SHA To Begin Oak Street Paving Proj. This Sunday Night

Jul. 5, 2012

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) will begin a resurfacing project this Sunday, July 8, on both U.S. Rt. 219 (East Oak Street and South 3rd Street) and Md. Rt. 39 (East Oak Street) in Oakland.

SHA will mill, resurface, and restripe Rt. 219 between 8th Street and Center Street, as well as Rt. 39 from South 3rd Street to the Little Youghi-ogheny River Bridge. Weather permitting, the project will be complete by the end of July.


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Motorists should anticipate lane closures on both routes between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday evenings through Friday mornings. No parking will be permitted on Rt. 219 from 8th Street to Center Street between 4 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday evenings through Friday mornings.

SHA will use variable message boards, temporary signs, cones, and barrels, along with flagging operations to guide motorists through the work zone.

According to SHA, more than 15,000 vehicles per day use Rt. 219, and about 6,000 vehicles per day use Rt. 39 in the project area, so motorists should prepare for delays.

SHA awarded the $4.5 million contract to Keystone Lime of Springs, Pa. Customers who have questions about the work may contact Beverly Blank, project engineer, at 301-895-3234.

Anyone with questions about traffic operations along Rt. 219 or other state numbered routes in Garrett County may also call SHA’s District 6 Office at 301-729-8400 or toll free at 800-760-7138.

More here.

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Kitzmiller Charter School Initiative Inc. Requests Use Of Former KES Building

Jul. 5, 2012

A group of Kitzmiller area residents met with the Garrett County commissioners on Tuesday morning to discuss their plans to start a public charter school and learning cooperative. They requested use of the former Kitzmiller Elementary School for those initiatives.

“We believe that our students in Kitzmiller deserve to go to school in their own community,” said group spokesperson/town councilman Matt Paugh.


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Faced with significant state funding cuts in recent and upcoming years, the local board of education recently decided to close Dennett Road and Kitzmiller elementary schools, effective this fall. The board had previously closed Bloomington Elementary School as a cost-saving measure.

When the new school year begins next month, former Dennett Road students will attend either Broad Ford, Yough Glades, or Crellin elementary schools, while Kitzmiller students will be redistricted to Broad Ford. The Dennett Road and Kitzmiller school buildings will eventually revert to Garrett County government.

“While no one questions that our children will receive a quality education at Broad Ford Elementary, or at any other school in the county, we truly believe that a smaller school closer to home is going to be the most beneficial to our students,” Paugh said.

He also indicated that the town’s strategic plan, well-being, and sense of community all hinge on having a school in Kitzmiller.

After learning in April that Kitzmiller Elementary would be closed, a group of concerned residents met in early May to discuss various options for keeping students and some type of educational system in the town, including establishing a private religious school, private nonsectarian school, homeschooling cooperative, and/or a public charter school.

“We’ve formed a nonprofit organization called the Kitzmiller Charter School Initiative Inc. and submitted our letter of interest to interim superintendent Sue Waggoner on June 8,” Paugh said.

The group has not heard back from the Garrett County Board of Education yet, he noted, possibly because it was waiting for the new superintendent, Dr. Janet Wilson, to come on board.

Paugh said public charter schools are designed and operated not by a school board, but by a group of founders, which include parents, educators, and community leaders who have flexibility in deciding budgets, curriculum, and teaching methods. In addition, charter schools are tuition free and open to the public, employe certified teachers, and participate in state testing requirements.

The Maryland State Department of Education web site notes that state law:

• Allows new start-up schools and existing public schools to become charter schools.

• Identifies the local board of education as the primary authorizer of charter schools.

• Identifies the state board of education serve as a secondary authorizer as a result of an appeal decision or for a restructured school.

• Requires that charter schools receive funding that is commensurate to funding received by other public schools.

• Gives charter schools the right to appeal decisions made by local boards of education.

• Requires that charter schools have a right to appeal decisions made by local boards of education.

• Requires that charter school employees are public school employees of the local school board.

• Requires that local school boards adopt a charter school policy.

The Kitzmiller Charter School application must be submitted to the local BOE by Sept. 1 in order to begin operation in the 2013-2014 school year. Dr. Brenda McCartney, former BOE assistant superintendent, is helping the Kitzmiller group with the application process, which Paugh described as rigorous.

More here.

