Budget cuts, taxes concerns for Garrett County residents

Budget cuts, taxes concerns for Garrett County residents

Kevin Spradlin
Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY —­ Don’t mind Joyce Bishoff if she is a bit perplexed.

During a November tourism conference in Ocean City, the interim president of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce heard Gov. Martin O’Malley state that tourism is the only industry in the state that is showing a return on government’s investment.

Why, then, Bishoff asked Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel, would the state Office of Tourism slash Garrett County’s appropriation by 40 percent?

Bishoff said state tourism officials have signaled to her that the remaining 60 percent soon could be unavailable.

“This is causing some severe pains through the tourism industry,” Bishoff asked on Wednesday during the legislative delegation’s pre-legisative session at Garrett College. The two-hour event was coordinated by the local League of Women Voters chapter. Twelve speakers at the meeting discussed a wide range of topics, including tourism, wind turbines, natural gas, emergency services and funding for public education.

Bishoff said a request to the delegation by the Garrett County commissioners to introduce legislation that could lead to an increase in the accommodation tax, which would impact all hotels and beds-and-breakfasts in the county. The commissioners want the ability to increase the tax to up to 8 percent from the current 5 percent rate.

“We will continue our dialogue with the county commissioners as to our reservations,” Bishoff said. “We’re very concerned about raising any taxes. With so many areas of our economy in crisis, I think we need to do what we can do to encourage people to come here and spend their dollars from the city.”

James R. “Smokey” Stanton, chairman of the Garrett County Democratic Central Committee, asked the legislators to reject the commissioners’ request.

Stanton, who is expected to run for the District 1A delegation seat currently occupied by Beitzel, called it “a bad bill” and that area businesses depend on tourism. If rates were to go up, consumers would have a choice of other places such as Ocean City. Stanton said if such a bill is introduced, funds raised from that legislation should not be earmarked for a specific purpose.

“I would suggest that is a really bad idea,” Stanton said.

Representatives of Garrett County vacation rental agencies expressed their displeasure at the proposed legislation during the commissioners’ public meeting with the delegation in Oakland on Nov. 17. Wendy Yoder, county director of finance, said an increase of 1 percent could generate about $300,000 in new revenue.

Edwards said either bill would only permit the county commissioners to consider passing such a rate increase. It would not require them to do so “if they didn’t want to,” Edwards said. Most of the issues discussed during the public forum regarded state and local budgets. Beitzel said some economists have said the current crisis is the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression. But one key Garrett County industry — coal mining — is at risk despite its economic benefits, Beitzel said.

“I know there’s been a big effort to stop mountaintop removal of coal,” Beitzel said. “We don’t do that in Western Maryland (but) it turns out it may actually apply to all mountaintop mining. Coal has become a dirty, four-letter word, and we really need to fight and defend that industry here in Western Maryland.”

James M. Raley, member of the Garrett County Board of Education, said at the board’s meeting Tuesday, members learned that the board is looking at a decrease in funding from either the state or the county — or possibly both.

Next year, Raley said, the board is looking at a $2 million deficit, and there’s concern that there will be a push in Annapolis to shift the burden of funding teachers’ pensions to county governments. Currently, it is a state responsibility.

“That just compounds (the county’s) problem in regards to funding public education,” Raley said.

Garrett County Commissioner Fred Holliday shared Raley’s concern.

“There is no way we could eat it,” Holliday said. “We’d have to raise taxes. Then the commissioners are the bad guys.”

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

Firm offers 100 percent wind power to residents, businesses

Firm offers 100 percent wind power to residents, businesses

Restructured energy market opens options

For the Cumberland Times-News
Cumberland Times-News

ROCKVILLE — Allegheny Power customers now have the ability to buy wind power from Clean Currents, a leading clean energy company in the Maryland/DC area.

Customers in Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties are able to switch from buying utility standard offer energy to that of a competitive retail energy supplier. This enables them to both lower their winter energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint by buying wind power through Clean Currents.

The wind power, generated by wind farms across the U.S., is considered a clean, renewable energy. The average home is responsible for generating about 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year using traditional coal and nuclear sources for electrical power. By switching to wind power, homeowners can erase that carbon footprint.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with homeowners in Western Maryland. Not only will switching to 100 percent wind power energy products help improve the environment, our wind power rates are competitive with Alleghany Power and there are no sign-up or switching fees,” said Kristi Neidhardt, Residential Green Power Program Manager at Clean Currents. “All customers need to do is call us or go online and provide some information from their current utility bill to help us help them make the switch. Customers will still have reliable energy service and only one electric bill to pay.”

