Balto. Co. hires parks director

January 06, 1995|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III named a new recreation and parks director yesterday -- Dundalk native John F. Weber III, who has been assistant director of recreation in Los Angeles County for 12 years.

Mr. Weber replaces Wayne R. Harman, the fourth department director to get the ax from Mr. Ruppersberger.

Mr. Ruppersberger termed the hiring of Mr. Weber "a real coup." The new director worked 15 years in recreation in Baltimore and Harford counties before leaving for the California job in 1982.

"We've got a first-rate director in John Weber," Mr. Ruppersberger said. "This is somebody who is home-grown but who is perceived to be one of the top professionals in the country."

Mr. Ruppersberger said he hopes his appointee, who will take over Feb. 1, can use his national contacts to "market Baltimore County" and bring more business and recreational events to the area.

Mr. Weber, 51, will receive $76,407 a year -- $5,000 more than Mr. Harman's salary but less than his $105,000 salary in California. Los Angeles County has a population of more than 8.5 million compared with Baltimore County's 700,000.

The career recreation official said that he had not been actively seeking a new job but was ready for a challenge if given the right opportunity. "The chance to come home and work for a department I have a lot of respect for" helped him make up his mind, he said.

The firing of Mr. Harman completes the removal of a core group of department heads who were hired by former County Executive Roger B. Hayden after his 1990 election. Mr. Hayden lost his bid for re-election to Mr. Ruppersberger in November.

Last month, Mr. Ruppersberger removed Personnel Director Richard N. Holloway, Director of Aging Philip H. Pushkin and Community Development Director Frank W. Welsh.

Dr. Pushkin, now the county's emergency management director, was replaced by Charles L. Fisher Jr., former deputy recreation and parks director. The other two department posts have not been filled.

"It has been an honor to serve," Mr. Harman, 59, said yesterday.

Mr. Harman, a former county school official, cited the acquisition of more than 300 acres for Cromwell Valley Park, northeast of Towson, and the pending construction of a 1-acre cancer survivors park next to Towson Town Center as being among the things that he is most proud of during his tenure as director.

"We lost 25 percent of our budget but increased [public] participation," said Mr. Harman, who will stay on until Mr. Weber arrives. He praised county workers who bore the brunt of recessionary cutbacks.

Mr. Weber's appointment completes a political circle.

In 1990, Mr. Harman replaced Robert R. Staab, who was department director from 1986 to 1990 before being fired by Mr. Hayden.

After his firing, Mr. Staab became director of parks and recreation in Harford County, which was Mr. Weber's old job. And Mr. Staab, now one of Mr. Ruppersberger's top two staff members, helped engineer Mr. Weber's return to Baltimore County.

Mr. Weber started his career in the county's Recreation and Parks Department in 1967 after graduating from Towson State University. He became deputy director of the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation in 1971 and was director from 1978 to 1982.

R. Dean Tice, director of the National Recreation and Parks Association, praised Mr. Weber for making "substantial contributions to the field and to our organization."

"The county executive has chosen an outstanding professional," Mr. Tice said.


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