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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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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Garrett County permits vacation rentals to reopen

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — Garrett County officials on Thursday lifted the order that closed vacation rental properties, but with a number of restrictions and warnings.

Following Gov. Larry Hogan’s Wednesday announcement of the first phase of his reopening plan, the county commissioners voted to amend their state of emergency declaration to allow the use of rental units effective immediately.

County Health Officer Bob Stephens also rescinded his March order on the rental units.

“Garrett County has been very blessed to have low numbers of infections, and we are in fact the lowest … in the state,” Stephens told the commissioners. “We are all still at some risk. There will be new transmissions from time to time. Our goal in all of this is to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Commission Chairman Paul Edwards said the reopening of rental units comes with orders for both property owners/managers and the guests.

“The county, in consultation with the Garrett County health officer, have agreed that the order the health officer of March 27, 2020, closing all TVRU (transient vacation rental units) and vacation rental properties … is hereby rescinded, and that is subject to the provisions of the executive order and guidance of the office of legal counsel,” Edwards announced.

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Mountain Fresh Farmers Market dates set, some online ordering available

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — A new option is now available for shopping at the Mountain Fresh Farmers Market.

With the current social distancing guidelines, some of the vendors have set up online markets.

Shoppers can purchase from each vendor individually with credit/debit (there is a small fee to help cover credit card fees for each transaction) or mark “pay with check” to pay at the market with check or cash (with no fees).

Customers can also choose where and when to pick up products, with some vendors offering on-farm pickup, as well.

A list of vendors can be found at www.MountainFresh.org/shop, and more vendors will be added.

“In order to help our vendors and customers comply with the social distancing recommendations, we’ve been looking at different farmers market options,” said Cheryl DeBerry, market adviser. “Online ordering with farmers market pick up seemed like the best way to help reduce the crowds and keep people safe.”

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Diehl’s Ford Sales offers meals to anyone who needs one

The Garrett County Republican

GRANTSVILLE — In this time of uncertainty, some families find that they need help with meals. That help is coming from many places, some of which are unexpected, such as from a Ford dealership.

As of today (April 2), 308 free meals have been served at Diehl’s Ford Sales in Grantsville. A new remodel was recently completed there, which includes a full kitchen in the new employee break room. This allows for meals to be kept hot all day.

“Honestly, the idea came to me the first Saturday that this started hitting really hard (March 14),” said Vivian Diehl, office manager and vice president. “I was home and thinking about what we could do to help out our community in this situation. I knew that there were many families that needed food, but also if we could provide the meal to anyone, no questions asked or judgement passed, it could relieve anyone’s stress from this horrible situation we are all in together.”

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