Search continues for new Garrett County Economic Development director

OAKLAND — The search for a new Garrett County Department of Economic Development director continues. Chairman Paul Edwards announced during the Board of Garrett County Commissioners’ meeting last week they were close to finding a replacement for former director Alex McCoy, but plans have changed.

A local selection committee, composed of representatives from a wide range of groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, Garrett College, the Farm Bureau, and municipal governments, recently reviewed 12 applications and narrowed the list down to three potential candidates.

“The selection committee did make a recommendation to the commissioners, after a round of interviews, for the economic development director,” Edwards said. “However, after the interview process, that candidate was no longer interested in the position. So, the board has reopened the search and is committed to finding the best person for that job.”

Commissioner Jim Hinebaugh, a former economic director, has been “helping out” department staff members Kim Durst, Cheryl DeBerry, and Cindy Sharon in the interim, Edwards noted.

“The staff over there has really stepped up and is filling the gap quite nicely,” Edwards added.

County administrator Kevin Null said the directorship opening has been re-posted on major websites, including Garrett County government’s, garrettcounty.org, and the Maryland Association of Counties’ (MACo), mdcounties.org

Hinebaugh added that the commissioners would be looking for possible prospects while attending MACo’s annual summer conference, scheduled for Aug. 16-19 in Ocean City.

“Maybe there’s a number two or number three person in another economic development office somewhere who might be interested in taking this on, in terms of upward mobility,” he said. “We’re going to try to do some networking while we’re there, to see if we can dig up some candidates on an informal basis, rather than just relying on advertising.”

Hinebaugh indicated during the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce’s recent Business Before Hours event that the county was in no hurry to hire a new director.

“We’re going to be very deliberate about the way we do this,” he said. “We’re not going to hire someone just to fill the position. We can afford to do that because we have a great staff in Economic Development.”

The commissioners began their search for a new director shortly after McCoy submitted his resignation in late April of this year, after accepting the CEO position of the Greater Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

He was hired by the Garrett County commissioners in April 2015. He was previously vice president of economic development for the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce in Palatka, Florida, and executive director of the Worth County (Georgia) Economic Development Authority.

Staff writer Renee Shreve can be reached at 301-501-8394 or by email at rshreve@therepublicannews.com.

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‘Adorable Adoptables’ available at county shelter

OAKLAND — Among the felines currently housed at the Garrett County Animal shelter are Milton, Molly, Munster and Minnie.

“Come and meet them,” said Lisa Baker, Garrett County Humane Society president. “They will rub their way into your heart.”

She said Milton is a lovable male Manx. Molly is a sweet female calico Manx and Munster is a neutered male who has a very loud meow. All three were left at the shelter after business hours, according to Baker.

Minnie is a pretty calico who was given up by her owner.

Persons are invited to call the shelter at 301-334-3553. Located along Oakland Sang Run Road, the county-operated facility is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Garrett County Humane Society is a nonprofit volunteer organization that has been helping abused, neglected and homeless animals since 1983. It is not affiliated with the Garrett County Animal Shelter.

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Maryland Heritage Area Grants to Boost Cultural Heritage Tourism in Garrett County: Projects Receive Funds from Maryland Historical Trust Heritage Program

Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA), a state heritage organization, awarded 50 matching grants totaling nearly $2.7 million to Maryland nonprofit organizations, local jurisdictions and tourism groups. The grants fund historic preservation, natural resource protection and educational programs in 13 state-designated Heritage Areas. By supporting capital projects and educational activities, the grants spawn renewed interest in Maryland culture from residents and visitors, boosting tourism-related jobs.
Three grant applications submitted by The Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area received funds. Jen Durben, Heritage Area & Groups Director said, “We had diverse applications from throughout our heritage area this year and we are excited to have three projects awarded in another round of very tough competition. More than 100 applications were submitted totaling over $5.6 million in requested funds. Garrett County received a total of $195,000 of the $2.7 million awarded. These grants will allow the recipients to create new resources and expand awareness of heritage here in Garrett County.”

