Extra Sessions in Store for Lawmakers
House Speaker Michael Busch is telling legislators to expect both morning and evening sessions this week, as next Monday is "Crossover Day." That means bills have to be approved by at least one chamber of the legislature, so they can be considered by the opposing chamber during the final three weeks of the legislative session. There is also the possibility of a Saturday session to finish the work. Two major issues that remain are reducing the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and the Senate Finance Committee is now considering raising the minimum wage.
Forced Entry Investigated
Cumberland City Police are investigating the breaking and entering of the Western Maryland Central Labor Council office on North Mechanic Street this past weekend. The incident occurred as a person or person accessed the building by breaking a second-floor window, accessible from the roof of an adjacent building. Alcoholic beverages and other items were stolen from various rooms at the office. A previous burglary from December is still under investigation.
Officers Respond to Ramada Disturbance
A Cascade, Maryland man was charged with second-degree assault, following a weekend incident at the Ramada Inn early Sunday morning. The manager received a complaint about a fight in one of the rooms, involving Scott Andrew Thompson. A female victim had visible facial injuries, and Thompson was taken into custody. He received a bond hearing and was released on his personal recognizance.
Complaint Leads to Three Arrests
A suspicious vehicle complaint has led to the charging of three people on drug paraphernalia charges. A syringe, crack pipe, and a device used for snorting drugs was found in a car, driven by Cindy Lewis of Keyser. Also in the car were Kenneth Divelbliss of Rawlings and Cumberland resident Daniel Gore. All three were charged with possession of CDS paraphernalia, issued a criminal citation and released.
Potomac Center Investigation Continues
Allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the Potomac Center in Romney continue to be investigated, and it could take most of this year to finish. Two dozen children were removed from the center, with as many as 12 identified as victims of abuse, with ten suspects identified. Removing the children has had a financial impact on the center, as fifty people have been laid off, and the remaining staff cut to 32 hours per week. The management and staff of the Potomac Center are cooperating with the investigation.
Shelter Waiving Certain Adoption Fees
It's "all things Hooley" in the area this month, and at the Allegany County Animal Shelter. Spokesperson Becky McClarren says now is the right time to give back to the community, and has a special offer from the shelter. Ms. McClarren says animals have many therapeutic qualities for the owners and family members. The Shelter is waiving adoption fees for families who have autistic or developmentally disabled members. She points out that many pet owners brought both service dogs and family pets to the recent Hooley Plunge at Rocky Gap.
BW Outranks in National PSAT Scores
The ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students at Bishop Walsh School earned higher scores than the national average in the 2013 Preliminary SAT tests. The higher scores were reported in the critical reading, math and writing categories. An average of 3.5 million United States students take the preliminary SAT tests each year. Bishop Walsh also learned that its most recent test scores for students in Advanced Placement course are among the highest in the world.
Garage Fire Investigated
The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office has determined a Garrett County fire this past weekend to be accidental. The fire was reported in the 6,000-block of Sang Run Road on the Greg and Robin Carr property. Losses were estimated at a total of $70,000. There was a mechanical failure in equipment in the detached garage of the home. The blaze was discovered by a passerby. Forty firefighters were on the scene, to contain the fire.
Berkeley County Murder Investigated
A 72-year old Martinsburg woman was murdered over the weekend, and authorities have begun an investigation. They say Martha Tyler's home was forcibly entered about two weeks ago, but it's not known if anything was taken from the home on Saturday. Ms. Tyler was pronounced dead at the scene, and an autopsy is being conducted at the State Medical Examiner's Office.
"Meth Bill" Dies in West Virginia Legislature
The so-called "meth bill" died in the waning hours of the West Virginia legislature Saturday. The bill would have made it more difficult for people to obtain certain cold medications, which contain materials used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Another bill, which would have paved the way for a pay raise for elected county officials, also failed Saturday night
Everett Man Accused of Over 2400 Counts of Rape
Everett resident Michael William Edmonson is in the Bedford County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, after being accused of 2,426 counts of rape and contributing to the condition of minors. He is accused of raping three young girls, beginning when they were as young as five, over the course of several years. Edmonson was arrested after two of the victims came forward, after several years of abuse. Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins says, that when it comes to pedophiles, he will "put them in jail for as long as I can."
Two Killed in Somerset County Crash
Two people were killed and two others hurt in a car crash Saturday in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Two cars collided along Cooper Kettle Highway in Milford Township just after noon, and one person in each car was pronounced dead at the scene. Killed in the accident was Roger Dale Hay. Also pronounced dead was a 25-year old passenger in one of the cars. Serious injuries were suffered by 25-year old Amy Michelle Oblack and Glennes Ann Miller. Law enforcement authorities continue to investigate the crash.
Motorcycle Stolen From Residence
Cumberland City Police are investigating the theft of a motorcycle, stolen from a residence in the 400-block of Goethe Street. Sometime during the past week, a person or persons removed the 2004 Suzuki RMZ 250 motorcycle from a shed at the rear of the residence. There are no suspects at this time, but if anyone has information, they are asked to contact Cumberland City Police at (301)-777-1600.
Man Held at Detention Center
A Ridgeley man is being held on $5,000 bond at the Allegany County Detention Center, following an incident late last week. Fifty-two year old Curtis Coover is accused of acting in a disruptive manner towards the staff of a downtown Cumberland Mall business. He also allegedly swung his fists at officers as he was being led out of the establishment. He also broke an antenna on one of the police cruisers at the scene. He is being charged with assault on police, disturbing the peace, destruction of property and disorderly conduct.
Contract for Bridge Work to be Awarded
The city of Cumberland is expected to award a contract for work on a number of West Side bridges at tomorrow's meeting. The city's Engineering Department has updated the load ratings for several bridges, including the Washington Street, Cumberland Street, Fayette Street structures, and the Green Street underpass. A revised posting for the Cumberland Street Bridge places an 11,000-pound limit for a single-axle vehicle, and 22,000-pounds for a combination of axle vehicles. CSX and the city are working on a traffic planning study that will prioritize solutions to those problems.
Minimum Wage Debate Set
A discussion on raising the minimum wage will be held tomorrow at the Second Baptist Church on Grand Avenue. Both sides of the issue will be covered, and Congressman John Delaney, among others, will speak in favor of the proposal. Those speaking against raising the minimum wage include Allegany County Commissioner Mike McKay, who owns and operates several dry cleaning locations in the region. The public is invited to the debate, and to ask questions afterward. The forum begins at 11:30 a.m.
FSU Opportunity Scholarship Applications Available
Current and prospective Frostburg State University students from the county are encouraged to apply for the Allegany County Opportunity scholarship. The application deadline has been extended to April 1st. Eligible recipients are required to have been a resident of the county for at least three years, must be admitted to FSU, have at least a 3.0 grade point average, and complete the FAFSA applications. The scholarship was established by the Allegany County Commissioners, with revenues from the Rocky Gap Casino Resort. More information can be obtained from the FSU Financial Aid Office at (301)-687-4301.
CUW Campaign Through April 30th
The County United Way campaign has reached about 74 per cent of its $500,000 goal, with about $135,000 more to be raised by the April 30th deadline. The County United Way benefits numerous programs in the region, including the area food pantries, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and homeless programs and initiatives. The CUW also has been a major partner with the Union Rescue Mission, supporting the Cold Weather Shelter from January through April of each year. Gifts are tax-deductible and can be made on the CUW website at "cuw.org," or you can send a check to 71 Baltimore Street, Third Floor in Cumberland.
Somerset Gender Bias Suit Settled
Eighteen former and current female teachers in a Somerset County school district have received anywhere from $360 to $13,950 in a gender bias lawsuit that was settled out of court. The teachers in August, contended they were hired at lower salaries than men with similar experience. Windber School Superintendent Rick Huffman said that an internal investigation showed no bias, the legal fees for court would have exceeded the settlement figure of $150,000. The attorney for the teachers, Samuel Cordes, contended that discrimination did occur. His firm was paid $60,000 out of the settlement.
Father, Abducted Daughter Found in South Carolina
Social media played a part in the arrest Friday night of Timothy Virts, who is accused of killing his ex-wife and abducting his daughter from her Dundalk home on Friday. A Florence, South Carolina hotel owner, where Timothy and Caitlyn were staying, saw their pictures on a Facebook/Amber Alert page, and called authorities. Timothy Virts was arrested at the hotel, and Caitlyn is safe.
Contractor Blamed for Ongoing Problems
The former contractor that helped build and maintain the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange website continues to be blamed for ongoing problems. Noridian Health Care Solutions has been replaced by another contractor Optum/QSSI. Republican Delegate Tony McConkey says he heard the federal government was not going to reimburse the state for the glitches, and that to fix the website, it will cost over $30 million. Fellow Delegate Steve Arents, of the Upper Eastern Shore, says that legislators "don't have a clue" where the money is going and how it's being spent.
Civil Fine for Marijuana Possession Approved
The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has approved a bill that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of limited amounts of marijuana. The measure will now receive a full vote in the Senate, which approved a similar measure last year, with bipartisan support. The bill would replace criminal penalties for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana with a $100 fine, similar to a parking ticket. It also would make penalties for minors the same as those for underage possession of alcohol.
Charles Town to Add Concert Hall
The Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races says it will add a 1200-seat concert venue, as it seeks to fend off increased competition from Maryland's casinos. Construction begins this month, and should be completed by the end of September. A name has not yet been selected. Charles Town has faced tough competition the last several years from Maryland casinos, especially from the Maryland Live! casino at Arundel Mills, which now has a 500-seat concert venue on its casino floor.
House Vote on Minimum Wage Bill Today
The Maryland House of Delegates may vote on increasing the minimum wage in the state to $10.10 per hour by 2017. Amendments dealing with expanding the exemptions from the higher minimum wage bill were defeated. Another change, which would have linked future minimum wage hikes to the inflation rate, was also defeated. The Senate version of the bill is also expected to be revised, before a vote is taken.
National Pike Home "Total Loss"
A home, on National Pike across from the Flintstone Elementary School, was completely destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon. The two-story home, owned by Edward and Sheila Wharton, sustained a total of $90,000 in damage. The cause was ruled accidental, due to the failure of a wall outlet. The Flintstone Elementary School schedule was affected by the fire, as some buses were delayed, having been re-routed by police and fire personnel to the back entrance. The Whorton family is being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Firefighters On Scene of North End Incident
An off duty Cumberland City firefighter, Lt. Tim Malone is being credited for discovering a structure fire in the 700-block of North Mechanic Street early yesterday afternoon. The flue of a woodburning stove clogged, causing smoke to run from the metal insert into the attic area. There were no injuries and no damage was reported, but the area was blocked off for a short time.
Edwards' Bills Moving in General Assembly
Several bills, sponsored by State Senator George Edwards are making their way through the legislative process. One bill, which would remove the ex-officio member from the Allegany and Garrett County Boards of Education have passed both the House and Senate, and will now be considered by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill which would prohibit Sideling Hill as an off-road vehicle trail has also passed, and is on its way to the House Environmental Matters Committee. The Property Tax Credit for upper stories of commercial structures has unanimously passed the Budget and Taxation Committee and will be heard on the Senate floor soon.
