State, County Partner on Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan

Agreement announced at annual State of the Lake presentation

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Garrett County have partnered to develop a comprehensive watershed management plan for Deep Creek Lake.  DNR Secretary Joe Gill announced the agreement in concept – through which guidelines to protect the popular area will be established – at the third annual State of the Lake presentation at Garrett College. The draft agreement will be available for public comment until August 13.

“The Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan will serve as a comprehensive, best practices guide to ensure that one of Maryland’s most visited, revenue-generating sites is protected far into the future,” said Secretary Gill.  “In addition to protecting the lake’s sensitive natural resources, the plan will address water quality and recreational activities like swimming, fishing, boating and scenic viewing.”

The plan, which will be developed with input from stakeholders, will prioritize policy changes, restoration actions and public outreach needed to achieve both immediate and long term benefits.  It will identify existing water quality and environmental conditions, survey future conditions, assess pollution sources and determine restoration opportunities.

“The Board of Garrett County Commissioners is pleased to partner with DNR as co-sponsors of a plan that will maintain and enhance the lake and its surrounding habitat,” said Monty Pagenhardt, County Administrator.

A Steering Committee of seven to nine members – that will include representatives from State and local government, the agricultural, forestry, business communities, recreational interests, residents and the power plant – will lead development of the plan. The committee will be supported by staff from Garrett County, DNR, and other State agencies, and will be professionally facilitated through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

Individuals wishing to serve on the Steering Committee should email a letter of interest and resume to mpagenhardt@garrettcounty.org no later than August 2, 2013. An official appointments  announcement will be made at the Board of County Commissioners Public Meeting on August 13.

In his State of the Lake address, Gill also shared good news about the lake’s water quality and its diverse living and natural resources.

“Thanks to the park’s managers, supporters and conservation-minded citizens and visitors, the lake continues to exhibit good water quality, a robust fishery, healthy wetlands and wildlife, and extensive opportunities for recreation,” said Gill.  “We are confident that the watershed management plan will help us protect and enhance this tremendous asset even further.”

DNR conducts continuous monitoring efforts that provide citizens and resource managers a better understanding of threats to the lake’s health, so that they may take the appropriate actions to lessen these impacts. The most recent data confirms that the lake continues to support diverse and healthy fish, plant and wildlife populations, and is experiencing low algal levels due to low phosphorus concentrations.

Located in western Maryland, Deep Creek is one of the State’s largest and most popular lakes, providing recreation (including year-round fishing) for hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors annually. The reservoir is owned and operated by the Maryland Park Service, with additional help and support provided by Garrett County.

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Jenny Jones reigns as 69th Garrett County Farm Queen

Event continues through Saturday at McHenry

Angie Brant Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — Jenny Jones, Oakland, was named the 69th Garrett County Farm Queen during a contest held Sunday evening at the Garrett County Fairgrounds.

Jones, the daughter of Kim and Johnny Jones, competed against Tabitha Friend and Kaya Rinker for the title. Selection of the queen was based on candidate interviews, prior to the contest and during the event; community and church involvement; and participation in agricultural activities. Adam Hayes, Karen Hamilton Engel and Jamie Snider served as judges for the contest.

Jones is a 2013 graduate of Southern High School and is a member of Red House 4-H. She will be attending Garrett College in the fall and plans to pursue a career as a Department of Natural Resources officer. For Jones, the title of Farm Queen is a family tradition — her aunt, Johnna Jones, was queen in 1980 and her older sister, Catlin, served in the role in 2007.

Jones said participating in 4-H and FFA has helped develop her leadership and teamwork skills and she plans to share those skills with visitors at the 2013 Garrett County Agriculture Fair.

“I want to to be a role model for younger kids and visitors and tell them about the fair,” she said.

In addition to performing her duties as an ambassador for fair visitors, Jones will be showing heifers during the livestock competitions.

New this year, a court of Farm Princesses was selected to assist Jones in her official duties. Her court includes Krista Rinker, Oakland; Emma Rush, Oakland; Madison Spurrier, Swanton; and Miranda Rounds, Lonaconing. These girls, 6 to 14 years old, were among more than 20 applicants who participated in a series of interviews earlier this year.

Terri Rodeheaver, fair board member, said the goal of establishing a court of Farm Princesses is to spur greater interest and involvement in the Farm Queen program.

