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Washington Co. Commissioners sworn in

December 07, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Bill McKinley takes the oath of office Tuesday as a Washington County Commissioner.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Washington County’s newly elected commissioners shared stories of their pasts and promises for the future Tuesday morning after taking the oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony at the Washington County Courthouse in Hagerstown.
“If I had to go back and really think about why I am standing here today, how have I gotten here, I would have to go back, No. 1, within my family, giving us guidance of honesty, integrity, and teaching us how to work hard,” said Commissioner Terry Baker, who was appointed commissioners president later in the day.
Baker shared a story about when he was a boy — “just a little fellow, real thin, less than 100 pounds” — and went door to door with a snow shovel to earn money after a heavy snow.
“They would look at me and laugh,” Baker said. “They’d say, ‘Go ahead.’ And 20 minutes later I would go back, and they would come out and see that I’d accomplished the job that I said I would accomplish.”
Baker said friends, teachers and coaches were also important in shaping the direction of his life, including one friend who, on a fishing trip, tired of hearing Baker complain about county issues.
“He was a little upset — I was catching a lot more fish than he was — and he said, ‘Shut the hell up or run for county office,’” Baker said, to laughter from the gallery. “So that’s when I decided to go ahead and run for county office.”
John F. Barr, who was later voted commissioners vice president, also recounted stories of a childhood filled with hard work and life lessons, such as an experience selling corn that taught him to always give people more than what they expect.
Barr also joked about his habit of saying, each time he is given a microphone, that “It’s a beautiful day in Washington County,” no matter what the weather.
Tuesday, he said, was no exception.
Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham spoke of a lesson she learned from her father, who died in 2005 and whose birthday would have been Tuesday.
Callaham said her father used to wake up his children early on Saturday mornings, telling them of the gazelle that each morning must run faster than every lion, and the lion knows he must run faster than the slowest gazelle.
“The lesson for us all is, when we get up in the morning, we’d better be running, and that’s the hard work I hope to bring to the county,” Callaham said.
Commissioner Jeff Cline thanked his campaign team and volunteers and stressed that he sees his role as one of a public servant.
“I was once told you may not be able to change the world, but you can start changing the world around you in which you live,” Cline said.
Commissioner Bill McKinley spoke of being taught by his parents at a young age that “in your life, God’s first, family’s second, and you’re third.”
“I’ve varied from that from time to time, I’ve strayed from that, but I’ve always tried to get back to that, and it has been the guiding principle of my life,” he said.
McKinley said he learned during his campaign that “being a politician is a team sport.”
“As the supports start to come in, and people do wonderful things for you, the responsibility that you feel towards them grows,” McKinley said. “And so many people in this room helped me ... supported me, and it is my intention, now that I am county commissioner, that, as you supported me to this point, I will now support and serve you to the very best of my ability for the next four years.”
Each of the new commissioners was joined by family members as he or she recited the oath administered by Washington County Circuit Court Clerk Dennis Weaver.

Right choices
During his opening remarks for the ceremony, Washington County Circuit Court Judge John H. McDowell shared some advice about decision making with the new commissioners.
“We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road and delay,” McDowell said. “They get run over. Making the right choice is therefore an art, honed by experience and created by the aid of those who we trust to advise.”
There will be no shortage of those wishing to advise the commissioners, McDowell said, adding that “the art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”
McDowell urged Callaham not to feel ill at ease as the only woman on the board. He quoting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who said: ‘In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.’
“So, Commissioner Callaham, if you want anything done, be prepared to do it,” McDowell said.
The ceremony also included an invocation by Pastor Dale Carver of Hagerstown Bible Church, musical selections by students at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, and a benediction by Pastor Randy Buchman of Tri-State Fellowship.
The ceremony was followed by a reception at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

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