Commissioners fire recreation chief Little Members won't explain action

March 09, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll commissioners said they dismissed Recreation and Parks Director John P. Little yesterday, but wouldn't say why.

"He will be discharged," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said. "He's not an employee anymore. How he decides to finalize it is up to him at this point."

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said Mr. Little had been given an opportunity to resign the job he's had since 1980.

Mr. Little, of Westminster, began working for the county as a recreation supervisor on March 3, 1975. He could not be reached for comment last night.

The commissioners met with Mr. Little for about 20 minutes yesterday, Mr. Dell said. The decision to discharge him was made Friday and was effective yesterday, he said.

"It's an unfortunate situation for everyone," Mr. Dell said. "It hasn't been an easy process. Things developed that we had concerns about."

All three commissioners refused to say what those concerns were.

Mr. Lippy said the action "hasn't come sudden to us."

Mr. Little "has been a good employee over the years," Mr. Dell said. He said he didn't want to say anything "to impact his future."

Assistant Recreation and Parks Director Richard J. Soisson was named acting director, Mr. Lippy said.

Mr. Little earned $55,119 a year, and was responsible for five full-time employees and an annual budget of about $1.9 million.

The Recreation and Parks Department works with 21 volunteer recreation councils and eight sports leagues. It oversees the Carroll County Sports Complex, Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center and Piney Run Park, among other parks.

Recreation and Parks Board members were surprised to hear about the commissioners' action yesterday.

"It's a complete shock to me," said Clark Shaffer, a Westminster attorney who chairs the board.

Board member Robin Farinholt said, "I am shocked. His [Mr. Little's] strength is that he is a very good listener. He's always been very empathetic to everyone's concerns.

"Recreation doesn't always carry the higher priority of other departments but John has always done the maximum with what was allotted to him. He always wanted the most for the most people."

In a 1986 article in The Carroll County Sun, Mr. Little was quoted as saying he enjoyed his job, but there were aspects to it he did not foresee.

"I thought I would be outside more and that people would enjoy what we were doing. I thought there would be very little controversy," he said.

"I didn't feel like there could be a whole lot of politics involved. But, in reality, it's been a lot different."

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