GRMC OPENS NEW URGENT CARE FACILITY IN GRANTSVILLE

Representatives from Garrett Regional Medical Center and local dignitaries joined forces to cut the ribbon for the newest expansion of GCMC, a brand new primary and urgent care facility in Grantsville.

The lobby of Medical Associates of Grantsville was full of colleagues, staff, and community members from Grantsville and surrounding areas who gathered to celebrate the opening of the new and much needed facility.  Guests were able to tour the 5,500 square foot, state of the art office while the staff was on hand to answer questions.  The new center houses three exam rooms for primary care, four rooms for urgent care, a space for laboratory services, three procedure rooms, and a radiology area. The facility was designed with efficiency and patient comfort and accessibility, in mind.

County Commissioner Paul Edwards said, “I am very excited for Garrett Regional Medical Center to expand into Grantsville.  The services that this opens up to residents on the northern end of the county and the health care infrastructure that this helps build is a huge benefit to quality of life, as well as economic development in the area.”

“I have lived in Grantsville my entire life and this is my community.  I’m happy for the opportunity to provide healthcare in a time of need and empower my patients and neighbors to be healthy,” said Tammy Crayton, who will be leading the urgent care practice.

GRMC will also be hosting an open house for the public to showcase the new Medical Associates of Grantsville Urgent Care facility on Tuesday, February 14th.  Guests are welcome from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

This event offers an opportunity for local residents to come and see what the facility has to offer, meet the staff, and ask any questions they may have.  There will be staff on hand to provide services and educational material on important health issues.  Services include free screenings for blood pressure, osteoporosis, sugar levels and facial skin analysis.

The urgent care center and radiology services will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  The primary care facility will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Laboratory services will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

 

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Public weighs in on Route 219 improvement project

GRANTSVILLE, Md. – Maryland transportation officials listened to the public’s opinions on the U.S. Route 219 Improvement Project at a joint public hearing Monday night at Grantsville Elementary School.

Three possible options were discussed Monday night – all involving the improvement of Route 219 between its interchange with Interstate 68 in Grantsville and Old Salisbury Road, which is approximately 1.4 miles north of the I-68/Route 219 interchange.

That 1.4-mile stretch of two-lane road, which includes an intersection with U.S. Route 40 Alternate, represents approximately half the total length of Route 219 between its interchange with I-68 and the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, according to maps shown at Monday’s hearing.

“It’s an important step in the continuing effort to connect Somerset and Johnstown to I-68, which is part of the continuing process to create an infrastructure to generate greater prosperity in our region,” Henry Cook, president of Somerset Trust Co., said before Monday night’s hearing.

Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk – who was one of several people who provided official testimony Monday night regarding their opinions on the project – agreed.

“We see a great economic development tool here – a great tool to get traffic through our area and through western Maryland,” he said.

Officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration have narrowed the options for the project down to three finalists, nicknamed Alternatives 2, 3 and 4 at Monday’s hearing. (Alternative 1, making no changes at all, was also presented as a baseline for comparison.)

Alternative 2 proposed widening the existing alignment of Route 219 between the I-68 interchange and Old Salisbury Road by adding two 12-foot-wide travel lanes, one in each direction. Route 219, under this alternative, would transition back to a two-lane highway at Old Salisbury Road. Dedicated right-turn lanes would be maintained at the Pilot Travel Center in Grantsville and at the intersection of Route 219 and Route 40 Alternate.

Alternative 3 would involve adding four new 12-foot-wide travel lanes, two in each direction, to the existing alignment of Route 219.

Just north of the Pilot Travel Center, the existing Route 219 would transition into a two-lane roundabout that would provide access to the travel center – and to a new alignment of Route 219 that would bridge over Route 40 Alternate and continue approximately 1 mile north before rejoining the existing Route 219 at Old Salisbury Road, near the entrance to a proposed Casselman Farm industrial park.

Under this alternative, the existing I-68/Route 219 interchange would remain in use.