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce is the official Management Entity for the Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area and provides the 1 to 1 match for the Management Grant. The Garrett County Heritage Area & Groups Director administers the Heritage Area Program and works with stakeholders by offering technical and grant assistance for heritage related initiatives that preserve valuable heritage resources and enhance tourism in the County.

Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area projects funded were:
· Highland Festival of Garrett County, Maryland, Inc. (Garrett County Celtic Festival) ($5,000) – PILOT Chautauqua Event: Celtic Roots
· Mayor and Town Council of Oakland, Maryland ($90,000) – Pedestrian Gateway
· Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area ($100,000) – Management Grant for management services of the certified heritage area with a goal to promote heritage tourism.

The Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area is a program of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce which supports heritage tourism in Garrett County through technical assistance and grant opportunities with a focus on heritage related initiatives that preserve valuable heritage resources and enhance tourism in the County. As a state certified heritage area, effort is made to create public and private partnerships to preserve historical, cultural and natural resources focusing on under-utilized resources fostering a greater sense of community pride.

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce is the largest professional business association in the region with 600 members representing every industry in the community. The mission of the Chamber is to organize, support and represent Garrett County’s business community in advancing common interests and additionally to promote Garrett County’s hospitality and recreation industry by attracting visitors to the county through comprehensive marketing. The Garrett County Chamber also serves as the Destination Marketing Organization and Heritage Area Management entity for the County.

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Oakland named one of TripAdvisor’s ’15 Best Honeymoon Destinations’

The town of Oakland was among the destinations recently listed on TripAdvisor’s “15 Best Honeymoon Destinations in the U.S.”

When newlyweds wrote about their honeymoons on the site, the reviews were categorized to identify the highest-rated rentals.

“Our data science team has a proprietary algorithm that crawls every single rental review on our site, assigning certain themes to destinations based off how closely their reviews represent that theme,” explained Ashlee Centrella of TripAdvisor. “These 15 destinations have some of the strongest honeymoon/romance-related reviews across the whole USA.”

Travelers listed Oakland as a refreshing alternative to a tropical destination. Other top areas included in the article are locations in California, Florida, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

“If you don’t picture yourself escaping to a tropical paradise dotted with palm trees, you’re not alone,” the article states. “Reviewers highlight Oakland, a small town near Deep Creek Lake, as a refreshing alternative. In this designated Main Street Community, you’ll find antique stores instead of beachy souvenir shops and an old-fashioned soda fountain in place of seafood joints. But that’s not to say the vibe is anything less than laid-back. You’ll spend your days relaxing on the beach at Deep Creek Lake, kayaking from cove to cove, and hiking the best trails in the region. Nearby attractions include Wisp Resort, home to the Mountain Coaster (an alpine slide/roller coaster hybrid), and Adventure Sports Center International, which offers boating and whitewater sports on an Olympic-standard course.”

Michelle Ross, Oakland’s Main Street manager, noted that while she sometimes gets emails about these types of designations, she was pleased to receive this one from TripAdvisor.

“I was a little more excited about this one, because from what I’ve read, it was based on TripAdvisor reviews,” she explained. “So that means there were a lot of people on their site saying, ‘Hey, Oakland’s a great place to have a honeymoon.’”

Ross noted that she wouldn’t have necessarily thought of Oakland as a honeymoon destination.

“But once you start thinking about some of the things that they mentioned in their article – about going to the old soda fountain and all the hiking trails and all of the canoeing and all of the things that are available here — it’s a romantic place,” she said. “Sometimes you get such tunnel vision, and when other people are looking in your little box, it looks much different.”

According to Ross, the town of Oakland tries to promote this type of information as much as possible for visitors and residents alike.

“For people who live here, it gives them pride in where they live,” she said. “We do a lot for visitors, but we try to do a lot for residents too, because we want people who are here to be happy and stay here.”

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce also received notification of the designation.

