Workers may soon come knocking at area homes
Cumberland — CUMBERLAND — Local officials were taken aback when the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday that census workers could begin knocking on some homeowners’ doors as early as Tuesday.
Through several months of public meetings with stakeholders representing the public school system, state prisons and the faith-based community, among others, there had never been a mention of census workers approaching residents until May.
Already, however, some 56,000 census workers are set to deliver forms to nearly 12 million addresses that don’t get their mail at their homes. This is despite nearly two dozen members of the Allegany County Local Complete County Committee spreading the word that first come notices in early March and surveys would arrive by mail between March 15 and 31.
Only if residents failed to submit forms, local representatives have repeated during public meetings and presentations at various interest groups, would a census enumerator knock on their door.
Monday’s announcement “caught me off guard,” said Elizabeth Stahlman, chairwoman of the local committee working to ensure 100 percent accountability.
A census worker who frequently attends the monthly meetings also said he was unaware of the issue. But Mike Gregorio, Census Bureau spokesman, said that’s been the plan all along.
“This office has known about it for a while,” Gregorio said. “About 90 percent of forms will be sent out. If you don’t receive mail at your own house, then you might expect someone to come knocking on your door to give you a form or leaving something on your doorsteps.”
Less than 10 percent are hand-delivered by census workers. Those efforts are concentrated in mostly rural areas, including parts of Western Maryland.
Most residents should receive their survey form, by mail or in person, before April 1. Beginning in May, census workers make their way to homes that have not mailed back a completed form. That process, Gregorio said, can extend into July.
Meanwhile, local committee members spent about 35 minutes Tuesday discussing various outreach efforts. A display will be available at the Hooley Plunge at Rocky Gap State Park on Saturday, Stahlman said. Promotional products have been distributed during high school sporting events and window displays have been offered to Allegany County Chamber of Commerce members.
Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Franklin Jackson Jr. said the wintry weather has put some plans behind schedule but emphasized the importance of a complete count.
“This is our last chance to get this right,” Jackson said. “Remember, resources are at stake. This is the last big push.”
The census determines yearly appropriations of more than $400 billion in federal aid to tribal, state and local governments.
From Staff Reports
Oakland — OAKLAND — With the filing deadline still months away, several Garrett County incumbents have declared their intention to seek re-election in 2010.
Garrett County offices open in 2010 include: all three county commission seats, state’s attorney, sheriff, clerk of courts, register of wills, judge of Orphans Court, three school board seats for Districts 1, 2, and 3, and the chairs of the Republican and Democratic central committees.
Incumbent County Commissioners Dennis Glotfelty of McHenry and Fred Holliday of Grantsville have both filed candidate papers to retain their seats. Glotfelty represents District 3, and Holliday, District 2.
Commission chairman Ernest Gregg of Mountain Lake Park said he, too, will seek re-election, but has not yet filed his candidate papers. Gregg represents District 1.
On the Board of Education, vice president Thomas Carr, Accident, filed for re-election to the District 2 seat. President Donald Forrester, Mountain Lake Park, has filed to retain the seat representing District 1.
Two men have filed as Republican candidates for the office of sheriff, Robert E. Corley of Oakland and Larry Gnegy of Oakland. The office is currently held by Gary Berkebile.
Incumbent Rita Watson, Republican, Oakland, will face Republican challenger Traci Royce, Oakland, for register of wills.
The deadline for filing candidate papers is July 6. The primary election is set for Sept. 14.
Existing-home sales fell in January but are above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – dropped 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.05 million units in January from a revised 5.44 million in December, but remain 11.5 percent above the 4.53 million-unit level in January 2009.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is still some delay between shopping and closing that affected current sales. “Most of the completed deals in January were based on contracts in November and December. People who got into the market after the home buyer tax credit was extended in November have only recently started to offer contracts, so it will take a couple months to close those sales,” he said. “Still, the latest monthly sales decline is not encouraging, and raises concern about the strength of a recovery.”
Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 0.5 percent to 3.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.8-month supply2 at the current sales pace, up from a 7.2-month supply in December. Raw unsold inventory is 9.6 percent below a year ago, and is at the lowest level since March 2006.
“Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory,” Yun said. “With a downtrend in the number of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges, values are beginning to firm but with great variance around the country.”
The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $164,700 in January, unchanged from a year earlier. Distressed homes, which accounted for 38 percent of sales last month, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they typically are discounted in comparison with traditional homes in the same area.
A parallel NAR practitioner survey4 shows first-time buyers purchased 40 percent of homes in January, down from 43 percent in December. Investors accounted for 17 percent of transactions in January, up from 15 percent in December; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. The survey also shows that buyer traffic increased 9.4 percent in January.
NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said buying a home in the current environment has become more challenging. “First-time buyers and others who need a mortgage are increasingly losing out to all-cash investors for the best bargains in many areas, particularly for foreclosed homes where cash is king,” she said.
“Inventory conditions vary by price range, and of course there are major differences depending on location. Realtors® are the best buyer resource for strategies on winning bids in increasingly competitive markets,” Golder said. “The bidding for more desirable homes will only accelerate between now and the April 30 contract deadline to qualify for a tax credit of up to $8,000.”