Sunday Alcohol Sales Being Considered
The Garrett County Liquor Control Board has asked for legislation that would allow voters to decide on Sunday liquor sales, both on and off premises, The House Economic Matters Committee considered the on-premises sale bill earlier in the week. Some election districts already have Sunday sales and other merchants want to be able to do the same. The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce also supports Sunday sales for alcoholic beverages.
Guns Stolen In Bedford County
The Bedford Barrack of the Pennsylvania State Police is investigating the burglary of a Liberty Township residence in Bedford County late last month. During the break in, a case of beer was consumed on the premises, and several valuable weapons were stolen, including a pre-Civil War era pistol; a 410-gauge shotgun the was made in 1914; and two black powder derringer pistols. The guns were taken from the 1600-block of Wall Street, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Pennsylvania State Police at (814)-623-6133.
Cattle Stolen from Hampshire County Farm
Eighteen black Angus cows were stolen earlier this week from the Elkhorn Farm in Hampshire County. Thieves entered the farm, owned by Denzil and Danny Smith and stole the livestock, which weighed between 500 and 600 pounds each. The cows could be valued at about $1,000 each. Authorities say the theft had to have been well planned; a $500 reward is being offered for any information leading to a conviction.
Two Arrested for Trespassing, Disturbing the Peace
Two Cumberland residents were served with criminal summonses, and later released, accused of several incidents between the end of February and this past Sunday. Forty-one year old Joesph Ansel and 42-year old Sherry Johnson are accused of repeatedly harassing and threatening to assault a Park Street resident. Joseph Ansel is also accused of spitting on the victim. Both will face trial in Allegany County District Court.
Marking Period Extended, Board Reclaims Days
Earlier this year, the Allegany County Board of Education was forced to extend the second marking period. Mia Perlozzo-Cross, spokesperson for the board says because of recent bad weather, they have been forced to extend the third marking period. Ms. Cross says the third marking period will end on Friday, April 4th, and there will be a three-hour early dismissal on Monday, April 7th. The board has reclaimed April 17th and 21st as instructional days. Schools have been closed for 15 days during the 2013-2014 school year. The Maryland State Board of Education had granted a waiver to the local board, to reclaim President's Day in February.
Hagerstown, Suns Deadlocked in Negotiations
Negotiations between the city of Hagerstown and the Suns are deadlocked. The minority owner of the team, Tony Dahbura, says the team has agreed to pay a lump sum of $50,000 for two additional years. The fee had been $1 per year, until recently. The Suns are optimistic an agreement can be worked out.
Statewide Amber Alert Issued
Police are searching for an 11-year old girl, after her mother was found murdered in their Dundalk home. Caitlyn Virts is possibly with her father, 38-year old Timothy Virts, and police are concerned for her safety. Timothy Virts is the chief suspect in the murder of Caitlyn's mother, 36-year old Bobbie Jo Cortez. Virts is reportedly driving a black Dodge Durango with Maryland license plates 5AJ4458.
Maryland Adjusts Testing Dates
Because of the days lost during the latest snow storm, Maryland Education officials are giving local school systems more flexibility in adjusting the days they give the Maryland School Assessments. The original 12-day window can be extended two more days, until March 14th. Make up tests can be given between March 17th and 18th. The MSA Science Test will begin as scheduled on March 24th, and will close on April 11th. This is the final year for MSA testing, which has been given for more than a decade in grades 3 through 8.
Casino Revenues Grow
Casino revenues grew, in February by more than $15 million since last February. All casinos showed increased revenue, including the Rocky Gap Casino Resort, which took in $3.1 Million after being in operation for just 9 months.
Grant County Woman Dies in House Fire
Eight-six year old Dora Lee Hawk of Grant County died Monday afternoon in a house fire. She was cooking in her kitchen, when the fire broke out, and the blaze is being considered accidental in nature. The body has been sent to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy. The assistant State Fire Marshal, George Harms, said there was heat damage to the kitchen and living room areas, with smoke spreading throughout the rest of the house. The investigation into the fatal fire is continuing.
Woman Sentenced on Heroin Charge
Grantsville resident Sheana Renee Livengood has been sentenced to four years in prison, on a charge of possession of heroin, with intent to distribute. A related charge was merged with the more serious charge. She also must pay $345 in court costs. She was found guilty in October. She was charged last April, when she was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped. Police found a substantial quantity of the drug on her, following a positive alert from a drug detection dog.
Kitzmiller Man Sentenced to Prison on Assault Charge
Kitzmiller resident Michael Evans will spend the next three years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended, on a charge of assault and driving under the influence of alcohol charges. Last September, Evans was accused of hitting a police vehicle with a four-wheeler, then fleeing. He also tried to hit the officer with the vehicle. He was arrested by another officer along Walnut Bottom Road. It was determined he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
Man To Serve Year in Prison
Grantsville resident Ben Nichol will serve a year in prison in connection with a domestic incident. Nichol was sentenced on a charge of reckless endangerment. Maryland State Police responded to a home in the Accident area for a domestic dispute. It was determined he returned to his former marital residence with a shotgun and confronted two adults at the home.
Bus Involved in Minor Accident
An Allegany County school bus was involved in a minor accident yesterday morning on Route 220, while it was on its way to the Career Center. There were 21 students on board Bus #63, when it hit the back of another vehicle. There were no injuries and a replacement bus took the students to the school. The Allegany County Sheriff's Department and personnel from the school system were on the scene of the accident to investigate.
Meeting Set to Discuss CSO Proposal
A meeting among all interested parties has been scheduled to further discuss the combined sewer overflow issue for the Cumberland, Frostburg, and LaVale areas. A meeting was held yesterday morning at the office of State Senator George Edwards in Annapolis. Among those in attendance were representatives from the Maryland Department of the Environment, Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim, City Engineer John DiFonzo, Dave Wendt of the LaVale Sanitary Commission and members of the Western Maryland Delegation. At issue is should the city spend $30 million to mitigate problems with the combined sewer and storm water system; and, if so, would the area be liable for fines if the mitigation does not work.
Board's General Fund Declining
The Allegany County Board of Education's General Fund has dropped to $9.6 million in 2013, and is expected to decline even further to about $1.8 million in Fiscal Year 2015. This year's decrease in funding is due to the board using just over $3 million for operations of the school system and a million dollars to be used for the demolition of the former Sacred Heart Hospital, so that the new Allegany High School can be built on the site.
Flames Destroy Bedford County Home
A home, which is used as a seasonal camp in Bedford County, was destroyed by fire early Tuesday morning. The house is located in the 4800 block of Lincoln Highway, Route 30, in Napier Township. The fire was reported around 4:15 a.m. Crews had difficulty in using fire hydrants in the area because of near-zero temperatures. Route 30 was closed for a short time, because ice had formed on the roadway.
MCDA Appoints Director
The Mineral County Development Authority has named Kevin Clark as its new director. Clark was chosen from a field of 19 applicants, and his first day on the job will be March 15th. Clark is a graduate of Petersburg High School, but moved to Mineral County in2005 as a student at Potomac State College. He is the owner of Clark Construction in Fort Ashby; he and his wife are partial owners of the Subway franchise in Fort Ashby.
Dirt Bike Stolen From Grantsville
The McHenry barrack of the Maryland State Police is investigating the theft of a dirt bike from a residence along Chestnut Ridge Road. The incident happened sometime between the end of January and February 25th. It is a 2003 Honda XR 100 R. It has a "number 88" graphic on the front plate and also has a torn seat with black duct tape over it. An "AMSOIL" sticker is on the side plate. Anyone with information is asked to contact the McHenry Barrack of the Maryland State Police at (301)-895-1101.
Woman Accused of Stealing from Hidden Valley
A woman has been accused of committing false transactions, after she was seen, on video, taking merchandise off the rack at a Hidden Valley Ski Shop, scanning the merchandise to the computer to be purchased and returning it for money to be put on her credit card. Authorities say Billie Sleith did this ten times over a two-week period. About $2800 worth of merchandise was returned. The owner of the ski shop provided state police with evidence of the falsified returns, and additional charges may be filed in the future.
House Considering Gun Bill
The Maryland House of Delegates is considering a bill that would link Maryland's gun registry to its criminal database. Montgomery County Delegate Luiz Simmons says the crime database and the gun registry do not presently "communicate" with each other. Delegate Simmons says there are approximately 110,000 Maryland residents who now have guns, that shouldn't own them. Meanwhile, Delegate Mike Smigel, an Upper Eastern Shore Republican, is trying to have gun control repealed in the state, pointing out that Maryland is losing money, revenue, and people. Despite the fact that such a bill is presented each year, legislators don't even take a vote on it.
Former Superintendent Dies at 78
Former Maryland State Police Superintendent George Brosan has passed away at the age of 78. Brosan lived in Annapolis, and began his career with the New York City Police Department as a foot patrolman, working beats in Central Park and Harlem, and later with the department's tactical police force. His career ended during the Schaeffer Administration. Bishop Robinson, the-then secretary of public safety and corrections, was asked to explain why Brosan was let go, Robinson simply commented that it was a "professional decision."
Frederick Deputy Resigns After Guilty Plea
Frederick County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Joia has resigned, after pleading guilty to breaking and entering a Berkeley County, West Virginia business. The Sheriff's Office there says Joia stole money from two gaming lottery machines at Ruby's gaming parlor. Joia took a plea deal, and was sentenced to a year in jail, which was suspended. Her also was ordered to pay restitution of just over $245.00.
February Good Month for W.Va. Tax Collections
State tax collections in West Virginia came in at $9 million above estimates. It is the second month in a row for better than expected revenue collections. Overall, the news is not as good. Revenue collections are $64 million below estimates for the year with just four months remaining in the present Fiscal Year. Personal income tax collections were about $6 million above estimates, while sales tax collections were reported to be $2.3 million below estimates.
Man Arrested in Arson Case
A Westernport man is accused of setting his own car on fire. Anthony Serpone set several fires inside the car last Friday morning on Front Street in Westernport. Damage to his 2007 Pontiac G6 was estimated at $5,000. He was arrested yesterday and admitted setting the fire. He is being held on $5,000 bond on several charges. Serpone was employed as a driver for the Tri-Towns Emergency Medical Services, and was placed on suspension, pending the results of the investigation.
School System Extending Marking Period
The Allegany Country Public School system will extend the end of the third marking period of the current school year, as the result of additional lost instructional days due to inclement weather. The end of the third marking period will be Friday, April 4, 2014, with a three-hour early dismissal on Monday, April 7th. Report card distribution has been delayed until Monday, April 21, 2014.
City Begins Budget Discussions
Discussions have begun on the city of Cumberland's Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which has been estimated at $36.3 million. The city could save $400,000 annually by switching the health care provider to CIGNA insurance, from the present coverage provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The Mayor and City Council are currently involved in a dispute with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1715, as the firefighters want workforce and safety issues addressed in conjunction with switching the providers.
Three Hurt In Accident
Three people were injured in two accidents Monday night on Interstate 68 near Flintstone. In the first accident, a truck driver was injured, when his rig traveled out of control at the 57-mile marker. One half-hour later, another tractor-trailer crashed into five stopped vehicles, whose drivers were waiting for the lanes to be cleared. Two people were taken to the hospital. There are no details on the identities of the drivers involved in either of the accidents.
