Governor Martin O’Malley Awards $2.1 Million for Clean Energy Business Development and New Job Creation in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Governor Martin O’Malley announced today the award of $2.1 million in Clean Energy Economic Development Initiative (CEEDI) grants, the latest in a series of grants intended to help create jobs by developing a vibrant clean energy sector. Using federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is awarding four performance-based grants that will further clean energy in Maryland while creating 70 full-time jobs and 105 construction jobs by 2012.

These four grants-together with past awards-complete the $5.35 million CEEDI program, which will result in 130 permanent green jobs and 230 temporary development and construction-related jobs during the next 18 months.

“The O’Malley-Brown Administration is committed to promoting Smart, Green and Growing opportunities across Maryland and creating a supportive environment for cutting-edge, innovative projects in clean energy,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland developed the unique CEEDI program with the goal of fostering clean energy jobs by investing in clean energy. By working to attract and grow businesses committed to a “greener” Maryland we are moving closer to meeting our long-term goal of generating 20% of Maryland’s energy from clean, renewable sources by 2022.”

• Maryland Energy Recovery of Frostburg will use $612,016 to support the first phase of its 20-megawatt (MW) biomass/coal-mix facility. Later phases of this biomass project could result in as much as 100MW of capacity. Maryland Energy Recovery estimates that this project will result in 18 jobs in Garrett County in 2010.

Read the full article here.

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Work resumes at Roth Rock wind project

From Staff Reports
The Cumberland Times-News Thu Sep 30, 2010, 07:51 AM EDT

— OAKLAND — Construction is again under way on a Garrett County wind project after work was halted for two weeks for violations related to water runoff and soil erosion controls.

On Aug. 25 the Maryland Department of the Environment ordered Annapolis-based developer Synergics and contractor White Construction Co. to stop work on the Roth Rock wind farm until erosion controls at the site were brought into compliance with the project’s permit requirements.

MDE allowed construction to continue Sept. 9 after an inspection confirmed that the site was in compliance, according to MDE spokesman Jay Apperson.

But Apperson declined to comment on the possibility of fines or other punitive measures against Synergics, saying the situation is “still an active case.”

The Roth Rock project will consist of 20 2.5-megawatt wind turbines stretched across about 3 miles of Backbone Mountain near the West Virginia border. It is Garrett County’s second wind project, the other being developed near Eagle Rock by Constellation Energy.

Members of Save Western Maryland, a local wind farm opposition group, alerted MDE of problems at the site July 29. Agency inspectors first went to the site Aug. 3 and found “numerous” violations throughout the project, including some inadequate erosion controls and other areas of construction where there were no controls at all, according to Apperson.

MDE told Synergics to stop all earth-moving work until the violations were corrected, and the developer agreed.

But in another inspection Aug. 24, MDE found that Synergics had continued some earth-moving work, like excavation to prepare for building wind turbine pads.

Apperson said MDE conducts periodic inspections of the site and will continue to do so as construction moves forward.

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Garrett County pays off $1.7 million debt

Megan Miller
The Cumberland Times-News Thu Sep 30, 2010, 07:58 AM EDT

— OAKLAND — The Garrett County Commission paid off the county’s $1.7 million bond debt and also allocated thousands for paving a school parking lot in an unexpected and unscheduled move during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Commissioner Fred Holliday proposed paying off the remainder of the bond during the public session of the meeting, a surprise even to County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt. But Pagenhardt said he views both the bond repayment and the paving project as good moves for the county.

“We have the money to do it,” Pagenhardt said. “It’s something we’re going to have to do, in time. … It puts us in a position not to have to worry about the debt service payment in upcoming years or to consider funding the parking lot.”

The money for the payment came from the county’s undesignated fund balance, a rainy day fund that totaled about $5.3 million at the end of fiscal 2010.

The fund’s remaining balance of $3.6 million still satisfies the county’s policy of holding at least 5 percent of its operating budget in reserve, Pagenhardt said.

The expenditures were approved by Holliday and Commission President Ernie Gregg. Both Gregg and Holliday lost their bids for re-election in the primary and will be leaving office at the end of 2010.

Commissioner Denny Glotfelty, who is battling cancer, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Holliday said paying off the debt has been one of his goals since taking office. It means the county is debt-free for its general budget, and will also save an annual debt service payment of about $332,000.

