Pirates make MLB Draft special for Bethel Park’s Justin Meis

From Triblive

Justin Meis knew the Pittsburgh Pirates were interested when they continued to make calls to check in after almost every round late in the second day of the MLB Draft.

Meis was on vacation with nearly two dozen members of his family at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland when he got a call that was different, especially the greeting from Pirates area scout Anthony Wycklendt.

“The first thing he said when I answered the phone was ‘Congratulations!’ ” said Meis (pronounced “mice”). “It was an unbelievable feeling. I turned around gave a thumb’s up to my family. That’s something I’ll never forget.”

Meis, a right-handed pitcher from Bethel Park who is a junior at Eastern Michigan, was thrilled when the Pirates selected him in the 10th round (No. 283 overall) Monday afternoon. The assigned slot value for the pick is $149,500, and Meis said he plans to sign with the Pirates.

“To be honest, I don’t even know if you can put it into words,” Meis said. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was growing up. Now that it happened, I don’t even know what to say. It’s pretty cool.”

Getting drafted by his hometown team was the culmination of an unforgettable year for Meis, who had a moment to remember this season against eventual College World Series champion Mississippi State.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder went 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA and 1.44 WHIP and led Eastern Michigan with 81 strikeouts and 73 2/3 innings this season. Meis also pitched well in the wooden-bat Cape Cod League, where he was 1-1 with a 2.07 ERA, 17 strikeouts and three walks in 17 1/3 innings over four starts for the Cotuit Kettleers.

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Vacation home sales soared during pandemic, report finds

From The Washington Post

The great divide in the experience of the pandemic was especially evident in the vacation home sales market. While many families suffered from illness, unemployment and financial distress from the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown, people who were able to keep their jobs and work remotely faced less severe monetary consequences.

Many saved more money and saw their home values increase, which meant they could purchase a second home where they could work remotely and spend time with their families.

The National Association of Realtors’ 2021 Vacation Home Counties report provides the data to prove what’s been anecdotally evident for months: 2020 was the year of the vacation home.

Sales of vacation homes rose 16.4 percent in 2020 compared with 2019, while the total growth of all existing-home sales was just 5.6 percent during that same period. And 2021 appears to be shaping up the same way: From January to April 2021, vacation home sales jumped 57.2 percent year-over-year compared with the 20 percent year-over-year growth in total existing-home sales.

Home buyers in 2021 need more cash, face more competition

Naturally, demand drove prices higher at a faster pace for vacation homes, too. The median existing-home sales price rose by 14.2 percent in vacation home counties, compared with 10.1 percent in nonvacation home counties. A county is considered by NAR to be a vacation county if at least 20 percent of the homes are identified as seasonal, occasional or recreational-use housing.

The surge of vacation home purchases began in the second half of 2020 and continued at least through April 2021, according to NAR’s report.

Top 10 vacation home rankings by county are:

  1. Lee County, Fla.
  2. Oscoda County, Mich.
  3. Swain County, N.C.
  4. Collier County, Fla.
  5. Dukes County, Mass.
  6. Alleghany County, N.C.
  7. Garrett County, Md.
  8. Barnstable County, Mass.
  9. Alcona County, Mich.
  10. Macon County, N.C.

Regionally, home sales in vacation home counties grew fastest (nearly 31 percent) in 2020 compared with 2019 in the South Atlantic, which includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C.

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2 Maryland counties are tops for vacation homes

From Wtop

Statistics on vacation home sales have been unprecedented, and the gains have continued into this spring — even after most pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions have ended.

Vacation home sales are especially strong in the most popular regions, in vacation home counties, which the National Association of Realtors defines as counties where at least 20% of the houses and condos are seasonal, occasional or recreational use. Vacation home sales in those 145 counties have risen 24.2% in the past year.

From January to April 2021, the share of vacation home sales compared to total existing home sales climbed to 6.7%. Overall vacation home sales are up 57.2% in the last year, compared to 20% annual growth for all existing home sales.

NAR has compiled a list of top vacation home counties, and two are in Maryland: Garrett and Worcester counties.

