Lawmakers, DNR secretary to meet about alcohol ban

Kevin Spradlin
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin is expected to meet with local lawmakers to discuss the recent ban of alcohol in state forests.

The issue has sparked emotions from tourists, government officials and business owners alike. Chief concerns include the lack of public notice and the fact that only a handful of people are causing trouble. Why punish everyone by preventing hunters, fishermen and other recreational enthusiasts from enjoying a cold adult beverage in a responsible manner?

Delegate Kevin Kelly said Griffin is coordinating a time to meet with the District 1 legislative delegation to Annapolis. That meeting is not yet scheduled but, Kelly said, will be a public meeting. However, Kelly said the ban “makes some sense.”

He said top officials within the Natural Resources Police, the agency charged with enforcing DNR policies, have cited concerns for the safety of their 25 law enforcement officers who operate in Allegany and Garrett counties.

“Manpower is down because of budget cuts,” Kelly said. “That’s not a lot of police officers. There are very few officers for the amount of territory which they have to cover.”

A lone officer who comes upon a rowdy, alcohol-imbibed group of visitors is outnumbered and can be a safety issue, Kelly said.

About one-quarter of land in Allegany County is owned by state government. Garrett County has more than 84,100 acres of publicly owned land — more than any jurisdiction in the state. Combined, the two counties have about 83 percent of the state’s 138,288 acres of state forest.

Kelly said when DNR made a similar ban at state parks in 2009, there was not much feedback on the issue and seemed taken aback by the controversy sparked by the expansion of the alcohol ban. Kelly said NRP officials said the new policy is similar to adjoining states but did not immediately have specifics available.

The Allegany County Board of Commissioners took up the issue at the end of its Thursday public meeting. Commissioner Dale Lewis asked his two colleagues to draft a letter to Griffin, Gov. Martin O’Malley and local lawmakers to notify them of their discontent over the issue.

“If they’re gonna put off limits to people who want to have a social beer at night around a campfire or after a day of deer hunting … I think that’s wrong,” Lewis said. “I think we have to let them know that (and) ask them to consider rescinding or reconsider.”

As for officers’ safety, “I would like to know how many tickets they gave to somebody actually drinking in the (forests),” Lewis said.

Sgt. Art Windemuth of the Maryland Natural Resources Police has previously told the Times-News that in 2009, officers dealt with 12 incidents in Savage River State Forest and 59 incidents in Green Ridge State Forest that were classified as criminal and/or alcohol. A breakdown of solely alcohol-related incidents was not available.

Commissioner Jim Stakem agreed and said existing law and policy on unruly behavior should be sufficient.

“If somebody’s misbehaving, you remove them,” Stakem said.

Stakem said it’s been the No. 1 issue mentioned to him in recent weeks and that he empathizes with critics of the policy even though “I don’t fish … I don’t do that sort of thing, but a lot of people do. I fully support a letter.”

Commissioner Bob Hutcheson didn’t address the alcohol ban directly but said he was “concerned about timing and the lack of notice. I think it was the wrong approach.”

Stakem said the manner in which the policy was implemented was “under the table.”

“Talk about transparent government,” Stakem quipped. “That’s an abuse right there. I don’t care who hears it. I think we should be very strong on our request.”

Kelly agreed with Hutcheson about the approach DNR took to implement the policy.

“It should have been handled differently,” Kelly said, “no question about it.”

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

National Resource Police officer honored for Deep Creek rescue

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

SWANTON — A Maryland Natural Resources Police corporal was honored recently by the agency for his rescue of a man from Deep Creek Lake while on patrol Aug. 1.

Cpl. Jeffrey Sweitzer was presented a certificate of merit “in recognition of his dedication and professionalism while performing above and beyond the call of duty in a life-threatening situation,” according to an NRP spokesman.

Sweitzer was patrolling the Holy Cross area of the lake after midnight when he observed a vessel traveling at a high rate of speed that passed very close to another vessel that was stationary. Sweitzer attempted to pursue the speeding vessel, but the speed and restricted visibility on the lake prohibited him, so he proceeded slowly in the direction that the vessel was headed.

