoop wants to depart before the process is over.

Shoop was hired in 1995 after a three-month search to find a replacement for the late Barry Teach, who had been county administrator for 18 years.

He has introduced modern technology to many county departments. Instead of numerous meetings, e-mail is used to communicate quickly and inspectors in the field now have laptops instead of clipboards to record their work.

He set up a quarterly award to reward employees who are innovators, helped the county board make the decisions to build the 40 West Landfill and to press ahead with extending the runway at the Hagerstown Regional Airport.

The county's Emergency Services Department was set up under his watch and is taking on the task of helping a group of independent fire and rescue companies work together more efficiently.

We're certain there will be other stories recounting Shoop's work and accomplishments. We thank him for his service, wish him well in retirement and appreciate the fact that he cares enough about this county and its citizens to help the next board find an able successor.

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