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Crawford plans retirement

August 09, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Robert T. "Bob" Crawford, the executive director of Berkeley County Development Authority for more than 17 years, announced his retirement Wednesday.

"For me, this has been a team effort," Crawford, 74, said in an interview after the Authority's board of directors accepted his decision to step down at year's end.

"It has not been a one-man show by any stretch of the imagination, by any means."

Crawford said he didn't have any immediate plans other than to "sit back and enjoy life."

"He will be sorely missed in Berkeley County," former County Commissioner Howard Strauss said Wednesday evening. "It's sad to hear of his retirement, but I certainly wish him the best."

"Berkeley County has succeeded significantly during his tenure," added Strauss, describing the creation of Tablers Station Business Park as one of Crawford's crowning achievements.

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Strauss, who served on the Development Authority for four years, also credited Crawford's work on the Cumbo Yards Industrial Park where QuadGraphics moved its operations in the mid-1990s.

"The opening of QuadGraphics was monumental for the county," Strauss said.

Describing Crawford as "a true professional," Strauss touted his expertise as possibly the best among economic development leaders in West Virginia.

State Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, who served on the Development Authority before being elected to office in 1998, said he first met Crawford while working for developer Bruce Van Wyk. Unger credited Crawford for being steady and methodical in his approach to attracting economic development and keeping the board financially solvent.

"I always respected his point of view," Unger said. "He's been able to reach across the (political) divide and to keep people focused on what's best for the community."

Crawford said he began his work for Berkeley County in March 1990 after he and his wife, Linda, relocated from Hopewell, Va., where he was the city's economic development officer. They live in Jefferson County.

Crawford's resume includes stints as a Chamber of Commerce executive for more than 20 years, including work in the Carolinas and Kentucky.

"In every community, there are good folks," Crawford said. And Berkeley County hasn't been any different, he noted.

"I guess you could say it's time for someone else to have a chance," Crawford said of his departure.

Crawford said the Development Authority's Board of Directors will form a committee to replace him.

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