Garrett Struggles With School Calendar
Garrett County has issued a statement, noting the school system has been closed 19 days due to bad weather, with the possibility of further closures during March. The statement notes that any consideration of waiver days would be made after March, and that it is talking with the Maryland State Department of Education to determine the alternatives, when adjusting the 2013-2014 calendar.
Ridgeley Streamlining Code Enforcement
The town of Ridgeley has established a uniform process and series of fines for code enforcement. The penalty for violating a town ordinance is $25 for the first offense, with a progressive structure to $100. If a violation is not corrected fines, up to $100 can be written every five days. Unpaid fines of over $1,000 will be turned over to collections or a lien placed on the property. Before being adopted, a second reading on the ordinance will be held during the March 11th meeting.
Man Charged for October Incident
A Rockwood man faces felony charges as the result of a fiery, high speed crash in which he and a female passenger were injured. Twenty-three year old Mason Ansell is being charged with aggravated assault by motor vehicle while under the influence, driving at safe speeds, careless and reckless driving and driving on the right side of the road. The incident happened on October 6th.
Somerset Driver Hit By Train
Somerset resident Brian Ronald Trent was seriously injured when he drove his vehicle onto a railroad crossing, even though the warning lights had been activated. His vehicle was struck in the front passenger side; it then spun around, and was hit, and pushed along the tracks, before coming to rest. Trent was flown to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
FSU Football Joins NJ Conference
Frostburg State University, along with Christopher Newport University, Salisbury University and Wesley College have agreed to become associate football members of the New Jersey Athletic conference, beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year. In addition, Southern Virginia will be an affiliate member of the NJAC, starting in the fall of 2014, and will elevate to associate member in 2015-2016.
Possible "Jumper" Taken Into Custody
A Hagerstown man was treated at Meritus Hospital after he attempted to jump from the southbound side of the Interstate 81 bridge spanning the Potomac River yesterday morning. The man had first driven to the northbound side of the bridge, and returned to the southbound side. The 43-year old man climbed onto the wall in an apparent suicide attempt. Washington County deputies and Maryland State Police troopers made contact with him, and were able to physically take him into custody, to keep him from falling. Southbound Interstate 81 was closed for about 25 minutes. No names are being released by authorities, because of the sensitive nature of the call.
Gas Prices on the Rise
Gas prices have risen fifteen cents higher per gallon, on average, than they were a month ago locally and 17 cents higher nationwide, according to the Triple-A Daily Fuel Gauge report. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Maryland is now $3.46; In West Virginia, the price is $3.50, and in Pennsylvania, the price is $3.63. The national average is $3.45, which is up from the $3.41 average last week.
Hagerstown Man Arrested in Altoona
Hagerstown resident Darrell Brown and James Harris have been arrested in Altoona, after being accused of bringing drugs into that area. During a traffic stop, Brown was found to have several grams of crack and a small amount of marijuana on him. Found in the car were digital scales, two cell phones, and a box of plastic bags. Bail for Harris was set at $7500; Brown's bail was set at $25,000 cash.
Minimum Wage Debate Continues
The Maryland General Assembly has yet to agree on a minimum wage bill. Governor Martin O'Malley wants to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016, with future increases tied to the inflation rate. Lawmakers on Monday night proposed a statewide increase to $10.10 an hour over the next three years, rather than allow smaller counties with a lower cost of living to have less of a wage hike. Matt Hanson, campaign director for "Raise Maryland," says the Governor's minimum wage plan for "tipped" workers would be 70 per cent of the minimum wage. He says tipped workers are more likely to fall below federal poverty levels. Hanson acknowledges there are objections from both Republicans and Democrats on the minimum wage issue. Hanson says if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now be over $10.74 per hour.
Maryland Case Could Set National Precedent
State lawmakers are considering an overhaul of how poor, non-violent offenders are handled in the court system. The outcome of a Maryland case could provide a blueprint on how to litigate for change in other states where legal counsel is not guaranteed during bail hearings. Each year, thousands of defendants appear before court commissioners, not judges in the early stages of their case, where bail is set without an attorney present. One suggestion has been to move toward a one-hearing process before a judge and eliminate the court commissioners' current role.
Standardized Testing Underway
The annual round of standardized tests are underway in Maryland this week, despite legislator's efforts to cancel or replace them this year. At least two Maryland legislators say the tests are a waste of time, because they no longer reflect what students are learning. Common Core Standards have led to curriculum changes, and they say Maryland tests haven't kept pace. Canceling and replacing the tests could have taken weeks.
Lottery Revenues Drop in January
Lottery revenues continued to drop in January, falling 12 per cent when compared to January of 2013. Competition from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland has contributed to the drop. Year-to-date lottery revenue of just over $612 million is down 8 per cent from the same point in the 2012-2013 budget year.
Gee Named WVU President
The West Virginia University Board of Governors has unanimously selected E. Gordon Gee as the next permanent president of the university. Gee has been the temporary president since January of this year, and was also president of the university from 1981-1985. The Higher Education Policy Commission is expected to hold an emergency meeting to approve an offer to Gee.
Two Dead in Preston County Fire
Two people were killed in an early morning fire Sunday in Preston County, West Virginia. Several fire companies, including those from Preston and Garrett Counties responded. While the investigation is being conducted by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office, the bodies were taken to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner's Office for positive identification, and to determine the cause of death.
Garrett County Developers Headed to Trial
Two Garrett County men will go to trial in May, after pleading not guilty to a $3.7 million bank fraud scheme. Forty-nine year old Samuel R. Van Sickle and 47-year old year old Louis Strosnider of Oakland were indicted by a federal grand jury last month. They are accused of attempting to fraudulently obtain money and property from area financial institutions through false names, and inflating the value of the properties. Both are on release, promising to appear for their next court date.
Downtown Bill Approved in Senate
A bill, sponsored by Senator George Edwards that would benefit downtown areas has unanimously passed the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. The legislation would create a tax credit to attract developers and support building owners, and would make the upper stories of downtown buildings more attractive to potential business owners. The vote was 13-0, and a companion bill has been introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Residents Arrested for Numerous Disturbances
Two Cumberland residents have been served summonses in connection with an investigation that began in November of 2013 through last month. Both Brenda Sue Thomas and Joshua Michael Darby are accused of causing disturbances on February 10th, and nearly a dozen more between November of last year and this past February. Both are awaiting trial in Allegany County District Court.
Cumberland Man Arrested for Burglary
Cumberland resident Anthony Eugene Palmisano has been charged with burglary, destruction of property and trespassing, following an incident last month at a Pennsylvania Avenue residence. Palmisano is accused of breaking into a home, causing damage to the front door. He left the area and was not immediately located, but he was arrested. He was served with the charges and released, pending trial in Allegany County District Court.
Keyser Receives Reduction in Finance Rate
The city of Keyser will save nearly a million dollars on the financing of a loan. Mayor Randy Amtower appeared before the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council in Charleston last week, to ask for a reduction in the interest rate on a 40-year loan on a $2.6 million project in Hawthorne Heights. The rate was reduced from 2.5 to just one percent, with the total savings estimated at $921,000. Improvements to the Hawthorne Heights area includes new sewer lines, storm water management systems, gutters and drainage, and repaved streets.
Hooley Plunge Raises $100,000
Estimates are that the 10th annual Hooley Plunge this past weekend raised approximately $100,000 for the Allegany County Special Olympics and other programs for the developmentally disabled. Becky McClarren, one of the organizers of the event, says that while about 800 people actually "plunged," thousands more watched. It is important to note that all money raised on Saturday will stay local. Ms. McClarren noted that there were several gold medals awarded to local participants in the Special Olympics Winter Games. Dr. Sean McCagh, who spearheads the fundraising effort each year was presented a proclamation from the city of Cumberland and a key to the city during Saturday's event. Cumberland City Council members Nicole Wagoner, Nick Scarpelli, and Dave Caporale presented the proclamation.
Rail Trail to Close for Maintenance
Portions of the Western Maryland Rail Trail will be closed for scheduled maintenance, beginning next Monday through March 27th. The work involves the removal of trees and limbs damaged by insects and recent ice storms. Maintenance will be done throughout the trail; as an alternative route, visitors can use the adjoining C & O Canal unpaved towpath.
MIPS Program Set for FSU Next Week
The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, or "MIPS," will be presented next week at Frostburg State University's Compton Science Center. The program provides funding for university-based research projects, and the event takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information on the MIPS briefing, contact Linda Steele, program specialist at (301-687-4137 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allegany County Hosts MASC Legislation Session
The Allegany County Association of Student Councils played host for the first time, to the Maryland Association of Student Councils 2014 Legislative session held at Allegany High School. The theme was "Landing on the Mountaintop." Nearly 400 students from across the state had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities during the session.
Somerset Distributes Grants
Somerset County distributed about $320,000 in grants to various businesses through its Tourism Grant Program. Among the grants were $18,000 to the Allegheny Trail Alliance; the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial received $15,000 for marketing; and, Seven Springs Mountain Resort received $35,000 for its marketing efforts. Businesses and groups have to submit a business or marketing plan that shows how the money will be used to help grow and benefit their businesses.
First Energy to Invest In Improvements
First Energy Corporation, the parent company of Potomac Edison, says it will invest more than $143 million this year to improve reliability in the P.E. service area. That's $80 million more than what First Energy invested in projects last year. Along with the inspection and replacement of utility poles, Potomac Edison will be completing systemic repairs and replacing equipment on a 138-kilovolt regional transmission line spanning Hardy and Mineral Counties in West Virginia.
Paper Company Merger on Hold
The bond holders of Verso paper company are not "on board" with the New Page merger, so the deal is off, for now. Verso's bond holders are concerned about the debt exchange needed to finance a planned merger with the company. Despite trying to make a deal, the bondholders are presently unwilling to engage in "constructive dialogue."
Maryland May Eliminate Black Bear Quota
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is considering a plan which would eliminate the black bear hunt quota, rather than opening the season for a pre-determined number of days. The plan would eliminate the need for hunters to call a hotline each night to determine the status of the hunt. Comments are being accepted at the DNR website, and a meeting has been set for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Mountain Ridge High School cafeteria.
Circuit Judge to Retire
Garrett County Circuit Court Judge James Sherbin has announced he will retire, but will remain on the bench until Governor Martin O'Malley appoints his replacement. Sherbin has been a judge for 18 years. Nominations are being accepted through August 20th, but there is no time frame for making the appointment.
Car Fire Ruled Arson
A car fire early Friday morning in Westernport has been ruled arson, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office. A 2007 Pontiac G-6, owned by Anthony Serpone was reported to be on fire on Front Street. Firefighters from Potomac, Tri-Towns and Piemont responded. There were multiple points of origin in the car. Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Fire Marshal's Office at (301)-766-3888.
Garage Fire Ruled Accidental
A fire in a garage on Neck Lick Acres Road in Oakland has been determined to be accidental in nature. The blaze a the Leroy Bernard property, caused about $70,000 in damage to the structure and its contents. The origination point was inside the building, and was caused by a faulty electrical outlet. Smoke detectors were present and activated. The fire was reported early Friday morning.
