Md. provides funds for sexual assault victims

BALTIMORE, Md. (WUSA9) — Maryland officials have awarded funds to organizations from Garrett County to Talbot County so they can help victims of sexual assault.

$287,702 worth of funds have been awarded by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP), through the Sexual Assault Services Formula Grant Program (SASP), officials said. This program is the first federal funding stream solely dedicated to the provision of direct intervention and related assistance for victims of sexual assault.

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Garrett ethics board dismisses complaint against county commissioner

From Staff ReportsCumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Ethics Commission recently met and decided that there was no cause to hold a public hearing in regards to an ethics complaint that Carol Jacobs, president of Aquatic Center Inc. in McHenry, filed against Garrett County Commission Chairman Robert Gatto.

The ethics commission reviewed the minutes from the Feb. 18 Garrett County Commission public meeting and the Garrett County Public Ethics Ordinance. Upon completion of the review it was determined that the issues were clearly presented and framed and there was no cause for a public hearing, states the ethics commission opinion.

During the Feb. 18 meeting, County Attorney Gorman Getty presented the commissioners with three recommendations from the Garrett County Planning Commission for text amendments to the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance. The commissioners were advised by professional staff that the text amendments were appropriate for consideration, according to the ethics commission opinion. The commissioners voted to approve the text amendments. Commissioner Gregan Crawford and Gatto voted in favor of the text amendments with Commissioner Jim Raley voting against.

Jacobs, along with five other marinas, filed for a judicial review of the commissioners’ decision to approve the adopted text amendments to the zoning ordinance, according to court documents.

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As snow falls, state school board allows way out of 180-day rule

By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun9:03 p.m. EDT, March 25, 2014

A Maryland school superintendent wouldn’t ordinarily give local systems a pass on the requirement that public school students go to school for 180 days a year.

But these have not been ordinary times.

The seemingly endless winter, with its unusual number of snow days, has raised the specter of students going to school into the last week of June….

…The district with the greatest need for a waiver — Garrett County, which has lost 20 days this school year — is waiting to see what April brings before filing a request, said William Cappe, education program specialist at the Maryland State Department of Education. Garrett had built six weather days into its calendar.

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Garrett students to compete in national robotics event

iLEGO team traveling to Calif. in May

For the Cumberland Times-NewsCumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — A rookie team of Garrett County elementary and middle school students, iLEGO, took first place at the Maryland State Championship and has been invited to compete at the Northern American Open Championship in Carlsbad, Calif., May 16-18.

The team is part of the Garrett County For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology First LEGO League and members competed against 72 teams from across the state at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Campus.

Students attend Route 40, Broad Ford, Yough Glades elementary and Southern Middle schools. “Nature’s Fury” was this year’s theme, and the students designed and programmed a robot to complete missions on the playing field while focusing their research on preparing for and surviving a natural disaster.

The Champion’s Award measures how the children inspire and motivate others about the excitement and wonders of science and technology, while demonstrating gracious professionalism, according to Garrett County FIRST. It is determined by giving equal weight to all four arenas and competition — technical design and programming, robot performance, project presentation and teamwork — and additional consideration to the team demonstrating First LEGO League values.

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Education measures win key votes

Matthew Bieniek

Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Two bills that will impact education policy and finances in Western Maryland have won important votes, with time running out for passage of legislation in the General Assembly.

One bill would help school districts facing a drop in state funding and the other would remove an ex officio position from the Allegany and Garrett County boards of education.

The ex officio bill passed the House of Delegates 137-0 Friday. The Senate version of the bill, which passed 47-0, is already in the House.

On Thursday, the Ways and Means Committee gave the House version of the school funding bill a favorable recommendation. It’s not unusual to have bills filed in both houses of the legislature.