The Garrett County Agriculture Fair continues through Saturday with daily livestock competitions, entertainment and activities.

Fair president Debbie Friend said the annual event is a celebration of the “best of Garrett County agriculture and we are proud to offer a lot of new events and activities this year, including an agricultural education center, where visitors can churn butter, make ice cream and learn how what you eat comes from a farm.”

“We invite you to come early, come often and stay late,” she added.

Contact Angie Brant at abrant@times-news.com.

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Adventures keep coming each dozen Garrett County students

Outdoor program funded by state grant

For the Cumberland Times-News Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — A group of 12 Garrett County high school students has been biking, rafting, hiking, fishing, swimming and climbing to new heights under the supervision of the professional staff of the Garrett College Adventuresports Institute’s Transition Age Youth program.

The students participated in the program beginning in the eighth grade and have the opportunity to return each summer until they graduate from high school.

Mike Logsdon, director of the Garrett College ASI, explained the evolution and purpose of the program.

“TAY is funded through a grant from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, administered locally by Garrett County Core Service Agency. Its purpose is to provide Garrett County youth with meaningful experiences in self-discovery and growth using adventure sport activities to foster cooperation, respect, trust, honesty and compassion. This occurs in an atmosphere of positive decision making, improved communication skills and with the encouragement of critical thinking and problem solving,” he said.

Scott Richardson, who has coordinated the TAY program since 2005 in cooperation with the Garrett County Board of Education and Garrett County Core Service Agency, spoke about the services offered to students. “We assemble a team of professional staff and students from the Adventuresports Institute at Garrett College to provide exciting adventure activities while placing top priority on safety. TAY participants are instructed in the proper use of equipment and proper techniques associated with adventure sport activities. Watching the growth of these students from eighth grade as they move through high school, seeing their improvements in self-confidence and self-esteem when participating in the TAY program is extremely rewarding. The older TAY students have a positive relationship and become role models with the younger students throughout the summer program,” he said.

ASI staff member Sharon Elsey has worked with the TAY program since its inception in 2001. She said that she has seen the development and growth of the students who participate.

“They learn about compassion, trust, team work, respect and honesty, while doing things out of the box and expanding their comfort zones. You can sense in these kids a feeling of pride and a rise in self-esteem when they have just finished climbing a sheer cliff or rafting a class 3+ rapid. I think they also benefit from just being a part of a team and sharing in the laughter,” she said.

Anyone interested in learning more about TAY activities and student eligibility may contact the program coordinator at 301-387-3323.

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Garrett County broadband project receives $250,000 grant from ARC

Matching local funds will bring high-speed service to hundreds

Greg Larry Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — Garrett County’s continued effort to expand broadband services received a boost Friday when the Appalachian Regional Commission announced that it is awarding a $250,000 grant to assist the project.

Officials say the funding will allow high-speed broadband services to be accessed by about 800 additional homes in southern Garrett County.

“Today we are here to provide the county $250,000,” said Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the ARC.

“Having an opportunity to make an investment like this really makes a difference in rural communities. It’s so important. It’s why the ARC was established,” said Gohl.

The method to be used to deliver the high-speed service is a newly developed wireless system that accesses unused frequencies on the television spectrum.

“Today’s ceremony takes from the planning stage to the doing stage. That’s great news,” said Jim Raley, county commissioner.

Numerous officials attended the event, including state Sen. George Edwards, County Commissioner Gregan Crawford and U.S. Rep. John Delaney of the 6th Congressional District.

“Let’s face it, access to high-speed communication is an absolute in the world today. We applaud the grant. It’s done in a smart way,” said Delaney.

Delaney said he enjoyed hearing of the cooperation among the private sector, government and community resources.

“I love the spirit that I hear out here. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from that in Washington,” said Delaney.

The grant awarded by the ARC is a matching grant, meaning funds in the same amount must be secured and added to the investment. The county plans to supply the $250,000 matching funds required to bring the total funding package for the project to $500,000.

The homes receiving the new high-speed service will be Crellin, Pleasant Valley and other communities south of Oakland. Residents in that region are currently using dial-up.

Raley said that the goal of the county is to deliver broadband to 90 percent of homes. That requires around 3,000 homes to be brought online. The grant will allow 800 more to have access, leaving 2,200 still needing high-speed service.

Frank Shap, assistant director of economic development for the county explained how the new system works.

