Welcome Back, Maryland Welcome Centers!

ANNAPOLIS, Md. –(AP) -Gov. Larry Hogan is announcing the reopening of tourist welcome centers in far western Maryland and the Eastern Shore that the previous administration closed six years ago for budget reasons.

Hogan said in a statement Thursday that the Youghiogheny (yahk-ih-GAY’-nee) Overlook center in Garrett County and the Bay Country center in Queen Anne’s County will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays.

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Garrett County takes ownership of Overlook Pass Road

Posted: Monday, December 14, 2015 6:37 pm

Garrett County takes ownership of Overlook Pass RoadElaine Blaisdell eblaisdell@times-news.comThe Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Commission voted unanimously following a public hearing Monday afternoon to accept a petition for Overlook Pass Road to become part of the public roads system.

“The bankruptcy court abandoned this road, which put it in a unique position because it is a road that links two existing county roads and there was, at that point in time, no vehicle for the maintenance of the road; nor was there a way to establish what parties would be responsible for the road,” said Gorman Getty III, county attorney. “The road itself is now owned by the county.”

In 2013, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland approved a plan of liquidation for DC Development. The developer notified the homeowners association, which had been a part of the Wisp Development, as well as the county, that DCD wouldn’t continue to be involved in the maintenance of Overlook Pass. At the conclusion of the bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court abandoned Overlook Pass and conveyed it to the county, according to Getty.

No one commented either for or against the petition during the public comment portion of the hearing. One letter was received from a concerned citizen regarding the petition and residents have voiced concerns about traffic congestion on Marsh Hill Road, said Paul Edwards, commission chairman. The letter will be incorporated into the public record.

“We are working with the Wisp to try to mitigate those issues with traffic. I think we have some really good plans and we are seeking some finances to help with traffic flow there,” said Edwards.

The county is also in an agreement with EPT and the former DCD homeowners association to assist with costs associated with Overlook Pass, according to Getty.

A formal written decision to include the road in the county road system will be made by the commissioners.

In November 2013, the county agreed to provide snow removal service on Overlook Pass, where about 40 people live, for one winter season only.

More Information Here:  http://www.times-news.com/news/local_news/garrett-county-takes-ownership-of-overlook-pass-road/article_6a607f02-a124-5a24-b286-73c924b5af3b.html

 

Sinking Barton roadway may be caused by settling coal mine

BARTON — Aaron Run Road, which was closed May 17, will be closed for an extended period of time because the road surface is continuing at a reduced rate of subsidence. The subsidence could be due to an old coal mine settling out, according to Jay Moyer, director of the Garrett County Department of Public Works.

“It looks more like a sinkhole now,” said Moyer.

Last week the county engineering staff, the roads division chief and the assistant road chief for the Grantsville Roads Garage met with personnel from the Maryland Department of the Environment Land Management Administration – Mining Program – Bureau of Mines to begin the process of identifying the cause of the subsidence and to determine the course of action that will be needed to repair the damage, according to Moyer. Prior to 1977, deep mining occurred in the area, according to information provided by the bureau. The Federal Bureau of Mines will have a representative on site to do an inspection.

The first portion of the project will entail taking bore samples to determine the total area of the subsidence and depth that will need to be excavated in order to reach a stable base, according to Moyer. The MDE Bureau of Mines is currently arranging to have a drilling rig brought to the site to do test bores. If it’s determined that the affected area is too unstable to allow for the reconstruction of the road at its present location the road may need to be realigned, according to Moyer.

“We hope that the project will begin in the next couple of weeks,” said Moyer. “As of this time we have no idea of the scope of work that will be required to complete the project or the cost. Once the estimated cost has been determined, MDE Bureau of Mines will attempt to provide emergency funding for engineering and the reconstruction costs for the project if funds can be allocated from their 2014 operating budget.”

If funds for the project can’t be allocated, the project may be delayed until the 2015 budget is approved, according to Moyer.