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 5.03 percent in January from 4.93 percent in December; the rate was 5.05 percent in January 2009.
Single-family home sales fell 6.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million in January from a level of 4.76 million in December, but are 8.6 percent above the 4.08 million pace in January 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $163,600 in January, down 0.4 percent from a year ago.
Existing condominium and co-op sales dropped 8.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 620,000 in January from 675,000 in December, but are 38.1 percent above the 449,000-unit level a year ago. The median existing condo price5 was $172,400 in January, which is 1.4 percent higher than January 2009.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 10.9 percent to an annual pace of 820,000 in January but are 22.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $245,300, a gain of 8.8 percent from January 2009.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest declined 6.9 percent in January to a level of 1.08 million but are 8.0 percent higher than January 2009. The median price in the Midwest was $130,300, which is 1.0 percent below a year ago.
In the South, existing-home sales dropped 7.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.87 million in January but are 12.0 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $140,200, down 2.0 percent from January 2009.
Existing-home sales in the West declined 5.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.28 million in January but are 7.6 percent higher than January 2009. The median price in the West was $203,400, down 5.8 percent from a year ago.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
262.5 inches have fallen this winter at Keysers Ridge
From Staff Reports
times news — OAKLAND (AP) — The snowiest part of Maryland has set a winter weather record.
More than 2 1/2 feet of snow fell in Garrett County last week, pushing the seasonal total into record territory.
The State Highway Administration said Monday that 262.5 inches have fallen this winter at its garage near Keyser’s Ridge. That tops the old record of 233.5 inches recorded in the winter of 2002-03.
In Oakland, National Weather Service observer Sherry Helbig reports a seasonal total of 210 inches, more than double the winter average of 95 inches.
SHA spokesman David Buck said the snowbanks along state Route 495 are about as high as road crews can pile the stuff using giant snowblowers. He said it’s a challenge the agency has never faced before.
From Staff Reports
times news — Chad Stallman, Garrett County resident, competes in the Advanced Giant Slalom race at the Special Olympics Maryland 2010 Winter Games at Wisp Monday. The games will end today.
Regardless of the damper that the weather put on the situation, the Deep Creek Dunk was a tremendous success! Here are some photos from the dunk, by Lori Hill, a Garrett County resident. My personal favorite, some of my friends dressed up as the old school wrestlers featuring Hulk Hogan, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Andre the Giant, Stone Cold Steve Austion, Sting and Ric Flair. Classic:
From Staff Reports
times news — AVILTON — A fire badly damaged the Avilton Inn early Friday, gutting an apartment and burning the kitchen and bar area of the restaurant at 8467 Avilton Lonaconing Road.
“The dining room got water damage,” said Sid Turner, a caretaker of the property for owner Jim Robeson.
“I just met with him this morning and he’s planning to fix it and reopen,” Turner said Monday.
“The fire started about 1 a.m. right after they closed. It started in either an electric or coal furnace.”
An attempt Monday afternoon to contact Grantsville Fire Chief Duane Stein was not successful.
Other companies responding were Eastern Garrett, Bittinger, Shaft, Clarysville, Deep Creek and Salisbury, Pa.
In addition, the Northern Garrett Rescue Squad was on the scene as was the Garrett County Roads Department.
Ryan Chapman, Maryland deputy state fire marshal, said he spoke the day of the fire with Grantsville Deputy Chief Herman Yoder and was told that the fire appeared to be accidental, beginning in the basement and spreading from there.
“We felt no need to get involved at that point,” Chapman said.
The website TornadoVideos.net picked up some of my photos from the latest winter storm here in Garrett County, which I have dubbed ‘Snowpacalypse 3′. Ironically, we had another 3 feet of snow drop in the area during this latest blizzard, according to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh. The storm has weakened, but we are still expecting another 6-12 inches of snow today. Assuming that these totals are accurate, we are at approximately 23 feet of snow for the season! 23 FEET!
From their story at TVN:
“The latest in a series of nor’easters is currently wreaking havoc across the central Atlantic into New England. States from Vermont to West Virgina are experiencing some of the most brutal conditions of the season today as a monstrous low pressure system wobbles over the region, bringing HEAVY snow and near hurricane-force winds. Blizzard conditions have been causing serious problems all across the northeast, including power outages, massive flight cancellations and major road closures. These conditions are likely to persist until sometime tomorrow! Included are photos from New York City, which has picked up nearly 20″ of snow, and western Maryland, where another 3+foot snow event is underway. Thanks to everyone who contributed!“
If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350
A great friend of mine and a local photographer, Jim Crabtree, is in the top 20 in a very important photo competition with a mummy shot of Kasey Bell. Its an international photography association called the WPPI the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International.
There were 1000’s of entries internationally and they were narrowed down to a few hundred and then narrowed down to 20. Jim Crabtree, a Garrett County native, is in the top 20.
You can vote at the official site or go to the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International convention in Las Vegas next week. You can vote as many times as you like, similar to American Idol.
GO HERE TO VOTE: Kasey is #18
Let’s put Garrett County on the map in the photography world and bring home the win for Jim Crabtree – a Garrett County ALL STAR!