Year in Review: Changing faces in high places marks 2018

Year in Review: Changing faces in high places marks 2018
Carroll County Public School's new superintendent Steven Lockard congratulates out-going superintendent Stephen Guthrie after Guthrie's portrait was unveiled during Lockard's school board meeting Wednesday July 11, 2018. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times / Carroll County Times)

Of course, with the gubernatorial elections in Maryland, there was some change among local elected leaders in Carroll County, but 2018 also saw several high profile community leaders retire and new faces step in to fill their shoes.

Guthrie retires as school superintendent, Lockard takes over

Most notable is likely the retirement of embattled Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie, who announced his departure in 2017 and officially retired at the end of June 2018. To many in the community affected by the closure of three schools a few years prior, Guthrie was the source of their ire, as it was his recommendation to close North Carroll High, New Windsor Middle and Charles Carroll Elementary schools that the Board of Education acted upon.


“I had to make tough choices along the way. There are some citizens who will never forgive me and will never understand the rationale because ... they believe it affected their children and their lives in a negative way,” he said in June. “I don't believe that. I’ve looked at everything to ensure that’s not happening. I don’t believe that has happened — I think that’s an emotional response.”

Guthrie began his career in Carroll schools in 1982 as a psychology teacher at North Carroll High, before becoming a counselor there. In 1991, he moved into human resources where he spent 11 years, eventually becoming director. Guthrie became the assistant superintendent of administration for eight years before his stint as superintendent began in 2010.

When he took over, the recession was in full force, in part leading to budgetary struggles the school system is still dealing with. His tenure was marked with high-profile decisions and controversy, as Guthrie oversaw the implementation of Common Core, changes in the bus routes, school closures that resulted in legal battles, declining enrollment, student activism and walkouts and the banning of the Confederate flag.

On the cusp of his retirement in June, Guthrie said he believed his greatest accomplishment was maintaining the integrity of the structural program of CCPS despite budget struggles and cutbacks. During his eight years in the post, CCPS lost almost $40 million cumulative in state funding, he said, yet they were still able to continue to run an effective school system that saw academic success.

On July 1, Steven Lockard, a Carroll County native and Westminster High School graduate, took over as the new superintendent. Lockard, 47, comes to Carroll after having worked as the deputy superintendent for Fairfax County, Virginia, Public Schools and deputy superintendent for Frederick County Public Schools, having worked his way up through that school system. Both of his parents were both teachers in Carroll County. Lockard’s father, Brian Lockard, was the superintendent of CCPS in the 1990s.

Lockhard was not the only new face among school system leadership in 2018. Three new members of the Board of Education were also seated after winning election in the fall. Former educator Patricia Dorsey, business executive Ken Kiler and education activist Tara Battaglia were seated in December.

Wheeler turns page, retires from library

Described by some of her contemporaries as “one of the most energetic and visionary local leaders,” Lynn Wheeler announced in April that she would retire from a 14-year career as the executive director of the Carroll County Public Library system and an overall 45-year career in library services.

Wheeler was instrumental in the transformation of the Carroll library to be more than just a place to borrow books. Under her leadership, the library expanded its physical and digital collections of books, music, video, and other materials; and created opportunities for the community to connect with innovative tech, including 3-D printers and scanners, laser engravers, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

The Finksburg resident also oversaw the construction and opening of the Finksburg branch library, the renovation of Westminster branch, including the installation of the Mary Lou Dewey Sculpture Park; and the interior renovations to the North Carroll, Mount Airy, Eldersburg, and Taneytown branches. The libraries also expanded hours to include Sundays under Wheeler.

She officially turned the page on the next chapter in her life in November, when she also celebrated her 70th birthday.

“Her influence has been great in Carroll County,” said Mike McMullin, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce president, “and even though she will no longer be at the helm of the library, I’m certain that many have been inspired by Lynn to be better versions of themselves.”