After he had reduced the speed of his vessel, Sweitzer heard a person calling for help. He located a person in the water who was intoxicated, disoriented and not wearing a personal flotation device.

When safely aboard Sweitzer’s vessel, the unidentified victim advised that he had just fallen off the family’s vessel, but he was unable to provide the address of the residence.

When the vessel failed to return to the location where the person was found and contact with the Garrett County 911 center with the name of the rescued person yielded no reports for assistance, Sweitzer continued to patrol in the direction of the vessel.

Eventually, the person’s residence was located, his family was contacted and the operator of the vessel was charged with negligent operation. Nine other passengers aboard the vessel were unaware that the victim had fallen overboard.

Sweitzer was honored during a ceremony recently in Annapolis.

Also honored were officers of Western Region Area 8, District 6, including Cpl. Harold Cage (Flintstone); Cpl. James Clise (Lonaconing); Cpl. Michael Friend (Friendsville); Officer Gary Crowe (Mount Savage); Officer Curt Dieterle (Rawlings); Officer James Satterfield (Frostburg); Officer Angela Englehart (Big Poole); Sgt. Michael Kueberth (LaVale); Cpl. Jeffrey Herndon (Clear Spring) and Lt. Bradley Stafford (LaVale).

All the officers were cited for “outstanding performance and dedication above and beyond the call of duty in a specific situation or incident.”

Cage was also promoted to sergeant of Garrett County.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

SHS Students Attending Classes At Cinemas During Mercury Clean-Up

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Apr. 29, 2010

Southern Set To Reopen Monday

The clean-up of mercury at Southern High School is nearing completion, with the school system expecting to reoccupy the building on Monday morning, according to a report issued this morning by the Garrett County Health Department.

Mercury was inadvertently released on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 21, and the school was closed immediately for the decontamination process. As of Tuesday of this week, the 863 students and 87 staff members have been holding classes at Garrett 8 Cinemas in McHenry.

With the exception of the auto shop area of the high school building, mercury has been removed in all areas of the school to below targeted levels set by state and federal officials, according to Rodney Glotfelty, county health officer. This target level was set at 50 times less than the federal regulatory limit for long term workplace exposure.

“The verification of the removal of mercury to these exceptionally low levels provides assurance that children and staff can safely re-enter the school environment,” Glotfelty said.

The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Garrett County Health Department are all in agreement that upon receipt of confirmatory laboratory results this morning, the school is now ready for resumption of classes and activities.

Read the rest here
If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Myers Inducted Into Chamber Hall Of Fame

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Apr. 29, 2010

Karen Myers, president of Recreational Industries Inc., the firm which owns and operates Wisp Resort, and president of Mountaineer Log & Siding Company Inc., was one of three Marylanders formally inducted last night into the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Maryland Business Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held at the Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport and attended by an estimated 500 of the state’s top business leaders.
Myers is the first Western Maryland business leader to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, which now includes 32 members. The Hall of Fame was established to recognize entrepreneurs and business executives whose contributions have helped advance the quality of life for Marylanders and improve the state’s business climate.

Myers, who represents the 10th generation of her family in Garrett County, is a member of a number of boards and organizations, including the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, Garrett County Board of Realtors, Garrett County Development Corporation, and Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, on most of which she has served as a director and/or officer. She was twice named to the Daily Record’s Maryland’s Top 100 Women, and was selected Garrett County Woman of the year and Garrett County Employer of the Year. She is an active member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Oakland, and of the Garrett Community Concert Band.

“It is my high honor to accept this recognition on behalf of my partners at Wisp, Steve Richards and Gary Daum; the Wisp management team; and our 125 year-round employees and 700 seasonal employees,” Myers said in her acceptance speech. “We’re in the ‘fun’ business, and it is our goal to generate smiles on [the faces of] each of our customers. It is not a one-person show; it is a team…

Read the rest here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Hearing Slated For Land Development Ordinances Drafts

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Apr. 29, 2010

The Board of Garrett County Commissioners will conduct a public hearing concerning proposed revisions to three principal land development ordinances on Saturday, May 8, at 9 a.m. in the Garrett College auditorium. All interested citizens are invited.