As an added incentive to switch to wind power, Clean Currents offers communities, organizations, and faith-based organizations the opportunity to raise funds for environmental projects by encouraging members to make the switch.

The Green Neighborhood Effect Program registers groups and communities interested in participating. Members access the Clean Currents Web site to make the switch to wind power, and mention the group in the appropriate space in the registration form. Clean Currents will donate $10 for every household that switches to wind power before June 2010.

Residents of Western Maryland interested in switching to wind power and starting a “Green Neighborhood Effect” should visit www.cleancurrents.com or contact Kristi Neidhardt at (301) 754-0430, Ext. 712.

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

Wisp Ice Skating Rink

Wisp Ice Skating Rink

For the Cumberland Times-News
Cumberland Times-News

DEEP CREEK LAKE — Wisp Resort continues to expand its winter amenities to go beyond skiing and snowboarding. This winter an ice skating rink will be installed near the Bear Claw Snow Tubing Park to offer guests another family-friendly activity.

The 50- by 85-foot oval rink will operate by running cooling pipes under a floor that are powered by a 100-ton chiller to keep approximately two to three inches of water frozen. A mini-Zamboni® ice resurfacing machine will groom the surface daily for skaters. The Zamboni® was named after its inventor Frank J. Zamboni in California in 1953.

The ice skating rink at Wisp will feature benches for rest, hanging twinkle lights, a nearby bonfire area and warm beverages. It will be the only ice rink in Garrett County and has a tentative opening date of Dec. 19.

The rink will operate in conjunction with the Bear Claw Snow Tubing Park and Mountain Coaster hours of operation.

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

Open Space acquisitions will protect forest land

Open Space acquisitions will protect forest land

Board of Public Works also approves local parks,

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — More than 300 acres in Western Maryland will be protected as a result of Program Open Space property acquisitions and a donation from The Nature Conservancy.

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the purchase of 299 acres in Allegany and Garrett counties and accepted the nine-acre donation of wooded land with rock outcrops as an addition to Potomac State Forest in Garrett County.

“The Nature Conservancy is delighted, through this donation, to contribute to the state of Maryland’s efforts to protect our outdoor heritage here in Western Maryland,” said Donnelle Keech, Allegany forest project director for The Nature Conservancy of Maryland. “Giving people the firsthand opportunity to enjoy our Maryland forests now is one of the best ways to make sure our children have the same chance in the future.”

The Program Open Space purchase of 244 acres in the Savage River State Forest area southwest of Frostburg for $365,625 contains rare mountain peat land, unusual red spruce forest and sensitive wetlands with numerous state-listed threatened species, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Allegany County acquisition of 30 acres of forestland and trails for $75,000 is an addition to Green Ridge State Forest that will encompass the forest hiking trail named in honor of retired forest manager Francis Zumbrun, which has received a national trail designation.

“Today’s acquisitions are important as we move toward a sustainable future,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“By approving the nearly 300 acres in Western Maryland and with the help of The Nature Conservancy, we are preserving vital forests and trees, which will continue to help clean our water, air and natural resources.”

The three-member Board of Public Works is comprised of O’Malley as chairman, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

The board also approved the following Program Open Space and Community Parks and Playgrounds projects:

• $15,000 to install handicapped-accessible playground equipment at the Barton Little League field and basketball court.

• $25,000 to install a handicapped-accessible playground at Barton Meadow Park.

• $45,000 to construct a concession building, rest room and storage building at the Frostburg Recreational Complex.

• $143,000 to construct a parking area at the Lonaconing Recreation Area and for renovations to the concession/rest room/storage building; upgrades to the baseball field; a new handicapped-accessible playground; and native tree plantings.

• $74,000 to replace an outdated concession stand, rest room/storage building and bleachers in Westernport for the Hot Stove League.

• $8,000 to install safety lighting next to the Grantsville Community Park walking trail and build a gazebo next to the town’s fishing pond and library.

• $88,000 to upgrade the concession stand, picnic area, lifeguard stands, ticket booth and playground equipment at Broadford Lake Recreation Area in Oakland.