“It’s really a radio signal going into the house. The technology is called Television White Space. It’s the unused frequencies on the television spectrum,” said Shap.

“There will be a receiver in the house almost like a modem. A wireless signal will go back to a transmitter mounted on a tower and from there to the internet,” said Shap.

A carrier such as Shentel, Comcast, QCall or Atlantic Broadband will be needed to administer the system.

“We will try to identify one or more carriers that want to work with us to deliver the service,” said Shap.

Crawford said that the more broadband is accessible in the county, the more likely people will buy a home or move their business there.

“We have a lot visitors that come to the county and say ‘If I just had a way to work from here I would do it,’” said Crawford.

The more flexibility we can offer them, the better the chance they will stay, Crawford added.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com

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Garrett officials, DNR to work together on Deep Creek plan

From Staff Reports Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — The Garrett County commissioners and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources agreed Wednesday night to work together to create a Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan that will guide environmental and economic decisions at the popular recreation spot.

The announcement came during a state-of-the-lake meeting at Garrett College.

“The plan should address the quality of Deep Creek Lake’s environment and its use for swimming, fishing, boating, scenic viewing and other recreational activities,” the county commissioners stated in a press release issued earlier in the day.

The state agency will pick up 60 percent of a $50,000 contract for a consultant who will structure the planning process. The Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology at the University of Maryland will choose the consultant.

The planning process is to be completed by Oct. 31, 2014.

A steering committee of seven to nine will represent state and local governments, agriculture, forestry, residents, businesses, recreation and power generation. Those members are to be announced at the Aug. 13 meeting of the county commissioners.

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Friendsville Days 2013 Slated For Next Weekend

Jul. 18, 2013

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The 33rd Annual Friendsville Days will be held on Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, at Friendsville Community Park. The hometown will host activities for all ages with admission free for all. Those attending are encouraged to bring a chair and stay all day.

This year’s theme is “Friendsville Elementary: Yesterday’s Memories, Tomorrow’s Promise,” with the focus geared toward past and present teachers and principals and honoring them as grand marshals. Plans are being made to have a “meet-and-greet” tent to be able to share memories with their favorite teachers.

The event kicks off on Friday, with a free, picnic-style meal provided by Friendsville Days Inc. at 6 p.m. at the park. Other vendors will be open selling food, beverages, and novelty items that evening and all day Saturday.

The Friendsville Community Watch will provide free inflatable rides for the youth through teens from 7 to 9 p.m. A Christian puppet show will begin at 7 p.m. at the playground pavilion, and the James Everett Band will provide country and southern rock music from 7 to 10 p.m.

A parade through the streets of Friendsville will kick off Saturday’s events beginning at noon. Opening ceremonies and awarding of parade prizes will be held following the parade at the Friendsville Community Park. The national anthem will be sung by Miss Maryland 2013, Christina Denny, and there will be a 21-gun salute with the raising of the American flag. American Pie will hit the stage at 1:30 p.m. and will be performing top hits of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, and is one of Pittsburgh’s favorite oldies band.

A talent show of Garrett County talent will begin at 4 p.m. Sidney Thomas will also perform vocal selections beginning at 5:30 p.m. Two performances of the Christian puppet show will be held at 2 and 5 p.m. at the playground pavilion. Door prizes and raffles will be held throughout the day. The Crazy Cowboys will take the stage from 7 to 10 p.m. performing country music hits, while a dance floor will be provided. Fireworks will top off the evening at 10:15 p.m.

Saturday will also feature a car, truck, and motorcycle show from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Little League parking lot. For more information, persons may contact Pat Riep-Dice at 301-746-4280.

Other events offered that day will include bingo, games and rides for all ages, a three-on-three basketball tournament at 10 a.m., a horse shoe pitching tournament at 2 p.m., a dunking booth, a sand volleyball tourney, puppet shows, and inflatables for all ages. A variety of food products will be available for purchase, including chicken wings, lamb-burgers, pulled pork, and the usual “fair-type” food, including french fries and Ben’s Tai food.

The door prize booth will host numerous items donated from local merchants and the popular Chinese auction will be held once again. There will be two free cash drawings to be drawn at undisclosed times on Saturday before 9 p.m. Youth age 16 years and older are eligible to sign up at the door prize booth and winners must be present to collect their prizes. Only one entry per person is permitted. Other rules apply and will be posted at the door prize booth.

