Well-respected community leader and former Carroll County commissioner John L. Armacost died on Jan. 13 at age 89. During his tenure as a two-term commissioner, Armacost was known for his sound conservative management of the county budget and his knowledge of the nuts and bolts of how a county works on a day-to-day basis.
He served as president of the Board of County Commissioners from 1982 to 1990. He opted to not run for another term in 1990.
A licensed professional civil engineer, Armacost worked for the State Roads Commission for more than 20 years before he took on the job as the Carroll County roads department director and later, director of public works.
I had the privilege of working for Armacost in several capacities in the 1980s when he was in office from 1982 to 1986 with fellow commissioners Jeffrey Griffith and William V. Lauterbach. From 1986 to 1990, Armacost served with Griffith and Julia Walsh Gouge.
I served the county during Armacost's term in office on a number of state and county boards and commissions, including the county landscape manual committee and the tree preservation committee, in addition to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forestry Board and numerous agricultural committees with the University of Maryland and the County Extension Service.
Armacost was a steadfast member of the old "stick with the basics" school of governance. He earned his credentials well. He was born in Carroll County on Dec. 5, 1923, and lived many of his formative years during the Great Depression. He was a 1941 graduate of Westminster High School and later graduated from the University of Maryland.
In remarks in the Northern News on Jan. 24, local historian and now-State Sen. Joe Getty wrote that, "Armacost had a broad range of experiences that combined to make him an effective leader."
According to his obituary, Armacost "served proudly in the U.S. Army Air Corp, serving in the European Theater as part of the 434th troop carrier group, the 71st troop carrier Squadron, ferrying troops, and supplies to Normandy, Bastogne, Holland, and to Germany."
For context, Getty reflected that, "Armacost relished being recognized as a 'tightwad' when it came to spending taxpayer dollars…"
Indeed, Armacost was persistently preoccupied with getting an appropriate return for any and all county expenditures. He and I did not always agree upon some of the "green" initiatives in which I was involved. However, he was always a consummate gentleman in all our discussions and, more often than not, very supportive that all points of view be heard.
We benefit to this day from much of the work and leadership of Commissioner Armacost, and the county owes him a debt of gratitude for his service to our county and our community.
When he is not reminiscing with friends over serving in government many decades ago, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at email@example.com