Alternative 4 would create a new interchange – replacing the existing intersection between I-68’s ramps and Route 219 with a two-lane roundabout – and a new road alignment that would loop around the Pilot Travel Center as a four-lane divided highway, cross over Route 40 Alternate on a bridge and continue approximately 1 mile north before rejoining the existing Route 219 at Old Salisbury Road.

Also under Alternative 4, the current exit ramp from I-68 westbound to Route 219 would be realigned and lengthened to tie into the new roundabout.

The proposed new alignment in Alternatives 3 and 4 would feature two 12-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, separated by a raised median.

Project manager Barrett Kiedrowski said officials’ priorities for the project are “to support local and regional economic growth, efficient highway operations for development and community access.” All three alternatives, officials said, include inevitable impacts to historical sites, environmental areas and private property.

Hearing officer Tony Crawford said the project is already fully funded. In June 2015, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced $90 million in funding for design, right-of-way acquisition and construction to realign Route 219 between I-68 and the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

Vatavuk testified that he and Cook – both members of the Greater Cumberland Committee’s North-South Appalachian Highway Coalition, he said – supported Alternative 4.

“We need a limited-access highway between here and Somerset,” Vatavuk said, noting that the 11-mile extension of Route 219 between Somerset and Meyersdale is scheduled to open in 2018.

When that section of highway opens, the only section of Route 219 between I-68 and the Pennsylvania-Maryland border that won’t be a four-lane limited-access highway will be the 5 miles between Meyersdale and Maryland, North-South Appalachian Highway Coalition coordinator David Moe said in August.

“If you get your section done,” he told Maryland officials, “we think it will be more incentive for the state of Pennsylvania to get the last 5 miles (between Meyersdale and the Maryland-Pennsylvania border) done … and we can all live happily ever after.”

Tom Sheehan of Garrett County urged officials during his testimony to consider the project’s economic context.

“If I have a preference, it’s for Alternative 2, but I came tonight to talk about the big picture, which I think has been overlooked,” Sheehan said.

That big picture, he said, was the Continental 1 corridor – a proposed 1,500-mile international freeway route from Toronto to Miami that, according to plans presented on the Continental 1 website, would run for part of its length along Route 219 in western Pennsylvania.

Continental 1 is intended to improve international trade, according to the project’s website – meaning that, if the route is completed, a significant portion of its traffic would be trucks hauling heavy loads, Sheehan said. The roundabout included in Alternatives 3 and 4, he argued, would slow such traffic significantly.

“I think Alternatives 3 and 4 are awful, terrible, bad and every other synonym I can think of because of that traffic circle idea,” Sheehan said. “Coming down out of Pennsylvania, it’s a freeway-style system that suddenly terminates in a traffic circle. What a terrible idea!”

Sheehan said he supported Alternative 2 because “it can be constructed in a short, finite period of time,” leaving the possibility of future expansion of Continental 1 open for the future.

Bill Orner of Grantsville, meanwhile, said he supported Alternative 4 for more personal reasons.

“Alternative 2 is going to take my house and part of my business,” he said. Alternative 3, he added, would place a roundabout right next to his house, causing a nuisance.

Officials said they will take the testimony they heard Monday night into consideration as they refine their plans and choose which of the three alternatives will be built. Final location and design approval is expected to come sometime this summer, with construction beginning sometime in 2018.

Some, however, are already looking to the future, considering the next piece of the puzzle. Cook noted that Route 219 will remain a two-lane road in Maryland between Old Salisbury Road and the Pennsylvania border, even after the project discussed Monday is completed.

“Obviously, the critical piece now – the Pennsylvania line (extension), the Meyersdale bypass – we have to find funding vehicles,” Cook said. “Hopefully, with these promises of infrastructure funding coming out of Washington, these projects get some attention.”

