Grower reports robust Christmas trees despite some drought losses

By MARIE GILBERT
November 27, 2010
marieg@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO — This time of the year, Gary Cline stands at the edge of his 24-acre property and smiles as he listens to the sounds of Christmas — the back-and-forth of a hand saw and the thud of a Fraser fir.

These are the cold, gray days he’s been waiting for, the days when there isn’t a Grinch in sight, just families walking slowly between rows of evergreens.

Cline is a Christmas tree farmer and on the first weekend after Thanksgiving, his business — South Mountain Plantation — comes alive.

Hundreds of people make their way to the Boonsboro farm each year in search of the perfect holiday tree and the experience of cutting it down and bringing it home.

But few visitors wandering through the spruces, firs and pines this year will realize the farm was on the receiving end of one of Mother Nature’s crueler tricks last summer.

Because of a serious drought, Cline said most of the seedlings he planted were lost….

…Cindy Stacy, publicist with MCTA and owner of Pinetum, a wholesale tree farm in Garrett County, said the trees especially hit hard by the drought were those that had been in the ground less than three years.

“Their root systems just weren’t deep enough,” she said.

Stacy said evergreens grow less with the lack of moisture and they harden off earlier in the fall, which shuts down growth. Some varieties of conifers also might have shed more than the normal complement of needles early to reduce stress.

While the drought was hard on plants, Stacy said it was good for insects.

“So there was more insect damage on trees,” she said. “On our farm, we couldn’t sell many Fraser fir, for example, because of loss of quality due to insect damage. This is a byproduct of the severe drought. We had to cancel a couple of tree orders due to this problem this season.”

Stacy said the drought didn’t affect wholesale prices “because those are set in July.”

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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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Ski and snow report: Regional mountains almost ready, Lake Effect Snow piles up

Examiner.com

The cold air that moved in after Thanksgiving timed out with the long lines and sales to bring on the holiday spirit. It is also the time when the attention shifts to the mountains and the start of the ski and snowboard season. This year, early snowfalls at Snowshoe, WV (First on Oct 6 then early November) had high hopes to drop the ropes and open the slopes by now. Unfortunately the warm spell in the past two weeks delayed that opening, but natural snow did fall and the snow guns were fully operational over the past few days.

Snowmaking was also ramping up at Maryland’s only ski resort, Wisp in Garrett County. They too are not open yet.
Read the full article here.

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preview of things to come – Republican

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The Maryland State Highway Administration is prepared for anything Mother Nature may have in store this winter, according Charlie Gischlar, SHA Communications. The administration has stockpiled tons of abrasives and deicing materials, has hundreds of snow plows at the ready, and will implement a new proactive anti-icing strategy involving salt brine and an organic material called “beet juice.” See story. The Keyser’s Ridge SHA garage crews may soon get a chance to try out that plan, as snow is in the forecast this Friday. But, hopefully, the white stuff won’t be nearly the amount pictured above, as residents are still reeling from the more than 260 inches of snow that fell on the county last winter. Photo courtesy of SHA.

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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Extension Educator Offers Advice To Landowners Before Leasing To Drillers

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Nov. 25, 2010

by Glenn Tolbert

Since 2007, more than 100,000 of Garrett County acres have been quietly leased for natural gas production, since the new pro-cess now commonly referred to as fracking provides a method of harvesting natural gas from the Marcellus shale that is sitting underneath much of the county.

The stakes can be very high. National media report that the type of drilling about to occur here can bring individual landowners anywhere from $5 to $2,000 per acre.

“I don’t think that anyone here is getting that high-end money,” said Mikal Zimmerman, who should know. Working through the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, it is her job to advise landowners who are approached by representatives of natural gas companies.

Zimmerman’s advice is fairly straightforward to anyone finding a natural gas rep knocking on their door: “Do your research,” she said. “Talk to your neighbors and see what they’ve been offered. Do something that I call ‘unification,’ which is seeing if you can put your properties together to negotiate a lease jointly and have one drill site for all of the properties.”

Zimmerman also advocates having an attorney look over any would-be final agreement before signing it.

The fact that Garrett County is about to become a large producer of natural gas was the topic of a meeting last Thursday night, held at Route 40 Elementary School. Nearly 100 people attended, with their primary reason for doing so perhaps best summarized by local resident Natalie Atherton: “I’m here because I want to learn about what impact natural gas drilling can have on our drinking water, rivers, and lakes,” she said.

Atherton went on to argue that the permitting process should be slowed until any potential damage done by the drilling can be studied.

That seemed to be the theme of Thursday’s meeting: “Not enough is known, and we need more study.”

There were no representatives of Chief Oil and Gas present, the company that is ready to begin drilling in the Friendsville area, and numerous phone calls to the company were not returned.

In fact, the company held its own invitation-only meeting at Friendsville Town Hall at exactly the same time the meeting at Rt. 40 school was conducted.