The proposed revisions would affect the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning, Garrett County Subdivision, and Garrett County Sensitive Areas ordinances.

The Garrett County Department of Planning and Land Development released initial preliminary drafts of these three ordinances for public review on Sept. 29, 2009.

Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance

1. New zoning districts are proposed: Agricultural Resource (AR), Rural Resource (RR), and Lake Residential–2 (LR-2) are new districts intended to preserve rural character and conserve natural resources by limiting residential development to a relatively low average density.

New standards for subdivisions in the AR and RR districts are proposed using either a cluster or non-cluster option with incentives to promote cluster subdivision. The Rural Development (RD) district is proposed to be eliminated.

2. A Scenic Protection Overlay District is proposed for those areas identified as “crestlines” on the proposed zoning map. This provision is intended to preserve the scenic views of the ridge tops and crest lines surrounding Deep Creek Lake. Requirements for retaining and planting trees on the sides and rear of structures when viewed from the lake and shoreline are proposed.

3. Architectural standards for non-residential structures in the Town Center (TC), Town Residential (TR), and General Commercial (GC) zoning districts for metal buildings are proposed.

4. Provisions, including setbacks, for domestic, agricultural, and industrial wind energy devices are proposed.

5. New setbacks for drilling for natural gas are proposed.

6. New provisions for nonconforming structures and grandfathered non-conforming lots are proposed.

Garrett County

Subdivision Ordinance

1. The AR and RR land classifications are proposed to be expanded, and new standards for subdivisions in these areas are proposed using either a cluster or noncluster option with incentives to promote cluster subdivision.

2. A provision that would allow the Planning Commission to require a traffic impact study for major subdivisions is proposed.

3. A provision to retain trees and other vegetative cover for new subdivisions abutting scenic byways is proposed.

4. Provisions to delineate the boundaries of any wetlands or Source Water Protection Areas on subdivision plans are proposed.

Garrett County Sensitive Areas Ordinance

1. Provisions to protect Source Water Protection Areas are proposed.

2. A provision to limit the exemption from the steep slope requirements to lots of record that are less than four acres is proposed.

3. A provision to prevent construction of buildings on man-made slopes exceeding 30% grade is proposed.

4. A provision to use the Maryland Sensitive Species Project Review Areas map as the indicator for referring applicants to Department of Natural Resources is proposed.

Read the rest here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

GC Commissioners Hold Staff Mtg.; Health Officer Reviews SHS Incident

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Apr. 29, 2010

The Garrett County commissioners held a staff meeting on Tuesday, hearing reports from leaders of 15 county departments and agencies. Topics reviewed included the Southern High School mercury incident, snow removal statistics, early voting, alcohol sales compliance checks, and wind turbine construction.

Health Department

Health officer Rodney Glotfetly reported that cooperation and preparation are playing key roles in the successful handling of the mercury release problem at Southern High School. The incident occurred last Wednesday.

Glotfelty said the Health Department would not have been able to respond to the incident if it had not spent some of its federal emergency preparedness funding to train Craig Umble. The training has enabled the environmental sanitarian to handle situations involving hazardous materials, such as mercury, and other environmental emergencies.

“We had great confidence when it was reported to us that there had been a possible mercury incident out at the school, that we could send Craig out and that he could assess the situation, get the area quarantined as fast as possible, and do whatever else we needed to manage the incident,” Glotfelty said.

