OAKLAND — Nearly $3 million from the Federal Communications Commission will be used over the next decade to expand broadband access to more than 2,450 homes and businesses in Garrett County, Rep. David Trone and U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Von Hollen recently announced.
“The $2.9 million in FCC funding was not awarded directly to the county,” explained Nataniel Watkins, the chief information officer at the Garrett County Department of Technology and Communications. “It was awarded to Declaration Networks Group. They run the NeuBeam internet service.”
Garrett County government began partnering with the Virginia-based company about four years ago to provide the service, which utilizes television white space to cover areas without broadband.
OAKLAND — The county commissioners recognized the recently formed Garrett County Swiftwater Rescue Team during their public meeting Tuesday afternoon at the courthouse in Oakland.
“I’m very pleased,” said Emergency Management Director John Frank about getting a team started. “It’s been a long time coming for Garrett County.”
He noted the team is organized under Garrett County Emergency Services, known as Company 8.
“Emergency Management just kind of helps facilitate, administer and approve deployments,” Frank said. “It’s our volunteers who have this kind of commitment.”
The Deep Creek Volunteer Fire Company serves as the team’s coordinator. Six other volunteer departments participate in the effort — Deer Park Community, Oakland, Kitzmiller, Eastern Garrett, Bloomington and Friendsville. Deep Creek Fire Chief Jason King is team leader.
DEER PARK — Working through Garrett County Habitat for Humanity, Jessica Wilson was able to acquire her own home in Deer Park about 10 years ago.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Wilson said she had such an “amazing experience” through the process that she wanted to help others have homes of their own.
“I enjoy working with Habitat locally and internationally,” she said. “I volunteer when I’m able to. I help with the dinner auction fundraiser Habitat has each year, as well as spread the word of Habitat to anyone who will listen.”
Wilson’s experience began in 2009 when she found herself in a tough relationship that she decided she needed to leave for her health and safety.
“I was a young mother with a young child on my own and nowhere to go except back to my mother’s two-bedroom trailer that she and my younger brother lived in at the time,” she explained. “For a while, my son and I slept on a blow-up mattress in my mom’s living room, pulling our clothes out of Rubbermaid totes at the beginning of each day.”
McHENRY — The 25th-annual Country Fest and Auction is set for Aug. 24 at the Garrett County Fairgrounds in McHenry from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
Billed as “an event for the whole family,” the festival is traditionally held the fourth Saturday in August.
Planning, setting up, running and cleaning up takes a large team of volunteers.
“Each church member from the age of 10 and up is assigned something to do,” said Lucy Maust, festival secretary. “We all just pitch in and do it.”
The fundraiser is sponsored by the Bittinger and Pillar of Life Mennonite churches in the Bittinger/Accident area. Maust stressed that 90 percent of all proceeds go toward Christian education for the church members’ children. The remaining 10 percent is donated to Christian Aid Ministries — a nonprofit Mennonite group headquartered in Berlin, Ohio — to minister to the “physical and spiritual needs of the world.”