In Maryland, tiny houses that are a little bit Tolkien, a little bit Thoreau

Based in the wilds of western Maryland, bespoke tiny home specialist Hobbitat creates stunning, small-sized dwellings using primarily reclaimed and recycled materials.
Thu, May 30 2013 at 1:24 PM

Photos: Hobbitat

Today, here’s a quick look at an outfitter of custom tiny homes out of bucolic Garrett County, Maryland, that specializes in creating pint-sized structures that “speak to the art of the small building movement” while incorporating an impressive amount of reclaimed, recycled, and locally sourced building materials and architectural elements. And given that the design/build firm in question is named Hobbitat and its homes are referred to as “Waldens” — alternately known as “Hobs” — this is one company that clearly wears its literary inspirations on its sleeves.
A relative newbie on the tiny home building scene that’s already received props from tiny house demigod Jay Shafer, Baltimore refugee and historic restoration specialist Bill Thomas and his wife, Sue, established Cranesville-based Hobbitat in the beginning of 2012 as a spin-off of their “normal sized” custom home building business, Blue Sky Ventures. With the creation of Hobbitat, the duo decided to “shank the size of the ‘house’ and move the construction process inside” according to the company website.

Md. officials OK local projects

New Germany Park expansion, more trails being added:

Matthew Bieniek Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — The state board of public works approved several projects for funding, along with contracts in Allegany and Garrett counties on Wednesday, including more than $1 million for the Jennings Run sewer rehabilitation project, according to Susan Brogan, the deputy treasurer for public policy of the state treasurer’s office.

Jennings Run sewer customers are slated for a rate increase despite the state funding, county officials have said. The funding approved Monday was for $1,187,042 of state bond proceeds.  Jennings Run customers could see an $8 increase per quarter for sewer surcharges, according to a recent presentation by Mark Yoder, the county’s utilities division chief.

The county is under a consent order by the Maryland Department of the Environment to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows during and after heavy rains.

The project is part of a long-term plan to meet the requirements of the consent order.

This project includes relining and/or replacement of sewer pipes and manholes. The project is expected to minimize sewer backups and overflows, according to board of public works documents.

Frostburg’s water system also benefitted from the board’s actions.

The board approved funding up to $269,250 for the Savage Raw Water and Energy Conservation project.

Frostburg plans to conserve water and reduce energy consumption by rehabilitating the city’s drinking water collection system in the Savage River basin in Garrett County.

The aging system experiences leakage and uses some out-of-date equipment and deteriorating facilities. The project will involve the replacement of pipes, spring houses, pumping equipment, the lining of basins and other improvements, according to board documents.

The purchase of more than 11 acres to expand New Germany State Park was also approved Wednesday. The state agreed to pay $101,000 to buy land from William K. and Kathleen R. Tunney.

“Acquisition of the property will allow the expansion of trails at New Germany State Park and provide a buffer between park activities and private property. The property is populated with apple and cherry trees, making it an excellent habitat for wildlife,” according to board documents.

At Swallow Falls State Park, ice cream will once again be available for the summer, since the board approved a contract with Lakeside Creamery, who has been providing cool refreshments at the park since 2003.

“Historically, Lakeside Creamery has been the only bidder for this contract since 2003. It is believed that because Swallow Falls State Park is located in a rural area where there are very few ice cream vendors with trailers is why there were no other bidders,” according to the board agenda.

“Lakeside Creamery agrees to sell solely hand-dipped ice cream and smoothies made with hand-dipped ice cream,” the agenda reads. The contract is expected to generate $150,000 in gross sales, with 12 percent going to the Department of Natural Resources.

The Allegany Museum will also gain $100,000 for capital improvements. The museum has been working through a capital improvement plan over the last several years, utilizing their own funds and state bond bills. The updates will allow the museum to become involved in loan exchange programs with other museums and upgrades to the interior of the Pershing Street building.

The board also approved funding for two smaller Project Open Space projects. The first project will provide $40,000 in funding for improvements at the Ellerslie Community Park. The funds will be used to add new fencing, upgrade restrooms, the concession stands and make bleacher improvements. The Ellerslie park is just over 11 acres in size. The second smaller project ap-proved $38,990 in funding for improvements at the Grants-ville Playground and Park.

The monies will be used to add a walking path around the 14-acre park and add new backboards for the basketball courts along with new bleachers and playground equipment, according to board documents.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at

More here.

Property Owners' Association of Deep Creek Lake – eblast

The Deep Creek Lake POA sent this eblast the other day:


The 2013 summer season is here.  We hope you and your friends have an enjoyable summer at DCL.  We want to remind you that the General Membership Meeting of the POA, which is open to the public will be held on Saturday, June 22 at the Garrett 8 Cinemas.  Coffee and refreshments will be available at 8:00 AM and the meeting will begin promptly at 8:30 AM.
Some of our members have returned to their homes to find that the Sandy left behind storm damage that now has to be cleared.  Some of that damage is in the buffer strip and even into the lake.  DNR has been working with property owners in permitting the removal of this storm damage.  It is important that you work with DNR and file a permit request to do any work in the buffer strip.  The POA website has a link to the DNR Buffer Strip Regulations and Permits .