“This may also require county cost share participation. At this time we do not have an estimate as to the amount of work that will be necessary to re-establish the road to its original condition nor the length of time it will take to do the work,” said Moyer.

One Garrett County student has been affected by the road closure and the bus route has been rearranged to accommodate the student.

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Garrett County changing material applied to roads during winter

MDE claims department in violation of state code

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Roads Department is planning on using anti-skid only on the roads next year as opposed to a blend of anti-skid and bottom ash, announced General Roads Superintendent Jay Moyer during the county commission meeting Tuesday.

The decision was made because the Maryland Department of the Environment told the department it is in violation of state code and because of budget constraints, according to Moyer. Moyer requested a waiver from MDE for the violation and was denied it.

“My recommendation is we are going to go ahead this year … will use those piles down,” said Moyer, who noted that next year nothing will be added to the anti-skid piles except in those areas where salt is used.

Bottom ash is the result of coal combustion and is a byproduct, according to Moyer. The anti-skid blend is used to loosen up ice on the road surfaces so that the Roads Department can plow them.

In March, Mitchell Welsh of the Compliance Division of MDE, who specializes in the Solid Waste Program, visited the department and observed a violation in the way the bottom ash was stored at the four garages.

“This is a safety issue. That is what this boils down to,” said Moyer. “We have never had a violation. We have never been cited in the past. It’s never been an issue before with this being used as a product.”

Currently the department uses salt in a limited fashion only in areas that are heavily traveled by tourists such as New Germany, Lower New Germany, Glendale and Sand Flat roads.

“We have also signed a contract with (the) State Highway Adminstration recently that will allow us to buy up to $250,000 worth of salt per year for the next five years,” said Moyer. “But it’s expensive; it’s $68 a ton versus $6.75 a ton for bottom ash.”

MDE advised the county that it needs an industrial storm water permit at the sites where the anti-skid is stored.  

Moyer indicated in a letter to Edward Dexter, program administrator for the MDE Land Management Administration Solid Waste Program, that the Roads Department has sediment control ponds at each of the four garages. Moyer also indicated that the department had applied for the storm water permit.

The anti-skid has been stored at each of the garage sites for many years with little or no environmental impact on the surrounding areas, according to Moyer.

“The bottom ash is monitored by the (U.S.) EPA (Environmental Protection

Agency). It is tested and certified as having no significant impact on the environment,” said Moyer.

MDE is OK with the department using the bottom ash on the road but is worried about it blowing out from the stockpile into the atmosphere and washing away during rain events, according to Moyer.

“When we are done, we encapsulate those piles in pure anti-skid, which prevents any wind issues,” said Moyer.

Along with his request for a waiver from the MDE, Moyer attached a product analysis provided by Belmont Aggregates.

“… test results that you supplied indicated that the leachate to be expected from this material is likely to exceed the state and federal drinking water standards for antimony, and to exceed Maryland’s groundwater standards for antimony and iron,” wrote Dexter in re-sponse to Moyer’s request for a waiver. “At this time, there are no barriers to prevent the escape of chemicals leaching out of the piles into the surface and groundwater. Garrett County has not demonstrated how the existing storage system can meet the storage requirements.”

Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator, wrote a letter to Dexter expressing his disappointment over the fact that waiver request was denied. Pagenhardt indicated that because of the costs associated with fixing the violation that it “left the county in a position to redirect funds from other public services at a time when revenue from every source is being diminished.”

MDE recommended that the department construct buildings at the garage storage sites to cover the abrasive stockpile or to cover it with a tarp, according to Moyer. Building construction would cost about $200,000 for each site.

“With the current economic climate and impending close of the winter operation’s season upon us, it would be very expensive, cumbersome and offer little guarantee of obtaining the required results to try to cover the stockpile with tarps in order to try and achieve the required results,” wrote Moyer.

The county’s Department of Engineering has measured the stockpiles and determined that it would take a tarp the size of an acre to cover one bottom ash pile, according to Moyer.

