Board of Public Works approves funding for clean water, Chesapeake Bay

The Garrett County Republican

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Board of Public Works recently approved more than $4.7 million in grants to reduce pollution and improve water quality, the Maryland Department of the Environment has announced. Garrett County was awarded $40,000.

According to MDE, grants from the Bay Restoration Fund will provide funding for 18 counties to upgrade on-site sewage disposal (septic) systems and make sewer connections to “significantly” reduce the discharge of nitrogen, one of the most serious pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay.

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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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Record participants hike in new year Across Maryland

From The Garrett County Republican

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reports about 5,000 hikers took advantage of sunny and mild weather New Year’s Day, joining the DNR in the state’s annual First Day Hikes initiative.

Hikers logged more than 10,000 miles on trails in parks and public lands all across Maryland, according to DNR.

Park rangers, staff and volunteers guided hikers of all experience levels ringing in the new year on the trail. With 43 hikes at more than 30 locations, the Maryland Park Service registered 3,834 hikers participating in guided hikes, while 1,152 people hiked 1,516 miles on their own — a grand total of 4,986 hikers, not counting many who didn’t check in with a ranger. Even more people hiked in Maryland’s state forests, wildlife management areas and other public lands.

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Plans progressing for Leo Martin Memorial Park

The Garrett County Republican

MTN. LAKE PARK — Plans for Leo Martin Memorial Park are moving along. Mountain Lake Park officials reviewed landscape designer Daniel Lucas’ latest rendering of the project during their council meeting last Thursday.

The butterfly-shaped park is to be located near the corner of Md. 135 and G Street on the site where the Bashford Amphitheater once stood. Martin served as mayor of Mountain Lake Park for 16 years.

Officials discussed the park design, which features flower beds shrubbery, fitness areas, a splash pad, a pavilion where weddings and other activities can be held, an outdoor fireplace, swings, as well as spaces where tents can be set up for festivals and other events.

In the center of the “butterfly” will be a silo-like tower with manufactured stone veneer and a spire top.

“It’s almost like a little castle that’s going to be really visible to the highway,” Mayor Don Sincell said. “It’ll have a spiral staircase and slides for kids.”

Lucas’ current plan shows a circular elevated stage with grass-terrace seating. Sincell noted, however, this feature might be changed.

The town has received Program Open Space and Community Parks and Playgrounds Program grants from the state totaling $235,000 for the project.

Sincell provided a brief update on Mountain Chautauqua, which is slated for July in Mountain Lake Park.

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Garrett County school board accepts report

Cumberland Times News

OAKLAND — The Strategic Facilities Committee, established and appointed in March by the Garrett County Board of Education, detailed its final report during a public meeting Tuesday with recommendations to address enrollment, demographic data and the community’s concerns and preferences.

Some recommendations in the capital projects plan include the establishment of a joint working group composed of staff of the Board of Education and county government to further identify and coordinate the program; to add security in the form of five security vestibules that help improve control of the school environment by allowing administrators and staff to know who’s in the building at all times; to address disruptive behavior by building dedicated spaces for de-escalation that get students back in the classroom as soon as possible; to undertake projects identified by the superintendent and staff that are in need of upgrade or replacement; and to enclose open-space classrooms to reduce noise and distractions for students.

Funding for the capital program is estimated to cost $50.6 million over six years, an average of $8.4 million per year.

David Lever, facilitator of Education Facilities Planning LLC and a part of the facilities commission, provided a comparison using current replacement value.

The replacement value of county schools is approximately $232 million and the industry standard capital expenditure is 2%. When added with deferred maintenance, the total in comparison comes to $99 million, an average of $9.9 million per year.

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