The Policy Review Board (PRB) and the Lake Management Office have been made aware of a general mailing advertising a general aquatic herbicide for use on Sub Aquatic Vegetation (SAV). The PRB and DNR have discussed and continue to discuss the use of herbicides in the lake but at this time DNR does not plan to use any herbicide in DCL.  For more information about this, please see the PRB News at the POA website.  The leadership of both the PRB and the Lake Management office are concerned that people may think they can use this product in DCL.  PRB and DNR reminds everyone that it is illegal to use any chemicals in the lake without Lake Managment approval.

Within the next few days you will be receiving the Spring issue of the POA Dispatch filled with news about POA activities.  Past issues of the Dispatch can be found here.

We look forward to seeing you at the General Membership Meeting on June 22.

Natural Resources Careers Camp

May 28, 2013

The Maryland Association of Forest Conservancy District Boards is holding a career conference for high school students in the Mid-Atlantic area who are interested in a career in Natural Resources. The conference is a weeklong summer program held July 21 – 27, 2013 in Garrett County, Maryland.

The Natural Resources Careers Camp is a co-educational program designed to acquaint Maryland high school students with careers in Forestry and Natural Resource management. Students learn about careers through hands-on activities and first-hand contact with professionals from a variety of careers.

Students work in small groups of 6 or 8 with a group leader. Natural Resource professionals, such as wildlife biologists, park managers, arborists, foresters and water resources biologists serve as guest instructors throughout the week. The program culminates with the groups writing a management plan on a small tract of forest they have been working in during the week.

College Night is also part of the program. Representatives from Allegany College of Maryland, the University of Maryland, Frostburg University, Garrett College, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University talk about their programs. Professors and department heads bring information and material to share with students who are eager to talk to the different schools.

More here.

3BR vacation rental home with lake views at Paradise Ridge – $269,900 – GA8090202


Lake & mountain view chalet in a desirable lake access community, the Ridge at Paradise Point. Community boasts a sun-drenched lakefront common area and boat slips may be available through the HOA. 3BR, 2BA, nearly 2k square feet, spacious deck and plenty of yard to enjoy the outdoors. Established vacation rental, ‘Pitcher Perfect’. Much more here.

Listing # GA8090202


Free 2013-14 Wisp Day Ski Passes – Volunteer to clear new trails

Volunteer some time at Wisp clearing new terrain and get a complimentary ski pass!
Glade Clearing Project

Weekly: Every Saturday through June 29, 2013

Event: Glade Clearing Project

Dates: Saturdays – June 1 thru 29

Times: – 9am – 4:30pm
Includes complimentary Lunch
Location To Meet: Bear claw Adventure Park Building

Call To Register Early – 301.387.4000 ext.0

Description:  Wisp Resort plans to open up over 20 acres of gladed ski and board terrain for the 2013.2014 winter season and we want you to be a part of the team!  Volunteers are needed to assist Wisp Staff in removing  felled trees, shrubs, brush  and debris from the wooded area skier’s left of Squirrel Cage trail.  Volunteers will receive one complimentary one-day non-holiday lift ticket valid for the 13.14 winter season and a complimentary lunch day of service.  Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.  Event rain or shine.

More here.

USACK Trials Put Olympian And GC Residents In Same Waters

The 2013 U.S. Canoe/Kayak Team Trials and Deep Creek Open were held at the ASCI whitewater course in McHenry this past weekend. The event hosted several of the best paddlers from around the world, including two-time Olympian Casey Eichfeld (above) and Garrett County resident Casey Beall (below). Eichfeld of Drums, Pa., grabbed a spot on the U.S. World Cup Team after seizing first place in men’s single canoe, and paired with Devin McEwan to grab the gold in men’s double canoe as well. Eichfeld’s penalty-free first run was 1.48 seconds faster than five-time Olympic medalist Michal Martikan of Slovakia. Beall is currently a student at Garrett College, and works at ASCI and Precision Rafting in Friendsville. His grandmother, Mary Walcek, has been a Garrett County resident of over 20 years. While Beall did not meet the standards to earn a spot on the Under-23 U.S. Team, he did qualify for the Under-23 World Championships. More here.


Murals Added To Museum Wall

May. 23, 2013

A strikingly colorful addition to downtown Oakland are several murals placed on the backside of Garrett County’s Transportation Museum. The historical photos, collected by Bob Boal, president of the Garrett County Historical Society, and Don Callis, museum volunteer, are of scenes from virtually every community in Garrett County, with some form of transportation being the common thread.

Several hundred of the photos were then presented to designer/artist Barry Domenick of Domenick Signs, who then worked with members of his creative crew to complete the project. The project was financed in part with state funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the state of Maryland. However, the contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. More here.


