SNOW HILL – Worcester County is set to lose decades of experience with the retirement of several key employees this year.
Along with the retirement of Public Works Director John Tustin this month, the county is also going to see the departures of Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins and Budget Officer Kathy Whited in the next six months. Other longtime employees with plans to retire in the upcoming year include Superintendent of Maintenance Ken Whited and Superintendent of Roads Frank Adkins. Officials acknowledged the loss of experience but said the county was in good shape with Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Weston Young poised to take over Higgins’ leadership role.
“We’re fortunate we got him,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said. “We’ll manage but there is a tremendous amount of knowledge that’s going to be lost.”
The commissioners recognized Tustin for his 36 years of dedication to Worcester County last week. This week they confirmed that Higgins was set to retire Sept. 1 and that Kathy Whited was set to retire Oct. 1. Whited has been with the county since 1998 while Higgins, who was initially hired as finance officer, has been with the county since 1996.
Mitrecic said the county would be losing valuable employees but that some succession planning had been underway. In addition to the selection of Young, a new budget officer has been hired and finalists for Tustin’s position are being interviewed next week.
“Certainly we’re losing a lot of experience in the next several months however this is an opportunity to build a new team with new talent and new ideas,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said. “I have a great deal of faith in Weston’s ability to take a leadership role and help develop new talent as we move forward.”
Young was hired last spring to serve as assistant chief administrative officer, replacing Kelly Shannahan, who retired in August after 30 years with the county. Young, who was born and raised in Pocomoke, previously served as assistant director of administration in Wicomico County. He’s spent the past year learning the ins and outs of Worcester County government and is looking forward to taking on a larger role.
“This is something I’m definitely excited about,” he said. “Worcester has so many good things going for it. I hope to help maintain that.”
He praised the county’s practice of allowing for gradual transitions as employees retired, giving those stepping into new roles time to work with their predecessors. Noting the amount of historical knowledge the county was losing with the latest retirements, he said his primary focus would be ensuring transitions went smoothly in the coming months.
“With all these retirements we’re going to have to make sure we get the right people in these spots,” he said.