Delaware Man Issued Drug Citations
A traffic stop on Interstate 68 in Garrett County early Friday morning, resulted in the discovery of marijuana and CDS paraphernalia in a car, driven by 21-year old Maliek Shammack of Newark, Delaware. He was charged with possession of marijuana and CDS paraphernalia and released after signing them.
Cumberland Man To Be Extradited
Cumberland resident Travis Maurice Peck is awaiting extradition to the state of West Virginia, for failure to appear for a 2011 Grand Jury indictment in Mineral County. Peck was arrested after a traffic stop on Oldtown Road on Saturday. He was placed under arrested, and taken to Police Headquarters for processing. He was then taken to District Court and held in the Allegany County Detention Center to await extradition to Mineral County.
Some Bedford County Residents Without Water
More than 300 people in 120 homes in the Six Mile Run area of Bedford County have been without water since February 11th. The water company there had a roof collapse, with company members unable to filter water until there is a new building. Trucks had been bringing in water, but hoses were freezing, which made it difficult to deliver the water. Residents there are under a boil water advisory, which is expected to last for some time.
USS Somerset Commissioned
The USS Somerset was officially commissioned over the weekend, joining the U.S. Naval Fleet in Philadelphia. The motto of the ship is "Courage Through Adversity," and pays tribute to the passengers and crew of Flight 93, which crashed in Somerset County on September 11, 2001. The Somerset now joins the USS New York and USS Arlington in the Naval Fleet.
Chamber Urges Increase Highway User Sharing
The Allegany County Chamber of Commerce has written to both House and Senate Representatives, urging favorable reports to bills dealing with increased local highway user revenues. The letter notes a 95 per cent reduction in Highway User Revenues, which makes it extremely difficult for local governments to maintain and improve local roadways. Prior to the reductions, local governments received about 30 per cent of the revenues, but now receive less than 10 per cent.
Potomac Valley Now Part of WVU System
Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser is now a part of the West Virginia University United Healthcare System. The deal became effective over the weekend. WVU bought Potomac Valley for a reported $22 million. Potomac Valley is expected to offer more services in the future, and to enhance those that already exist.
More Allegany County Make Up Days Announced
The Allegany County Board of Education has voted to change the Thurssday before Easter and the Monday after, as instructional make-up days for students. To date, Allegany County Schools have been closed due to bad weather a total of 14 days. With the most recent decision to reclaim the time around Easter, the final day for students will be Monday, June 16th; the last day for teachers will be Thursday, June 19th, barring no further calendar adjustments.
Heroin Bust Yields 15 Pounds
Pennsylvania State Police found 15 pounds of pure, uncut heroin in an air compressor during a stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Somerset late last month. Law enforcement authorities say this is unique, in that they have never seen this much unadulterated heroin before. It could be worth millions of dollars. Taken into custody were Illinois residents Maria Pina and her passenger Gilberto Ocampo. They both remain jailed on bonds of one-half million dollars each.
High School Course Registration Underway
Online high school course registration is underway for Allegany County students entering high school this fall. Mia Perlozzo-Cross, spokesperson for the Allegany County Board of Education, says the registration is ongoing, through Wednesday. Ms. Cross says that course selections are available on the school system's website, or hard copies are being made available through high school guidance counselors.
Harsher Penalties for Second-Degree Murder Possible
In a move that could have an impact on upcoming murder trials in the state, the Maryland Senate has unanimously passed a bill that increases the penalties for second-degree murder. The bill would change the maximum sentence for second-degree murder from 30 years to 40 years in prison. The bill will now go to the Maryland house of Delegates for consideration.
Tomblin's Brother Charged with Drug Crime
The brother of West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has been charged with selling the painkiller oxymorphone in the Chapmanville area of the state. Governor Tomblin acknowledged that this is a difficult time for his family, but commented that his brother must be held accountable for his actions. The case is being investigated by the U.S. 119 Task Force and the West Virginia State Police.
Victim Identified, Origin of Frostburg Fire Determined
The victim of an early morning fire at 144 Bowery Street two weeks ago, has been positively identified as Lateef Gazal of Bowie. A preliminary report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be thermal burn injuries and smoke inhalation. The fire originated in the kitchen of the home. It has also been determined that the fire was likely accidental in nature. Investigators are still looking for the specific source of ignition of the fire. Smoke alarms were present, but it cannot be verified if they were operational.
Four Arrested in Courthouse Protest
Four people were arrested yesterday, after blocking the entrance to the Allegany County courthouse on Washington Street. They were protesting the Cove Point fracked gas export plan. Taken into custody were Cumberland residents Desiree Bullard and Benjamin Brown, along with Gabriel Echeverri of Frostburg and Unitarian Church minister Terrence Ellen of Pikesville, Maryland. All four were charged with blocking free passage to a public building. Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson said he had some advance knowledge of the protest, in which about 25 to 30 people participated.
Moorefield Man Sentenced to Prison
Hardy County resident Timothy Hawks was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years supervised release for possession of material used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Hawks was among a group of ten individuals who were recently sentenced in United States District Court in Elkins. Hawks was taken into custody of a U.S. Marshal, pending assignment to a federal institution.
Accident Sends One to Ruby Memorial
A three vehicle accident on Chestnut Ridge Road, south of the Pennsylvania state line sent one man to Ruby Memorial Hospital late yesterday afternoon. A car, operated by Jessica Shuck of Ridgeley went out of control and was struck by another, operated by Joe Arnold of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. The passenger in Ms. Shuck's car, Daniel Ryan, also of Ridgeley, was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital. A third vehicle, following the Arnold vehicle, was unable to stop and collided with Arnold's car. The investigation is continuing by the Maryland State Police.
Georgia Man Jailed in Keyser
Bowen, Georgia resident Jared Mitchell was jailed on $1250 bond following an incident at a bar there. Mitchell was staying at a local hotel in the area, and working on a construction project. He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and indecent exposure, when he refused to leave Clancy's Bar. He was also combative with officers who took him into custody.
Federal Lawsuit Settled
A federal lawsuit, filed by two former Bedford County Sheriff's Deputies, has been settled. The deputies, Charles Stuby and Lukas Berkey claimed their civil rights were violated; they further charged they were fired, as Stuby opposed Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer, and Berkey campaigned for Stuby. A trial date had been set for March 24th, but the settlement was announced this week. While neither side revealed terms of the settlement, the deputies had asked for their former jobs back, and about $83,000 in lost wages and benefits.
Pre-K Through First Grade Registrations Set
Children who will enter Allegany County Public Schools this August should be registered on March 21st and 22nd at the appropriate elementary school, as determined by residence. A child entering the pre-K program must be four years old on or before September 1st of the school year in which they apply for entrance. There is other documentation required. For more information, call either (301)-759-2001 or (301)-759-2012.
Hooley Plunge Set for Tomorrow
A slight chance of snow and rain, with a high near 43 degrees...that's the forecast for tomorrow's Hooley Plunge, to benefit the Allegany County Special Olympics and programs for the developmentally disabled. Becky McClarren says registration begins at 10 a.m., and the plunge is at 1 p.m. Ms. McClarren says that even if you're not plunging, everyone is invited to come to Lake Habeeb and watch the event. Every penny raised stays in the area, and goes to various programs for the developmentally disabled.
Hagerstown Man Convicted of Rape
Hagerstown resident Montague Sutherland could face life in prison, after his conviction for the rape of a Washington County woman. Sutherland is also accused of dousing the woman with bleach after the attack. He was arrested in April of last year, for the March attack, with his arrest coming after a DNA matched a sample taken from the victim. Sutherland was additionally found guilty of first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, reckless endangerment, theft and other charges.
Hotel Stay Bill Proposed
Maryland State Senator Allen Kittleman is proposing a bill that would limit hotel stays for some legislators during the annual session. Kittleman believes lawmakers who live within 50 miles of Annapolis should drive to and from the State House each day, except during the last two weeks of the session or when there is bad weather. His bill, he says, would save almost $800,000 a year. Currently lawmakers are allowed a $101-per day hotel stipend.
West Virginia Teen Sentenced
Seventeen-year old Rachel Shoaf has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the stabbing death of classmate Skylar Neese in 2012, but could be eligible for parole in 10 yers. A circuit court judge imposed a harsher sentence that prosecutors recommended in a plea bargain agreement. Ms. Shoaf will remain in a juvenile facility until she turns 18; after that she will be transferred to an adult detention center. Another person involved in the murder, 18-year old Sheila Eddy, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole.
CDC Determines Water "Safe" for Use
The Centers for Disease Control. says it's now safe to use the water contaminated by a chemical spill in Charleston last month. To this point the agency has avoided the use of the word "safe." The water can now be used for drinking and cooking. The January 9th spill tainted the water supply for about 300,000 people.
Fishertown Woman Killed in Accident
Eighteen year old Fishertown, Pennsylvania resident Breena Morris was killed Tuesday in a two-vehicle crash on Route 56 in Bedford County. Ms. Morris was driving east on the road, when she lost control of her car on the icy road, and struck another car, driven by Johnstown resident Francis Terek. Ms. Morris was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash; Terek was not charged.
One Hospitalized in Single-Vehicle Accident
One person was flown to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, while the driver was arrested following a single vehicle accident Tuesday evening on Pine Swamp Road in the New Creek area. The accident happened around 6:36 p.m. and police continue to investigate the crash. New Creek, Keyser, and Elk Garden volunteer fire and rescue units responded to the scene.
School Bus Involved in Minor Accident
An Allegany County school bus, transporting students to Braddock Middle School was involved in a minor accident yesterday morning. The bus clipped the mirror of a pickup truck on Fayette Street. There were no injuries and no damage to the bus. Cumberland City Police and school system staff were on hand to investigate. The Braddock Middle School staff was also notified that the bus would be delayed in bringing the students to the school.
Ex-Officio Bill Passed By Senate
A bill that abolishes ex-officio seats on the Allegany and Garrett County Boards of Education was passed unanimously in the Maryland Senate this week. Ex-officio members include one member of the Allegany and Garrett County commissions on the boards. An ex-officio member has the right to attend meetings, including executive sessions, but does not have a vote on issues. The position has caused some problems between the Allegany County Commissioners and the Board of Education in recent years.
Two Arrested in Goethe Street Burglary
Cumberland City Police arrested two men yesterday in a daytime burglary at a Goethe Street residence. As they arrived, police say 30-year old Mark Whorton walked out of the residence with his hands elevated above his head. Another man, 25-year old Rodricus Wilkes was found in a room inside the unoccupied house. They were searched and police found a suspected baggie of cocaine on Whorton; Wilkes was found to have a marijuana smoking device. They were both charged with burglary and drug counts, and were released on personal recognizance.
Mineral Resident Offers Input on Jobs
Mineral County resident Robert Hines has made several suggestions to boost the economic viability of that area. Hines, a native of Mineral County, urged the development of the Fort Ashby Business and Technology Park by marketing it to the health care and/or hospital industry. He also offered suggestions on the development of the CSX property in Keyser. Hines was asked to serve on the Mineral County Development Authority, and a letter of interest will be submitted to the group.