Ad Valorem Tax Rates To Increase For Some Water, Sewer Customers

May. 23, 2013

Director Linda Lindsey, Garrett County Department of Public Utilities, on Tuesday presented the county commissioners with her calculated ad valorem tax rates for water and sewer service in the Garrett County Sanitary District for fiscal year 2014.

Rates for Bloomington water, Chestnut Ridge sewer, Deer Park water and sewer, Friendsvile water and sewer, Keysers Ridge water, Meadow Mountain sewer, and Mtn. Lake Park/Loch Lynn sewer customers will remain at their current rates.


Lindsey plans to increase the Deep Creek Lake sewer ad valorem tax rate from $.06 to $.07.

“The ad valorem tax rate is based [in part] on the assessed valuation of the properties within the service area boundaries,” she explained about the increased. “There was a decrease in some of the assessments, and then an additional cost for the loan refinancing that we recently conducted. We consolidated all of the [Deep Creek Lake] Sanitary District’s debt.”

The Jennings sewer rate will increase from $.13 to $0.22.

“That’s due to additional expenses for constructing the main line sewage pump station on the conveyance line from Jennings to the Chestnut Ridge area,” Lindsey explained. “That money – $1,000 – was borrowed to do that.”

McHenry water customers will see a $.01 increase.

“It goes from $.04 to $.05, and that is due to the loan refinancing of the previous USDA loan and M&T construction loan,” the director said.

The Mtn. Lake Park/Loch Lynn water rate will go from $.02 to $.05.

“That [increase] is based on the debt incurred for the new the water treatment plant, new 500,000 gallon water storage tank, the new wells for the new water source, and distribution system rehabilitation that’s been undertaken,” Lindsey said.

The rate for the new Thayerville water system will be $.20.

“That’s based on the new construction of the system that’s ongoing at this time,” the director said.

More here.

Rocky Gap Casino Resort flush with visitors; 1,000 estimated on first day

Greg Larry Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — CUMBERLAND — Nearly 300 people were waiting outside and in the lobby Wednesday when Rocky Gap Casino Resort officials emerged at about 4 p.m. to announce they had received a call from the Maryland gaming commission that they were approved to open.

Those waiting were immediately let inside the casino where the crowd continued to grow through out the evening.

Officials estimated about 1,000 people visited Maryland’s newest casino on its first day.

Casino officials had been waiting for the final approval of a license after a test audit of the casino’s procedures and functions on Monday.

The crowd began to build early Wednesday as expectations of the opening of its doors grew.

Receiving the call from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency was Scott Just, the resort’s general manager, from Lakes Entertainment Inc., the operators of the casino.

“Our team is experienced in gaming and hospitality and is looking forward to providing a great gambling experience and exceptional guest services,” said Just.

A visit to the resort and casino Thursday afternoon found about 200 people playing at the 558 slots and 10 table games. Some players who spoke to the Times-News asked to remain anonymous, while others provided only their first names.

Rip Coulehan and his wife Shawn of Cumberland were among those who came out Thursday.

“It’s impressive. I just hope it brings people out and creates more positive attitudes in the area,” said Rip Coulehan. “It’s like a mini Las Vegas without the vulgarity.”

Another Cumberland resident, Denise, was asked for her impression when she walked through the door.

“I just said, ‘Wow!’ It’s very nice. I think it will do well. We need some excitement in the area,” she said.

Several of those at the casino were from towns throughout the tri-state region.

Husband and wife Tim and Chris Miller of Hagerstown spoke after Tim received $15 on a free spin and Chris receivied $7 as part of a current promotion for anyone who signs up for the resort’s Rewards Club. Upon signing up for the club, which is free, a member may win up to $500 as part of the casino’s Join, Spin and Win promotion.

“I think it’s nice. They have a lot of different machines and the people are very attentive,” said Chris Miller.

“I like that they have free coffee and soft drinks. Other places we’ve gone charge for that,” said Tim Miller.

Chris Miller said the couple’s goal was to “leave with a little more than we came with.”

Allegany County will receive 5.5 percent of casino profits, which officials laud as good news for the local economy. Increased income for the county is expected to help fund increased road improvements, health programs, education and more.

Rocky Gap Casino Resort, which is also constructing a new addition in the form of an events center, is expected to employ around 350 people.

Three women from the Bedford, Pa., area were enjoying playing the Pink Diamond video terminals.

“It’s fun and it’s close for us,” said one woman.

“They’ve done a nice job,” said another.

Another woman from Needmore, Pa., also had words of praise. “I think it’s nice and it’s a good thing for the area,” she said.

Lakes Entertainment officials stressed that gambling at the casino should be done in a responsible fashion.

In addition to the casino, the resort has four restaurants, a spa, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course with walking trails, fishing and other activities.

Greg Larry can be contacted at

More here.