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County Comment Washington County Board of County Commissioners Takes Office

by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

The recently elected Board of County Commissioners for Washington County, Maryland was sworn into office on Tuesday, December 3, in Courtroom #1 of the Washington County Court House before a crowd of relatives, campaign aides, friends, and County staff.

The Honorable Fred C. Wright, III, Administrative Judge of Circuit Court of Washington County presided over the ceremonies and Commission members were sworn-in by Clerk of Circuit Court Dennis J. Weaver.

Proceedings began with the invocation, given by Dr. Ed Hampton, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Temple of Hagerstown.

Musical selections were presented by The SophistiCats singing group from Williamsport High School and included “Where were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and “America Finale.”

Judge Wright commented that, in Court, early mornings are reserved for swearing-in ceremonies and adoptions, as both bring forth a new promise.

Each member of the Board of County Commissioners was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the Laws of the State of Maryland, and the Code of Local Public Laws.

Following the ceremony, Commissioner James F. Kercheval cited the value of Community Service and service above self. Kercheval, born and raised in Washington County, is serving as a first time Commissioner. He graduated from Smithsburg High School in 1983, attended Hagerstown Community College and received the Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Shippensburg University in 1987. Kercheval entered the restaurant industry shortly after graduation, and became partner in Em-Ing’s Broiled Foods, a restaurant and catering operation in Ocean City, MD. In 1990 he opened Kerch’s Southern BBQ in Hagerstown. Jim is a member of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, a Board member of Hagerstown Rotary, and Past-President of the Hagerstown Jaycees. He has been the Washington County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Businessman of the Year, and has served on various local committees. Jim and his wife Clair have two sons, Jacob and Garrett, and reside in Hagerstown.

Commissioner John C. Munson commented that with impending State budget cuts, the County faces a hard budget year, but should be able to pull through without problems for the people of Washington County. Munson is also a first-term County Commissioner. A 1959 graduate of North Hagerstown High School, he served three years in the U.S. Army Security Agency. Munson was employed by the Pangborn Corporation before entering the U.S. Postal Service, where he served thirty years. During that period Munson was a City Carrier for ten years, and served twenty years as Supervisor and Postmaster before retiring in 1996. John and his wife Audrey are long-time residents of Maugansville and have one son, John C. Munson, Jr.

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said that the new Board will develop a Vision for Washington County that citizens 10 to 20 years in the future will be able to recognize as having made their lives better. Nipps is a first-term County Commissioner and is employed as Committee Coordinator by Habitat for Humanity of Washington County. An elected member of the Washington County Board of Education from 1994 through 2002, she served on the Board of Directors of the Maryland PTA from 1989-1994, served on various statewide committees and was the Board of Education legislative liaison to the local delegation. Dori and her husband Jim are the parents of twin sons, Scott and Tom and reside near Smithsburg.

Commissioner Gregory I. Snook also touched on budget issues and development of Goals and Objectives for the Commissioners to achieve over the next 4 years. Snook is a fourth-term County Commissioner elected in 1990 and has served as President of the Board for the eight years from 1994 to 2002. Owner of Greenlawn Valley Pet in Williamsport, Maryland, Snook was employed with Fairchild and Rohr Industries from 1977-1989.

Incoming Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Association of Counties, Greg is a member of the Frostburg University Center Advisory Board, and is active in various community organizations. He and his wife Ruthann reside in Williamsport with their two children, Katie and Sarah.

Commissioner William J. Wivell said that the Board will face fiscal issues together with the citizens. He asked that people be patient with the newly elected Commissioners, to be understanding and be constructive in criticism. A second-term County Commissioner and an employee of Allegheny Energy, Wivell is a Certified Public Accountant, holding a Masters degree in Accounting and Business from Mount St. Mary’s College. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA). Bill is single, a lifetime resident of Washington County, and resides in the Smithsburg area.

Judge Wright closed the session by reminding the Board that it represents all citizens of Washington County. Wright commented that for the first time in modern history, the County has a “political team”, and should always seek compromise, not conflict. He challenged the Commissioners to speak with one voice, and act with the common interest of all.

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