The event will be held rain or shine. For more information on any of these events, please contact Lucretia Sines at 301-746-5933 or the town hall at 301-746-5919.

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Commissioners Hold Hearing On Wisp Mountain Road Conveyance

Jul. 18, 2013

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The Garrett County commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday afternoon to consider a petition by DC Development LLC to convey Wisp Mountain Road into the county’s public road system. Company partner/former Wisp Resort owner Karen Myers reviewed the proposal for the commissioners and public.

She said the 1.4 mile private road was constructed to county specifications in 1999 and serves a development of about 350 residences. Myers provided the commissioners with a metes-and-bounds description.

“It has been maintained by the Wisp Resort Master Association for a number of years,” Myers said about the road.

The association comprises home owners in the Deep Creek Highland, Kendall Camp, Lodestone, Marsh Hill Road, North Camp, and Sandy Shores developments. In January 2012, the association requested financial help from the county in maintaining Wisp Mountain Road. The commissioners rejected the proposal because it is privately owned.

If accepted into the public system, Wisp Mountain would be a connector road from Shingle Camp Road to Wisp Adventure Road and the Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI), which is located atop Marsh Mountain.

“Do you just want to alleviate yourself of the maintenance of it?” Commissioner Gregan Crawford asked Myers about the road.

She explained that DC Development is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“We’re in the process of liquidating all of the assets, and that road, we think, is a viable connector and it makes sense for it to be an official public road,” Myers said.

She added that most people traveling Wisp Mountain think that it is a public road.

Oakland area resident Eric Robison noted that giving the road to the county would alleviate ASCI’s “land-lock” problem. Currently, the county only has a deeded right of way to the county-owned center.

Robison indicated the only problem he sees with the proposed conveyance is that significant modifications will have to be made to the road in order for it to meet new county stormwater specifications.

“Other than that, it looks like a really good deal, and we should thank Karen for the effort,” he said.

Swanton area resident Dick Bolt, however, wondered what it would cost the county to take over the road.

“I would think the county would be interested in that as well,” he said.

Myers indicated she did not have specific information about Wisp Mountain, as the Wisp Resort Master Association maintains and plows several other roads in that area as well, including Overlook Pass.

“The bulk of the maintenance expense has been on that (Overlook Pass Road),” she said.

Commissioner Jim Raley indicated it was the county’s due diligence to get information about the cost of maintaining Wisp Mountain Road, not DC Development’s responsibility.

County attorney Mike Getty concurred. He noted that the public hearing concept regarding a conveyance is dictated by a state code.

“It simply says that anyone has the right to petition the county to take a road, but in doing so, has to give public notice of their intent to do that,” Getty said.

DC Development announced their intention in a public notice that was published in three issues of The Republican in May.

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USDA Providing Easement Funding For Storm Damage

Jul. 18, 2013

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing up to $124.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easement (EWP-FPE) funding to help prevent damages from significant storm events in Maryland and other states affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Land eligibility requires that flood damage was the result of Hurricane Sandy. Acceptable evidence includes insurance claims, newspaper or publication clippings, or any other documentation that links flood damage to Hurricane Sandy.

NRCS is accepting applications for EWP-FPE until September 2. All counties in Maryland, except for Carroll and Montgomery counties, were declared disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because of damages from Hurricane Sandy. Land in these counties would be eligible for funding consideration.

Floodplains store water, helping to protect lands downstream from future flood damage. When the health and integrity of the lands deteriorate, so do the environmental, economic, and social benefits they provide, according to the NRCS.

“To help states recover from Hurricane Sandy, NRCS is working with landowners to provide permanent protection for floodplains,” said NRCS Maryland acting state conservationist Deena Wheby. “Restoring these ecosystems ensures that our lands are resilient to future threats and impacts.”

Under this program, NRCS purchases the permanent easements on eligible lands and restores the area to natural conditions. A healthy floodplain enhances fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, and ground water recharge.

The program complements traditional disaster recovery funding and allows NRCS to purchase a permanent easement on lands within floodplains that sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Funds are only available in counties affected by Hurricane Sandy and where a major disaster was declared pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Private lands and those owned by local and state governments are eligible if they are located in a floodplain, not subject to tidal influence or action from storm waves, and meet one of the following requirements:

•Damaged by flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy;

•Would contribute to the restoration of flood storage and flow, provide for control of erosion, or improve the practical management of the floodplain easement; or

•Could be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach.

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