Sheriff's son hired to work as airport manager


Carroll County Sheriff John H. Brown's son has been hired by the county Economic Development Department for a job that was not advertised.

Economic Development Director Jack Lyburn said yesterday that he hired Stephen Brown on a month-to-month contract in a full-time "special assignment" position involving airport management, marketing and other duties.

Mr. Brown, 42, who said he has experience in the Army and retail sales jobs, began work Sept. 7 and will earn $15 an hour, or $29,250 a year.

"I hope it becomes permanent," he said of the job.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, who is not related to the sheriff, said young Mr. Brown was hired as manager for Carroll County Regional Airport. He said the commissioners approved the position, but were not involved in the hiring.

County payroll manager Joan Redman said documents showed that Mr. Brown was hired as airport manager.

Asked whether the county should have hired the sheriff's son, Commissioner Brown said, "Yes, if he's qualified. And you know I have no love for the sheriff right now."

Commissioner Brown and the sheriff disagreed publicly last week about the creation of a drug unit in the sheriff's department.

"I wouldn't be looking around for ways to do the sheriff a favor," Commissioner Brown said.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates agreed it was all right for the county to hire the sheriff's son if he was qualified. He said he doesn't believe the county is required to advertise before filling contractual positions.

"If he worked for the sheriff, I think it would look bad, look like nepotism," he said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell could not be reached for comment.

Sheriff Brown said yesterday he did not know the county had hired his son, but knew he had applied for county jobs. His son lives with him in Westminster.

"I hardly ever see him," Sheriff Brown said.

Mr. Lyburn said Mr. Brown's resume was passed to him after Mr. Brown was turned down for the position of deputy director of public works earlier this summer.

Public Works Director J. Michael Evans sent the resume to Mr. Lyburn.

"He looked good on paper, and he's great," Mr. Lyburn said.

Mr. Lyburn said he needed help in his office because the #F positions of marketing director and airport manager were vacant.

"I needed someone to help me out at the airport," he said.

Mr. Brown will work on "normal running operations at the airport," an economic development marketing brochure and other projects, Mr. Lyburn said.

He said Mr. Brown does not have airport-related experience. He refused to give many details about Mr. Brown's background.

"That's kind of personal -- resume stuff," he said.

Mr. Brown, reached later, said he had some experience with airports in the military, but is not a pilot.

He said he is not involved in politics and did not help his father campaign for re-election to a second term last November. "He's my father. I love him. I voted for him. But I'm not a political animal," he said.

Stephen Brown said he has worked in retail sales since leaving the Army in 1984 after 12 years of service. He has worked in managerial positions for Footlocker and Gordon's Jewelry.

Mr. Brown is working as an evening manager at The Pine Factory Ltd., a furniture store in Cranberry Mall, and part-time salesman at Littman Jewelers, also at the mall.

The airport manager position has been vacant since May, when John W. Lucas left the job after six months. Kathy Devilbiss, part-time airport management assistant, resigned Sept. 6. The marketing position has been vacant since Aug. 18.

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