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Best Week, Worst Week: Expansion in Carroll County; Zirkin called out by a judge

best-worst-022517A cooling and refrigeration parts manufacturer will be adding a little more to the Carroll County coffers soon with news this week of expansion and more jobs while a state senator goes on the defensive after disparaging comments from a Baltimore city judge.

Business writer Adam Bednar reported Tuesday that evaporative cooling and refrigeration products manufacturer EVAPCO Inc. will invest $15 million and expand its manufacturing site, eventually opening a new 160,000-square-foot structure and adding 125 jobs.

Helping Maryland attract new and retain existing manufacturers has been an oft-repeated goal of Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. The state has pledged to help EVAPCO, which has operated in Maryland for more than 40 years, with a $625,000 conditional loan via the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority Fund, which would make the company eligible for tax credits.

This is the third manufacturer in less than 30 days that has announced plans to stay and expand in the state. Earlier this month Iron World, which distributes decorative steel fences, announced plans to add 50 jobs in the next two years in Howard County and officials with Toroid Corp. said in January it planned to expand and hire 50 employees in Salisbury during the next three years. In both of those cases the Department of Commerce approved a combined $400,000 in conditional loans.

EVAPCO’s expansion helps offset a loss in the state’s manufacturing base earlier this year when GE Healthcare said it would close the firm’s plant in Laurel, killing 200 jobs.

And while EVAPCO goes on the offensive, state Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, D-Baltimore County denied a judge’s allegation of using an “unethical” delay tactic in court.

Legal affairs writer Heather Cobun reported Wednesday that Zirkin was called “unethical” by Baltimore City Circuit Judge Althea M. Handy during a hearing last month for attempting to use his legislative privilege to delay a medical malpractice case by entering his appearance on behalf of the defendants less than two weeks before trial and seeking a postponement.

Zirkin responded by saying the judge’s remarks as well as statements made by plaintiff’s counsel are “unbelievably insulting and false.” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. defended Zirkin in remarks from the chamber’s floor.

Zirkin said he was asked to be a part of the case with William H. “Billy” Murphy’s firm, Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore, which has happened in the past, and spent time doing trial preparation with the clients after he was retained. Zirkin’s firm, Pikesville-based Zirkin and Schmerling Law, primarily handles motor vehicle accidents, moving violations and family law.

Zirkin, chair of the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said he was “cognizant” of the fact that his entry of appearance would necessitate a postponement because of his legislative duties in the General Assembly but did not anticipate the reaction from the plaintiff’s attorneys and Handy.