FSU To Host Band Festival
Frostburg State University will be hosting the Tri-State Honor Band festival on Sunday, March 9th at 3 p.m. The event will be held in the Pealer Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center. the festival features high school musicians from around the tri-state area who will come together for the concert. Students from across the region, including those from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, Mineral County, West Virginia, and this region of the state and those from Wicomico, Baltimore and Cecil counties. For more information, call (301)-687-4109 or visit frostburg.edu/music.
Horse Rescued from Lake
Firefighters, citizens, animal control officers and neighbors rescued a horse that became trapped in ice Tuesday afternoon. The horse fell into a lake off of Snowy River Road. Ropes were placed under its back legs, which had become lodged in the ice. The horse was uninjured. Units on the scene were Springfield and Romney Rescue, Hampshire County Animal Control and officials from the 911 Center.
Missing Girl Found Unharmed
A girl, originally reported missing Monday evening, was found safe about 12 hours later. Mayson Elizabeth Deighton was found in a wooded area between Cardinal Avenue and the Hagerstown Community College campus, after running away from home. She was found by a K-9 team under a log, where she had covered herself with some brush to stay warm.
Legislation to Correct Retirement/Pension System
Maryland State Senator George Edwards and Delegate Andrew Serafini have sponsored a bill that would allow a certain class of correctional officers to be part of the Correctional Officers Retirement System, rather than the less generous state pension system. The measure would benefit correctional officers who serve as security chiefs, facility administrators, assistant wardens and wardens. The bill was heard by the House Appropriations Committee this week, while a Senate version of the bill was heard in committee last week.
University of Maryland to Offer Credit Monitoring
The University of Maryland has extended the amount of time free credit monitoring will be offered to the over 300,000 people whose personal information was compromised during a recent data breach. Those affected will now be offered five years of free credit monitoring, instead of just one year, as previously announced. Maryland President Wallace Loh is also ordering an investigation of the school's computer systems. The breach affects the records of those who had been issued a university ID since 1998.
Man Arrested on Sex Charges
Twenty-eight year old Lonaconing resident Christopher Russell Pavlicek has been charged with sexual solicitation of a minor and two counts of second-degree assault. Pavlicek had allegedly solicited two girls, 12 and 13 years old, via the internet. The assault charge is from inappropriate physical contact he had with the victims at his home. He is being held at the Allegany County Detention Center on $20,000 bond, pending his next court appearance. And, the investigation is continuing by the C3I unit.
Highway User Fund Bill to Receive Hearing
A bill that has been filed in both the House and Senate that would increase the Highway User Revenue Fund to local governments will be heard next Tuesday. Local governments were receiving 30 per cent of the money from the Transportation Trust Fund; that amount has dwindled to about 5 per cent. The bill was filed by Senator George Edwards in the Senate, and by Delegate Wendell Beitzel in the House of Delegates.
Candidates File For Office
There are several candidates who have filed for the offices of Mayor and City Council and Allegany County Board of Education. Incumbent Mayor Brian Grim will be opposed by Mary Miltenberger and Jeffrey Grogg. City Council candidates include Seth Bernard, Dustin Freas, Sylvester Young, and incumbent David Kauffman. School Board candidates include Bill Davis, Lorelee Farrell, Wayne Foote, and incumbents Sara-Beth James and Laurie Marchini.
Edwards, Beitzel Unopposed
Senator George Edwards and Representative Wendell Beitzel will be unopposed in the coming election; however, current Delegate Kevin Kelly is being opposed by Jason Buckel, in District 1-B. Delegate LeRoy Myers is leaving statewide political office, and there are several candidates for the District 1-C seat. They include Nick Scarpelli, Ray Givens and current Allegany County Commissioner Mike McKay. Candidates for the office of Allegany County Commissioner include Kevin Shaffer, Tom Striplin, incumbents Creade Brodie, Jr., and Bill Valentine, Jake Shade and Mark Widmyer.
Rocky Gap Announces Expansion Plans
Rocky Gap Casino Resort had previously announced the addition of 150 new parking spaces, but it is also enlarging its Pro Shop and the kitchen at Signatures Bar & Grill. The fitness center will also be expanded and will include new exercise equipment. Landscaping will be added around the resort and new parking lot. Construction will begin this spring, and it was noted in a news release, that the expansion is compliant with the lease from Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.
Fire Destroys Garrett County Barn
A barn on Clifton Terrace in Garrett County was destroyed by fire, just before 7 a.m. yesterday. Numerous firefighters responded to the incident. The first units on the scene reported that the structure had burned to the ground. There were no injuries and the cause is being investigated.
Springfield Resident Charged With Arson
A twenty-year old Springfield, West Virginia resident, Evan Hunt, has been charged with arson, in connection with a fire at a house under construction at the Bird Ridge Estates. A citizen tip led to the arrest. He is being held on a bond of $20,000. Several Hampshire County volunteer Fire companies responded to the fire on February 18th.
Local Man Held on Bond
Cumberland resident Ryan O'Toole is being held on $5,000 bond at the Allegany County Detention Center, awaiting a bond review, following an incident earlier in the month at a Queen City Drive restaurant. O'Toole is accused of spitting on cars, and passengers in them, pounding on the vehicles and assaulting the passengers, and cursing at them. A private citizen reported the incident, and O'Toole was charged with three counts of second-degree assault, and one count each of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.
SHA Truck Injures Driver
Seventy-four year old Cumberland resident Paul Williams was injured and taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, after his van was struck by a State Highway Administration dump truck. The accident happened in the roundabout of U.S. Route220. The truck, driven by Steven Hughes of Cumberland, was descending the ramp from eastbound Interstate 68, when the truck lost its brakes, entered the roundabout and clipped the rear of the Williams vehicle. The crash remains under investigation by the Cumberland City Police.
Frostburg Woman Charged Twice
Frostburg resident Lillian Holder was served two arrest warrants by Cumberland City Police on Monday. In the first incident, she rented a vehicle from a local business and failed to return the vehicle, according to the agreement. She was further charged with issuing a bad check to a local business. She was released on her own recognizance on all charges, pending trial in Allegany County District Court.
Chestnut Street Resident Charged in Domestic Incident
Cumberland City Police have charged Chestnut Street resident Michael Shindledecker with second-degree assault, following an early morning incident yesterday. He is accused of hitting the victim in the face with his fist, during an argument over a cell phone charger. After being processed, Shindledecker was released on his personal recognizance pending trial at District Court.
Keyser Man Arrested, Also Wanted in Allegany County
Forty-one year old Keyser resident Gerald Baker was arrested as a fugitive from justice, as he is wanted in Allegany County for a traffic-related offense. Baker was stopped for running a stop sign. A check showed Baker was wanted here in Allegany County. During a search, nine narcotic pills for which he did not have a prescription, were found. Baker was released on a personal recognizance bond.
Senator Edwards Discusses Off-Road Vehicles, Marcellus Shale
Maryland State Senator George Edwards says a bill concerning off-road vehicles has received a hearing in the General Assembly. Senator Edwards says the bill would allow "ORV's" to run on private property, if an agreement with the property owner is signed, releasing the owner from liability. Recommendations are due from a Marcellus Shale Commission in August of this year. Senator Edwards acknowledges that some people do not want natural gas drilling at all. He says the key to drilling safely for natural gas is monitoring. If it is determined that there is a sufficient amount of gas, and it is close to a pipeline on the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, gas companies would not be dissuaded from doing it.
Deep Creek Dunk Raises $160,000
Last weekend's Deep Creek Dunk to benefit Special Olympics in Maryland raised $160,000, just shy of the project goal of $170,000. The Maryland Special Olympics has a goal of $2.5 million for the upcoming Polar Bear Plunge; so far, $1.7 million have been raised. Meanwhile, this weekend's 10th Annual Hooley Plunge is set for Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park. All money raised will remain in the community, benefitting the Allegany County Special Olympics and other programs for the developmentally disabled.
Marijuana, Birth Injuries, Health Care Debated
This is eighth week of the Maryland General Assembly session, with a number of issues-including the decriminalization of marijuana and a bill, setting up a birth injury fund-are being discussed. It was announced on Monday that the state's prime information technology contractor for the health care exchange has been fired. Noridian Healthcare Solutions had served as the prime contractor; replacing Noridian is Optum/QSSI, the general contractor hired in December. The marijuana legislation received a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee yesterday; Governor O'Malley says he is not inclined to support the legalization of pot. And, another bill that would set up a birth injury fund will receive a hearing tomorrow. Parents of children who suffer brain injuries would be able to access the fund, rather than sue the doctor or hospital.
MVA Secretary Appointed
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration's new Administrator is Milton Chaffee. the Deputy Administrator is Christine Nizer. Chaffee is a 12-year employee of the MVA, and is being promoted from his current position as the Chief Deputy Administrator, a position he has held since May of 2006. Ms. Nizer has served as the Deputy Administrator for Central Operations and Safety Programs. Current MVA Administrator John Kuo has been named the Associate Administrator at the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The appointments of Mr. Chaffee and Ms. Nizer are effective March 1st.
Meth Lab Cleanup Bill Being Debated
A bill in the West Virginia legislature could end reimbursements for meth lab cleanups through the state's Crime Victims Compensation Fund. West Virginia is the only state in the country that, within the fund, pays for meth lab cleanup expenses incurred, for example, by landlords. The state has paid more than $700,000 for meth lab claims just last year. The 2014 Legislative Session ends on Saturday, March 8th. For the bill to remain alive, it would have to advance to the House by today, which is the deadline for bills to move out of the chambers where they were introduced.
Man Sentenced on Drug Charges in Garrett County
Pittsburgh resident Jacob Omar McDonald has been sentenced in Garrett County to three years in prison, after pleading guilty to possession of heroin, with intent to distribute. Related charges against McDonald were dismissed as part of a plea agreement, and $820 in cash that was seized at the time of his arrest was ordered to be forfeited. Mc Donald was arrested at a Grantsville hotel, after the Garrett County Narcotics Task Force acted on an anonymous tip. He had more than 120 "stamps" of heroin in his possession at the time of the arrest.
Man Arrested in Domestic Incident
Alcohol was a factor in an early morning incident in which a man assaulted his wife in Clearville. Thirty-year old Mark Mills allegedly struck his wife, threw her to the ground and kicked her. The Pennsylvania State Police say Mills was driving home early yesterday morning with his wife and three children-ages 3, 7, and 11. He forced her out of the vehicle, then assaulted her. She did not seek medical treatment; Mills is being charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and recklessly endangering another person.
Short Gap Home Damaged by Fire
High winds made firefighting efforts difficult at a home on Joy Drive in Short Gap yesterday afternoon. There were no injuries, and nobody was home at the time of the fire at the Virgil Markwood residence. The initial call came in around 2:25 p.m. Allegany County companies were alerted to be on stand by for some of the responding companies. There was no word on where the fire originated, or the cause, and the investigation is continuing.
Car Fire Investigated
The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating a car fire on Arch Street late Sunday night. A 2003 Mercury Marquis, owned by Jordon Swisher, sustained about $2,000 in damage. The fire originated in the interior passenger compartment of the car. Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Fire Marshal's Office at (301)-766-3888.