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Garrett County Public Safety Director Reports On June 29 Storm, Aftermath

Jul. 5, 2012

Garrett County suffered “some of the most extensive damage we’ve seen from a storm event,” reported Brad Frantz, director of Garrett County Public Safety and Emergency Management, during a special briefing for the county commissioners on Tuesday morning.

A derecho – a rare string of powerful storms with intense lightening, rain, and hurricane-force winds – swept through the Midwest and mid-Atlantic region Friday (June 29) evening. According to some accounts, at least 22 people were killed, 5 million were left without power, and billions of dollars worth of damages occurred.

“We were quite fortunate that there were not more structures that had impact,” Frantz said. “We had one reported on Savage River Road that was significant damage.”


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Three trees fell on a home, one of which landed in a bedroom. The house was insured, according to Frantz.

The director said 1,114 county electric power customers remained without service as of Tuesday at 7 a.m., but he anticipated that power would be restored to most of these customers by the end of the day.

As of Thursday morning, Potomac Edison reports that 140 Garrett County residences are still without power. Those without electricity in surrounding counties are as follows: Allegany, 1,225; Preston 2,421; Tucker 185; Grant 117; Mineral, 117; and Somerset, 7.

Utility companies have been working around the clock, since the storm hit Garrett County at 8:20 p.m. on June 29, Frantz said. Potomac Edison reported 147,000 of its area customers had lost power from the storm.

Frantz noted that nearly every fire department in the county spent the weekend clearing roads of trees and debris, and as of Monday, all roads in the county were open.

Cooling centers/shelters were established Saturday morning and remain available this week to residents at the Friendsville Volunteer Fire Department, the Deer Park Community Volunteer Fire Department, and the Southern Garrett Rescue Squad hall, according to Frantz.

At the impact of the sudden storm – with winds exceeding 65 miles per hour in some areas, according to Potomac Edison – Frantz said telephone calls into 9-1-1 were 300-400 percent above normal call volume.

“On a normal day, we might see 75 calls,” he said.

More here.

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All Hail the USA

Jul. 5, 2012

All hail let loose last evening just as festivities for the July 4th holiday were getting under way. An intense and damaging storm hit the Deep Creek Lake area at about 7:15 p.m., bringing high winds, torrential rain, and marble-sized hail. (And that’s shooter marbles, not the little ones.)


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The storm went on for more than 30 minutes, absolutely inundating the food tables at the Deep Creek Marina, which was offering a customer appreciation event. The food, catered by Wisp, was suddenly mostly soup, as shown, as the severe weather descended.


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The annual Independence Day celebration at Garrett College by the Garrett Community Concert Band and the Garrett Choral Society was both abbreviated and relocated because of the storm. The performers and audience went into the college gymnasium, which is conveniently a storm protection area, and the program commenced inside. There is surely damage today in gardens and yards, as the hail was severe and the wind quite strong. Photo by Fabian Green.

More here.

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Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fee To Increase On July 1

Jul. 5, 2012

The Garrett County commissioners are reminding local property owners and visitors about two issues: the increase in the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fee (“flush tax”) and the new security system at the courthouse.

A change in the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fee has taken place for the tax year beginning on July 1. Legislation was passed this year in the Maryland General Assembly, doubling the fee from $30 to $60 annually for properties whose on site sewage disposal systems (septic system) are located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and for properties that are connected to either a public water and/or sewer system and whose wastewater is treated by a facility that discharges in the watershed.


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For properties that have a septic system and a private water supply, the fee will be reflected on the owners’ annual property tax bills.

For those properties located within the watershed that are connected to either a public water and/or sewer system, this fee change equates to an increase from $2.50 to $5 per month, or $7.50 per to $15 per quarter. The Bay Restoration Fee will be reflected on the quarterly water/sewer bill for properties connected to a public water and/or sewer system.

“The county has made every possible attempt to accurately assess the correct fees for every Garrett County property tax account,” county administrator Monty Pagenhardt. “If you believe the Bay Restoration Fee that you are billed is in error, please contact the Garrett County Department of Financial Services at 301-334-8985 or by e-mail at bayrestorationfee@garrettcounty.org.

Residents and visitors are also reminded that they must use the Alder Street entrance when conducting business at the county courthouse in Oakland.

A new security system has been installed in the courthouse building, and individuals must pass through security upon entering the building. Handicapped individuals may use the entrance located off the alley between St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and the courthouse.

More here.