“Their (MDE) answer back to that was just use smaller tarps,” said Moyer. “Well these are huge anti-skid piles.”

Moyer indicated that it would be dangerous and time-consuming for the road department employees to remove snow from the tarps in order to get to the anti-skid.

“To me that’s not an option; the tarps are out,” said Moyer.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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 —

‘Better road, cleaner streams and less cost’

Instructors share techniques to reduce erosion, lessen sediment

Michael A. Sawyers Cumberland Times-News

FROSTBURG — Dirt and gravel roads throughout the region can expect to get some environmentally sensitive maintenance from those who attended a recent training session on the campus of Frostburg State University.

And, the techniques taught by instructors from the Center for Dirt & Gravel Road Studies at Penn State are also less expensive than traditional ones. The idea behind the training is to keep sediment from running into streams and rivers.

“Who could be against that? Better road, cleaner streams and less cost,” said Donnelle Keech of The Nature Conservancy. That organization, paired with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources sponsored the training.

Sixty-five attended the two-day training, some representing distant agencies such as the Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District.

“We can help with some funding to get people started using these techniques,” said instructor David M. Creamer. “When we know we have had an impact is when they start to use those same techniques with their own dollars.”

Traditionally, erosion on roads was corrected by digging up the entire roadbed and placing a 100-foot pipe beneath it, according to Creamer. The center teaches an approach whereby a 20-foot pipe is inserted through a bank on one side of the road, providing equal or superior erosion control.

Creamer tells students not to use more equipment than necessary because it would be “like picking your nose with your elbow.”

Bo Sliger is the maintenance chief for the Potomac-Garrett State Forest where he and his crew of three have 25 miles of dirt and gravel roads in Garrett County.

“Our road work is pretty much dependent on getting grants,” Sliger said. “We have gotten a number of them, mostly for $30,000. Our forest roads get used not just by motor vehicles but by ATVs, hikers and others.”

This week, the forest crew will be maintaining Piney Mountain Road near Cranesville. Snaggy Mountain Road is another that requires regular attention, Sliger said.

As the manager of the Allegany County Soil Conservation District, Craig Hartsock works with private landowners to help them maintain roads.

“Every farm has a farm lane or a woods road with bridges or stream crossings,” Hartsock said. “We have cost-sharing programs to help them improve roads and reduce erosion.” These projects are contracted, he said. “We have up to 200 of those projects a year.

“We also approve all forest harvest roads for loggers,” Hartsock said. “There are 40 or 50 of those every year.”

One inch of rain that falls in an hour can cause 13 to 54 tons of sediment to be discharged into streams, according to the maintenance specialists. The techniques taught by the center are meant to reduce that discharge. In the case of the Potomac River drainage, that would mean less sediment flowing to the Chesapeake Bay.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com

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 —

Repairing Heavily Traveled Coal Truck Routes Could Cost Millions Of Dollars

Feb. 16, 2012

Garrett County Roads Department personnel discussed the deteriorating condition of Lower New Germany and Westernport roads with the Garrett County commissioners last Tuesday. Repairing those roads could cost millions of dollars.

A recent video taken from the passenger’s side of a vehicle traveling on Westernport and Lower New Germany roads was shown.

“We have an extreme amount of damage occurring to these two roads,” Moyer said.


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He indicated there are two things adding to their demise: heavy truck traffic traveling to and from coal mines, and unusual winter weather cycles in which road surfaces keep freezing and thawing.

“When that occurs, it also causes deterioration to the underlying clay that’s underneath the road,” Moyer said. “It softens it up, makes the road surface flexible.”

The video showed repair work under way on a section of Westernport Road. Crews had to remove the crumbling asphalt, excavate several feet below the road surface, and rebuild/stabilize the underlying strata, before new pavement could be reapplied.

