$5 million in federal funding announced for Garrett airport

The Garrett County Republican

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Rep. David Trone, all D-Md., have announced $16 million in funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation for airport infrastructure improvements in Western Maryland.

Garrett County Airport will receive $5,035,688 for the expansion of its apron.

The project will expand the existing general aviation apron to 10,100 square yards to meet Federal Aviation Administration design standards. The grant will fund the final phase, which consists of construction.

An intent to fund this project was previously announced by the secretary of transportation on May 15, 2019.

Hagerstown Regional Airport-Richard A. Henson Field will receive $6,304,480 for the rehabilitation of its main runway, while Frederick Municipal Airport will receive $4,662,770 for the relocation of a taxiway.

Funds authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which waived local cost-share requirements for federal airport grants through FY2020, will help cover state and local funding obligations for the projects.

“These airports provide a vital connection between Western Maryland and other parts of our state and region. They have continued to serve communities and local economies despite facing significant financial challenges in recent months,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “Improving and upgrading Maryland’s public infrastructure will be critical for our recovery from the downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. I will continue to fight for investments like these throughout our state.”

“The Hagerstown Regional Airport, Frederick Municipal Airport and Garrett County Airport serve as crucial connecting hubs, support local jobs, and create economic opportunity. This investment will go a long way toward keeping critical infrastructure modernized so that all our airports can continue providing top-notch service,” said Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We will keep working to bring federal resources to Maryland’s transportation infrastructure given the vital role they play in local communities like these in Western Maryland.”

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Fireworks displays set for Independence Day weekend

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — With COVID-19 putting a damper on many summer events, it’s not holding back a pair of mainstay fireworks displays in Garrett County.

Fire on the Mountain

Fireworks will light up the sky July 4 as the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce presents the annual “Fire on the Mountain” Fireworks Display.

The display is set to begin at dark. The fireworks are launched from the top of the Tubing Park at Wisp Resort. Prime viewing locations include the Scenic Overlook on U.S. 219, Wisp Resort, local businesses in McHenry, and from boats on the lake, particularly around McHenry Cove.

For any location from which you choose to view the fireworks, remember to practice social distancing.

Wisp Resort is the associate sponsor.

Supporting sponsors are Deep Creek Shop n Save; Huey’s Ice Cream; Bear Creek Traders; Perkins Restaurant and McHenry Beverage Shoppe compliments of Hugh Umbel and Ray Shurg; Ledo Pizza, Pasta & Pub; Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake; and Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales.

Contributing sponsors are Railey Realty, Railey Vacations and Silver Tree Marine LLC.

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Maryland eases some coronavirus restrictions on outdoor recreation, allowing golf, boating and more

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland remains under a stay-at-home order with schools and many businesses closed, but Gov. Larry Hogan announced a slight easing of restrictions Wednesday on outdoor recreation and nonemergency medical procedures.

The governor amended his stay-at-home order to allow for individual and small group sports — such as golfing and tennis, outdoor fitness instruction, recreational fishing and hunting, recreational boating and horseback riding — starting Thursday.

Also, Maryland’s state-owned beaches and parks will open Thursday for walking and exercise. Local governments will have the flexibility to take similar actions at their discretion, Hogan said.

“I know how anxious people are to get outside, both for their physical and mental well-being, and we know that outside activity is safer than inside activity,” Hogan said during a news conference Wednesday at the State House in Annapolis.

He said his coronavirus advisory team had “much discussion” Tuesday on the issue of outdoor activities, and members ultimately agreed to allow “lower-risk outdoor activities.”[Ocean City to reopen beaches, boardwalk this weekend, as resort town sees first coronavirus cases] »

Hogan also announced that hospitals can resume nonemergency procedures, which had been barred in an attempt to keep inpatient populations low in case a surge of COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm them.

“Many Marylanders may have put off important procedures, screenings and other things that they really need to attend to,” Hogan said. “If there’s something that you have had to delay — like a PET scan or a biopsy, an angioplasty or an orthopedic procedure — you should now be able to take care of those time-sensitive procedures.”

The changes marked the first easing of Hogan’s strict statewide restrictions, imposed starting in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The governor has pushed back against a wider reopening, saying the state needs to reach a sustained decline in the number of hospitalizations for treatment of the illness.

The governor’s move to reopen golf courses followed lobbying by owners and operators of clubs. A Politico reporter even asked him about it in April during a live interview.

“I want to get you on the record on this critical issue,” Politico reporter Jake Sherman asked. “Will golf courses in your state open any time in the near future?”

“Is there particular golf course that you would like to have open?” Hogan responded, chuckling. Hogan went on to say that opening golf courses would be “one of the early things that we do” as part of reopening — a pledge he fulfilled Wednesday.

David G. Bannister, board member of the Caves Valley Golf Club in Baltimore County, said he thinks golf is an activity that can be done safely.

While some courses might reopen immediately, Caves Valley plans to take its time preparing the facility and open May 22.

“We need a couple weeks to get things ready to go,” Bannister said. “Caves is a high-end experience. In order to present it the way you want, it takes a little time to tidy up.”

Republican lawmakers also had pressed to allow golfing, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress. Though he’s not a golfer, Harris said as an anesthesiologist he understands how to control infections.

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DNR black bear den survey proves productive

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — Last month, as he does every March, Garrett County resident Harry Spiker checked on black bear sows and their cubs as they slept in their dens.

Spiker is a game mammal section leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He is also Maryland’s principal black bear biologist coordinating bear research and management activities statewide. Since he lives and works in Garrett County, he also helps with bear management and nuisance issues locally.

“We maintain a sample of radio-collared sows (female bears) to track population growth and the overall health of the bear population,” Spiker said. “We try to maintain approximately 20 bears with radios across the four western counties. Since bears give birth every other year, that usually has us working about 10 bear dens per year but there are fluctuations as some bears may die, move away, den in unreachable places, etc.”

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Oakland native’s World War II flight may have inspired song

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — An Oakland native who passed away in November at the age of 100 was once involved in a World War II flight that may have inspired the song “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer.”

J.C. O’Donnell was a 22-year-old Army lieutenant when he flew a twin-engine warplane, a B-26 Marauder, in an intense dogfight in New Guinea on May 28, 1942.

He ended up flying the plane on one engine for four hours, arriving late back to the airstrip at Port Moresby.

News accounts stated that several planes flew over the mountains in New Guinea, and the Americans ended up under attack by more than a dozen Japanese Zero fighter planes.

The battle lasted 35 minutes, and the Marauder’s right engine was destroyed in machine gun fire. The tail was also hit and the fuselage acquired large holes.

O’Donnell took a long route home and was chased by the Japanese planes for about an hour. By the time he got the plane and his crew of six back to the airstrip, it had been declared missing.

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