WESTMINSTER - Carroll County Extension Service Director Walter C. Bay has been promoted temporarily to regional director of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.
Extension agent David Greene will take Bay's place in the Carroll office.
Bay was named interim director because a statewide hiring freeze prevents the Extension Service from filling the position permanently.
Bay, 57, of Uniontown, said he is not interested in keeping the position permanently. He will be one of three regional directors in the state.
"It was an excruciating decision for me because I'm very attached to Carroll County," he said.
Bay said he and state Extension Director Craig S. Oliver agreed that Bay would not stay in the regional position for more than two years.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer imposed a hiring freeze on the University of Maryland, which runs the Extension Service, and other state agencies in September.
Bay began his new duties Dec. 10.
He replaced Thomas Blessington, who resigned after six months and is on administrative leave from the Extension Service until early January.
Oliver said, "Walt is extremely capable of performing the task because of his experience and because he knows the people in Western Maryland."
Even though the Carroll office will be short one agent, service to farmers won't be interrupted, Bay said.
"If a farmer has a problem and we need to go out and take a look at it in the spring -- weeds or insects -- we're going to have to do that," he said. "That's got to be top priority."
Greene said Carroll extension agent Thomas G. Ford will assume some of Bay's farm-management responsibilities. Ford will advise small- and part-time farmers; specialists from the university will be called in to advise farmers with larger commercial operations, Greene said.
Bay, an agent in Carroll for almost 26 years, will oversee extension activities in seven counties -- Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford and Washington -- and supervise about 64 people.
He said he plans to spend one day a week in the regional office in Keedysville, Washington County; one day in College Park for administrative meetings; and three days in Carroll or traveling in the seven counties.
While he stressed that he doesn't want the job permanently, Bay said he is looking forward to the change. He has been director in the Carroll office since 1984.
"I'd be less than honest if I didn't say it's a new, challenging and interesting thing I'm embarking on," he said.
Bay has a bachelor's degree in dairy husbandry and a master's in extension education from the University of Maryland.
Greene, 48, has been at the Carroll office for 18 years. He raises sheep on a farm in Baltimore County.
Plans for an educational series on farm labor management are continuing, Green said. He and Bay had been planning the series for about a year and a half.
Greene said he hopes to start the series in the fall. Topics will include where to find farm labor and how to develop good working relationships with employees and family members, he said.
"It's so important, we can't put it off," he said.
Blessington will begin a new job as regional specialist in horticulture and nursery operations in Central Maryland in January.