I found this awesome aerial video from Paul Thompson’s blog of last year’s Deep Creek Dunk:
Here is a link to some more info on Facebook regarding the event.
Garrett’s bills to go to state Assembly
CUMBERLAND — Legislators met Thursday to review requests from Garrett County and determine which bills to take before the Maryland General Assembly in its current session, which began Wednesday.
Several would expand the powers of the county commission, including one bill that would enable county officials to hold a public sale of the homes of residents who are 60 or more days delinquent on payment of their water and sewer bills.
Linda Lindsey, director of the county’s Department of Public Utilities, said as of November the county was owed $282,000 in unpaid water and sewer bills.
“The county needs some mechanism to be able to collect that,” Sen. George Edwards said in a phone interview from Annapolis. “The commissioners requested this legislation, and we’ve agreed to introduce it.”
The legislators said they will also submit a bill to enable the county commission to adopt local ordinances establishing minimum setback requirements for commercial wind turbines. It would allow the commission to require turbines to be placed a minimum distance from a property line.
“The main purpose of that is if a turbine would fall down, or a blade would fly off,” Edwards explained. “You want them back far enough that if they fall down they’re not on someone else’s property.”
Another bill would allow the commission to require companies to make provisions for decommissioning wind turbines and restoring turbine sites to their original condition in the event that the turbines go out of operation.
“There might come a point where they reach the end of their life and they just sit there,” Edwards said. “In mining, you have to have bonds or some other kind of instrument to provide for reclaiming the land if the mining company stops operations. This would be the same scenario.”
The commission also requested legislation that would enable it to increase the existing hotel rental tax if needed. Currently, that tax is set at 5 percent. The draft legislation would enable the commission to increase it as high as 8 percent, though the commission has stated it would not implement a 3 percent increase all at once.
Legislators will also follow up on a bill requested by the commission granting it the ability to establish a county emergency services board.
Delegate Wendell Beitzel said he and Edwards also intend to work on a legislative solution to an ongoing problem with the availability of OB/GYN services in Garrett County.
Currently, a handful of general practitioners delivers babies in the county. If a doctor delivers more than 30 per year, the cost of medical malpractice insurance can increase by about $100,000 because of insurance stipulations. Previously, legislation was in place that subsidized the gap between the general practitioners’ malpractice insurance costs and the increase, but that has expired.
Beitzel said they also plan to reintroduce legislation called the Dormant Mineral Act, which would provide a process for landowners to recover the mineral rights to their property if it was impossible to trace the current owner of the rights.
“We put in the bill last year and it passed the House and went to the Senate, but got stuck in committee,” Beitzel said. “This year, we’ll be dropping the bill earlier to try to get it through.”
More seeking heating, energy assistance
CUMBERLAND — Energy assistance agencies in Allegany and Garrett counties say more residents are struggling to pay their bills as temperatures drop, heating costs rise and the economic recession drags on.
Linda Green, director of the Garrett County Department of Community and Emergency Services, said she ran a report Wednesday on the number of applications for energy assistance filed in her office since July 1 and compared it to the same time period last year.
This year, they’ve had 2,869 applications — 139 more than last year, she said. But that isn’t the only noticeable change.
“We’re seeing more people come in who have never come to Community Action before,” Green said. “Most of them are people who are now unemployed. We’ve also seen a few more seniors, but basically it’s the unemployed.”
Allegany County’s energy assistance program through the Human Resources Development Commission has seen an increase of about 100 applications per month over last year, according to Director Jenetta Hampton.
That’s not a drastic change, considering that the office typically handles several thousand applications each year and approves between 4,000 and 5,000 annually, Hampton said. But she also noticed a difference in early demand for the applications.
“It seemed like everyone wanted to apply earlier,” she said. “Normally, we tend to see an influx of applications around October when it starts to get cold, but people seem more anxious to get their heating grants this year.”