The new technology used to extract natural gas from shale involves sending a drill bit and pipe down into the earth approximately 8,000 feet, through the water table. The drilling mechanism allows the operator to drill horizontally far and wide from the drill site on the surface. The drilling companies claim that since it is operating so deep, there is little chance of harm to the water table. The fracking process, which involves pumping water and toxic chemicals under extreme pressure, frees the natural gas hidden in the shale, and the gas is then brought to the surface. The fracking liquid is then retrieved and placed in holding tanks.

The Marcellus shale layer is enormous, and natural gas companies claim that it contains enough gas to provide an adequate supply for the nation for the next 20 years. The Marcellus shale layer can be found under the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. The first drilling in Garrett County is set for the Finzel area; however, as yet no permits have been granted by the state of Maryland.

According to the Chief Oil and Gas web site, the company hires contractors and employees from the areas around its operations, thus providing jobs to many economically depressed areas in the aforementioned states.

The Garrett County commissioners recently appointed a gas drilling task force that has begun meeting and discussing what steps should be taken to guarantee safety to the local environment.

Landowners seeking advice on this subject are invited to contact Mikal Zimmerman by telephone at 301-334-6960 or by e-mail at mzimmer8@umd.edu

Read the full article 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

Deep Creek Do It All specializes in cleaning services in Garrett County & @ Deep Creek Lake. Give them a call (301-501-0217) or visit the website – competitive rates and quality results from a locally owned & operated company!

Happy Thanksgiving Garrett County & Deep Creek Lake!

I am especially thankful to live in such a great area. I’m really proud of my hometown & the area it has grown in to. ‘Thanks’ to all of you who make this such a great place to live, work & play! From my family to yours, we hope you have wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Eat lots of turkey and watch lots of football…and get to bed early for shopping tomorrow 🙂

From Wikipedia:

Thanksgiving (United States)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
For Thanksgiving in other countries, see Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930)
Observed by United States
Type National
Date Fourth Thursday in November
2010 date November 25, 2010
Celebrations Giving thanks, spending time with family, feasting, football games, parades

Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863, when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fish (cod, eels, and bass) and shellfish (clams, lobster, and mussels), wild fowl (ducks, geese, swans, and turkey), venison, berries and fruit, vegetables (peas, pumpkin, beetroot and possibly, wild or cultivated onion), harvest grains (barley and wheat), and the Three Sisters: beans, dried Indian maize or corn, and squash. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “Thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.

From Wikipedia.

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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Belle Vernon Area High School band brings home trophy


By Jeff Pikulsky, VALLEY INDEPENDENT
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Belle Vernon Area High School marching band was up to the challenge when asked to perform in a renowned out-of-state fall festival parade.

At its debut showing Oct. 9 at the 43rd Annual Autumn Glory Festival parade in Oakland, Md., the 125-member band took home first prize in its group.

The favorable response from the crowd and expert judges was validation that the band is a quality troupe, BVA band director Mark Surovchak said.

“It was a different experience all together,” he said. “To be that welcomed into a community by people who have no idea who you are, that’s one of the biggest things we took from it; how overwhelming their response was to the students. They did perform really well.”

The band routinely performs in local parades and festivals.

Surovchak said it was worthwhile to see how the students would respond to performing outside of their “comfort zone.”

“It was phenomenal,” he said. “There were at least 10,000 people that were on the street, about five rows deep. The students have never experienced a crowd like that in a parade.”

High School Principal Greg Zborovancik has attended the festival with his family for the about 15 years.

He suggested that Surovchak submit an application on behalf of the BVA band.

Surovchak said the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce placed the band in a category based on it having less than 70 wind and percussion instrument players.

There are 68 members of the band under that designation.

A nationally-certified panel of judges awarded the band with 94.5 points out of a possible 100, better than six other ensembles in the category.

MSN.com has rated the Autumn Glory Festival as one of the best fall festivals in the world, Surovchak said, adding that BVA’s high ranking in the event is a distinguished accomplishment.

“It just enhances their performance level that much more when they hear that response,” he said of the band. “The judges were very complimentary and pleased with how the students performed, and they gave some really nice remarks, too.

“We are so, so proud of our students. This was one of the biggest achievements in school history.”

School board member Joe Grata backed that statement.

He has several times attended the festival.

“Borrowing from baseball parlance, BVA hit a bases-loaded homerun before a mix of both Garrett County residents and the many Deep Creek Lake tourists who turn out each year for the Autumn Glory Festival,” Grata said. “This performance, like so many others, exemplified the large number of participants in BVA’s music, drama and arts programs and demonstrated the time, dedication and experience of both students and staff.”

Read the full article here.

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Maryland Wind Farms Nearing Completion

by Mark Del Franco on Tuesday 23 November 2010

The first Maryland wind power projects are nearing completion and are expected to begin commercial operation by the end of the year, according to Frank Maisano, a wind industry spokesperson.