“That is the county where you have Ocean City. A great spot. On the other hand, Garrett County, Maryland, is in the most western part of Maryland, and here you are really going to a destination that is in the Appalachian Mountains,” said NAR Director of Housing and Commercial Research Gay Cororaton.

In Worcester County, 56% of homes are vacation homes, and it ranks eighth for counties in actual number of homes for seasonal and recreational use.

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Military March promotion offered

From The Garrett County Republican

McHENRY — The Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County salute the nation’s heroes with a Military March promotion.

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce is offering discounts for military members on its website, visitdeepcreek.com. The promotion runs from March 1-31, non-holidays.

Nineteen businesses are participating in the promotion offering military discounts on dining, shopping, lodging, party and event rentals, heating & cooling, veterinary services and products, flooring, printing services and wireless services.

“The Military March promotion is a terrific way for military members to save on a trip to the Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County,” said Sarah Duck, vice president of tourism & marketing for the chamber. “We are proud to honor our nation’s heroes with discounts from a wide variety of our area’s businesses.”

The Military March Promotion includes offers from Advanced Heating & Cooling; Bear Creek Traders; Blue Moon Rising; Cashmere Clothing Co.; Christmas Chalet; HART for Animals; Joint Training Facility; Long Branch Saloon & Motel; Master Craft Printers; MoonShadow; Mountain State Brewing Co.; Perkins Restaurant & Bakery; Riggleman’s & Sons Flooring; Savage River Lodge; Ski Cove #3; Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales; the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille; The Tourist Trap; and US Cellular.

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Garrett teens to compete in finals of ‘Fishing University’ show

From The Garrett County Republican

DECATUR, Ala. — The television show “Fishing University” will feature two Garrett County teens, Jett Miller and Derek Kleppinger, as they fish for college scholarships in the “Make ME a Star” competition finals.

The team of two made it to the finals, beating out more than 500 other teams of two across the country after making the most social media posts about their fishing adventures.

The team of Miller and Kleppinger will fish against a two-student team from Kentucky, and have the opportunity to win four-year tuition scholarships from Bethel University, as well as a $10,000 cash scholarship for food and books if they finish in first place, or a two-year tuition scholarship if they finish in second place.

Kleppinger and Miller are both sophomores at Southern Garrett High School.

Kleppinger’s earliest memories of fishing were around age 5 with his dad at a family pond, as well as at Broad Ford Lake.

“My dad and grandfather both fish, as well as my sister, Rachel, and grandmother,” Kleppinger said. “I am fairly new to our high school team, but Jett and I won the second competition we were in, so I am ‘hooked,’ so to speak. And, Joe McClosky, who attended Southern Garrett, won this same competition in 2016 and is now a senior at Bethel University, where he has excelled in his fishing career, as well as about to graduate from college.

“I have enjoyed this experience and really appreciate our coaches who are so supportive,” continued Kleppinger. “My other hobbies beside fishing are learning and playing the guitar, biking, video games and recreational boating. My favorite subjects in school are science and history. I like science because it makes you think and question things, and history because I enjoy learning about the past.”

Kleppinger has worked at Patterson Boat Co. and as a dock attendant to help support his fishing hobby — buying his rods, reels and other fishing gear.

“I am so thankful and appreciative to my parents, Michael and Theresa Kleppinger, for allowing me to participate in fishing,” he said. “I am very excited over this opportunity, but a bit nervous too as I think about all the millions of people that will watch this show, and what’s on the line — fishing at the collegiate level, which would be a dream come true! Although I plan to major in engineering, fishing will always be a huge part of my life.”

His teammate, Miller, also started angling at an early age.

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Sock monkeys are a labor of love for Ida Maust

The Garrett County Republican

Gradually, she began making more for birthdays and other gifts as needed. Then she started teaching the nursery-aged Sunday School class at her church about 30 years ago. She started making sock monkeys to give to her students on their birthdays, and continued this for as long as she taught the class.

Maust said she’s not sure how many monkeys she has made over the years, but estimates that it is somewhere between 400 and 500.

“I don’t know how many I made each year,” she said. “I know one year I made 80, when I gave each of my children and grandchildren one for Christmas, but that’s been a good many years ago now.”

