Swallow Falls in a Rage

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From the cover of the Republican News online:

Melting snow and days of rain created a dangerous situation in much of Garrett County Sunday and Monday, with flooding taking place in most waterways, some very serious. Swallow Falls, shown above, was nearly unrecognizable as the waters roiled up and over the riverbed on Monday. Muddy Creek, which flows into the Youghiogheny just downstream from the location above, became so swollen that it took out the bridge to the Youghiogheny Mountain Resort (YMR), which is the only entry to the area. For a short time, some residents were stranded there while others could not get home. A temporary bridge was put in place early this week, according to Brad Frantz at the Garrett County Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management, and the permanent one is to be installed early next week. The temporary bridge has a weight capacity that will allow any needed emergency vehicles, Frantz noted. He said while some roads were closed for a time because of flooding on Monday, there were no reports of injury or danger outside of the YMR situation. The temperatures went back down Wednesday, to the usual January weather in Garrett County. Snow is falling and will continue to fall for a few days, according to the forecast. Photo by Jim Riley.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Planning Group Slates Hearing On Land Ordinances

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The Garrett County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing concerning proposed revisions to three principal land development ordinances on Saturday, Feb. 6, in the Garrett College auditorium at 10 a.m.
The proposed revisions would affect the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning, Garrett County Subdivision, and Garrett County Sensitive Areas ordinances.

Initial preliminary drafts of these three ordinances were released for public review on Sept. 29, 2009, by the Garrett County Department of Planning and Land Development.

The Planning Commission then sponsored a public information meeting on the initial draft on Oct. 14, 2009. Since that time, the Planning Commission has accepted citizen comments submitted at the public meeting and in writing or by e-mail.

Read the rest of the article here

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Garrett County Commissioners Hear Staff Reports

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Community Action

The Liberty Mews housing development is 1½ months ahead of schedule, thanks to great weather in October, Community Action president Duane Yoder reported.

“I think it will be on the market in summer,” Yoder said.

Renters will have the opportunity to buy units at the development, located along Liberty Street in Oakland.

Yoder also reported that Community Action’s home energy assistance program helped the same number of residents this winter as the previous one, but had fewer dollars to do so.

Read the rest of the article here.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Garrett County could sell properties deliquent on utilities

Would be part of annual tax sale in May

Megan Miller
Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Garrett County property owners who are 60 or more days delinquent on payment of their water and sewer bills could see their properties put up for public tax sale as early as May.

That’s according to County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt, who said the county has to find a way to recoup the thousands of dollars it is owed for those public utilities.

“The next tax sale is May, so since we already have that authority, those delinquent properties will go forward,” he said.

Since the annual tax sale is held in May, owners who run delinquent in the summer could go nearly a year before their properties could be put up for sale, while owners who run delinquent in the beginning of the calendar year might have only a few months before the county takes action.

Jeff Broadwater, an accountant with the Department of Public Utilities, said as of Wednesday the county was owed $328,322 in unpaid water and sewer bills, from 633 different accounts. That’s an increase of about $46,000 since November, and $25,000 of that increase is attributable to 17 accounts that owe the most.

In November, the county commission submitted a legislative request to Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel asking for the authority to sell properties to collect payment, a method also used in cases of unpaid real estate taxes.

But it retracted the request Monday, after Beitzel pointed out, and an attorney confirmed, that the commission already has the necessary authority under existing code, Pagenhardt said.

The commission also retracted a legislative request Jan. 21 which would have enabled it to increase the county hotel rental tax from 5 percent to a maximum of 8 percent. Pagenhardt attributed that retraction to concerns from businesses that the measure would hurt the county’s tourism industry, driving down income from vacation rentals.

Edwards and Beitzel said they will pursue several other pieces of legislation during the 2010 session targeting Garrett County issues. Those include enabling legislation to allow the commission to implement setback ordinances and decommissioning provisions for wind energy turbines, measures to change the way title searches for dormant mineral rights are conducted and solutions to the shortage of OB/GYN services in the county.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Community Trust Foundation seeking aid from counties

Megan Miller
Cumberland Times-News

KEYSER, W.Va. — The Community Trust Foundation is asking the commissioners of Allegany, Garrett and Mineral counties for thousands of dollars to help pay its administrative costs through the year.