“When we had the carryover … I decided that it was time to go ahead and pay it off,” Holliday said. “And that means that next year the $330,000 will be available for operating expenses.”

The commission has pushed for spending reductions in the face of an economic downturn and state funding cuts, using cost-cutting measures that included postponing county roads employees’ scheduled pay increases.

But Holliday defended the $1.7 million payment, saying it would free the county of a burdensome annual payment and save money in the long run.

The bond debt was the remaining balance of a $4 million bond taken out in 1996 to pay the local match for Yough Glades Elementary School and to upgrade Wilson Road for use by the Mettiki Coal Corp.

There is no prepayment penalty for paying off the balance early, Pagenhardt said.

The paving of a parking lot near the athletic fields at Southern Garrett County High School had been included in the board of education’s capital improvement plan for fiscal 2012, but the commission opted to spend $126,000 to complete it immediately using county roads employees for the work.

The county had received an outside bid on the project of about $260,000, Pagenhardt said, so completing the work in-house led to significant savings.

Gregg said the project was “sorely needed” and that he was comfortable with the expenditures partly because the county “will have a substantial influx of new money coming from public utilities within the next few months.”

He said the anticipated increase will be due to the county’s two wind power pro-jects — now under construction — becoming operational by year’s end.

Both Holliday and Gregg said they would have taken the same steps even if they were still in the running for the November general election.

“As far as I’m concerned, the election has nothing to do with that,” Gregg said. “I’d like to think that I have never governed based on what I think the politics were. The things I’ve done have not been politically motivated.”

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Adventure key to Freed – Garrett College Graduate

September 29, 2010 – By PAUL LaPANN, plapann@newsandsentinel.com

VIENNA – Matt Freed’s life has been filled with adventure.

He climbs rocks, guides rafts, skis, hikes, camps, backpacks and plays disc golf. He has spent time in the great outdoors of Maine, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

Freed graduated from Garrett College in western Maryland, near Deep Creek Lake and Wisp Resort, with a degree in adventure sports management.

Until June, he worked in wilderness therapy in Utah for the Second Nature Wilderness Program and at a therapeutic boarding school, Daniel’s Academy, both for at-risk youth.

Read the rest here.

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Cell-phone ban for Md. drivers takes effect Friday

Brian White
Associated Press Wed Sep 29, 2010, 07:56 AM EDT

— ANNAPOLIS — Maryland will become the eighth state to ban drivers from talking on a handheld cell phone under a new law that takes effect this week, a change cheered by safe driving advocates and insurers who say it will prevent distracted driving accidents and save lives.

Advocates describe the law as an important tool in changing bad driving habits.

Robert McKinney, president and CEO of the Maryland Highway Safety Foundation, compares the benefits of the handheld ban to laws requiring seat belts, which raised their usage significantly over the years.

“What we hope that the law accomplishes is that it begins the process of changing the culture, so that people focus when they drive and aren’t worried about who’s calling or calling someone,” McKinney said.

Other states have restricted cell phone use for young drivers or people driving in construction or school zones. Only eight states and the District of Columbia have banned handheld cell use for all drivers. California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington state currently ban handheld cell phone use while driving. Delaware also has approved a ban, but it doesn’t take effect until January.

In Maryland, drivers could be fined $40 for first violations and $100 for subsequent ones under the law that takes effect Friday. It’s a secondary offense, so drivers can only be pulled over if they are committing another offense as well, such as running a stop light. Phone calls to 911, ambulance, hospital, fire or law enforcement agencies are allowed. Like Washington, D.C., Maryland will allow courts to waive a penalty on a first offense, if a driver can provide proof that he or she has purchased a handsfree accessory or device for the handheld telephone.

Maryland banned sending text messages while driving last year.

The National Safety Council, an organization that focuses on workplace and highway safety, estimates that talking or texting on a cell phone is responsible for 1.6 million crashes in the United States a year, about 28 percent of all crashes.

More than 380 people have died from distracted driving crashes in Maryland in the last five years, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.

At a Tuesday news conference at a rest stop near Savage, state transportation and law enforcement officials unveiled a new road sign that will inform drivers about the law. The state will also include a message on digital road signs to let drivers know about the change in law.

