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New county health officer is appointed

May 10, 2007|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - Earl Stoner was named Washington County's new health officer Wednesday, filling a position that's officially been vacant since October.

Stoner, who has been a deputy health officer since 2005, said he learned of his appointment by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene shortly before noon on Wednesday. County officials recommended him for the top position earlier this year.

As deputy health officer, Stoner had been fulfilling many of the health officer's duties since the previous health officer, William Christoffel, retired. Christoffel officially retired Oct. 1, but went on paid administrative leave June 9, 2006.

Now, Stoner said, he can take over management of the Washington County Health Department and "move the agency forward."

Without an official leader for more than six months, the department couldn't plan for new projects or programs.

"It certainly does hold you up," Stoner said. "With the budget this year, we budgeted for operational costs, but couldn't budget for initiatives." But the agency had not been stalled "to the point where we can't jump-start," he added. "We have some flexibility with our resources."

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Stoner and the Health Department did have some managerial aid while waiting for the state's appointment, first from Diane Matuszak, who had been sent from DHMH to help with local needs. When Matuszak retired in December, Frederick County Health Officer Barbara Brookmyer helped out, according to department spokesman Rod MacRae.

Stoner said he wasn't sure what his new salary would be. Christoffel's annual state salary was previously reported to be $96,355, with the county chipping in a $10,500 supplement.

The Washington County Commissioners recommended Stoner from a field of 14 applicants, according to a news release from county public information officer Norman Bassett. Stoner served as director of the Division of Health Services for the Health Department from 1999 to 2005, and was program director for Hagerstown's Community Enrichment Coalition in 1993-94, the release said.

The release notes that Stoner is a member of the Maryland Public Health Commission and has been involved with the United Way of Washington County, the Western Maryland Area Health Education Center, the Walnut Street Community Health Center, the Washington County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, Hagerstown Community College Athletic Boosters, the Washington County Mental Health Advisory Committee, the Teen Pregnancy Task Force, the Washington County Gang Task Force, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Valley Little League.

"Certainly I'm honored by the county's and the state's confidence in my abilities," Stoner said.

Stoner holds a master's degree in public health from West Virginia University, a bachelor's degree in community health from the University of North Florida and an associate degree from Hagerstown Community College.

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