Man Arrested Following Accident
Ridgewood Avenue resident William Scott Edwards was arrested Sunday, following a single-vehicle accident on Westbound Interstate 68, in the area of Beall Street. Edwards' vehicle had spun out of control and struck the median, and he claimed that he had been hit by another vehicle. Officers detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Edwards, who admitted he had drunk some vodka before driving. He failed a field sobriety test and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was cited and released, pending trial.
Comprehensive Plan to be Presented
Allegany County will have a public hearing on its 2014 Comprehensive Plan in April. The meeting, set for Wednesday, April 9th at 5 p.m., will cover areas such as housing, transportation, public facilities, mineral resources, and other areas. The first ten chapter provide the background information for the last chapter, "Land Use and Implementation," that includes future land uses and proposed general zoning changes.
TGCC Presents Health Care Forum
The Greater Cumberland Committee will hold its next meeting on Thursday, March 6th at 11:30 a.m. at the Western Maryland Health System Auditorium. The program will include a regional overview and current collaborations that focus on the patient to maintain healthier communities, discussions on national health care reform and an examination on how we are impacted at the local level, and considerations of future trends and opportunities. Some of the presenters include Barry Ronan and Kevin Turley of the Western Maryland Health System, and representatives of Garrett Memorial Hospital and Potomac Valley Hospital.
Keyser Library Begins Fiscal Year "In the Hole"
The Keyser City Council has severely cut funding to its library, and the system will begin the new fiscal year operating at a deficit. Funding has been slashed from $13,200 to just $2,279, and with a state funding formula, the cuts equate to costing the library $22,000 as of July 1st. Most recently, the Mineral County Commissioners have provided about $55,000 annually, while the school board has contributed $13,000 in funding. The library also operates branches in Fort Ashby and Burlington.
Blown Tire Caused Accident
A blown tire on a tractor-trailer caused Interstate 70 eastbound to be closed for about 12 hours this past weekend. The driver, 37-year old Lawrence Thomas, was taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment. The rig struck a guardrail and overturned in the center median early Saturday morning.
Maryland Revises Health Exchange Goals Downward
The state of Maryland has revised enrollment figures for its health insurance exchange downward. The state is expected to enroll 160,000 residents by March, as opposed to the 260,000 it had hoped for. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, in speaking before the Maryland Board of Public Works last week, criticized state officials for not having the Board review contracts for the exchange. Franchot expressed hope that future contracts be brought to the Board of Public Works, especially when hundreds of millions of dollars are involved. And, he called the procurement process, "flawed." He asked the Board of Public Works members to think about what would have happened if the problems with the health exchange website could have been anticipated. Yesterday, Maryland's Health Exchange Board voted to fire the state's prime information technology contractor, Noridian Healthcare Solutions.
Maryland Woman Sentenced in West Virginia Fraud Case
Suitland, Maryland resident Sheray McKay will be sentenced in June, and could face up to 20 years in jail, after pleading guilty to participating in a fraud scheme. She and other individuals solicited money, under false pretenses, from about 16 senior citizens living in West Virginia and other states. She and others posed as clergy members, lawyers, or family members and made false claims, including one of being in a traffic accident. The operation netted more than $60,000, and was obtained through wire transfers.
Bills Seek Road Repairs and Jobs
Two West Virginia senators are urging the legislature to consider bills to allot funds to repair roads and create jobs. Several bills addressing job creation have not advanced from committees. And, several others are trying to advance bills to address the state's crumbling roads during this spring's paving cycle. One senator says the roads are already in worse shape than he has seen in years.
Teacher Planning Bill Passes in Senate
West Virginia may allow its teachers to determine, for themselves, how to use their planning time. A bill passed late last week in the Senate, that stated, in part, administrators may not require a teacher to attend training, meetings, or any work-related event during a planning period. This includes parent-teacher conferences. The bill will not go to the house for action.
Merger of Verso, New Page Likely Will Happen
The proposed merger of Verso and the New Page Corporation will likely happen, because there is no reasonable alternative, according to a New York City-based analyst, Chip Dillon. An article in the Cumberland Times-News further notes that while New Page has emerged from bankruptcy, Verso remains "functionally bankrupt" and has no money to invest in the deal. The article also states that it is likely one or two mills may close, due to overlapping production of paper and paper goods.
Canal Place Officials Testify in Annapolis
Canal Place officials are trying to secure money to cover a shortfall in funding for fiscal year 2014, and traveled to Annapolis recently to secure that funding. One delegate expressed his frustration with the ongoing financial and political struggles, and had referred to the state's effort to "wean" Canal Place off of state aid as "deja vu all over again." It is hoped the heritage area become self-sufficient, without funding from the state, county, or city.
More Parking Planned for Casino
There are an additional 150 parking spaces planned for the Rocky Gap Casino, but it won't involve the use of any park land of the park's current parking spaces. Right now there are 700 spaces there. The president and chief financial officer of Lakes Entertainment, Tim Cope, had also asked for the Department of Natural Resources' approval of the parking lot and kitchen/fitness center projects.
Sheriff Wants Refunds Intercepted from Fugitives
Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson will testify in favor of a bill that would withhold state tax refunds from fugitives who have outstanding warrants. Anne Arundel County has had some success with similar legislation. The Sheriff's Office would provide the Maryland State Comptroller's Office with the names of those with outstanding warrants. Their state income tax refund with then be withheld, and the comptroller will send a letter with instructions on how to collect the refund.
Man Arrested in Oldtown Manor Incident
Twenty-two year old Cumberland resident David Lee Kesler was arrested, following an incident Friday at the Oldtown Manor apartments. Kesler was accused of yelling and banging on an apartment door. Officers found Kesler hiding behind the stairs on the first floor. He created a second disturbance by yelling while being placed under arrest. He received a District Court hearing and is being held in the Allegany County Detention Center on $3,000 bond.
Man Arrested for CDS Possession
A Cumberland resident, Wesley Eugene Baker, was arrested at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center for CDS possession. Baker was seen dropping a cellophane baggie between his legs, and a Cumberland City Police officer determined it was a scheduled narcotic. He was arrested for possession, taken for a bond hearing, and released on his personal recognizance.
Bond Bills, Speed Limits Discussed in Annapolis
Legislation has been cross-filed in both the House and Senate for bond bills, benefiting the Allegany and Garrett County Animal Shelters and the Adventure Sports Complex in Garrett County. State Senator George Edwards says ASCI received a million dollars in bond money last year for upgrades, in preparation for the 2014 World Whitewater Championships. Some of that money was spend on the trial, and that money could not be recouped. The House has voted unanimously to pass a bill that would allow the state to hike the speed limit on interstate highways. including Interstate 68, to 70 miles-per-hour, according to Senator Edwards. Senator Edwards says this is enabling legislation and not mandatory, even though the interstates were constructed to accommodate speeds of 70 miles-per-hour.
Board to Consider Proposed Calendar
The Allegany County Board of Education will consider approving the 2014-2015 academic school calendar at their March meeting. One key change to note on the proposed calendar could include modifications to the structure of parent/teacher conferences in both October and February. The school system is asking for input on the calendar. A draft of the calendar can be found on the school system's website, at "acpsmd.org," under the "Quick Links" section of the main page.
CSX Plans Work Near Lock #74
CSX Corporation will be replacing the railroad bridge, crossing the Potomac River near Lock 74 on the C & O Canal. The work will last for the next year-and-a-half. A temporary, vehicular bridge will be built to serve traffic on the River Road and Provide access for heavy equipment necessary to replace the railroad bridge. Park representatives are asking the public to obey all posted signs in the work area for their safety.
Keyser Has Portion of Annual Payment
Keyser High School expects to have only $46,000 of the annual $279,000 of the payment on the high school athletic complex obligation. The payment has come due every year since 2009, with the school making the payment in the first year. Since then, it has not been able to raise the funding to make the full payment. The track, soccer and football programs have not been contributing, according to Board President Kevin Watson. A suggestion has been made to have those coaches attend a work session to discuss how they might become more involved in fundraising.
WVSDB Improvements from School Building Authority
The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a resolution that states improvements for the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind should come from the School Building Authority. The Romney school, according to the resolution, should not have to provide locally matching money for the building improvements. There are several steps involved in asking the SBA for the money, including the testimony principal Lynn Boyer in mid-March. Children from across the Mountain State attend the school, yet their home counties are not responsible for the cost of their education, nor the maintenance of the facilities.
Data Breach at University of Maryland
A data breach of over 300,000 records was reported at the University of Maryland last week. The cyber-attack affected faculty, staff, students and affiliated personnel from the College Park and Shady Grove campuses who had been issued a University ID since 1998. Maryland is offering free credit monitoring to anyone affected by the breach. Anyone who thinks they may have been affected should call (301)-405-4440.
Delegation Withdraws Funding Request
In a letter to the Allegany County Commissioners, Senator George Edwards noted that bills in both the Senate and House which would have benefitted the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, are being withdrawn. Funding for the group, according to the bill, would have come from Allegany County Marriage License Fees. Senator Edwards says the bill was not given a public hearing in Allegany County, nor did the three commissioners vote on the submission of the legislative request. The bill may be resubmitted when a hearing and vote are held.
Arguments in FSU Football Player Death to be Heard
The lawyers for Frostburg State University's football coaches and helmet-maker Kranos Corporation are seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the family of Derek Sheely, who collapsed following football practice, and later died. The Sheely family contends that FSU ran drills that caused players to suffer repeated head blows, and that Derek Sheely was never checked for a concussion or to see if his helmet was properly fitted. For their part, lawyers for the coaches claim the injuries that led to his death were not foreseeable. Arguments on the dismissal are being heard today in Montgomery County.
Unpaid Taxes Being Sought in Mineral County
The Mineral County Assessor's Office will be trying to collect over $100,000 in unpaid personal property taxes. They were given the "green light" by the Mineral County Commissioners recently. The Assessor has a list of unpaid personal property taxes, and property owned by businesses, which add up to over $100,000. Property taxes in West Virginia are assessed on mobile homes, and also equipment, machinery, vehicles and inventory owned by area businesses.
South Cumberland Breaking and Entering Reported
A Boone Street resident was slightly injured in a breaking and entering incident on Wednesday. The victim told police that he heard a loud banging noise in his home, and the suspect advised him to stay in his room, and "you won't get hurt." The suspect hit the resident on the forehead, and later fled with a safe, containing a large amount of currency. Cumberland City Police, a K-9 unit, and the Maryland State Police Crime Lab was on the scene. However, the suspect remains at large.
Mineral School Superintendent To Retire
Superintendent of Mineral County Schools Rob Woy is retiring. Woy submitted a letter to the Mineral County Board of Education, noting his intent to retire at the end of the present school year. Woy replaced then-Superintendent Skip Hackworth in 2011; Woy's contract was renewed just last year, but that contract expires at the end of June. There was no announcement on the search for the next Mineral County School Superintendent
Secession Movement Not Gaining Traction
There has been a movement among some residents in the state's five westernmost counties to secede from the state of Maryland, but Senator George Edwards says that idea hasn't gained much "traction" to date. In fact, he says he has heard nothing in Annapolis on the proposal, although some representatives from the eastern portion of the state have asked about it. Senator Edwards says the present legislature won't allow for a portion of the state to secede. The legislature would have to vote on it, and the federal government also has to approve the creation of what would be the 51st state.