Terry Stephens, a representative of the organization, pitched the request to the Mineral County Commission at its meeting Tuesday night, asking for a contribution of $15,000, mainly to cover staffing costs.

Stephens explained that most of those costs to this point have been paid by the Tri-County Council, the Maryland organization that first fostered the foundation. But because of funding cuts, the council has withdrawn all its financial support.

“We’ve been left without any type of staff right now,” Stephens said. “We’re going to need some help this year.”

Commissioner Cindy Pyles asked Stephens if the foundation will need money from the county commissions every year in order to keep up its operations.

“I think we are about three to four years away from being self-sufficient,” Stephens said. “Honestly, I see us asking each commission for something like $15,000 this year, $10,000 next year and $5,000 the following year.”

Since its creation three years ago, the foundation has operated with the understanding that it would eventually become self-sufficient, he said. But it wasn’t expected to stand on its own for at least five years.

Stephens said the foundation does have about $5 million at its disposal for granting, but only a small percentage of that money can be used to pay the organization’s administrative costs.

Its board members have pledged $5,000 apiece to help shore up the foundation through the upcoming year, he said, but available revenue only adds up to about $38,000. It will require about $45,000 more, or a total of about $83,000, to operate with just a part-time staff.

The Mineral County Commission didn’t act on his request Tuesday, but will consider it in the coming weeks along with other budget issues, the commissioners said.

The foundation recently moved out of office space provided by the Tri-County-Council at the Allegany Business Center at Frostburg State University and into donated office space on the second floor of the Susquehanna Bank building at 71 Baltimore St. in Cumberland. The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a grant for new computers, phones and other office equipment. Western Maryland Health System donated the office furniture, and Air Con Engineering assisted with the move.

The Community Trust Foundation of Allegany, Garrett and Mineral counties is a private, nonprofit organization set up to make it easier for individuals and organizations who wish to make a long-term lasting impact on specific areas of local society to do so, according to a news release from the organization. It administers funds to benefit the arts, literacy, history and education, among other areas.

Stephens said the foundation awarded about $75,000 in grants around the three-county area in 2009, about $10,000 of that to Mineral County entities.

Contact

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Buyer Client Info – Federal Housing Tax Credit

Here is some clear, concise info regarding the Federal Housing Tax credit. Keep in mind, you are on the clock: Contract by April 30, 2010, close by June 30, 2010:

http://www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com/key_info.php

Key Information

Following are key points that prospective home buyers should be aware of when considering a home purchase under the tax credit program.
•A tax credit of up to $8,000 is available for first-time home buyers purchasing on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. In cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify.
•A tax credit of up to $6,500 is available for repeat home buyers who have owned a home for five consecutive years out of the prior eight years. The repeat home buyer tax credit applies to houses sold after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. In cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify.
•Income limits of $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for married couples filing jointly apply to all sales occurring after Nov. 6, 2009.
•The income limits for sales occurring on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before November 6, 2009 are $75,000 for individual taxpayers and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.
•Homes priced above $800,000 are not eligible for either the first-time home buyer tax credit or the repeat home buyer tax credit.
•Expanded tax credit benefits apply to members of the military, the foreign service and the intelligence community.
•Home purchases in 2010 may be claimed on an amended 2009 income tax return.
•Persons who are claimed as dependents by a taxpayer or who are under age 18 do not qualify for a tax credit.
•Home purchases from relatives of the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse do not qualify for the tax credit. The IRS defines relatives as ancestors (parent, grandparent, etc.), lineal descendants (child, grandchildren, etc.) and spouses.
•Married couples are not eligible to claim the first-time home buyer tax credit if either spouse has previously owned a home. They may, however, qualify for the repeat home buyer tax credit.
•Neither the first-time home buyer tax credit nor the repeat home buyer tax credit have to be repaid unless the home is sold or ceases to be used as the buyer’s principal residence within three years after the initial purchase.
•Taxpayers must submit a copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement and IRS Form 5405 to claim either the first-time home buyer tax credit or the repeat home buyer tax credit.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Welcome back winter! 2-3 inches of fresh powder!