Beverley K. Swaim-Staley, Maryland’s transportation secretary, said cars and trucks need to become “no phone zones.”

“We are out here today to remind everybody that those calls can wait,” she said. “That phone call could mean someone’s life, so really think twice whether or not you really need to make that phone call if you are driving.”

Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Terrence Sheridan said even though police can’t pull drivers over just for making a cell phone call with a handheld phone, he’s confident the public will become more aware of the dangers of distracted driving and obey the law.

Read the full article here.

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DNR Digest – What Causes a Fishkill

HometownAnnapolis.com

Fish kills can be caused by a combination of natural and man-made stresses in the environment. They can also be caused when a toxic substance enters the waterway.

Fish behaviors can be one cause of fish kills. If too many fish are in a given area, or if they are spawning, the resulting stress can leave them more vulnerable to disease. This is also true if the fish are lacking food, are burdened with parasites or have high levels of contaminants in their body tissue.

Natural factors such as hot weather, drought or sudden changes in water temperature or salinity can also add to the stress on fish and contribute to fish kills.

This summer’s fish kill at Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland appears to have been caused by the condition of the fish along with natural water conditions. Preliminary results showed that unprecedented high temperatures in the surface layers of the lake during July, in combination with other stress factors such as gill parasites, set the stage for bacterial disease among the most susceptible fish species.

Read the rest here.

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Maryland Municipalities Rally For Critical State Road, Police Funding

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Sep. 23, 2010

The Maryland Municipal League (MML), representing 157 municipal governments and two special taxing districts serving 1.5 million people in Maryland’s cities and towns, recently passed a statewide resolution urging Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and members of the General Assembly to restore critical Highway User Revenues and Police Aid for municipalities in the FY 2012 state budget.
In addition, municipalities are passing similar local resolutions to call attention to the issue in their communities and to urge residents to contact their state elected officials and candidates before important decisions about the budget will be made next year.

“Significant state funding cuts, combined with reduced property tax revenues and increased operating expenses, has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars used to provide basic, quality-of-life services for people living in Maryland’s cities and towns,” said Scott A. Hancock, executive director of the MML. “Highway User Revenues and Police Aid make up considerable portions of most municipal budgets – especially those of small towns.”

In FY 2008, Highway User Revenues for municipalities was fully funded at nearly $45 million. In April 2009, it was reduced to $6.1 million and then further cut by the Board of Public Works in August 2009, after municipalities had already passed their budgets and had started work on some road projects.

In the current fiscal year, it is estimated municipalities will receive only $1.6 million to be shared among Maryland’s 157 cities and towns, which is more than a 90 percent reduction in state shared revenues from 2008.

Read the rest here.

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Bear lottery perfect – Garrett County bear hunting

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News The Cumberland Times-News Sun Sep 26, 2010, 08:00 AM EDT

— Well it sure didn’t take long for me to see a bear.

About 9 a.m. on the opening day of the Maryland deer bowhunting season I looked to my left and here toddling down a game trail came a bear. I wasn’t baiting.

The big ears on the bear quickly identified it as a youngun. At about 30 yards, the bear sniffed me and stood on his hind legs. He or she remained in that position for about 20 seconds or so huffing and a puffing and a sniffing the air. Probably a Smokey impersonator.

Apprently it didn’t like the aroma. The bruin took a 90-degree up the hill, showing me a side view and confirming that is was a youngster. I’m guessing 90 or 100 pounds.

That evening I got an emailed photo from a hunting friend and he too had seen a bear while sitting in a treestand about a mile or so from my location.

I think a couple things. I think there are a lot of bears out there. However, I also think that we may end up seeing and killing fewer of them during the October hunt because of the massive amounts of acorns in the woods.

That much food in the hinterlands will not necessitate much movement by bears in order to fill their stomachs. Less movement means fewer sightings. It may also mean that corn crops don’t get hit as hard.

If you are a hunter who has applied every year, but never received a bear hunting permit, you won’t be happy with my next statement.

The bonus-point system used in the bear hunting lottery is working perfectly.

This year, there were hunters with as many as four chances to draw out and hunters with only one chance to get permit.