Tax Credit for Pet Adoptions Sought
Harford County Delegate Glen Glass is proposing a bill that would give residents a $100 tax credit for adopting a dog or cat from an animal shelter. His bill would also make it easier to provide homes for pit bulls, who were deemed "inherently dangerous" by the Maryland Court of Appeals. Lawmakers are also considering legislation to overturn that ruling. Another bill being considered would give police officers who adopt a retired police dog a $1,000 state tax credit.
Last Day of School Now June 18
Fourteen days of school have been missed this year because of bad weather, and now the final day for students will be June 18th. Teachers will finish up on June 23rd. The school system has also had numerous two-hour delays, one regional closure and a three-hour early dismissal. While the state of Maryland requires 180 days of school, State Superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery may be able to grant a waiver, to reduce that number.
Canal Place to See Improvements
There are several upgrades for Canal Place, including accommodations for a farmer's market and adding improved access for disabled visitors. The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a plan yesterday in Annapolis. The Board approved $100,000 for upgrades for Canal Place. Construction will begin in early spring, with the hopes it will open sometime in May.
Somerset Man Killed in Accident
Seventy-three year old Somerset resident James Hahn was killed and a 17-year old boy was injured yesterday morning on Water Level Road in Milford Township. The teenager's vehicle went out of control and traveled into the lane, where Hahn was driving. Neither operator was wearing a seatbelt, and the teen was taken to Conemaugh Medical Center in Johnstown for treatment.
Chamber Supports Preservation of Tax Credit
The Allegany County Chamber of Commerce has written a letter of support for preserving the tax credit for Maryland-mined coal. The letter, to Sheila Hixson, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, is signed by Bill DuVall, Legislative Committee Chair, and Stu Czapski, Executive Director of the Chamber. The letter points out the harsh economic consequences, and the inevitable loss of jobs in the area, should the coal tax credit be repealed. The letter urges the Committee to all the coal tax credit to remain in effect.
Dam Maintenance Discussed in Keyser
The Mineral County Commissioners are considering approximately $176,000 worth of what is termed "necessary" work for the county's flood control dams. The county holds the responsibility for 22 dams in the Patterson Creek watershed area, while the city of Keyser is responsible for those in the New Creek watershed. This includes Dam Site 14, the main water supply for Keyser, which is actually located in Grant County. A request has been made to include the dam upkeep in the county budget.
Filing Deadline is February 25th
Next Tuesday at 9 p.m. is the filing deadline for the upcoming 2014 Primary Election. Federal and state candidates file a certificate of candidacy in Annapolis, while local candidates filed at the local Board of Elections. The primary election will be held on June 24th, while the general election is set for Tuesday, November 4th.
Man Arrested for Disorderly Conduct
A Cumberland man was taken into custody early yesterday morning in the 300-block of Columbia Street. Daniel Erwin Smith is accused of sitting outside a home at 320 Columbia, playing loud music. City Police arrived and found a partially full can of beer in the console of the car. Smith was uncooperative and had used profane language with the officers. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, driving without a license, and consuming. possessing, or drinking an alcoholic beverage on public property.
Childs Named To FSU Posts
Dr. William Childs, who has served as interim provost at Frostburg State University since last summer, has been permanently appointed to that position and will also serve as vice-president for Academic Affairs. The appointment was made by FSU President Dr. Jonathan Gibralter. Childs will fill the position previously held by Dr. Stephen Simon, who returned to the faculty at FSU, and is now a professor in the Department of Political Science.
Service Set for Reverend Chapman
Services have been set for the Reverend Edward "Bo" Chapman, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Reverend Chapman came to the area in 1985, and had been the longest serving rector in the parish's history. He is survived by his wife, daughter and brother, who is also a minister. Services will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Washington Street. The Right-Reverend Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland, and the Right-Reverend Martin Townsend presiding.
Towpath Repairs Set
Repairs to the towpath, just upstream of Evitts Creek Aqueduct near Mile Post 181.2 will begin this month. A large washout that has threatened the towpath continuity for some time will be repaired by CSX Corporation. A pedestrian bridge that spanned the washed-out towpath for many years will be removed. The construction should take about 8 weeks, and visitors should expect delays at the C & O Canal National Historical Park.
College Readiness Program Set
The Allegany County Adult Education Program will sponsor a career and college readiness event, entitled "College Goal Maryland" tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. at the downtown YMCA, in the adult education classroom. This will be an opportunity for free on-site professional assistance in completing the FAFSA form, talk to financial aid professionals, and to get information on statewide student services. Registered participants will have the chance to win one of two $500 scholarships. For more information, contact (301)-687-8025.
Income Tax Relief Proposal Floated
The House Republican Caucus has announced a General Assembly bill that would provide tax relief to all residents of Maryland. House Bill 326 would give a 10 per cent cut in Maryland personal income taxes, regardless of income level, and will be phased in over the next three years. The state ranks 43rd out of 50 in overall business climate
Bill Dealing with Concussions Submitted
Delegate Jon Cardin is sponsoring a bill that would start a pilot program aimed at detecting when student athletes may have suffered a concussion. Cardin says the program will be paid for by the manufacturing company that is chosen to develop the technology. It will be up to individual schools to determine in which sports the technology will be used. Cardin says football coaches and staff "get it," in that they understand the seriousness of concussions.
Rust-Oleum Facility Moving to West Virginia
Rust-Oleum will be moving a distribution center from Maryland to a 630,000 square feet of space in Martinsburg, which formerly had served as the GM building. The Berkeley County Development Authority has been working with the company since last April
Inmate Sentenced in Death
An inmate at the Western Correctional Institution has been convicted of the first-degree murder of a fellow inmate. Corgiss Ross was sentenced to life, consecutive to the 10-year sentence which brought him into the correctional system. Ross is accused of murdering cellmate Jerod Pridget in November of 2012. Pridget later died at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma center in Baltimore. The case was investigated by the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and the Maryland Department of public Safety and Correctional Services.
New School $6.2 Million Short
The new Allegany High School is $6 million over budget. The updated price estimate on the facility is now $42.3 million. While the proposed three-story school has a number of features, it was pointed out at the Board of Education meeting that not having an auditorium would save around three-million dollars, and removing a bay of classrooms would save over a million dollars. And, estimates on the demolition of the former Sacred Heart campus of the Western Maryland Health System would cost around $4 million. Board officials are hoping that all projected funding sources come through; however, that would still leave the project nearly $3 million short.
Canal Place Authority Supports State Recommendation
The Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority is in support of a state recommendation that future plans for Canal Place be turned over to the state. Chairman Rick Thayer agreed that a recommendation from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services be supported. A state plan for Canal Place is expected to be completed by the end of the year. County Commission President Mike McKay recently presented a plan to abolish the Canal Place Authority, with management shared by both the city and county.
Fires Termed "Accidental" In Nature
Two recent fires in the region have been determined to be accidental in nature. Sunday afternoon's fire on Old Dan's Rock Road caused $200,000 in damage to the home and its contents. The fire originated inside the house, and it is considered a total loss. A fire, early Friday morning on Lower White Oak Drive in Swanton, was electrical in nature. Damage to the mobile home, owned by Steven Fike, was placed at $10,000. Smoke detectors in the structure were present, but not activated.
Authority Interviews Applicants
The Mineral County Development planned to interview applicants for the position of executive director. There are 16 prospective candidates, and the position has been open since the January 1st retirement of Mona Ridder. Interviews for the position were held in executive session at the authority office at 87 North Main Street in Keyser.
Piedmont Foreman to be Named
The town of Piedmont is expected to name a new foreman at its meeting next Wednesday. There are 10 applicants for the position, and that field was narrowed to five, who will be interviewed today. The new foreman will replace John Shingler, who was recently released from a federal penitentiary, after serving a sentenced for being convicted of felony embezzlement in connection with FEMA trailers.
Ridgeley Community Center to Open
The Ridgeley Community Center will be reopening, following an agreement reached yesterday evening. Town Council members have entered into an agreement with Lamar Smith to lease the center for 25 hours per week for $20 per hour. Smith is a captain in the town's volunteer fire department, and the center will be used for baseball and softball practice; there are also plans to start a volleyball league at the center.
Sanitary District Meeting Set
The Allegany County Commissioners have scheduled a public meeting regarding the upcoming sewer rehabilitation projects in the Braddock Run Sanitary District. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 4th at 7 p.m. The location is the Mountain Ridge High School cafeteria in Frostburg. All customers in the Sanitary District, residents of Frostburg, along with all interested citizens are invited and encouraged to attend the meeting.
Police Serve Numerous Warrants
The Cumberland City Police served a number of warrants yesterday, including one for Jeremy Austin Kesner of Fort Ashby. He was arrested for driving an uninsured motor vehicle. Kesner was released after posting $250 bond. Twenty-nine year old Nathan Frye was served a bench warrant for failure to appear in District Court. And, Raymond DeSales Washington was arrested for violating a protective order. Washington was released on personal recognizance.
Course Selection Open
The window for Allegany County Public School students to register for 2014-2015 high school courses opens today. Students can make changes to their course selections until Wednesday, March 5th. The programs of study and course selection are available online at the school system's website. Hard copies of the Program of Study can be requested from school counselors.
Pennsylvania Holds Line on Community Colleges
The state of Pennsylvania will not provide a funding increase for its community colleges. In Governor Tom Corbett's proposed 2014-2015 budget, there is no increase earmarked. Federal stimulus money was budgeted for community colleges for two years under former Governor Ed Rendell. That money, however, disappeared during Corbett's first year in office.
Stormwater Fees Discussed
Stormwater has never been more visible politically in Maryland. A law, that requires the ten most populated jurisdictions to charge fees to treat or naturally filter the runoff is being debated. Legislation to modify the law, or repeal it, is expected. Opponents call the fees a "rain tax," and Bill Stack of the Center for Watershed Protection, says stormwater fees have been supported for years in other states without controversy, as a more transparent and equitable way to pay for water treatment. Stack adds that people are often surprised to learn how common stormwater utility districts are; one survey shows that there are up to 2,000 of them in place around the nation.
Tougher Penalties for Sexual Predators Proposed
West Virginia Delegate Mark Hunt is proposing two bills that would take a tougher stance on pedophiles who approach children and try to harm them. Hunt proposed similar legislation last year, but was not passed. He says the Legislature must move on it this year.
Minimum Wage Debated in Annapolis
Governor Martin O'Malley wants to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by July of 2016, and also wants to tie future increases to the federal cost of living index. House Economic Matters Committee Chairman Derrick Davis says there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller believes the Governor's figure of $10.10 per hour is too high. Davis says he is not a big fan of the various minimum wage proposals; he says it can lead to a competitive disadvantage situation. There are still several weeks left in the General Assembly session, and a vote on the issue is not imminent.
Future of Canal Place To Be Discussed
Allegany County Commission President Mike McKay has come up with the draft of a plan for the future of Canal Place, which includes the abolition of the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority, and the creation of a smaller board. That would include representatives of both the city and county. McKay's plan would also have the state continue to own the property, but allow the city to manage and market the shops and the festival grounds. The Authority is scheduled to meet today.