She has been trying to make one for each great-grandchild when they turn 2 (which included three last month.)

The current count is nine children, 36 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, with three more on the way.

Maust and her husband, Elmer, were married 47 years before he died in March 2002.

In the early days, she bought the socks locally, but then wasn’t able to find them at stores. She used regular socks that didn’t have the red heels for awhile until she was able to get them again. Today, she buys them by the box online.

“Sometimes I just got socks that were brown or gray or something that would look nice for a monkey,” she said. “I like these better because it’s what they were intended for.”

She said she doesn’t feel bad about cutting the socks up to make monkeys for children.

“I still get a lot of socks and give them to organizations when they need them,” she said.

Maust slowed down on the sock monkey making during some years, especially when she was busy with Garrett County Hospice, working as the volunteer coordinator.

Now 86, Maust went through some changes in her life in the last two years. It began with a knee replacement in July 2019.

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Oakland B&O Museum in need of volunteers

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — The Oakland B&O Museum is ready for the summer, but the lack of volunteers is preventing it from being operated on regular hours.

Oakland Councilman Terry Helbig, who is also chairman of the museum’s committee, said at Monday’s meeting that the historic railroad station needs people to donate time toward keeping the museum open.

Helbig said the regular roster of volunteers consists mostly of senior citizens, some of whom have health issues — and they are in the high-risk category for COVID-19. Because of that, they have been reluctant to return to the station, which had delayed reopening until permitted by Gov. Larry Hogan’s recovery plans.

Helbig himself manned the station over the weekend, hosting a couple dozen visitors.

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$5 million in federal funding announced for Garrett airport

The Garrett County Republican

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Rep. David Trone, all D-Md., have announced $16 million in funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation for airport infrastructure improvements in Western Maryland.

Garrett County Airport will receive $5,035,688 for the expansion of its apron.

The project will expand the existing general aviation apron to 10,100 square yards to meet Federal Aviation Administration design standards. The grant will fund the final phase, which consists of construction.

An intent to fund this project was previously announced by the secretary of transportation on May 15, 2019.

Hagerstown Regional Airport-Richard A. Henson Field will receive $6,304,480 for the rehabilitation of its main runway, while Frederick Municipal Airport will receive $4,662,770 for the relocation of a taxiway.

Funds authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which waived local cost-share requirements for federal airport grants through FY2020, will help cover state and local funding obligations for the projects.

“These airports provide a vital connection between Western Maryland and other parts of our state and region. They have continued to serve communities and local economies despite facing significant financial challenges in recent months,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “Improving and upgrading Maryland’s public infrastructure will be critical for our recovery from the downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. I will continue to fight for investments like these throughout our state.”

“The Hagerstown Regional Airport, Frederick Municipal Airport and Garrett County Airport serve as crucial connecting hubs, support local jobs, and create economic opportunity. This investment will go a long way toward keeping critical infrastructure modernized so that all our airports can continue providing top-notch service,” said Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We will keep working to bring federal resources to Maryland’s transportation infrastructure given the vital role they play in local communities like these in Western Maryland.”

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Fireworks displays set for Independence Day weekend

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — With COVID-19 putting a damper on many summer events, it’s not holding back a pair of mainstay fireworks displays in Garrett County.

Fire on the Mountain

Fireworks will light up the sky July 4 as the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce presents the annual “Fire on the Mountain” Fireworks Display.

The display is set to begin at dark. The fireworks are launched from the top of the Tubing Park at Wisp Resort. Prime viewing locations include the Scenic Overlook on U.S. 219, Wisp Resort, local businesses in McHenry, and from boats on the lake, particularly around McHenry Cove.

For any location from which you choose to view the fireworks, remember to practice social distancing.

Wisp Resort is the associate sponsor.

Supporting sponsors are Deep Creek Shop n Save; Huey’s Ice Cream; Bear Creek Traders; Perkins Restaurant and McHenry Beverage Shoppe compliments of Hugh Umbel and Ray Shurg; Ledo Pizza, Pasta & Pub; Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake; and Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales.

Contributing sponsors are Railey Realty, Railey Vacations and Silver Tree Marine LLC.

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