Washington County EDC has two vacancies, one on horizon

September 01, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Robin L. Ferree, the EDC's deputy director, is leaving his job on Sept. 21.
Submitted photo

As Washington County considers how to restructure its economic development commission, two staff positions there are vacant and a third will be soon.

Robin L. Ferree, the EDC’s deputy director, is leaving his job on Sept. 21. He will become the next president of Bowman Development.

Greg Larsen, the EDC’s airport business development manager, left his job Aug. 17.

The top EDC job — executive director — has been open since April, when the county dismissed Timothy R. Troxell from the job.

County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said Tuesday that he expects all three open jobs to be filled at some point, but not necessarily with the same duties or titles.

He said the county is first waiting until it gets the results of a study by Urbanomics Inc. and Leak-Goforth Company LLC, which was hired to prepare a strategic economic development plan.

Some of the information should be available this month, Murray said.

In a follow-up email Wednesday, Murray wrote: “I can talk about general strategic planning and structure, and we of course now have an even greater opportunity to restructure to operate in the most efficient and effective manner, but details on what, if any, structure change may take place have not yet been determined.”

The Herald-Mail reported in June that Urbanomics and Leak-Goforth planned to interview political leaders and others in the county for the next six months.

The consultants will identify business and industries the county should target, The Herald-Mail reported.

The county commissioners dismissed Troxell from his position as executive director in April. County officials did not publicly give a reason.

Troxell, who became executive director in 2002, declined to comment at first, but later wrote that he considered the county’s decision “to be all about Politics — and not about Performance.”

He added that “the view of a vocal minority can sway the vote of a County Commissioner.”

Ferree, the top person at the EDC since Troxell departed, said Friday that he gave the county four weeks’ notice about leaving his job.

“It was a very attractive offer from a company and owners that I have a lot of respect for,” he said.

Ferree has been with the county for nearly 12 years, according to county records. His salary is $81,158.

Asked what he will miss about his county job, Ferree said, “The overall profession of economic development and the value that it provides to the county.”

“And just serving people,” he added.

David C. Taylor was the president of Bowman Development, but left to become president of Think Loud Development LLC in York, Pa. Ferree said Taylor will be working with his son.

Taylor’s new company announced his move Aug. 14.

He couldn’t be reached for comment this week on a cell phone he used while working at Bowman.

Larsen’s departure was more sudden.

“I certainly didn’t anticipate what happened, but I’m very optimistic for my future,” Larsen said Friday, declining to elaborate.

“The response from the community has been outstanding,” he said.

Larsen worked for the county for 18 years, county records show. His salary was $62,248.

In an emailed statement, Larsen wrote: “It has been a privilege to work for the citizens of Washington County in my various capacities for the past 18 years.

“During that time many good things have been achieved. In hind sight those that stand out are the huge success of 135th Reenactment of the Battle of Antietam at the Artz Farm in 1997, the successful marketing and resulting sale of the Conococheague Industrial Pretreatment Facility in Williamsport, the memorable activities and events that were wrapped around the airport’s runway extension project, the preservation of commercial passenger service at (Hagerstown Regional Airport) in the wake of 9/11, the attraction of leisure carrier Allegiant Air to Hagerstown with its service to central Florida, the pursuit of an Aviation Maintenance Technology program for the community that has since been provided by (Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics), and the general progress that has occurred with business development at the airport since I started there in 2001.

“None of these could have been possible without the unwavering assistance and support of many friends, acquaintances and clients and for that I will always be appreciative.”

Another longtime county employee, public information officer Norman Bassett, also left his job in August.

“I just decided it was time,” he said Wednesday. “I’m 65 and eligible for Social Security.”

In a follow-up email, he wrote: “I began working in the communications business in 1964, at the age of 17. After 48 years, I look forward to a restful retirement.”

Asked about his communications background, Bassett wrote back with a list of TV, radio and public relations jobs he has held, including reporter, anchor, news director, DJ and communications director.

“And — oh yes, for 5 days in 1963 I was a copy boy for a newspaper (Tuscaloosa News, Tuscaloosa, AL),” he wrote.

From 1994 until his retirement, he also was Washington County’s disability issues coordinator and training coordinator, he wrote.

County records show that Bassett worked for the county for 18 years and three months. His salary was $55,687.

Murray said he wasn’t sure what would become of Bassett’s job and whether his duties might be absorbed by Sarah Lankford Sprecher, the director of public relations and community affairs, and Katie Yoder, an executive assistant.

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