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Washington County must clearly define its economic expectations

April 26, 2012

Economic Development Commission Executive Director Tim Troxell, who said he was blindsided when the county commissioners dismissed him last week, went on to say his firing was political.

To be sure, the EDC has been a tossing ship of late, since the appointment of Ronald Bowers to the board, a move that one can’t help but wonder whether it was premeditated on the part of the commissioners, who wanted someone who would effect change, while keeping their own hands blood-free.

We take no position on the correctness of Troxell’s dismissal — unemployment is high and Washington County always seems to be every company’s second or third choice — but we do believe Washington County backed into this decision. Further, the commissioners might want to do some soul searching over the way they chart the county’s course in a lot of areas going forward.

The commissioners seemed to want to wash their hands of the situation, admitting only to hearing this or that about Troxell’s performance. This is wrong on several levels. Most fundamentally, every single commissioner ought to have a very clear idea about how county department leaders are performing and a very clear idea about whether this performance is satisfactory or not.

The fact that they didn’t — or if they did they aren’t saying — is patently unfair to Troxell, and beyond that, to the people of this county who depend on the EDC to provide local people with work.

Second, if the commissioners want to go in a “different direction,” as they imply, they need to have the courtesy to inform the office involved that a course correction is required. No one on either side has indicated that the EDC was informed that it was doing anything wrong, or that there might be another method or plan of action that commissioners wanted to try.

Ultimately, we are not convinced that the commissioners themselves have a firm grasp on where they believe economic development should go.

The county owes the unemployed people of the county a clear and thorough blueprint of where the county is headed, economically. What do we want to be and what will it take for us to get there?

If the county cannot lay out such a plan in clear and simple terms, then Troxell’s charges of politics become all the more valid, and the situation will become an impediment to this county’s future.

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