“We are delighted to be included in this list by TripAdvisor,” said Nicole Christian, president and CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “We know we are a hot spot for honeymoons and destination weddings, so it is great to see a major travel company like TripAdvisor recognizing this as well. We hope visitors are able to join us in person to see all that Oakland, Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County have to offer.”

Sarah Duck, director of tourism and marketing for the chamber, noted that in surveys conducted of county visitors, small-town charm, beauty and serenity are all listed as reasons Garrett County appeals to them. She feels that this, coupled with all of the activities in the area, makes Garrett County the perfect fit for a honeymoon.

“Through the work of our heritage area and group’s director, the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce has been advertising the area as a wedding and honeymoon destination in wedding-specific publications, which has helped increase our exposure to the wedding and honeymoon market,” she said.

Centrella noted that the list is being promoted on TripAdvisor’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as through FlipKey’s social media accounts.

The full article can be viewed at: www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalsBlog/2017/07/14/best-honeymoon-destinations-in-the-us/.

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Vacation-home market booms in Maryland and Virginia

The robust housing landscape in Washington exists for more than just primary residences. A number of second-home markets have seen an increase in popularity in the past few years across a wide variety of destinations — from waterfront communities to mountain retreats.

We’re take a closer look at three such markets that are showing clear signs of increased demand among Washingtonians seeking a getaway.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland
Maryland’s picturesque Eastern Shore has long been a second-home destination for Mid-Atlantic city dwellers, but its popularity has reached new heights within the past two years.

Homes on the Eastern Shore are selling in half the amount of time that they were when the country was coming out of the recession, with median days on the market dropping from more than 100 in most months of the year from 2007 to 2013. Now, the days on the market is more likely to be under 75, even hitting a record low of 45 in June 2016 and 46 in May.

The number of closed sales per month keeps climbing on the Eastern Shore, with even the winter months of the past two years seeing approximately the same number of sales as the peak spring selling months of just a few years prior. While there’s an active market, the area still provides value.

The median sales price for homes here has stayed steadily between $200,000 and $250,000 for the past nine years. However, with all other indicators showing a return to demand, we expect prices to increase over the next year or two.

Shenandoah County, Va.
For those looking for an escape near the mountains, the Shenandoah region’s real estate market is showing signs of renewed strength. The number of active listings has plummeted, even though the number of new listings coming on the market has stayed roughly the same for the past several years.

This trend suggests that although new listings are coming onto the market, they are selling quickly and therefore don’t remain active for long. Every month for the past two and a half years, the number of active listings has decreased compared with the same month for the year prior and, more notable, the size of the decrease has grown to percentages in the double digits over the past year.

Correspondingly, the number of days on the market has started to tick downward, moving from 100 in the past two years and staying under 80 for the majority of months. Median sales prices have also trended upward over the past year, settling in around $175,000 this past spring.

This is part of the slow but steady climb from the low point during 2010, when prices were closer to $125,000, after reaching peaks of more than $250,000 during the boom years around 2007.

Garrett County, Md.
One location Washingtonians should keep an eye on is Garrett County, Md. Approximately three hours from Washington, this county borders West Virginia and contains Deep Creek Lake — the largest man-made lake in Maryland. Fly-fishing, boating and white-water rafting are common summer activities, and during the winter Wisp Resort attracts skiers and snowboarders to the slopes.

This region has started to show all the signs of a market on the cusp of becoming highly competitive. Prices have made a noticeable rebound by crossing the $300,000 mark (after a few post-recession years when they dipped to $150,000), and the median days the on market has dropped by more than a half, from more than 200 just a few years ago to as low as 54 in July 2016.

The surest sign that this market is getting hot is that homes are just now getting back to the point of selling close to their asking prices. After a few years when sellers were getting only about 80 to 85 percent of their asking price, Garrett County has crossed into the 95 percent category. This shows that buyers are more motivated than ever to own a home in this community.

With median prices well below those of homes in the Washington region, all three of these markets are poised for growth, and properties in these areas could be a wise investment for the right buyer. Local real estate agents can help identify the best neighborhoods and specific properties, and talk more in detail about these recent trends.