Numbers supplied by Harry Spiker of the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service show that 48 percent (125) of the 260 permits went to applicants with four chances; 20 percent (53) to those with three chances; 17 percent (44) to those with two chances; and 15 percent (38) to those with only one chance.

The agency offers hunters the opportunity to simply buy a bonus point, without applying for a hunting permit during the current year. I’m not sure how many did that this year, but in 2009 there were 149 who went that route.

Anyway, when I say the bonus-point system is working perfectly, I mean that the people with the most chances got the most permits and those with the fewest chances got the fewest permits. It was a perfect descending order.

That doesn’t give you much solace if you have never been on the receiving end of a permit. I know a half-dozen people or so who had four chances to draw but didn’t.

Spiker has said that sometime after a new bear population study takes place in 2011 that the agency may consider new options for bear hunting.

And now for the question that everybody has been asking me. How many of the permits went to residents of Allegany and Garrett counties?

And now for the answer.

Garrett County residents drew 26 percent of the permits (68); Allegany County, 14 percent (36); other Maryland residents, 60 percent (156); nonresidents, 7 percent (19).

Spiker said 10 percent of the hunting licenses sold are to nonresidents, so they are awarded no more than 10 percent of the bear permits.

Although 40 percent of the permits went to Garrett and Allegany county hunters, Spiker said that percentage was 60 during the first few years of the hunt.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com

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United Way Honors Charity Golf Committee, Sincell Publishing Inc.

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Sep. 23, 2010

Steve Lantz, Janet Marsh, and Cindy Hall of the Charity Golf Tournament Leadership Team and Sincell Publishing Company Inc. were recently named the recipients of the United Way of Garrett County’s individual and business Community Caring Awards for 2010, which were presented at the annual campaign kickoff and awards banquet at Allegany College in Cumberland.
In order for an individual to be nominated for this award, Garrett County criteria states that he or she must reside in the county and demonstrate a long-time commitment to volunteering and donating to the community (United Way and/or other community organizations) without compensation. The business selected must meet the same criteria, in addition to encouraging workers to support the United Way or other non-profits by suggesting volunteer opportunities and/or conducting an employee campaign for contributions through payroll deduction.

According to Mary Beth Pirolozzi, executive director of County United Way, the Charity Golf Tournament Team and Sincell Publishing have each demonstrated “extraordinary commitment to community.”

The Charity Golf Tournament, sponsored for the past 12 years by First United Bank and Trust and chaired by Lantz, Marsh, and Hall, has raised over $353,180. These funds have supported a number of community projects and raised community awareness.

In his acceptance remarks, Lantz said that the mission and vision of the tournament is that monies raised “will assist Garrett County residents who need it the most.” A number of different programs and charities have been the beneficiaries of the tournament proceeds throughout the years.

In presenting the award, Robin Murray, who was last year’s recipient of the individual award, acknowledged and credited “the hard work and dedication of this leadership team for their years of commitment to this project and to the community, even during difficult economic times.”

Sincell Publishing Company, which publishes The Republican newspaper and operates a commercial printing division, and has actively participated in numerous community efforts, not only with United Way, but with many others, according to Pirolozzi.

Read the rest here.

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"But For The Grace Of God Go I": Garrett County's Hidden Homeless

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by Glenn Tolbert

In Garrett County they’re known as “the hidden homeless.”

You don’t see them pushing shopping carts filled with possessions, or holding out signs requesting money or a place to sleep. But the homeless are very much here.

They’re temporarily staying with friends or relatives who want them out of the house. Or they’re the victims of domestic abuse who may literally be fleeing for their lives.

Ask Carrie Getson about the homeless in Garrett County. As senior case manager for Garrett County Community Action’s (GCCAC), she has aided 515 persons this year living in 149 households. The assistance can be anything and everything from the first month’s rent to security deposits, eviction prevention, and utility shutoffs.

How do people in this area, where the long, brutal winters make it impossible to live on the streets, get to be homeless?

“Many have burned their bridges with family members,” Getson says. “They may have also had rocky relationships with previous employers and landlords. This makes it very difficult for them to get into housing that they can afford.”

Getson points out that while there is money available to the homeless population to help initially get them into housing, ongoing assistance has a waiting list of several years.

“Currently, we have funding to provide one night’s shelter in three motels in the county,” she says. “This really doesn’t help the situation too much.”

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

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