Public Works director may resign today

Board reportedly asked Evans to step down at meeting

`Still in negotiations'

Accomplishments include consolidating environmental tasks

July 05, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Under pressure by the Board of County Commissioners, Carroll's Public Works director is expected to resign today.

After a lengthy closed-door discussion with the commissioners Monday, J. Michael Evans, 57, refused to comment on his job status. The discussions will continue this morning.

"We're still in negotiations," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said Monday, referring to the terms of Evans' departure. He would not comment further.

Sources close to the commissioners said Evans was asked to resign June 27 during a private meeting. No reason was given.

Evans has been director of the county Department of Public Works for five years and a county employee since 1988. Before joining the county staff, he served as director of Anne Arundel County's Central Services Department.

He retired from Anne Arundel in December 1987 after working there 16 years.

Two months later, Evans moved to Carroll to oversee the new Department of Permits and Regulations. Over the years, he has served in a number of supervisory roles.

With 170 employees, the Public Works Department is the largest in county government and is responsible for road maintenance and improvements, water and sewer projects, and the county construction program.

Evans' annual salary is $79,151.

Under his direction, the department shifted its focus from maintenance of county roads to construction of long-planned roads, particularly in South Carroll, the county's most populous area.

Evans also supervised construction of a $7 million library at Carroll Community College in 1997 and the expansion of the county offices the same year. The $4.5 million expansion project involved three buildings, which were under construction simultaneously.

One of Evans' most widely recognized achievements was the consolidation of environmental programs into a single department.

In 1990, Evans combined landscaping, solid waste, permitting and sediment-control administrators into the then-Department of Permits and Regulations.

At the time, Dell and Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge were serving their first terms in office. Over the years, Evans and Gouge, now in her third term, developed a close working relationship. But in recent months, Evans has come under fire for the way he handled the county's request for state permits to drill a high-yield well in South Carroll.

"I'm not sure the staff did all they could to speed up the approval process. Apparently, the state had a lot of questions that were not answered adequately," Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier said last month.

A divided board of commissioners eliminated last year the Bureau of Environmental Services and several key personnel who would have been able to expedite the permitting process.

The state advertised its intention to issue the permit for the Fairhaven well in March but waited until June 27 to issue it.

The commissioners are waiting to hear whether the county will be allowed to build a discharge system at Francis Scott Key High School, another project Evans was charged with overseeing.

"That is still being reviewed," said Rich McIntyre, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment. "It could take weeks or it could take months, or even longer."

Evans suggested the county release treated sewage into 3 acres of wooded wetlands. Plans call for laying about 3,000 feet of pipe to dry stream beds, which would act as conduits for the treated water.

The commissioners are trying to salvage a project botched by the school board.

Construction of an $800,000 treatment plant was halted in 1998 when it was discovered that school officials had not secured required state environmental and construction permits.

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