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Nipps takes reins at PenMar

February 02, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Doris J. Nipps, a former Washington County commissioner and school board member, is the new executive director of PenMar Development Corp.

Nipps replaces Rich Rook, who resigned effective Jan. 16 to work for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting company.

The state created PenMar Development Corp. to oversee the redevelopment of the Fort Ritchie Army base, which shut down in 1998.

Nipps said the corporation is making sure Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) of Columbia, Md., follows through on a $256 million revitalization plan for the former base. COPT has obtained more than 500 acres at the former base, and is planning a mix of residential and commercial development.

"I love that project up there," she said, calling it an economic force for Washington County, Franklin County, Pa., and beyond.

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PenMar Development Corp. has about $7 million left to spend on projects on or near the former base, Nipps said.

The executive director position was full time under Rook, but has been cut to 20 hours a week. The hours are flexible, but Nipps must spend at least part of each weekday on the job, said George Griffin, the board's chairman.

Griffin would not disclose Nipps' salary. He said it was the practice under Rook to keep the salary private.

However, under state statute, PenMar Development Corp. is subject to the Maryland Public Information Act, according to William Varga, an assistant attorney general in Maryland.

"I would argue that they have to make the information public," he said.

Nipps was one of about 50 people who applied for the job, Griffin said.

Nipps said she served on PenMar's board for the last year and a half, and became interested in the executive director job when she heard it would be open.

On Jan. 12, the PenMar board agreed to recommend Nipps to the Washington County Commissioners, Griffin said.

The following day, the commissioners approved her for the job, according to Nipps, who started last week.

Griffin said the board liked that Nipps knows the corporation and its mission, and that she has good community connections.

"She's well-known," he said. "She's got a lot of get up and go. I think it's a good fit."

Nipps served on the Washington County Board of Education from 1994 to 2002, when she left, in the middle of a term, to become a Washington County commissioner.

After one term as a county commissioner, she lost a Republican primary as she sought re-election.

Nipps used to work for Habitat for Humanity of Washington County. She said she most recently worked on government relations and corporate sponsorships for Antietam Healthcare Foundation, a subsidiary of Washington County Health System.

As a volunteer, she has been involved with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Washington County Commission for Women and Humane Society of Washington County.

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