Prince Frederick, MD – Before ending their final meeting, the Calvert County Commissioners’ board elected in 2014 had a few things to say. The Dec. 11 meeting included a presentation by the Department of General Services of the artist’s concept for a proposed government administration building planned for Armory Square. The structure will cost millions and construction isn’t expected to be completed by the time the next board finishes its term in 2022.

“Clearly, it’s not Taj Mahal,” declared Commissioners’ President Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R – District 3], referencing an analogy a state lawmaker who opposed a request for bonding authority to get the project rolling allegedly made to the proposed structure and the famous landmark in India. “This is part of Calvert’s future.”

“It will serve Calvert County well for many, many decades,” said Commissioners’ Vice President Tom Hejl [R-At Large].

“It’s office space, it’s something you’ve got to have,” Commissioner Mike Hart [R-District 1] said.

“It’s very practical,” Commissioner Pat Nutter [R-District 2] remarked.

Deputy County Administrator Wilson Parran, who was a county commissioner when the topic of moving local government out of Calvert’s courthouse and possibly expanding the County Services Plaza on Main Street first came up for discussion, called the Armory Square project “the linchpin. This is part of a bigger plan to solve the space problem.” It would allow the ever-burgeoning Calvert County Sheriff’s Office to move to the County Services Plaza. “We can serve the county’s needs on land the county owns,” said Parran.

The defense of the planned Armory Square government office project proved to be a warm-up for the three outgoing commissioners, who were lavish in their praise of county government staff as well as each other. Hejl, who lost his bid for a second term during the June Republican Primary, said “very small people” who have no clue about how local government works criticize county government staff. Hejl also had harsh criticism for three entities— “The Huntingtown Group,” Keep Calvert Country and the Calvert County Republican Central Committee—for “providing negative information” during the campaign. Regarding his Huntingtown critics, Hejl stated that developer John Gott Jr. “is putting a Fastop in Huntingtown.” Since the band of citizens lobbied to have the corner of northbound Route 2/4 and Cox Road not included as part of the town center, the convenience store would have to be located in the less-accessible center of town. To Keep Calvert Country, Hejl stated, “I don’t think we lost any country. Montana is practically empty. If you need rural, take a hike!” To the local GOP Central Committee, Hejl said, “you people disgust me. You’ve got a lot to learn.” Hejl stated to his central committee critics, “you’ve got a lot to learn.” Hejl concluded his remarks by stating, “I really enjoyed my time here.”

“It’s been a good ride,” said Nutter, who affirmed he always strove to let common sense guide him. “I love this job. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had.” Earlier this year Nutter announced he would not be seeking a third term as commissioner.

“There is something that befalls you when you sit here,” said Slaughenhoupt, who warned the three incoming commissioners the job will not be as easy as they might think. Rather than blast his critics, Slaughenhoupt, who announced last December he would be retiring instead of seeking reelection, chose to commend staff for their efforts. He specifically recalled a crisis involving county residents living in a dilapidated mobile home park and how all departments worked together to aid the beleaguered occupants. “It was a phenomenal effort by staff,” he stated. “That was wonderful.” Slaughenhoupt opted to “leave it all on the battlefield. I will simply walk away.” With his two terms now in the books, Slaughenhoupt and his family have moved to Florida. 

Hart and Commissioner Steve Weems [R-At Large] also offered remarks. Weems thanked the departing commissioners for their guidance. Hart was critical of the Calvert Education Association (CEA) for their decision not to endorse him despite his advocacy for public school teachers. He stated Calvert’s rank and file teachers “were flat-out lied to. I don’t know what more we could have done for education.” Hart cited the establishment of a funding formula by the commissioners and school board, which bolstered the school system’s budget and allowed for salary step increases to be reestablished.

The new board of county commissioners—Weems, Hart and newcomers Buddy Hance, Tim Hutchins and Kelly McConkey—will be sworn in Tuesday, Dec. 18.

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