The roads were clear until I hit Little Sandy’s hill this morning, and from there on, it was a little sloppy. But, if you ask me, I would rather deal with the cold white snow than the gloomy rain we have been receiving. Here are a few pics from my office this morning – that should be the Wisp in the background…


If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Push continues for North/South Highway


Cumberland Times-News

As chambers of commerce, our organizations all share a common mission to enhance the business environment and serve as engines for economic growth.

While each chamber operates independently and develops its own business-focused agenda, we have recently identified a singular issue that is of critical importance to each of our counties — the North/South Appalachian Highway.

This key transportation corridor is defined as Route 219 North, linking Garrett County, Md., to Somerset County, Pa., and Route 220 South, connecting Allegany County to Mineral County, W.Va. Bridging these two highways is Interstate 68, which has already proven to be a significant contributor to the economic vitality of our region.

Our shared interest in developing a viable north/south transportation corridor to compliment I-68 reflects an understanding of the positive effects that such intersecting highway systems have on business development.

New businesses mean new jobs and a renewed sense of economic prosperity.

Nearly a year ago, The Greater Cumberland Committee identified the North/South Appalachian Highway as an important economic development tool and determined that its advancement would be their No. 1 priority.

Since that time, our chambers have joined their efforts and have served as county-specific engines of progress on this highway. With well over 100 other businesses and organizations, we have worked together through the North/South Appalachian Highway Coalition to champion this project and together we have overcome significant hurdles and achieved key successes.

Building a major transportation corridor does not happen overnight, but the actions that have been taken over the past 12 months have renewed the commitment to its successful completion. We believe that 2010 will be equally as productive.

On behalf of the hundreds of businesses we represent, we will continue to be active participants in advancing the North/South Appalachian Highway.

Ron Aldom, Somerset County (Pa.)

Joyce Bishoff, Garrett County

Kolin Jan, Allegany County

Anne Palmer, Mineral County (W.Va.)

Chambers of Commerce

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Existing-home sales take a big fall in December


From the Washington Post:

Sales of previously owned homes took their biggest tumble in at least 40 years last month as the impact of a buying spree spurred by a tax credit for first-time buyers waned, according to industry data released Monday.

Those who rushed to meet the original November deadline to take advantage of an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers caused a surge in sales earlier in 2009, but left the market wobbly by the end of the year. First-time buyers, who made up more than 50 percent of sales earlier last year, represented just 43 percent of the market in December. The shift also resulted in fewer sales of lower-cost homes, which first-time buyers typically seek.
(more from the Washington Post article)

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Our Town Theatre in Oakland

I wanted to do a quick blog post about Our Town Theatre in Oakland, Maryland. I dropped my daughter, Kayleah, off on Saturday for one of their kids programs (Kidstuff). I saw the owner/operator, Jane Avery, and Angie Sincell was there assisting. Kayleah had a great time and it was tough getting her to leave when it was time!

Jane was also working on some props for ‘Letters to the Editor’, their current production. I have included some info on the schedules from their website. Stop by and support Our Town Theatre!
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Letters to the Editor will run January 28 – 30 at 8PM and Sunday January 31 at 2PM. There will be a dress rehearsal at 8PM January 27 for high school students.

Auditions for Our Town are noon – 4PM on January 30, 7PM-9PM on January 31, and 7PM-9PM on February 1. Rehearsals will start February 8. Performances will be March 24-28.

Our Town performances will be March 22 through 28.

Kidstuff, creative dramatics for children grades K-5, will meet 10:30AM – noon January 23, February 6, February 20, and March 6.

For more information about any event, call 301-334-5640

Our Town Theatre
121 East Center St
Oakland, MD 21550
301-334-5640
http://www.ourtowntheatre.org/

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350