A Gentle Hand

Feb. 23, 2012

The Blind Skier Program at Wisp Resort, sponsored and organized each year by the Deep Creek Lions Club and several auxiliary volunteers, proves again and again to be a true “win-win” for all involved. In operation since 1976, the program allows sight-challenged teenagers from the Maryland School for the Blind in Baltimore to spend two days on the ski slopes at Wisp, guided by willing local young people from both Northern and Southern high schools, along with several adult volunteers. While the downhill experience is certainly the highlight of the trip, the “collateral benefits” are many, for students and volunteers alike. See feature story on this page.


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In the photo above, taken by Barbara Law, two local high school students gently guide a very brave sight-challenged skier onto the ski lift, under the watchful eye of the lift operator.

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DC Lions Give Sight-Challenged Students Adventure Of A Lifetime

Feb. 23, 2012

by Mary Sincell McEwen

Inspired by what they saw at a faraway ski slope more than three decades ago, two area men launched a program in 1976 that has grown into a much-anticipated, traditional event at the Wisp Resort. Bill Thoman, former mountain manager of Wisp, and Jay Kamineck, a former ski instructor, were skiing out West when they saw sighted volunteers assisting young people with vision challenges in skiing down a mountainside. They came back home and went to the Deep Creek Lions Club to make a pitch for a new service project. The Lions latched onto the idea immediately, and the local Blind Skier Program was born.


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Each year, students from the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) in Baltimore work hard to earn the right to come to Garrett County. The adventure on the ski slopes is a reward for good behavior and excellent grades at the school, where about 124 students live full-time. If they perform well, they know they have the chance to travel to Garrett County and Wisp Resort for three days of fun.

While they are working toward that goal, members of the Deep Creek Lions Club and extended volunteers are also hard at it, too, planning for the year’s excursions. Each winter, the Lions bring three groups of students to Wisp for two full days of skiing. Many area people get involved in the process, including high school students who are good skiers and who like to pitch in as guides.

Barbara Law, a teacher at both Northern and Southern high schools, coordinates the students each year. She taught chiefly at Northern for more than 20 years before moving to Southern, so the student “bold guides” have chiefly come from NHS in the past. She has worked hard to involve more students from Southern, and did get a few more this year. She hopes to continue that trend and have groups of volunteers from both county high schools.

Linda Buchanon, another local resident, has volunteered her time for 16 years to organize the adults who take part in the program.

Tom Wenzel, a Lion and a volunteer with the program since 1991, said Wisp Resort has always provided free lift tickets to the students as well as the volunteers who may not have their own passes.

“A lot of people don’t know that Wisp does that each year,” said Wenzel. “It’s a huge help to the Lions to have that covered.”

Buchanon added that Wisp also provides all the rental ski equipment free of charge.

“And the lift operators go out of their way to assist our children,” Buchanon said. “Their cooperation is greatly appreciated.”

While the folks in Garrett County are organizing and planning, the same is going on at the school. Scheduling begins in September, when the MSB staff sets the dates for the three excursions.

“The kids will come to me at the beginning of the school year, already asking about the trips,” said Pam Schirmer, a recreation specialist at MSB. She has been with the program nearly from its inception. “The kids want this trip. They look forward to it all year, and work hard to be selected for it.”

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Survey asks county businesses, households for input on Internet use

Questionnaires being sent to 1,000 homes

Kristin Harty Barkley Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Board of Education member Mike Llewellyn has high-speed cable Internet service at home, and for the most part, it serves him well.

But when it comes to uploading files — say, a lesson for one of the law classes he teaches at Allegany College of Maryland — it takes “forever” to accomplish a task, Llewellyn said.

Those are the kind of details that officials want to hear from residents and business owners in Allegany County as they gather information about Internet usage here.