“They have to dig down to as solid ground as possible, and then they use a mixture of riff-raff and crusher-run stone to try to tighten that up and seal that in,” Moyer said.

He noted, however, that a major problem with maintaining roads right now is asphalt and bituminous concrete cannot be purchased this time of the year.

“So, we’re using what’s called cold mix, which is not the best thing to use this time of year for patching,” Moyer said. “It’s just a temporary fix.”

The superintendent noted that in 2008, the county paved the entire 18 miles of Westernport Road at a cost of $493,754.

“That’s materials only,” he stressed. “That does not include equipment and labor.”

Since 2008, because of constant truck traffic, the Roads Department has spent another $76,700 in repairs to Westernport Road, including patching and drainage work, according to Moyer.

County engineer Dwight Emory estimates the cost of bringing Westernport and Lower New Germany roads up to actual “coal-hauling” standards at $9 million. The only road in the county that currently meets that standard is Wilson Road, which was developed and is maintained by Mettiki Coal.

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Garrett lawmakers won’t pursue collective bargaining

Commissioners request rights for roads workers

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Garrett County’s two lawmakers in Annapolis have decided not to pursue the Garrett County commissioners’ request to be granted legislative authority to mandate collective bargaining for County Roads Department employees.
Chairman James Raley said that after a lengthy strike in the 1970s, commissioners had the option of whether they wanted to voluntarily participate in the collective bargaining agreement with the Roads Department. There were no laws in place mandating the agreement.
Roads Department employees are represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 67, Local 1834.
“With two commissioners in support of this legislation, we are going to continue to operate the way we always have, without a mandate,” said Raley.
Both Raley and Commissioner Robert Gatto supported the proposed legislation, with Commissioner Gregan Crawford opposing, according to Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator.
The legislative request was addressed at a Dec. 20 meeting. Delegate Wendell Beitzel raised some questions and concerns and was told by Raley that various issues needed to be worked out and that information would be forthcoming, according to a letter from Sen. George Edwards and Beitzel.
“However, after repeated attempts, we did not receive the requested information. Some of the information generated was classified by Chairman Raley as privileged information protected by the attorney-client privilege,” states the Jan. 30 letter. “Due in part to these unanswered concerns, the members of the delegation did not reach a consensus regarding this matter.”
County attorney Gorman Getty III released a statement to Edwards and Beitzel in regard to the information they requested, according to Raley.
“The document that they requested was a client document. We wouldn’t share any type of document like that,” said Raley.
Raley said that he contacted the legislators via email on Jan. 6, 9 and 19 in regard to their specific concerns but didn’t receive any communication until the Jan. 30 letter.
Remaining legislative re-quests from the county have been drafted into legislation and hearings have been scheduled, according to a legislative update provided at Tuesday’s commission meeting. One request by the Garrett County Animal Issues Advisory Commission would give the animal control officer the authority to make an arrest and provide the county the authority to deal with animals at large and barking dog complaints. The legislation would give the manager of the animal shelter more authority rather than have the property owner go through a common nuisance-t type lawsuit.
The advisory commission also requested that the county be added to the Code of Maryland section regarding Regulations of Animals, which would provide for the regulation, humane treatment and keeping of domestic animals within the county, including the authority to assess a penalty of up to 30 days in jail or a fine of $1,000, or both, for a violation of the ordinance.
Legislation that would give the commissioners a say in snowmobiling on public land has not been drafted yet. The commissioners made the request on behalf of the Garrett County Snowdrifters.
Remaining legislative re-quests that have been drafted and have had hearings scheduled include:
• Increasing the hotel rental tax rate from 5 percent to 6 percent.
• Adding the ability for the Department of Public Utilities to assess late fees for water and sewer bills that are not paid by the due date.
• Enabling authority to appoint a member-at-large on the Salary Study Commission to replace a member from the League of Women Voters of Garrett County because the league has disbanded.
• Adding the county to the state’s Correctional Officers Bill of Rights, which would provide certain rights of a correctional officer in the county relating to employment, investigation and discipline.
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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Parking Lot Will Be Ready For Fair Week, Says Roads Department Superintendent


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Aug. 4, 2011

The Garrett County Roads Department has been busy working on the parking lot area at the fairgrounds in McHenry, general roads superintendent Jay Moyer indicated during a departmental update report for the county commissioners on Tuesday. He also reviewed paving projects and discussed adoption of an entrance permit policy with the officials.