They can help you find the right vacation home at the right price, especially when shopping for a home from out of town.

The fact that a number of second-home destinations continue to see a rise in popularity is yet another sign of renewed health for the housing market in and around Washington. Whether it is mountain trails or the water’s edge that appeals to a vacation-home buyer, our region has a tremendous variety for everyone across the price spectrum.

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61st annual Garrett County Ag Fair scheduled for July 29–Aug. 5

McHENRY — Although there have been various fairs and carnivals held in Garrett County for at least a century, the contemporary Garrett County Agriculture Fair will observe its 61st anniversary this year, with the 2017 event scheduled for Saturday, July 29, through Saturday, Aug. 5.

The fair will once again consist of a myriad of competitions, ranging from the judging of farm animals and their caretakers to canned goods to photography to 4-H projects. There will be tractor pulls and a baby crawling contest, live entertainment on the Exhibit Hall stage every evening, and Reithoffer Shows will provide a wide variety of rides and amusements.

In addition, numerous service organizations, churches, and other nonprofit entities will have various food and beverage items for sale, and the fair will conclude with the annual Garrett County Livestock Sale.

Among the musical entertainers throughout the week will be Russel Dickerson, Tim Litvin, Sundance Head, the Joseph Sisters, and HeartStrings.

Much of opening day, Saturday, July 29, will be spent entering all indoor exhibits, and the Reithoffer Shows carnival rides will run from 5 to 11 p.m. that evening.

Judging of exhibits will be conducted all day on Sunday, July 30, with the barns closed to traffic, and the entering of horses and marketing animals will be conducted throughout the day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The day will culminate with an interdenominational worship service at 6:30 p.m., followed by the crowning of the 2017 GC Farm Queen at 7:30 p.m.

All exhibit barns will be open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, the carnvial rides will be open until 11 p.m., and various contests/competitions will be held throughout the day.

Tuesday will be Senior Citizens Day, with free admission granted for those age 60 and older. Seniors may ride midway attractions free from 1 until 5 p.m. The day’s schedule will also include a pet show, a 4-H robotics challenge, a high school junior rodeo, and a performance by the Still Kickin’ Cloggers.

The Wednesday slate will include a baby crawl and judging in various animal categories.

A pedal tractor pull, 4-H/FFA beef showmanship judging, a market beef show, and a heavyweight tractor pull will be among Thursday’s events, with Friday’s schedule including the master showman competition, 4-H engineering events, the costume animal parade, cow patty bingo, mechanical bull riding, and peewee swine show.

The final day of the fair — Saturday, Aug. 5 — will include the Livestock Olympics, a dirty-pony contest, the annual livestock sale, the four- and eight-cylinder demolition derby on the fair track.

The cost of admission to the fair on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday (July 29) is $10, which covers unlimited carnival rides, entertainment, and track events. The admission price for Thursday and Saturday (Aug. 5) is $15, which covers the same items noted above. Non-ride tickets, which must be purchased in advance ($7), include entertainment and track events, but not carnival rides. The non-ride tickets can be purchased at First United Bank & Trust in McHenry, Grantsville, and Friendsville; Slopeside Market, Deep Creek Shop and Save; all First Peoples locations; Double G Ranch; Southern States in Mountain Lake Park; and Gregg’s Pharmacy in Oakland.

More information can be found on the fair website at garrettcountyfair.org.

The Garrett County Agriculture Fair is a non-profit organization that is led by a 24-member all-volunteer board of directors.

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NEW LISTING- 508 Lake Forest Drive

Peaceful wooded waterfront with gentle slope to lake offers deep-water Type A private dock.

Enjoy four-season beauty of the lake, sun and moonrises by a wood-burning fireplace or from the expansive lakeside deck.

Architect/Owner incorporated natural cedar and dry-stacked stone into low-maintenance design; 3 master suites (4BR/4.5BA), ample parking and hot tub ~rental-ready~ if desired!

Must see!

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