by Lisa Tome
Rod Heinze has had a busy and productive two years.
But now, Heinze, 66, Port Deposit's town administrator, is moving on.
"I think it might be time for a new skill set to continue to move the town forward. It's not fun anymore," said Heinze.
The job was one he never expected to get. Heinze is the former mayor of Canton, Illinois. He and his wife, Sylvia relocated to the east coast after the birth of their grandson a few years ago. Heinze was still serving as mayor in Canton when his wife decided she wanted to be closer to their grandchild. She accepted a job in Delaware and he stayed behind to finish a budget term in Illinois. He is a retired professional firefighter, business owner, and served for three years as the mayor in Canton. For his first two and a half years on the east coast, Heinze wasn't working.
His wife got hired as Director of Nursing at Union Hospital's oncology center, they moved to Elkton. "She followed me around for years, so I figured maybe it was time I did something she wanted to do," he said.
He saw an advertisement that Port Deposit was looking for an administrator. He sent an email to Mayor Wayne Tome. Tome never received that message.
A short time later, Heinze used regular mail and sent his information to Tome. Heinze was then called for an interview.
It didn't go well.
"It was the only interview I ever had where I knew 100 percent that they were not going to hire me," he said. "But I found out later I had done pretty well."
Heinze then wrote a thank you note to town officials. A week later he was called for a second interview. He went in that day.
"I was here (at town hall) in under an hour. They (town officials) talked to me and were very nice," he said. At the end of August 2011, he was hired.
"It was 80 degrees in that room and I was wearing a suit," he laughed.
Things really heated up the next day.
Heinze began working on a Wednesday morning.
"I didn't know a flood was coming. But water was starting to come into the town. We set up a command post," he said.
The next several days were a blur. Residents were evacuated and Heinze was working 19 hour days.
"I was so tired. The mandatory evacuation was on a Saturday and then the clean up started. Everyone, without fail, was perfect to work with," he said. "It never entered my mind to quit. This kind of stuff goes away at some point. It was a nightmare but I got to know who everyone was quickly. We made it through. We got all the mud out of town. Within two weeks, you couldn't tell we had a flood here."
Heinze was tested again during another major incident on August 14, 2012. An 18 wheeler hauling 9,000 gallons of liquid propane crashed into condominiums in the 500 block of Rowland Drive, Port Deposit.
"That was one of the scariest things I've ever dealt with. The most beautiful sight was the back end of that truck going up Tome Highway," said Heinze.
During Heinze's downtime from excitement, he dealt with a great deal also. A grant to refurbish the Tome Gas House was obtained. Flood mitigation projects were undertaken. There were also cutbacks in town staffing and a change from a town police department to using contract deputies.
He does regret some things that he hasn't seen happen yet. "I have great hopes for Bainbridge. I may be one of the few who do," he said.
"It was fun. People treated me like a million dollars. What I will miss the most is coming to work. I like to work. I like the thrill of new. I like new beginnings and projects. I will probably still come back and eat lunch here. I still have friends here," he added.