“The bottom line is that the parking lot will be ready for use the week of the fair,” Moyer said. “So that should squelch any rumors that the fair is going to be canceled because the parking lot is not ready.”

A five-acre area was excavated for the lot, with about 18 inches of top soil removed. A local contractor then donated 12,000 cubic yards of suitable sub-base material and approximately 2,000 cubic yards of Grizzly base stone was laid over the area.

About 2,000 cubic yards of CR6 stone will be spread over the parking lot prior to the 55th annual Garrett County Agriculture Fair, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, through Saturday, Aug. 20.

In addition, 27 bases were installed for future lighting and five storm water collection inlets were constructed.

“There’s definitely a lot of work yet to be done,” Moyer noted.

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GC Commissioners Hear Roads Dept. Budgetary Report

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Jan. 6, 2011

The county commissioners heard an update report on Tuesday morning from Garrett County Roads Department personnel. Since county officials are preparing the fiscal year 2012 budget, general roads superintendent Jay Moyer’s report centered around budgetary issues.

He presented the commissioners with personnel overtime data.

“We like to track that as much as we can,” Moyer said about winter operations overtime.

By the end of last winter’s record-breaking snowfall, county road crews had logged in 23,000 man hours of overtime pay.

“So far this winter, we’re at 4,500 hours of overtime,” Moyer said.

The superintendent said the department tries to hold overtime down as much as possible through work scheduling. He noted that crews may arrive at work earlier than normal, at 5 a.m., to clear snowy roads for school buses. Road conditions are evaluated at about 1:30 p.m. If the superintendent feels they are in good enough shape for buses to transport students back home, then road crews end their shift. If not, workers have to work overtime to keep the roads clear for the buses and other motorists.

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Hiring freeze will affect Garrett Roads

Megan Miller
Cumberland Times-News

Oakland — OAKLAND — Garrett County’s hiring freeze means the county roads department will be down 16 roads workers through at least spring 2011.

The department lost 16 employees through retirements, and those employees cannot be replaced because of the freeze. On top of that, two other employees will be absent because of military leave, bringing the total to 18.

“The optimum thing would be to hire employees, but understanding that we have the hiring freeze … we’re going to work something out here to do the best we can,” department Superintendent Jay Moyer told the county commission Tuesday.

Moyer outlined a plan to shuffle workers from the Oakland garage to the Grantsville garage to try to cover staffing gaps at Grantsville, which had the highest number of retirements with eight.

Two operators and one foreman will move from the Oakland garage to Grantsville. The Oakland garage will also take over road service for Pine Hill Road to the top of Spring Lick Road, an area normally serviced by the Grantsville garage.

Commissioner Fred Holliday, whose district is the Grantsville area, expressed concerns that fewer roads workers means roads will go unplowed for long periods during the winter.

“With losing a minimum of four drivers — four plows — that’s four routes that aren’t going to get done,” Holliday said.

But Moyer said that won’t be the case.

“You’re saying a route won’t get done. It will,” he said. “But this is going to take some public cooperation and understanding that it won’t be exactly like it was in the past in a major snow event.”

“The best we can do is hope for a mild winter this year,” Moyer added.

Moyer said summer maintenance work, such as mowing and cleaning ditches and shoulders, might actually be harder to accomplish with fewer employees.

“The public needs to understand that we will continue to operate as we have in the past, but with a shortage of manpower it may be difficult to do the same schedule that we did in the past,” he said. “But we will work at getting things done as quickly as we can.”

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