Todd Meyers, spokesman for Allegheny Power, said statewide, the company has seen a significant increase in the number of people enrolled in its Electric Universal Service Program. That program is designed to help people pay past due bills and handle upcoming bills.
Between July 1 and Dec. 31, 9,037 Marylanders were in the program, Meyers said. That’s compared to 7,400 one year before.
Hampton said the people who need help are not only those on fixed incomes, such as the elderly or disabled, but also a large number of families struggling to make ends meet.
“In most of those cases, both parents are working,” Hampton said. “But they might be in part-time or minimum-wage jobs, and they need a little additional help.”
Green said her office operates a program provided by Allegheny Power called the Community Energy Fund. In that program, the utility’s customers can donate money the company will match to create a fund to help people whose inability to pay bills leads to energy emergencies.
“In the past, we’ve seen maybe three or four emergency calls per day,” she said. “But this year people just cannot keep up with their payments. We’ve had up to eight calls in a day.”
And donations to the program have been decreasing even as the need rises, she added.
“Allegheny Power customers who may typically donate $50 every year, this year may donate $30,” Green said.
Both Green and Hampton said the most important thing is for people to request help before they find themselves in an emergency situation.
“I just want to encourage people, if they see that they’re falling behind, to come in before they fall so far behind,” Green said.
Jan. 14, 2010
Casey Eichfeld, a 2008 Olympian and National Champion on the U.S. Whitewater Slalom Team, will be telling Olympic stories and signing autographs at ASCI’s “Little Otter Discovery Room” on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. The Adventure Sports Center’s new mascot, “Asci the Otter” will also be present. Kids are invited to meet Eichfeld, and to play in the Little Otter room for free.
Eichfeld is just finishing a winter training camp at Lake Placid in New York, and will be working part time at the Adventure Sports Center International on weekends during the winter. He also works as a raft guide and canoe instructor for ASCI during the summer.
Eichfeld grew up Drums, Pa., and has traveled the world racing in whitewater canoes. He began slalom racing at age 5, and by the age of 8, he was on the National Slalom Cadet Team as the youngest competitor ever at a U.S. Whitewater Slalom National Championship.
As a teenager, Eichfeld was competing in Europe as a National Junior Team member, and in the June 2000 issue of Paddler magazine was recognized as one of the “Paddlers of the Next Century.” Later that year, he was featured in the Sports Illustrated for Kids Olympic issue as a future “Olympic Hotshot.”
By 2007, Eichfeld had become a stalwart member of the U.S. Junior and Senior National Teams, racing in the double canoe with Ricky Powell. He also continued to race in the single canoe, and won gold in the 2007 Youth Olympic Festival at the Penrith Olympic Whitewater Stadium in Australia.
427th Maryland General Assembly Now Open: Facing $2 Billion Deficit
Jan. 14, 2010
by Daniel Leaderman
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland General Assembly kicked off its 427th legislative session Wednesday, a term likely to be dominated by the state’s nearly $2 billion budget deficit, as well as legislative efforts to protect citizens from sex offenders.
Lawmakers just need to agree on how to balance the budget, especially with so many reluctant to increase taxes in an election year. In the last year the Board of Public Works has cut more than $1 billion from the operating budget.
“We’re facing our California moment, as are many other states,” said Delegate Luiz R. S. Simmons, D-Montgomery. The legislature will have to “make some very painful choices … we should be very careful about imposing any new taxes.”
Some lawmakers and advocates are calling for a dime-a-drink tax that would help fund public health initiatives. But legislative leaders including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, and House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, are opposed to the idea.
Delegate Paul S. Stull, R-Frederick, said new taxes this year would be political suicide.
“There’s too many people out of work, too many foreclosures have taken place … I don’t think you can tax the working man to work your way out of debt,” Stull said.
The solution, Stull said, is to create jobs and to “take a hard look at where we might be able to make cuts that hurt the fewest number of people … that’s going to be very difficult.”