Over the summer, the library announced Angela Berstler as the next executive director. She came to Carroll after working in both the Village Library of Morgantown and Chester County Library, in Pennsylvania, and serving as the executive director of Wicomico County Public Libraries since 2012.

Oxx leaves Carroll arts in good hands

More than two decades ago, when Sandy Oxx became the executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council, she made her way down the stairs into the dingy basement of the Winchester Exchange, greeted the council’s one part-time employee, sat down in her office which housed the Arts Center’s only bathroom and got to work planning the arts in Carroll County.

When she stepped down from her post at the end of June, Oxx celebrated with members of the community in the Carroll Arts Center, now a beautifully restored art deco theater, home to three art galleries, classrooms for summer camps and a stage that hosts concerts, films and stage productions, along with other community events.


From the time she began her work in June 1997, Oxx helped to expand the center, creating new fundraising programs like the Festival of Wreaths and the PEEPshow, featuring art made with the popular marshmallow Easter confections. The PEEPshow has garnered national recognition and draws thousands to Westminster each spring.

“I wanted to leave while things are still great,” Oxx said. “I feel like when your kid is 21, you’re done; it’s time to push them out the door. I know we’re at a point where the next chapter has to be another big thing. It’s not extending the PEEPshow a day, it’s got to be big and it’s time to find new vision on that.”

The Arts Council named Judy Morley as Oxx’s replacement, and she officially took over July 1. Morley has a doctorate in the history of the American West from the University of New Mexico and a master’s degree from Holmes Institute School of Consciousness Studies. She also came with an extensive background in fundraising, executive leadership, organizational development and marketing in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors, and is an historian, speaker, entrepreneur and author.

Westminster’s longtime police chief announces retirement

As 2018 came to a close, Jeff Spaulding, the chief of Carroll County’s largest municipal police force, announced that he would retire on March 1, 2019, from a 45-year career in law enforcement, including the last 15 with the Westminster Police Department.


Spaulding cited the impending birth of his first grandchild in early 2019 and “the flexibility to pursue opportunities that don’t require my attention 24/7,” as the reasons to call it a career.

“Under Chief Spaulding’s leadership, the Westminster Police Department has made significant progress, particularly in the modernization of its equipment and technology systems,” Mayor Joe Dominick said in a prepared statement announcing Spaulding’s retirement. “Chief Spaulding has also done exemplary work in the area of training and staff development; during his tenure, eight members of the Police Department’s leadership team have completed executive development and leadership training, including participation in the FBI National Academy and the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.”

Spaulding said he was unsure what the future held, but knew that he would be involved with Special Olympics Maryland in some way. In Carroll, Spaulding has been the literal torch-bearer for the organization, which provides athletic opportunities for children with disabilities and special needs. Spaulding has helped organized fundraising events such as Cops on Rooftops and the Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics.

The city will form a committee to search for Spaulding’s successor.

Elections bring new commissioners

In 2018, Commissioners Doug Howard and Richard Rothschild completed their second-terms in office, leaving two open seats on the Board of County Commissioners that were ultimately won by Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, and Christopher “Eric” Bouchat, R-District 4.

Second-term Commissioners Steve Wantz, R-District 1; Richard Weaver, R-District 2; and Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, were returned to office by the voters.

Rothstein, an Army veteran who last served as the garrison commander of Fort Meade — essentially a city manager of the 55,000-plus Army base — in Howard County, won a crowded Republican primary field in June and was unopposed in the November election. He said economic and business development will be one of the principal focuses of his time in office, calling for “growth where it makes sense” in his district, the Freedom Area.

Bouchat, a businessman from Woodbine who ran on the platform of addressing the opioid epidemic after the death of his daughter in 2017, emerged from a four-person field in the Republican primary and held off a challenge from Democrat Paul Johnson in the general election. In addition to addressing the drug epidemic, Bouchat also expressed a desire to start the process to move Carroll from the commissioner form to charter form of government during his term.