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Thurmont seeks new police chief

Ingrid Mezo

Thurmont town officials have yet to announce a candidate to fill the void left by Police Chief Terry Frushour's retirement Sunday.

Frushour's retirement has essentially already begun, since he will use compensation time off now until his official retirement date Aug. 1.

Town officials held a closed meeting late Tuesday evening to discuss personnel matters, but did not provide more specific information by The Gazette's press time Wednesday.

Town officials also held a series of closed meetings over the weekend relating to personnel issues and pending litigation, according to Mayor Martin Burns.

Frushour announced his retirement at the end of the closed meeting on Sunday.

Frushour worked with the Thurmont Police Department for 28 years, Burns said, and although town officials had not anticipated his retirement right now, they expected he would retire soon.

The town has temporarily placed Sgt. Mike Figgins in charge of the department until they can find a replacement for Frushour.

Figgins does not have the "time or the grade" to remain in the senior position permanently, and the town has already asked Frederick County Sheriff James W. Hagy to find an interim chief while they decide upon a replacement.

Hagy does have someone in mind, who, according to Commissioner Ron Terpko, has 18 years of experience with the police department.

"They did ask me if I would recommend a person and I told them I would have no problem doing that," Hagy said.

But, Hagy would not provide more specific information until he got the go-ahead from town officials, since the conversations they have had so far have been "unofficial," to his knowledge, he said.

In the town meeting Tuesday night, Burns commended Frushour for his service to the town, and said Frushour was a good replacement for Chief Neil Bechtol, who retired in June 2002, and whose shoes the mayor thought would be difficult to fill at the time.

Frushour became acting chief when Bechtol retired, but it took the board more than six months to agree on officially placing Frushour in the chief's chair.

Burns had tried to install Greg Eyler as chief instead, based on the recommendation of a panel of law enforcement officers, but three town commissioners so strongly vied for Frushour that he received the appointment.

This time, Burns intends to appoint a chief everyone can agree upon.

"I intend that the new appointment will be unanimous by the entire board of commissioners," Burns said. "So I hope it to be a mutually agreed upon appointment."

Frushour had been thinking about retiring at the end of September, he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

"But I found out I could retire the first of August," Frushour said. "My wife drives a school bus and is off for the summer. I have a nephew in North Dakota who is getting married and we're going to drive out there."

Terpko said in a phone interview Monday that Frushour was retiring for personal reasons.

"I think he just wants to move on and I guess you can't blame him," Terpko said. "And, he just wanted to use up all his comp. time, which you don't get paid for [if you don't use it by your retirement]."

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