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Carroll County commissioners plan final interviews for fire and EMS director to be in person

With three candidates remaining for Carroll County’s first fire and emergency medical services director and two more rounds of interviews left to do, the commissioners are aiming to get them done soon — but not through a screen.

Members of the Board of County Commissioners indicated at their Thursday meeting they would prefer to conduct all upcoming interviews with the candidates in person, even while county offices are closed to the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“I was sort of waiting because I don’t want to do it virtually,” said Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1. “You lose so much for this important position to try to do this over cameras. I think we need to do it in a room.”

The director will help lead the county in creating a combination paid and volunteer fire and EMS service. Once hired, the director will focus on “interacting with everyone and visiting and performing meet and greet with all parties,” Wantz wrote in an earlier email.

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The field has been narrowed to three candidates. After each is interviewed by the management committee, that field could be narrowed down again, then the remaining candidates would be interviewed by the commissioners. The management committee, assembled in November, consists of Wantz and Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5; the county director of human resources and county administrator; one person selected by Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association; and two county department heads.

Wantz said he thought an interview could be done in a room with fewer than 10 people, allowing for social distancing. He suggested scheduling interviews after Memorial Day.

“I think having everybody in a room, not a virtual interview, but having everybody together for the interview, is very, very important,” said Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3. “You just get a better sense of the people that you’re talking to.”

Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, said he wanted to see the process move along.

During budget talks April 14, the commissioners unanimously voted to freeze hiring beginning May 1, with the exception of essential positions, until after the new fiscal year begins July 1. Wantz clarified at the board’s April 16 meeting that the new director was considered essential and not part of that freeze.

Other business

The commissioners on Thursday also voted on two grants from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention that will benefit the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network grant would continue funding two positions at the State’s Attorney’s Office: a senior assistant state’s attorney and a crime analyst. The grant would provide nearly $500,000 and requires a county contribution of about $3,500, according to the commissioners’ agenda. The commissioners unanimously approved submitting the grant application and accepting the funding.

The Maryland Victims of Crime Program grant will provide about $67,500, about $23,700 of which comes from a county match, to continue funding a district court advocate, according to an agenda document. The commissioners unanimously voted to accept the grant.

Additionally, the commissioners unanimously voted to upgrade two Department of Public Safety vehicles for about $58,800. The cost includes upgrading the satellite systems and wireless networks of two mobile command and communication vehicles, which were bought in 2005 and 2006, an agenda document states. The cost is covered by previously received homeland security grants, but because of the amount, use of the funding had to be approved by the commissioners.

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