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OAKLAND — The Garrett County commissioners and the Department of Public Works —Utilities Division held a public hearing Monday afternoon at the courthouse on water district boundary changes at Deep Creek Lake.
“We are proposing to change the Thayerville and McHenry water service boundaries to include a small section of Deep Creek Drive between the Rt. 219 bridge over Deep Creek Lake and Gravelly Run Road,” said Pat Hudnall, Utilities Division chief.
The county also wants to combine the two districts into one, which would be called the Deep Creek Lake Water Service Area.
Hudnall noted that ad valorem tax rates will be affected. McHenry customers are currently paying $.05 per $100 of assessed value on improved and unimproved property. For Thayerville, the cost is $.24 per $100 of assessed value.
“Once combined, the tax rate will be $.10 per $100 of assessed property value on improved and unimproved parcels across both service areas,” Hudnall said. “This would take effect in next year’s tax cycle.”
He indicated that combining the two systems, in part, was in preparation for the Hoyes Run Road project, which is two to three years from being constructed, and to provide an additional water source for McHenry.
“MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) is going to view this as an alternative water source/supply for the McHenry system, should we run into issues with the Hoyes Run project down the road,” Hudnall said.
He stressed, however, that the new Deep Creek Lake Water Service Area would only be a possible backup for Hoyes Run, not a substitute for that project.
“It will only supplement what we need,” Hudnall said. “This won’t carry enough water to meet all of our demands in McHenry.”
Commissioner Paul Edwards indicated ad valorem rate changes, therefore, are inevitable.
Two people voiced their opinions at the hearing. Del. Wendell Beitzel asked that the county extend the proposed Deep Creek Lake Water Service Area boundary up to the intersection of Rt. 219 and Rt. 42. This would enable the Maryland State Police barrack and Northern Garrett Rescue Squad to connect to the system if they so desired.
“Please consider it,” Beitzel asked the commissioners.
McHenry water customer Robert Kelly reviewed the history of the original McHenry Water System expansion project. In 2011, he noted the ad valorem tax rate was expected to be between $.02 and $.04 per $100 of his assessed property.
“The residents were overwhelmingly opposed to the expansion of the system in 2011,” Kelly said, referring to a public hearing in which 200 people attended.
Kelly estimated that he is actually currently paying a $.13 ad valorem tax rate, or $717.47, a year. Under the new proposed rate, that would go up to $1,200 a year.
“We, the residents of McHenry, just get crucified,” he said about continual increases in water rates and other taxes. “It’s got to stop. There has to be innovate thinking to deal with this issue.”
He acknowledged that a $.02 to $.04 ad valorem rate was probably not realistic now. But he did suggest that a moratorium be placed on all Public Works projects until a financial study could be conducted by an independent company.
“I’m not opposed to this,” Kelly said about expanding the water system. “What I’m opposed to is my $717 going to a $1,200.”
He called conducting the independent study a “confidence builder.”
“I have no faith, and most people don’t have any faith, in the numbers thrown out, as you can see, by the Public Works department,” Kelly said.
The commissioners left the comment period open on the proposed McHenry and Thayerville water service boundary changes until Monday, Aug. 21. Maps of the areas are available for viewing online at garrettcounty.org.
The commissioners will hold their next public meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Ryan’s Glade Community Center, Gorman, at 6 p.m.
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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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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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.