Written surveys are being sent to 1,000 homes in the next several weeks, and an online survey will soon be available to the business community, said Joanne Hovis, president of Columbia Telecommunications Corp. (CTC), which is conducting Allegany County’s Broadband Feasibility Study. The company is doing a similar study in Garrett County.

“We’re asking a wide range of questions around what these businesses do with connectivity, what they currently buy, what their satisfactions are, what they think is important, what they feel is missing,” said Hovis, who updated the BOE recently on local broadband initiatives.

Slow upload speeds are a common complaint from those who use the Internet for educational or economic development purposes, Hovis said, adding that in the U.S., the Internet has traditionally been viewed as “entertainment.”

“Educational applications and economic development applications — like if someone wants to back up the server for their business remotely — are really stymied by the fact that upload speeds are so slow,” she said.

“… I think there’s a growing understanding about the importance of home broadband as part of an education. We frequently in Washington hear people say, ‘You can’t apply for a job unless it’s online these days.’ Increasingly what we are told is that it’s very hard to do homework without online resources.”

Maryland is in the midst of a $115 million project called One Maryland Broadband Network to improve broadband access across the state.

The Allegany County BOE received a $50,000 grant last fall from the Appalachian Regional Commission to conduct a feasibility study for expanding the county’s broadband infrastructure. Though initial objectives are to bring broadband to all the county’s schools, the project could potentially benefit the entire community.

Western Maryland seems to be “engaged and interested” in enhancing Internet connectivity, Hovis said. In Garrett County, an online business survey had a 44 percent participation rate, while a written residential survey had a 30 percent response rate, she said.

“Our survey house said they had never seen anything like that,” Hovis said, adding that a typical response rate is around 10 percent. “So there is a very high level of motivation in Garrett County when it comes to broadband, particularly the small businesses are aware of what they don’t have and what they need … I’ll be really interested to see if we’re matching that in Allegany County.”

CTC expects to have the Allegany County Broadband Feasibility Study completed sometime this summer.

Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at kbarkley@timesjavascript:void(0)-news.com.

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Plans for new animal shelter moving forward

State-of-the art care, adoption facility in planning phase

Jeffrey Alderton Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — The dream of having a new, modern animal shelter in Allegany County drew a bit closer to reality Monday.

“We have contracted Stoiber and Associates for this project and we’re very excited about having this opportunity to proceed,” said Becky McClarran, an officer of the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation.

Stoiber and Associates officials met Monday with McClarran and Karl Brubaker, director of the Allegany County Animal Shelter, to further discuss the project that would create a state-of-the-art animal care and adoption facility. The current shelter is located on a 3 1/2-acre site on Furnace Street. A new facility could be built there, or somewhere else in the county if a more suitable location became available through donated land.

The exact cost of the new animal shelter is not yet known but the project will be funded by private donations.

Stoiber and Associates has extensive experience in the animal shelter world, having led the way in the renovation of the 6-year-old Washington Animal Rescue League facility in Washington.

Members of the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation visited the D.C. facility before signing on with Stoiber and Associates

Local foundation members also met with officials in Garrett County where the new HART animal shelter is under construction near Garrett College.

The 12,000-square-foot facility in Garrett County will be constructed at a projected cost of about $1.8 million. The log-cabin style structure situated on county property will feature separate wings for hospital administration, a pet hotel where fundraisers can be held and the shelter.

Positive changes at the Allegany County Animal Shelter in the last couple of years have brought the foundation to the point where it can now pursue funding and building a new animal shelter.

“We have gone from an 85 percent kill facility to a 92 percent no-kill facility. That is phenomenal but we are at the very limits of what our shelter can do,” said McClarran.

The 5,000-square-foot animal shelter on Furnace Street was constructed in 1998 with the last addition built in 2008. Kennels are situated outside and all dogs are brought inside at night.

Monday, there were about 55 dogs at the shelter and 130 cats, Brubaker said.

“The animal shelter was never designed to do what we are asking it to do,” he said. “As our organization evolves, the one thing that has held us back is our facility. We have to fight it every day.”