Two Injured in Garrett County Collision
A two-vehicle collision on New Germany Road sent two people to the Western Maryland Health System early yesterday morning. Baltimore resident Todd Wyche was northbound, when he lost control of the car, and hit a Chevy Silverado, operated by Merrill Bittinger of Grantsville. Wyche and a passenger, Usha Tyson of Baltimore were taken to the hospital; Bittinger was not injured in the collision.
Crews Battle Midland Fire
There were no injuries, but a home on Old Dan's Rock Road suffered serious damage in Sunday afternoon's fire. A dozen crews arrived on the scene, and Allegany County road crews were also there to treat snow and ice-covered roads. No injuries were reported, and the fire broke out shortly after 3:30 p.m. The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.
Maryland Crews Respond to Morgan County Fire
A number of crews from Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania responded to a house fire in Morgan County, West Virginia Sunday evening. The home on Willey Lane sustained heavy damage. There were no injuries, but it is believed some pets perished in the fire.
Man Involved in Single-Vehicle Crash
Fifty-eight year old Frostburg resident Clyde Michael was apparently uninjured in a single-vehicle accident early Sunday morning. Michael's vehicle ran off the travel portion of eastbound Interstate 68, just east of the Route 220 on-ramp. The car landed on its roof. Michael was taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center for further evaluation. Eastbound Interstate 68 was shut down for about 45 minutes following the crash.
Man Dies While Fleeing Authorities
A man who had been wanted by authorities for failure to appear, jumped into the Big Coal River and died this past weekend. He has been identified as 43-year old James Alfred King III of Charleston, and deputies were attempting to arrest him for failure to appear on methamphetamine charges. He was also wanted on felony charges in Virginia. Another man who was with King also jumped into the river, but was arrested.
Pseudoephedrine Bill Considered in Charleston
A bill that would require a doctor's prescription for cold medications containing pseudoephedrine is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in West Virginia. "Pseudo" is the main ingredient in methamphetamine, and lawmakers are trying to reduce meth manufacturing in the state. Sales of medications, containing pseudoephedrine are limited and tracked in the Mountain State; a complaint of many residents is that they don't want to go through the process of getting prescriptions for medication they can now buy over the counter.
Teacher Raise Being Proposed
The West Virginia Senate's Education Committee is proposing a $1,000 pay raise for all teachers across the state. The goal of the bill is to attract highly qualified teachers to West Virginia. Another aspect of the legislation would increase the minimum salary for entry-level teachers to $43,000 by 2019. The bill has passed to the Finance Committee.
Reverend Chapman Passes Away
The Reverend Edward "Bo" Chapman, of Emmanuel Episcopal Church passed away yesterday. In an official announcement from the parish, the wardens of the church have asked for prayers for his family in their time of grief. In an email to his parishioners, Reverend Allen Weatherholt noted that Reverend Chapman had been a guest at his church, St. Thomas Church in Hancock. Funeral arrangements for Reverend Chapman are incomplete at this time.
Fatal Fire Victim Tentatively Identified
The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office continues to investigate Friday's fatal fire in Frostburg. FSU President Dr. Jonathan Gibralter has tentatively identified the victim as a senior in Business Administration, Lateef Gazal. Gazal was from Bowie and Dr. Gibralter noted that the school will forward any information on memorials that may be planned. The two-alarm blaze at 144 Bowery Street early Friday, brought out nearly 75 firefighters from Allegany and Garrett Counties. The home was owned by Judy Knieriem, and it is considered a total loss, with a partial collapse of the second floor into the first.
Couple Arrested in Domestic Dispute
Two Ascension Street residents were charged with second-degree assault on Saturday. Tyler and Lisa Logsdon were taken into custody following a verbal argument, which became physical. Lisa Logsdown reported that she was hit on the side of the head, while Tyler Logsdon claimed his wife bit him on the forearm, and was hit several times in the chest. Both were released on personal recognizance, following a hearing by a District Court Commissioner.
Garrett County Burglaries Reported
The Garrett County Sheriff's Office is investigating a string of burglaries in the Deep Creek Lake area. The incidents have been reported in the Lake Shore Drive, Mayhew Inn Road, Skipper's Point, Rock Lodge Road, and the State Park Road areas. Flat screen televisions and other electronics have been reportedly stolen. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Garrett County Sheriff's Office at (301)-334-1911.
Edwards Submits Legislation
Maryland State Senator George Edwards has submitted three bills of local interest. A bill, heard last week, would allow the possession of handguns for the protection of bow hunters. It passed, and will now go to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Other bills under consideration deal with heart disease and hypertension presumption for Allegany County Correctional officers. Another bill would provide for a capital bond loan for the Garrett County Adventure Sports Center. A third bill would allow marriage license fees to be disbursed to the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization.
Tenth Annual Hooley Plunge Set for March 1st
The Hooley Plunge is coming up on March 1st, and this year is a special one, as it is the tenth annual event. Dr. Sean McCagh says registration begins at 10, and the plunge starts at 1. He says they are setting a lofty goal for this year. Becky McClarren says that last year, nearly $125,000 were raised for the Special Olympics and other programs in the area for the developmentally disabled. All money raised stays in the area, and Dr. McCagh says the event has grown tremendously over the past ten years.
Commissioners Discuss Passport Service
The Mineral County Commissioners may want to reinstitute passport service for Keyser residents, while the circuit clerk, Krista Dixon, says her office does not have the time to resume issuing passports. Commissioner Janice LaRue says the money for passports is going to Maryland; money that should be kept in West Virginia. Ms. Dixon says her office is presently working overtime and on weekends, just to keep pace with court paperwork.
Family Support Services Sets Meeting
The Allegany County Family Support Services will host a Down Syndrome Support Group meeting tomorrow evening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the John Humbird Elementary School gym. Families of children with Down Syndrome are invited to attend. The group will also host an Autism Support Group on Thursday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Allegany County Library on Washington Street. Families of children with autism are invited to attend.
Three Face Contraband Charges
Two female inmates of the Somerset County jail, and another man, are being accused of conspiring to bring heroin in to the facility. Sharrell Brown, Emily Jo Tressler and Joshwa Larry Slope of Somerset are being charged in connection with the case.
Two Face Charges in Child Rape Case
Two residents of Freedom Township faces charges in connection to a child rape case there. Felony charges have been filed against Hansford Allen "Hamp' Dively and 38-year old Michele Lee Zeigler of Redman Court. The incidents happened when the victim was 12 and 13 years old. Dively's bail has been set at $80,000 while Zeigler's is $40,000. Both face preliminary hearings Thursday in Roaring Spring District Court.
West Virginia House Approves Minimum Wage Increase
The West Virginia House of Delegates has approved a minimum wage increase of $1.50 over the next two years. The increase would be from $7.25 to $8 per hour in January of next year, and to $8.75 in January of 2016. Two Berkeley County delegates voted against the bill, as did Delegate Daryl Cowles of Morgan County. The last minimum wage increase, to $7.25 per hour, happened in 2008
One Dead in Frostburg Fire
One person is dead, and the other treated for smoke inhalation as the result of a fire in Frostburg early this morning. The initial call, from the occupant of the house, came in for firefighters to respond to 144 Bowery Street; the building collapsed just before 6 a.m. One person was able to flee the building, while the other was not. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Man Pleads Guilty in Smothering Death
Somerset County resident Cody Schartiger has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the smothering death of his girlfriend's eighteen-month old infant daughter in November of 2011. Schartiger faces up to 22 years in prison on the manslaughter count and one of reckless endangerment for injuring his own 3-year old son in November of 2010. Baylee Svenungsen was found dead in her crib, and her mother, Amanda had previously pleaded guilty to endangerment charges related to the death. She was sentenced to time already served in jail, a total of 74 days.
Beitzel Introduces Highway User Legislation
Delegate Wendell Beitzel has introduced a bill in the house which would increase the portion of motor fuel tax and highway user revenue that is shared with the counties, Baltimore City and municipalities. The state has drastically reduced the Highway User Revenue share, and local governments have struggled to adequately budget for local funding to maintain roads. Some counties have been forced to reduce road crews and eliminate or delay road projects and improvements. Delegate George Edwards has cross-filed a similar bill in the Senate, and it is expected to be heard next Wednesday, February 19th.
Sideling Hill Bill Heard
Supporters of a measure that would prohibit off-road vehicle trails in the Sideling Hill Wildlife Management area received a hearing before committees in both the Senate and House on Wednesday. The bill was introduced by State Senator George Edwards and Delegate LeRoy Myers, and it is backed by a group of residents from the area near Hancock.
Edwards Introduces Pistol Legislation
State Senator George Edwards' bill that would allow bow hunters to carry a handgun for protection, passed in the Maryland Senate this week. The vote was 43 to 2, and now goes to the House of Delegates. Senator Edwards says a bow and arrow would not adequately protect hunters if a bear tried to attack them.
Man Drives Into Porch, Arrested for DUI/DWI
Hyndman, Pennsylvania resident Harvey Sturtz was arrested in Cumberland yesterday, and charged with DUI/DWI. Sturtz is accused of driving his vehicle into a woman's porch in the 500-block of Centre Street. There were no injuries, and the home was not damage. He was issued citations and released pending trial in District Court.
Grading Periods Pushed Back in Mineral County
Mineral County is moving its last three, six-week grading periods because of the number of weather-related school closings. The end of the school year is also being delayed. The last six-week period will now end on Thursday, May 29th, and the date for report cards will be announced.
Garrett County Featured in Baltimore Sun
Garrett County was the focus of an article in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun, naming the county as “Maryland’s Sweet Spot For Snow”. Writer Dan Rodricks says he likes to go over Garrett weather facts now and then for their shock value and for the perspective they provide for weather-worried neighbors in Baltimore. Rodricks points out that the average snow fall in Garrett County is 138 inches, and 4 years ago recorded 262.5 inches. In the winter of 1985, the temperature at Oakland hit minus-36 with a wind chill of minus-120, with 42 inches of snow on the ground. The article also pointed that snowfall is sometimes early in Garrett County, In 1976, Garrett County had snow on May 20.
Minimum Wage Debate in Annapolis
Both Governor Martin O'Malley and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown have testified in favor of a bill that would increase the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016. Washington County Delegate Neil Parrott has also testified in support of a bill that would allow counties to set their own minimum wage rates. George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller says that even with an increase to $10 per hour, one-half billion dollars is taken out of the economy, and there are effects from that.
Verizon Reorganization Affects Some Maryland Workers
Verizon announced some changes this week, which include closing customer service centers in some states and changing the types of jobs in other states. Severance packages are being offered to those who don't want to move or can't find different jobs within the company. The changes are expected to be completed by May, and would affect workers at the Hanover, Maryland location.
Committee Holds Hearings on Pre-K
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee held hearings on a bill that would expand pre-kindergarten to 1600 more children in the state. Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown has set a goal of making pre-kindergarten universal in Maryland by 2018. Governor O'Malley has budgeted $4.3 million for the project, and would expand kindergarten to children who are up to 300 per cent of the federal poverty level.