After less than 18 months working as the spokesman for Laurel city, Pete Piringer has resigned to become the public information officer for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, a job he previously held from 2001-2009.
Piringer, who was hired by the city in November 2012, assumed the role of director of the city's new Department of Communications on Jan. 1. The department oversees the city's social media, media relations, passport services and the Laurel Community Media Network, formerly known as the Laurel Cable Network.
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said Piringer’s replacement has already been selected, and that the person will be announced March 10.
Piringer said he had mixed emotions about the move, but that ultimately the decision was financial.
“I wasn’t looking for this to happen, but a great opportunity was brought forward,” said Piringer, who said he will make $25,000 more at his new post.
“I’ve made a lot of friends and I think I’ve done a lot of good work. ... It was a great experience for me, and I hope it was vice versa and good for the community. I think I had an impact.”
Piringer will rejoin the agency on March 24. The chief of the MCFRS declined to be interviewed.
Moe hand-picked Piringer to succeed Jim Collins, the longtime public information officer for the city and the Laurel Police Department, who retired in May 2012.
Moe said he has been friends with Piringer for 20 years, said that he was sorry to see him leave.
“I’ve never been one to try and hold people back,” Moe said. “Pete's first love is fire and rescue. He’s done a lot for Laurel.”
Moe said he was more surprised Piringer took the job originally than the announcement of his departure.
“When I asked him to come aboard, when we were looking for a new [public information officer], I was surprised he did,” Moe said. “I knew he would be hard to hang onto; I appreciate his time and service to Laurel.”
Moe was complimentary of Piringer’s work with social media, with outreach to regional news media in Washington and Baltimore and with setting up the Communications Department.
“I want the city of Laurel to get information out to the press and the general public,” Moe said. “In almost the year and a half he’s been with us he’s been able to market the city of Laurel’s profile. ... He’s really promoted Laurel.”
And while Moe touted Piringer’s accomplishments in a short period, he also said he feels the next director of communications will “take it to the next level.”
“One of the things I've tried to do is to make sure one person isn't the key to anything,” Moe said. “There are people [in city government] who understand where he was going and what he was doing. The next director is going to be able to take what [Piringer] started and move it forward.”
And while Piringer will no longer be involved in the department, he said he will remain interested in the changes coming to Laurel.
“I think the table is set pretty good, and I’m excited to see what's going to happen next,” Piringer said. “A lot of good things are happening in Laurel.”