Two Garrett County, Md., wind projects are expected to begin commercial operation in a matter of weeks, even as opponents consider taking legal action against the facilities.

Constellation Energy is nearing commercial operation of a 28-turbine wind project, which is slated to become commercially operational by the end of December. Synergics will also begin testing a 20-turbine wind farm atop Maryland’s Backbone Mountain.

However, heavy opposition could mean delay, as opponents are considering legal action under what they claim are violations of the Endangered Species Act.
Save Western Maryland, an environmental advocacy group, says the wind projects will adversely affect Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats, both classified as federal endangered species.

Despite the opposition, both wind energy projects are big developments for Maryland – a state with no operating wind farms, Maisano says.
“The state of Maryland has been trying to move off its zero for years, and the legislature has been pushing [for the development of wind energy].”

Read the source article here.

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Kitzmiller Students Do Their Part To Sustain Butterflies


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by Mary Sincell McEwen
The children of the Kitzmiller Elementary School embarked on a unique quest on a bright and chilly day last month, loading onto buses and heading up the mountainside to an expanse of land where butterflies gather.

The area is the Woodhill Sanctuary, a 15-acre easement now designated as a Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) and the Allegany Highland Conservancy butterfly sanctuary. The area is a preserve for several rare, threatened, or endangered butterfly species, including the Baltimore checkerspot, the official insect of the state of Maryland, so named in 1973.

Vladamir Dupre sought the designation for the property, which was owned by him and his late wife Elizabeth for many years. Dupre said he was thrilled to be able to contribute to the preservation of the endangered butterflies.

“We consider it a privilege to be a part of the efforts of the Maryland Environmental Trust to maintain and manage natural habitats for the people of Maryland to enjoy and learn from,” Dupre said.

In that vein, he invited the children of Kitzmiller up to the property and gave them a mission — to help seed the area with flowers to which the butterflies will be drawn, and which will provide for the insects a safe haven.

While once common throughout the state of Maryland, the Baltimore checkerspot, along with numerous other species, is losing ground annually. Butterfly specialists Richard Smith and Pat Durkin, both active butterfly researchers with the MET, guided the Kitzmiller students last month in their mission the at Woodhill Sanctuary. They explained to the children that this unique area was one of only eight locations where the state butterfly colonies now survive. In fact, Woodhill has the largest concentration of the butterfly in the state, and possibly in a multi-state region, Durkin said.

The butterflies require freshwater marsh habitats, with shallow waters and a variety of flowering plants. Expansion and development throughout the state have greatly damaged such areas.

“The marsh-like conditions these butterflies need can be destroyed in a second,” Durkin said. “It doesn’t take much to ruin their habitat.”

She and Smith have researched the plight of Maryland butterflies for many years, both participating in the Maryland Rare and Endangered Butterfly Survey in 2002-2003. Their research led them to the mountainsides of Garrett County where undeveloped land helps to sustain the insects.

To help with that, the students were instructed to gather seed pods of all sorts of flowers, and put them in paper bags. The flowers to come from these seeds are vital to butterflies, who seek the nector to survive.

Read the full article 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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Two Local Young Women Receive Highest FFA Degree At Convention


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Nov. 18, 2010

Kara Savage and Ashley Rodeheaver received the American FFA Degree at the 83rd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis last month. It is the highest degree awarded by the National FFA Organization, and recognizes leadership abilities and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing, and service programs.
Reportedly, fewer than one in 154 FFA members advance through their local chapter and state FFA degree programs to earn this national degree.

Both girls received a gold American FFA Degree key and a certificate in a blue leatherette frame.

Savage is the daughter of L. Deane and Nancy Savage. She is currently attending Garrett College, with plans to transfer to Frostburg State University in the fall of 2011.

She is a member of the North Garrett FFA Chapter under advisor Richard McCrobie.

Savage is the 2010 Garrett County Farm Queen, and was the 2008 Autumn Glory Festival Queen.

She received the State FFA Degree in June 2009.

She has shown dairy animals at numerous local, state, and national shows, and has won numerous grand champion dairy showmanship awards, the grand champion swine showmanship award, and the reserve grand champion rabbit showmanship award.

Read the full article 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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Reception Slated For Outgoing Commission Bd.

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Nov. 18, 2010

The current Board of Garrett County Commissioners’ last public meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 7. An informal reception is being planned for that day for Commissioners Ernie Gregg and Fred Holliday.

Subject to change, Commissioners-elect Gregan Crawford, Bob Gatto, and Jim Raley will be sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.

The new commissioners have scheduled orientation sessions for Monday, Nov. 29, and Wednesday, Dec. 1. They will meet with county department directors, who will introduce themselves and discuss their areas of responsibility.

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

Deep Creek Do It All specializes in cleaning services in Garrett County & @ Deep Creek Lake. Give them a call (301-501-0217) or visit the website – competitive rates and quality results from a locally owned & operated company!