A new animal shelter would provide even better care and modern accommodations for its animal populations.

Jeff Stoiber said he is impressed with the level of commitment and dedication he has met in his contact with the local animal shelter community.

Dave Williams and his business partner, McClarran, noted the outpouring of community support that has benefited the shelter since a new director was brought in and other changes were made.

“There are a lot of partnerships in place. This community clearly loves its animals,” said McClarran, citing the constant activity of the social network Facebook and other developments, such as a steady stream of donations that were made to the shelter Christmas Eve.

“This community has a growing desire to help whatever the situation may be,” said Brubaker.

Going to a no-kill facility was another positive change that has brought the animal care community to the point where it needs and requires a new animal care shelter.

Stoiber’s company has also bought into the project literally. “We are donating up to a third of the cost of this project to get it going,” he said.

“Getting it off the ground is usually the toughest part. This is more than a revenue stream for us. This is something we love. It is very rewarding.”

Once the new facility is in place, the foundation will oversee the shelter with county support. “We will have a far more active role,” said McClarran.

Stoiber said he will provide architectural renderings of the shelter to the foundation by May 1 that will allow fundraising to formally begin.

“Right now we are getting information as to what the goals of this organization are, determining what the needs are and what locations are available. Then we come back with site plans, floor plans and architectural renderings,” said Stoiber.

A few donations have already been received by the nonprofit shelter. Contributions may be made to the Allegany County Shelter Foundation and are tax-deductible.

For more information, contact McClarran at 301-724-2453.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at CUMBERLAND — The dream of having a new, modern animal shelter in Allegany County drew a bit closer to reality Monday.

“We have contracted Stoiber and Associates for this project and we’re very excited about having this opportunity to proceed,” said Becky McClarran, an officer of the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation.

Stoiber and Associates officials met Monday with McClarran and Karl Brubaker, director of the Allegany County Animal Shelter, to further discuss the project that would create a state-of-the-art animal care and adoption facility. The current shelter is located on a 3 1/2-acre site on Furnace Street. A new facility could be built there, or somewhere else in the county if a more suitable location became available through donated land.

The exact cost of the new animal shelter is not yet known but the project will be funded by private donations.

Stoiber and Associates has extensive experience in the animal shelter world, having led the way in the renovation of the 6-year-old Washington Animal Rescue League facility in Washington.

Members of the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation visited the D.C. facility before signing on with Stoiber and Associates

Local foundation members also met with officials in Garrett County where the new HART animal shelter is under construction near Garrett College.

The 12,000-square-foot facility in Garrett County will be constructed at a projected cost of about $1.8 million. The log-cabin style structure situated on county property will feature separate wings for hospital administration, a pet hotel where fundraisers can be held and the shelter.

Positive changes at the Allegany County Animal Shelter in the last couple of years have brought the foundation to the point where it can now pursue funding and building a new animal shelter.

“We have gone from an 85 percent kill facility to a 92 percent no-kill facility. That is phenomenal but we are at the very limits of what our shelter can do,” said McClarran.

The 5,000-square-foot animal shelter on Furnace Street was constructed in 1998 with the last addition built in 2008. Kennels are situated outside and all dogs are brought inside at night.

Monday, there were about 55 dogs at the shelter and 130 cats, Brubaker said.

“The animal shelter was never designed to do what we are asking it to do,” he said. “As our organization evolves, the one thing that has held us back is our facility. We have to fight it every day.”

A new animal shelter would provide even better care and modern accommodations for its animal populations.

Jeff Stoiber said he is impressed with the level of commitment and dedication he has met in his contact with the local animal shelter community.

Dave Williams and his business partner, McClarran, noted the outpouring of community support that has benefited the shelter since a new director was brought in and other changes were made.

“There are a lot of partnerships in place. This community clearly
loves its animals,” said McClarran, citing the constant activity of the social network Facebook and other developments, such as a steady stream of donations that were made to the shelter Christmas Eve.