Read the rest here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Progress being made in Oakland at Dairy Queen


Not long ago, Greg Mortimer, the builder of the Dairy Queen Grill & Chill, informed me that they are expecting to open in mid-May. You can tell from the photo that there has been significant progress since that last photo I posted.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Consumer Protection Division Orders Garrett County Home Builder to Pay Over $500,000 in Restitution, Damages and Penalties

April 27, 2010
by Maryland RealEstateRama

Category: News || Housing & Development | BALTIMORE, MD – April 27, 2010 -(RealEstateRama) —

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has issued a final order requiring Deise Custom Homes, LLC and its principal to pay more than $480,000 to consumers and penalties of $34,000. The Division found that Richard E. Deise, Jr., and his company, Deise Custom Homes, violated Maryland’s Custom Home Protection Act and New Home Deposit Act by failing to place or maintain money paid by consumers into an escrow account or having a surety bond to cover the deposits and payments. The Division also found that Deise and his company violated the Home Builder Registration Act and the Consumer Protection Act by failing to build homes as promised.
The Division found that Deise and his company collected substantial deposits and payments from at least four families toward the construction of new homes in Garrett County, then failed to protect those payments as required by Maryland law, failed to complete construction of the homes, and failed to pay refunds to any of the consumers. The order bars Deise and Deise Custom Homes from acting as a home builder in the State of Maryland unless they meet requirements set by the Division, and requires payment of $384,835 in restitution, $99,903 in damages, $34,000 in civil penalties, and $7,926 in costs.

“Before paying any money towards the construction of a new home, consumers need to protect the biggest investment of their lifetime by ensuring that their home is being built by a registered home builder and that any deposits they make are protected by an escrow account, bond, or letter of credit,” said Attorney General Gansler.

Home builders are required to give consumers a pamphlet prepared by the Office of Attorney General that discusses consumers’ rights under the law and steps consumers can take to protect themselves. New home buyers are encouraged to check whether their builder is registered by contacting the Division’s Home Builder Registration Unit at (410) 576-6573 or toll-free at (877) 259-4525, or by visiting the Attorney General’s website at www.oag.state.md.us/homebuilder.

Read more here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

State parks ban on alcohol hurting tourism? – Baltimore Sun blog

Baltimore Sun Photo of Deep Creek State Park

Tourism officials in Allegany County, home of Dans Mountain and Rocky Gap state parks, are saying that Maryland’s recent ban on alcohol at state parks could be keeping tourists away from the area. As of last November, “the consumption, or possession of an open container, of an alcoholic beverage is prohibited” in all state park areas, including campgrounds. Ouch. Full-service cabins are exempt as are motor homes. However, park-goers can apply for a $35 alcohol permit from the park manager for special events. So, that’s that. And I’m guessing that could put a little damper on day trips to the park. Still, I can legally drink a beer at Assateague Island National Seashore, a national park, but if I go next door to the state park area, I’ll be in trouble. Hmmm. That’s…troubling.

Read the rest here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Ten Oddly Named Small Town Travel Destinations – sawfnews.com

Accident, Maryland. Photo Credit: Garrett County Chamber of Commerce

Accident, Maryland
Accident is a town in Garrett County, Maryland, United States. The population was 353 at the 2000 census.

A person from Accident is called an “Accidental”.

The town of Accident is located near Deep Creek Lake in northern Garrett County, the westernmost county of Maryland.

The unusual name of the town has an interesting story.

In 1750 King George II of England paid off a debt to George Deakins by giving him 600 acres of land in western Maryland.

To make the best of the opportunity, Deakins dispatched two independent survey teams to scout for the most promising land in that section of Maryland. When the teams returned it was discovered that they had marked the exact same 600 acres, even starting with the same oak tree.

A delighted Mr. Deakins had the location patented as “The Accident Tract.”

The town is best known for The Drane House, which was constructed circa 1800 by James Drane, the first permanent settler in the Accident area.

Located on a high ground to the east of the town, approximately 150 yards from the Accident-Bittinger Road and one-half mile east of U.S. Route 219, it is believed to be the oldest standing structure in Garrett County.

The Drane House was purchased by the Town of Accident in 1987, reconstructed and preserved on the original site, and dedicated in 1994.

Recreational activities such as rafting and climbing programs from Adventure Sports Center International offer a more varied experience.

Read the rest here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350