 

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Property Owners’ Association: State Money For Garrett County

February 7, 2017

Folks,

The State (DNR) owns approximately 90,000 acres of land in Garrett County which is not subject to property taxes for the county due to state ownership.  The current means to recoup some of the lost property taxes is to provide the county with 25% of the revenue obtained from the sale of timber on this land.  For the last several years, however, very little timber has been harvested so the revenue coming to Garrett County has been very low.  This process currently exists throughout Maryland for all counties in which the state owns land that cannot be taxed.
To remedy this situation and insure a fair amount of revenue, consistent with the amount of acreage owned by the state, this bill will provide a more equitable reimbursement of funds to Garrett County for land owned by the State of Maryland. The proposed bill breaks down the acreage into “units” of 10,000 acres and would mandate $250,000 per unit income to the county annually.  SB273 will make the County’s reimbursement approximately $2 million annually. SB273 is being heard by the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, February 15 at 1:00 p.m. Please send written testimony to George.edwards@senate.state.md.us by February 14, asking the Budget & Taxation Committee to give SB273 a FAVORABLE REPORT, and indicate if you plan to testify in person. Senate Bill 273 (SB 273) may be seen here. The existing system related to timber would no longer be used.
Your POA supports this bill because it is a fair way to reimburse the county for taxes that currently cannot be collected, and asks that you consider sending a written testimony  of endorsement.
Thanks very much in advance for your support on this bill which, if passed, will insure Garrett County is fairly reimbursed for uncollectable tax revenue.

  Cheers,

Bob Hoffmann

President

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Laura K.O. Smith ’05: Sailing to the End of the World and Back

The life of a full-time adventurer on the high seas

In high school, most people have posters of bands in their room, but Laura K.O. Smith ’05’s tastes hewed more anachronistic: “I laid out my desk like I thought a ship captain’s desk would look from the late 1700s.”

Growing up, Smith was enthralled by young-adult adventure novels, particularly The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, the story of a 19th-century teenager thrust on a harrowing sea voyage.

Continuing her lifelong romance with the ocean, Smith and her husband, Federico Guerrero, run Quixote Expeditions, a 2-year-old business that sails approximately nine hardy tourists from Chile’s Cape Horn across the perilous Drake Passage and on to the icy monoliths of Antarctica.

“A lot of people think we’re crazy,” Smith says. “It’s sort of become a new normal for us.”

The couple’s boat, the Ocean Tramp, is a double-masted rig that measures roughly 65 feet long. The pair, who met while working for an oil-services company, bought the boat after its previous owner, legendary American mountaineer Charlie Porter, died in 2014.

Ocean Tramp’s inboard engine helps to escape wayward ice, while an aluminum-fortified hull adds to its defenses. Smith and Guerrero got the idea for their business after traveling with friends to Antarctica in 2013.

As the expedition leader, Smith charts all tourist activities during the short Antarctic sailing season — December through March. Guerrero, a licensed captain, pilots the craft.

The couple made two trips last season but plan six sojourns this year. While the trips are billed as pleasure cruises, the couple give a free berth to a scientist, in most cases a biologist, whose research brings an educational component to the expedition.

Previously, passengers have helped scientists collect water samples and log bird and mammal sightings; a forthcoming trip will include a researcher who studies whether whales can smell.

Trips last 25 days, two weeks of which are spent getting to and from the Antarctic Peninsula. All hands help with the sails, chop potatoes, and wash dishes.

The continent beguiles in a number of ways, Smith says, noting in particular the region’s monochromatic splendor.

“Antarctica [has an] interesting lack of color,” she says. “You essentially have blue, white, and shades of gray — [it’s]almost completely devoid of reds and greens and yellows.

“And there’s something about the icebergs — [it’s] sort of like watching clouds,” she adds. “They’re all different shapes, and it never grows old.”

Smith’s life on the water dates to her childhood, when she took part in summer sailing camps guiding dinghies across Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake.

After majoring in geological engineering at Princeton, she worked for Schlumberger, looking for crude in the waters off nations such as India, Norway, Qatar, and Angola.

Now, Quixote Expeditions keeps her afloat for up to 140 days per year. Smith and her husband also sail tourists to the Falkland Islands and the craggy Isla de los Estados, in the Argentine portion of Tierra del Fuego.

The couple live aboard Ocean Tramp when they’re not leading tours, docking in Ushuaia, Argentina, the so-called “end of the world” on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.

“Look out one side of the boat and you see the Ushuaia city lights with the mountains behind; look the other way and it’s the Beagle Channel, with Chile behind,” she says. “It’s a pretty amazing place to call your office.”

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