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

November 2009 Market Update – Deep Creek Lake Garrett County Maryland

November 2009 Market Update – Deep Creek Lake Garrett County Maryland

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There were 22 residential sales in the month of November in Garrett County. 12 of those sales would be considered ‘Deep Creek Lake area’ or ‘Vacation Homes’, and the rest would be considered as primary residential. The average list vs. ORIGINAL sales price is 83%, though the ADJUSTED list vs. sales price is 90% of asking price. In other words, as people test the waters and make price adjustments, the more reliable number is the adjusted asking price, as they have responded to the feedback of the market with price reductions, etc.

Here are the statistical breakdowns:

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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

Seneca Rocks guide, author to speak at Garrett College Tuesday

Seneca Rocks guide, author to speak at Garrett College Tuesday

Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — The Adventuresports Institute of Garrett College will present the final speaker of its fall Colloquium series, Tony Barnes, author of the definitive work on regional climbing, “Seneca: The Climber’s Guide,” on Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. in Room 224 of the Continuing Education building. A reception for the speaker will precede the presentation, beginning at 6 p.m.

Barnes’ climbing and guiding career spans 35 years and has occurred in almost as many states. He has been active as a guide for Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides at Seneca Rocks Climbing Area, a part of the Monongalia National Forest, and located nearby in Seneca, W.Va., for the past 20-plus years.

Barnes has written articles on Seneca Rocks for Climbing Magazine and other publications. For the past eight years, he has worked as an adjunct professor of rock climbing for Garrett College’s Adventure Sports program.

For more information about the presentation, contact the Adventuresports Institute at (301) 387-3330 or e-mail adventuresports@garrettcollege.edu.

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

Oakland bypass will affect community forever

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

The Maryland Highway Administration will conduct a public meeting with the Garrett County commissioners in the commissioners’ meeting room on Oct. 2 at 10 a.m.

One of the projects discussed will be the No. 1 priority given to the U.S. Route 219 Oakland bypass by the Garrett County Planning Commission. This highway project has been declared off budget by Gov. O’Malley (declared at a public meeting at Frostburg State University) and also denounced by former Gov. Parris Glendening in correspondence to the writer of this letter.

It appears the planning commission is not listening to the honest opposition to this $42 million-plus abomination that will destroy not only farmland but the downtown business community, rather listening to the developers who are trying to establish a new business district.

If for one moment you think this will be a limited access highway, think again, and drive from Uno’s restaurant on Route 219 along the lake to McHenry and determine how limited that is, and think how many rear-end accidents occur there during the summer months. This bypass will last about 10 minutes at the outset from being limited access.

We ask the planning commission to direct their priorities to state Route 495, a more direct route from the Northern Industrial Park to the Southern Industrial Park. This proposal was made in the Garrett County Comprehensive Plan of 1974 signed by Garrett County commissioners Wayne Hamilton, Don Bender and George Edwards, now Sen. Edwards. The purpose was to divert thru-traffic away from Deep Creek Lake.

We invite everyone with an interest for or against the bypass to attend this meeting and express your views. We also invite each county commissioner to make a public statement as to their individual position. This is extremely important and will affect our community forever.

DeCorsey Bolden

Chairman

Garrett Countians

for Smart Growth

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

Regional Ski Resorts Collaborate for Season Pass Holders

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Regional Resorts Collaborate for Season Pass Holders

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Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands ski resorts Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Hidden Valley Resort with Maryland’s Wisp Resort are proud to announce an exciting new offering that will provide each resort’s Unlimited Season Passholders more value, more options, and more reason to experience great Mid-Atlantic skiing for the 2009/2010 ski season.

More info via DeepCreekBlog.com

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

Tearing down the Point View Inn

Tearing down the Point View Inn

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I just took a few quick photos and I wanted to share one. The Point View Inn (specifically the hotel part of the building) is in the process of being torn down. It’s available for sale ($4.9 million apparently) and could be just about anything – townhomes, 7 single family homes, new hotel, etc…but for someone with deep enough pockets, it could remain the Point View Inn! That was one of the 4 spots I hit the night I turned 21. Truly a Deep Creek Lake icon!

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

I Love Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County Group on Facebook

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I invite you to join the new ‘I Love Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County, Maryland’ group on Facebook. It went from 0-60 members in about 12 hours! Help keep it growing!

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