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Enterprise Zone Program works in Garrett County

Economic development office’s view differs from assessment out of Annapolis

For the Cumberland Times-News

Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Maryland’s Enterprise Zone Program has helped fuel dramatic growth and private investment in Garrett County for more than a decade, according to the Garrett County Office of Economic Development. Contrary to conclusions released by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services deeming the program cost ineffective, the initiative has catapulted employment and capital expenditures throughout the county, according to county officials.

“We are extremely proud of our Enterprise Zone businesses. While the state may be of the opinion that the program is not cost effective, we have leveraged it to great results in Garrett County,” said Mike Koch, executive director of Garrett County’s Department of Community Planning and Development. “Maryland’s Enterprise Zone Program has increased employment opportunities for residents and assisted in the expansion of local businesses.”

Created in 1982 to combat national trends of overseas relocations and job loss, the program was designed to stimulate growth and improve employment within distressed areas of the state. Since its inception, Enterprise Zone businesses have qualified for specific tax credits in return for job creation and capital investments.

Within the county’s Enterprise Zones, the program has powered profitability, business growth and new industrial ventures. Between fiscal 2000 and 2012 in the Northern Garrett Enterprise Zone, employee numbers for the five businesses located there increased 26.5 percent. Capital expenditures totaled $39.4 million; real property assessments on physical improvements increased by 3,372.8 percent; and two of the businesses expanded multiple times.

“The Enterprise Zone program has expanded our economy in a powerful way,” said Koch. “Companies in the zone help us reinvent our rural economy, investing in capital expenditures and new employee hires. The Enterprise Zone program is the backbone of business growth in underserved areas across Maryland. It helps us stand tall and proud.”

The 12 businesses located in the Southern Garrett Enterprise Zone experienced similar growth. Between fiscal 2000 and 2012, employee numbers for these businesses increased 184.9 percent; business capital expenditures totaled $9.3 million; and real property assessments increased by 413 percent. Four businesses also expanded during this time span.

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Families plan to mark 50th anniversary of plane crash

Memorial service and program set July 12 in Garrett County

Elaine Blaisdell

Cumberland Times-News

GRANTSVILLE — A niece of Maj. Robert E. Townley, a radar navigator who died in the 1964 B-52 bomber crash in Garrett County, was the catalyst for the formation of a committee, according to member Bucky Schriver.

The committee came up with the idea of hosting a 50th anniversary memorial service and program. Thus far, 40 family members of the crew of Buzz One Four, the call sign of the plane, plan to attend the July 12 event at 11 a.m. at the Little Crossings memorial.

“If it wasn’t for Gina and the committee none of this would have happened,” said Schriver.

Schriver met Townley’s niece, Gina Townley Swinburn, of Vinton, La., through the Find a Grave website. Swinburn came to Grantsville to visit the museum and it was closed for the winter and her visit sparked the enthusiasm that led to the formation of the committee, said Schriver. Swinburn has been working to ensure that all the family members of the crew of Buzz One Four know about the July memorial service.

Schriver indicated that family members of Townley, TSgt. Melvin D. Wooten, gunner, and Maj. Robert L. Payne, navigator, plan on attending the memorial service. Schriver is working with local hotels to get a group rate for the family members so they can all stay in one place.

“Gina contacts the family members and tells them who she is and they feel comfortable speaking with her,” said Schriver.

The committee, which is comprised of about 15 members that include several who have done considerable research on the disaster, was formed in January. It working to make repairs to the Payne and Townley memorials, produce a map to the memorials and is having a sign manufactured at each site explaining exactly what happened at that location. The committee plans to have everything completed by the memorial service and will give the families tours of the memorial sites, according to Schriver.

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Legislation to bring financial relief to some school districts wins vote on Senate floor

Matthew Bieniek

Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — A bill that could help school districts facing decreases in state aid because of declining student enrollment, such as Garrett County, has won an important vote on the Senate floor that bodes well for passage in the next few days.