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Outages decreasing in storm recovery

Efforts to restore power to more than 1,500 customers continue

Jeffrey Alderton Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Day four of the storm recovery continued Tuesday with no major problems reported throughout the region, although thousands of Potomac Edison customers throughout the region remained without electrical service at Tuesday night.

But efforts to restore each and every customer as quickly as possible continued without relenting as more than 1,500 customers remained in the dark in Garrett and Allegany counties by late evening.

“We are down to the work that is very labor intensive, such as replacing a number of poles needed just to restore a couple customers. We hope to have the vast majority of our customers back today,” said Scott Surgeoner, FirstEnergy spokesman, regarding the Potomac Edison service area in Allegany and Garrett counties.

“Right now, there are about 800 customers still out in Cumberland. And we really do appreciate the customers’ patience. Our workers take great pride in what they do and they are working as quickly as possible to get each and every customer back in service,” he said.

By 10 p.m. 490 Potomac Edison customers were without power in Cumberland

The latest outage information by county was being updated every 15 minutes on the FirstEnergy website at http://outages.firstenergycorp. com/mdwv.html.

The number of customers without service was decreasing by the hour Tuesday afternoon.

“As of this morning, there were about 2,000 people needing power and Potomac Edison brought in more resources Monday,” said Dick DeVore, Allegany County Emergency Service chief. “As we had been told, the last ones to be restored would be the most difficult.”

On another note, DeVore said several cooling centers that were opened Saturday at various locations in the county were not opened Tuesday since there was no demand for the temporary relief facilties. Only a small number of local residents reportedly utilized the facilities over the last several days.

In Garrett County, Emergency Services Director Brad Frantz said early Tuesday afternoon “the situation is improving somewhat” as Potomac Edison and allied crews worked to restore electrical service throughout the county. About 400 residents remained without electricity Tuesday night.

Comfort stations at three locations in the county — Deer Park and Friendsville fire stations and the Southern Garrett Rescue Squad — remained open although none had been utilized as of Tuesday. “They will remain open and available in case there is a need,” said Frantz.

Frantz also said back-up battery service at the Department of Natural Resources fire tower on Elder Hill between McHenry and Friendsville failed late Monday evening.

“This has not in any way affected our service. We are continuing to normally alert affected companies so I want to emphasize this has not in any way affected delivery of emergency services. Potomac Edison is actively working on that site as a priority to restore service there,” said Frantz.

The 120-foot tower houses the 911 center’s two-way radio repeater for alerting of Friendsville Volunteer Fire Department, the Northern Garrett Rescue Squad and some other companies.

Frantz also continued to urge any residents that has sustained significant structural damage by Friday’s storm to contact his officer at 301-334-7619.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com

More here.

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Chamber Receives $30,000 Grant For Heritage Area Proj.

Jun. 28, 2012

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski (both D-Md.) on Tuesday announced the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) approval of a $30,000 grant to the Garrett Country Chamber of Commerce to develop the Strategic Initiative Program to increase tourism and create new jobs in heritage tourism.

Garrett County recently was authorized as a state Certified Heritage Area titled the Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area. The Strategic Initiative Program will identify ways to promote Garrett County’s unique identity. This grant is the next major step in enhancing tourism, creating jobs, and promoting sustainability, according to the senators.


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The program will include establishment of a Heritage Area web site and use of other social media tools, purchasing and installing four kiosks, hiring a consultant to research and compile the history of Garrett County, including interpretive signage, and the creation of multimedia materials.

“This is exactly the kind of grant I like to see,” Cardin said. “It creates jobs, and it will make it possible for more people to come to Garrett County and enjoy all the history, nature and culture that this county and the state have to offer. We are faced with a unique opportunity here both to bolster existing tourist attractions and to showcase this beautiful part of our state.”

More here.

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Redneck Dayz Deemed Success

Jun. 28, 2012

Oh, so good for the skin – as well as a lot of laughs – was the mud pit that was “open to customers” at the recent annual Redneck Dayz festival at Broadford Park. The perfect weather, live music, games, lots of food, and attractions (such as the mud pit) drew “several thousand people” over the course of the two-day bash, according to organizer Mark “Bubba” Marucci of the Oakland/Mtn. Lake Park Lions Club.


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Proceeds from the event support the various charitable programs of the Lions club, as well as those of other participating organizations. See more photos in today’s hard copy of The Republican.

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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