Delegate Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, said he was aware that tax increases would not be a popular topic in the legislature this session, but didn’t see more budget cuts as a viable solution.
“We’ve cut all the fat off of the bone. More than that, we’re cutting into bone,” he said.
“We weren’t elected to do the right thing only in non-election years,” Manno said. “If we wait until 2011, it will get worse.”
The December murder of 11-year-old Sarah Haley Foxwell on the Eastern Shore is also likely to be a key issue this session. Thomas J. Leggs Jr., registered as a sex offender in both Maryland and Delaware, was charged Monday with kidnapping Foxwell.
“As the father of an 11-year-old-girl, it enraged me,” Busch said, in his address to the House. “There’s got to be better communication between the states when these predators are out on the streets.”
Delegate Andrew A. Serafini, D-Washington, said Foxwell’s death will affect many issues this session.
“It will be interesting to see how people vote this session considering it is an election year,” Serafini said.
Jan. 14, 2010
The Maryland public school system remains firmly at the head of the class, according to an independent national report being released today.
Education Week, the nation’s leading education newspaper, looked at data in six critical categories over the past two years, and once again placed Maryland’s state education system at the very top of national rankings.
Maryland placed at the top of the list in Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” tally, with the nation’s only B+ average. New York and Massachusetts followed closely with B grades. The majority of states received grades of C or less, according to the report.
“We have chosen as a people to invest in our public schools – in the future of our State – even when times are tough,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “Today, Education Week, for the second straight year, has certified that Maryland has built the number-one public school system in America. Even during these difficult economic times, we’ve continued to fully fund efforts to build new, state-of-the-art classrooms, integrate curriculum across all grade levels, and hire and retain the nation’s best educators. Now, for yet another year, Education Week has affirmed the importance of protecting these shared priorities.”
Maryland’s 2010 ranking is based on state education policies and student performance that reflect nearly two decades of work on a preK-12 curriculum; state accountability and standards; teacher effectiveness; and work on school readiness, high school reform, and preparation for college and the workplace.
From the Weather Channel-
Haiti Earthquake: How to Help
on Jan 13, 2010 9:06 am ET
The U.S. State Department Operations Center said Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti should call 1-888-407-4747. Due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording. “Our embassy is still in the early stages of contacting American citizens through our Warden Network,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “Communications are very difficult within Haiti at this time.”
For those interesting in helping immediately there are 2 ways people can donate via their cell phones:
Text “HAITI” to “90999” and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.
Text “YELE” to “501501” and a donation of $5 will be made automatically to the Yele organization (Wyclef Jean’s Haiti relief organization)
Below is a collection of charitable organizations also accepting donations towards the relief effort in Haiti. We will update this list as more charity information becomes available
Action Against Hunger
American Red Cross
American Jewish World Service
Catholic Relief Services
Church World Service
Direct Relief International
Doctors Without Borders
Feed My Starving Children
Food for the Poor
Friends of WFP
Haitian Health Foundation
Hope for Haiti
International Medical Corps
International Relief Teams
International Rescue Committee
Medical Teams International
Meds and Food for Kids
Mennonite Central Committee
Partners in Health
Rural Haiti Project
The Salvation Army
Save the Children
The FBI urges people who are looking for ways to help with earthquake relief to be wary of solicitations that could be from scam artists.
“Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause,” the FBI says today, in passing along these tips:
-Ignore unsolicited e-mails, and do not click on links within those messages.
-Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
-Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because the files may contain computer viruses. Open attachments only from know senders.
-Decline to give personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.
-Make contributions directly to known organizations, rather than relying on others who claim in e-mails that they will channel the donation to established groups.
The FBI says anyone receipting an e-mail that appears to be a scam should forward it to this website: www.ic3.gov
Just finished working on our new ‘web friendly’ portal websites with Long & Foster. Awesome accessibility and I really like the larger photos – they make a huge difference with searching.