Sen. George Edwards is the Senate sponsor of the bill. Del. Wendell Beitzel is sponsoring the House version. The bill passed on second reading with amendments Monday and will likely come to a final vote in the next day or two. Additional sponsors have also signed on to support the Senate bill. Bills on second reading usually pass on a voice vote. Once the bill passes the Senate, it will move on to the House of Delegates.

The bill mandates the state to supplement shortfalls in the state aid formula. “For fiscal years 2015 through 2017, if a county board’s total direct education aid in the current fiscal year is less than the prior fiscal year, then the state shall provide a grant to the county board equal to 50 percent of the decrease in total direct education aid from the prior fiscal year to the current fiscal year,” according to the language of SB 534.

The state budget provides $1.7 million in aid for affected districts in fiscal 2015, according to a floor report on the bill by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

“Under current law, direct education aid (as defined by the bill) in fiscal 2015 to Garrett and Kent counties will decrease by $928,200 (4.7 percent) and $262,000 (3.0 percent), respectively, a combined decrease of $1,190,200,” according to the Department of Legislative Services.

By mandating the aid for three years, legislators from affected counties will be able to avoid a yearly fight for special appropriations, as they have in the past few years.

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Garrett County planners hold off on special exemption request

Elaine Blaisdell

Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to table a discussion regarding a text amendment to the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning ordinance to include broader use of special exceptions within the watershed for recreational uses.

The discussion was tabled until a date to review the county’s comprehensive plan update is determined and until action is taken in regard to an ethics complaint that was recently filed against County Commission Chairman Robert Gatto, according to Deborah Carpenter, assistant director of the Office of Planning and Land Management.

During a Feb. 18 meeting, the county commissioners voted to send the matter of text amendments of the zoning ordinance back to the planning commission. Gatto and Commissioner Gregan Crawford voted in favor of the motion and Commissioner Jim Raley voted against it.

“Deep Creek Lake is a recreational area and given its nature is subject to competing demands,” reads a position statement made by Crawford and Gatto. “The public has expressed concern that there has not been sufficient public discussion and consideration of issues relating to recreational uses and the board is simply responding to that concern and are asking the planning commission for their input, nothing more.”

Also during that meeting, with Gatto recusing himself, Crawford made a motion to approve William Meagher’s request to add a new category of use for boat rentals including boat rides and/or boat tours as a separate service business and not offering any other services associated with a marina. Crawford’s motion died for lack of a second and therefore ended the pursuit and consideration of Meagher’s request for amendments to the zoning ordinance.

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Two to join Garrett County Women’s Hall of Fame

For the Cumberland Times-News

Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — The Garrett County Commission For Women will honor Nancy K. Learey and Brenda Snyder Brosnihan on April 5 as they are inducted into the Women’s Hall Of Fame. The breakfast event will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Dutch’s at Silver Tree on Glendale Road. Reservations are required.

This is the 20th anniversary of recognizing women who have made a difference to the people of Garrett County. The Commission For Women has been active in advocating for girls’ and women’s issues since its inception.

Learey has been in Garrett County for more than five decades. Originally from Philadelphia and the Eastern Shore, she attended Western Maryland College, now known as McDaniel College. She was a teacher and guidance counselor at Southern Middle School, then taught chorus at Southern High School.

As a passion, Learey has changed the way music and musicians are viewed in Garrett County. She was the founding director of the Garrett Choral Society, where she served as its director for 27 years. Learey insisted on the involvement of youth in most all of her productions. She is directly responsible for attracting nationally acclaimed artists such as Michael Horton, Jim Tong and Nancy Turrentine, who now call Garrett County home.

Brosnihan is a 1978 graduate of Southern High School. She attended Frostburg State where she studied health and physical education. She opened Brenda’s Body Shop in Oakland in 1980 and has impacted thousands of local students who have attended her classes. Brosnihan is a dedicated, equal opportunity educator who encourages movement, health and positivity without boundaries based on age, abilities or health issues.

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