“This community has a growing desire to help whatever the situation may be,” said Brubaker.

Going to a no-kill facility was another positive change that has brought the animal care community to the point where it needs and requires a new animal care shelter.

Stoiber’s company has also bought into the project literally. “We are donating up to a third of the cost of this project to get it going,” he said.

“Getting it off the ground is usually the toughest part. This is more than a revenue stream for us. This is something we love. It is very rewarding.”

Once the new facility is in place, the foundation will oversee the shelter with county support. “We will have a far more active role,” said McClarran.

Stoiber said he will provide architectural renderings of the shelter to the foundation by May 1 that will allow fundraising to formally begin.

“Right now we are getting information as to what the goals of this organization are, determining what the needs are and what locations are available. Then we come back with site plans, floor plans and architectural renderings,” said Stoiber.

A few donations have already been received by the nonprofit shelter. Contributions may be made to the Allegany County Shelter Foundation and are tax-deductible.

For more information, contact McClarran at 301-724-2453.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com.

More here.

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! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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Natural gas drilling in Garrett County could affect recreation there, officials say

By JULIE E. GREENE julieg@herald-mail.com

9:08 a.m. EST, February 28, 2012
HAGERSTOWN —

While the portion of the Marcellus Shale in Washington County probably isn’t developable for natural gas, drilling in Garrett County, Md., might affect recreation in Garrett County, including fishing, hunting, hiking and snowmobiling, Maryland environmental officials said Monday.

Drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale could affect wildlife and aquatic life, forest habitats and important streams because most of the areas in Garrett County leased for future drilling contain at least one priority natural resource area, according to an environmental presentation Monday to a state advisory commission at Hagerstown Community College.

The Marcellus Shale, extending from New York to West Virginia, is considered the largest onshore natural gas reserve in the nation, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment’s website, www.mde.state.md.us.

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Across Maryland, bare-bones household budgets soar above salaries

Written by
CAITLIN JOHNSTON and CARL STRAUMSHEIM
CNS Special Report

COLLEGE PARK — A Montgomery County family of three — an adult, a preschooler and a school-age child — needs about $78,000 just to make ends meet, a new report shows. And, without government assistance, minimum wage barely gets them a quarter of the way there.

The 2012 Self-Sufficiency Standard calculates the cost of living for Maryland families by looking at the price of such necessities as housing, food, transportation and child care. The report, prepared for the Maryland Community Action Partnership, found that median wages in Maryland have failed to keep up with the increasing costs of basic needs.

While those costs increased statewide by 54 percent since 2001, median earnings failed to rise accordingly, increasing only 25 percent.

The result: a real cost squeeze, said Dr. Diana Pearce, director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington School of Social Work, who conducted the study.

“People are working just as hard and more efficiently and more productively, but it’s not showing up in wages,” Pearce said. “And their costs are going up.”

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Some Extra "Hoopla" at WVU


The WVU women’s basketball team had a little extra “hoopla” at its recent Play4Kay game to heighten breast cancer awareness. Brenda Brosnihan, owner of Brenda’s Body Shop in Oakland, coordinated another Hoop Hope Hooray dance project as part of the halftime festivities to raise awareness and funds for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund™. The WBCA Play4Kay initiative is a global, unified effort for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s (WBCA) nation of coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities, and beyond. The late Kay Yow, former North Carolina State head women’s basketball coach, served as a catalyst for starting the endeavor for the WBCA. After three bouts of breast cancer, Yow died in January 2009. “More than 50 participants took part, dancing with pink hula hoops decorated with pink ribbons with the names of breast cancer survivors and those who died from the illness. Hoop Hope Hooray represents the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, breast cancer awareness, and early detection.”


