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Chirgott in 20th year on council

November 14, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - Now in her 20th year on the Funkstown Town Council, Sharon Chirgott said she remembers how she first ventured into the world of politics.

"My husband, John, was on the council then and he used to talk about it," Chirgott said. "I thought ... I could do this."

She was defeated in her first attempt but was appointed in 1986 to fill a vacancy on the council.

"John and I were on council together for a while," Chirgott said, noting he gave it up more than a dozen years ago.

Chirgott is now the only woman on the six-person council - her current four-year term will be up in 2008.

The big issues of late are the sewage treatment plant upgrades and growth around Funkstown.

"We're trying to keep our citizens safe," Chirgott said.

To that end, off-duty law enforcement officers have been secured to handle those duties.

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In addition, Chirgott has served on the Washington County Solid Waste Advisory Committee for 10 years and was vice president of the Washington County chapter of the Maryland Municipal League for a time.

A native of Allegany County, Md., she earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Frostburg State College, now Frostburg State University, and taught for a while in Baltimore.

She completed her master's at Morgan State College and worked for a time as a quality control lab technician at the former W.D. Byron Tannery.

Since 1980, she has been employed by Washington County Public Schools. After stints at North Potomac Middle and Northern Middle, she served four years as the full-time president of the Washington County Teachers Association.

"I'm still involved with the WCTA but more at the state level," Chirgott said.

She chairs the fund for children and public education and helps coordinate endorsements of education-friendly candidates.

"Pension, salary, all those things have to be fought for," Chirgott said, adding that the WCTA was basically pleased with the outcome of the Nov. 7 election.

During her years with the WCTA, Chirgott got to know Carolyn Brooks and Mary Ellen Waltemire who acquainted her with the Character Counts program.

So impressed was Chirgott that she joined the Character Counts coalition and is currently the secretary.

"We introduced it to business people in the fall of 2005 and it seemed to go over," she said. Now the law enforcement community is being encouraged to follow suit with a program called "Honor the Badge."

The next step will be approaching public officials on living up to the public's trust, Chirgott said.

Chirgott and her husband, John, who works at M.S. Johnston in Hagersown, have two children, Demetrios, 27, and Stasa, 23.

Her job for the past five years is career technology education and student service learning resource teacher for Washington County Public Schools.

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