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Brosnihan said the WVU game had the added component of a video showing prior to the performance taken of the dancers as they made their hoola hoops. “The women’s basketball team learned the dance, too,” Brosnihan said, “And the crowd really enjoyed seeing highlights of their efforts along with the dancers committed to supporting the Play4Kay initiative. Our performers included mothers, daughters, sisters, and grandmothers all pulling together to support this cause. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to perform at the WVU women’s basketball Play4Kay game; together we share many of the same objectives.”

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MPT Program To Feature Area Barns, Barn Quilts


Feb. 23, 2012

Maryland Public Television will present a one-hour program focused on the state’s many barns and barn quilt art. The show will include footage of Garrett County. Historic Barns of Maryland will air for the first time on MPT Wednesday, Feb. 29, beginning at 8 p.m.

Maryland has more historic barns per acre than just about any other state in the nation, according to a spokesperson from the television station.

“There is a lot to explore and see – from the tobacco barns of the lower Eastern Shore and southern Maryland to the red bank barns of the Piedmont Plateau,” the spokesperson said. “The innovative barn quilt project in Garrett County will also be covered during the statewide showcase.”


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Writer and producer Jonathan Slade, along with videographer Tim Pugh, visited Garrett County early last summer to explore the Barn Quilt Trail. Several property owners and members of the Barn Quilt Association of Garrett County Inc. were interviewed.

“Part travelogue and part nostalgia, Historic Barns of Maryland will celebrate architectural ingenuity,” the spokesperson said. “During the program, viewers will discover the agricultural, economic and cultural significance of these aging, iconic structures made of timber, stone, and brick. Farmers, builders, preservationists, architects, artists, and historians share insiders’ stories and perspectives.”

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OTT To Present Farce


Feb. 23, 2012

Happily Ever Once Upon, a fairy tale farce, is being staged at Our Town Theatre in Oakland next week. “Have you ever wondered what happened after the ball was over?” asked director Christie Elmlinger. “This play checks in with Prince Charming and Cinderella 20 years after the clock struck midnight. We learn that the Enchanted Kingdom is broke, Cinderella’s fairy godmother is a blackmailer with a penchant for B-grade Western movies, and having five kids makes your feet so big the glass slippers no longer fit. Join us for an evening of laughter and love and see why the best fairy tales have real-life happy endings.”


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The show will open Wednesday, Feb. 29, and run through Sunday, March 4. Productions start at 8 p.m. on all dates but March 4, when the show will start at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and $10 on Friday and Saturday. The director noted that this show “is not a princess fairy tale for young children.” The play contains some adult themes and mildly foul language, and is appropriate for those age 14 and older. Elmlinger designed the set, Ben Sincell is the lighting designer, Emily Elmlinger is the stage manager, and Ted Hughes built the set. The cast is pictured. In the front, from left, are Joshua Elmlinger, Jen Shillingburg, and Tammy Beitzel. In the middle row, same order: Dylan Barnard, Hannah Newcomb, Matt Steyer, Nixon Malcolm, Becca Flinn, and Rachael Huxford. In back, armed with pistols, is Lynne Elmlinger. Reservations are recommended, and may be made by calling the theatre at 301-334-5640.

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Miss Herpel Is Crowned Miss Western Md.

Feb. 23, 2012

Local resident Grace Herpel was crowned Miss Western Maryland at the recent Miss Washington County/Miss Western Maryland Pageant held at the historic Maryland Theater, Hagerstown.

She is a 2009 graduate of Northern High School and the daughter of Betsy and Jerry Herpel, Accident. She is currently a junior at Frostburg State University pursuing a degree in math communications with a focus in public relations.


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Herpel champions her personal platform of “Volunteering: Changing Their and Your Life” as she volunteers for Garrett Mentors, the Lions Club Blind Skier Program, and HART for Animals, as well as raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Herpel will vie for the title of Miss Maryland in June at the Maryland Theater.

To donate to CMN Hospitals, persons may visit http://www.missamericaforkids.org/Donate/graceherpel.


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