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Article Archive >> In Your County

Board of County Commissioners: Approve AG preservation districts and grant applications

Board of County Commissioners
Approve AG preservation districts and grant applications

As part of its regular meeting on May 3rd, 2011, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners honored 113 retirees and employees for length of service to County citizens (See attached release), approved priority rankings for Agricultural Preservation Districts, and approved applications for a number of federal and state grants.
Following a Public Hearing on 10-year Agricultural Preservation Districts, the Commissioners approved the recommended rankings for those Preservation Districts. The hearing drew one citizen comment, from Steve Ernst of Clear Spring, a member of the Agricultural Advisory Board, who spoke in favor of the proposed priority rankings as presented and urged the Commissioners to continue the preservation programs.
The Board of County Commissioners previously voted to continue with ten year District Agreements so as to maintain the tax credit program, and as a means of landowners showing a commitment to agriculture while waiting for funding for an easement sale. Applicants will be restricted to agricultural use only for a period of ten years. In exchange the landowners will not pay county property tax on agricultural land or buildings and will receive a credit of up to $711 on a farm house.
The cost of tax credits for these properties for the ten year period equals about $13/acre/year for a total of some $348,000 for the full 10 year period, for 2,676 acres. This will be in the form of property taxes not collected.
The Board approved submission of a Housing Counselor Program grant application and grant agreements to the Maryland Department of Human Resources for State FY 2012 through 2014 through the Washington County Community Action Council, Inc. (CAC).
The Housing Counselor Program assists households experiencing a housing crisis (e.g., homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless) to obtain and maintain permanent housing.
The proposed funding will provide for the salary and fringe benefit cost of the Placement Housing Counselor and will provide limited customer assistance dollars. The Placement Housing Counselor is able to positively affect the lives of approximately 100 households each year.
The total funding available for the Program for SFY 2012 through SFY 2014 is $110,748 or $36,916 per year. These funds will be leveraged with Rental Allowance Program funding and local government funding (e.g., Bloom Carlisle, County Grant-in Aid). No new local government funds are required.
Commissioners approved preliminary Appalachian Regional Commission Project Descriptions prioritization, as discussed by the Board, forwarding to the Tri-County Council of Western Maryland for funding consideration, and application submission to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for those projects that receive Tri-County Council's funding recommendation.
Funding requests for Washington County's Area Development Projects include six (6) proposed projects requesting $1,249,000 in ARC funding and (1) project requesting $600,000 in funding from the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) Access Road category.
Discussion centered on the TEA-21 road project, which would fund Phase II of the Yale Drive Extension project in the Robinwood area, and stands to receive $600,000 in federal ARC funds.
Commissioners approved the priorities on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Baker voting "no", provided at least one workshop on the Yale Drive project is held this month to review the project and chart a course for its future development.
Sheriff's Department grant applications were approved for the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention Sex Offender Compliance and Enforcement Maryland Grant with a total of $52,824.00 and the Domestic Violence Unit Program Grant for a total of $3,410.00.
Major Robert Leatherman and Cody Miller of the Patrol Division also requested and received approval of the COPS hiring grant that would provide funding for three additional Deputies for three years, providing the County agree to retain those hired for a fourth year as match. Salary and benefits for the grant period would total $464,000.00.
Also approved were applications for the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention: Body Armor Grant in the amount of $23,666 to replace aging bulletproof vests, and the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention: School Bus Safety Enforcement Grant for $14,960 to provide overtime for Deputies monitoring school bus traffic enforcement.
In Other Business before the Board, County administrator Greg Murray commented that positive gain on County financial investments has been seen over the past quarter. Murray reminded Commissioners that the Citizens' Guide to the FY 2012 Budget has been posted to the County webpage to help with understanding of the Operating and Capital Improvement budgets that will be taken to Public Hearing on Thursday, May 12th at 7:00 p.m. at Hager Hall, located on Dual Highway.
Assistant County Attorney Kirk Downey requested and received approval for resolutions entitled "Resolution regarding the Washington County, Maryland Senior Citizen Supplemental Homeowners' Property Tax Credit and Extension to Those Eligible Individuals 65 Years of Age or Older" and "Resolution to Repeal the Residential Non-Homeowner-Occupied Homestead Tax Credit".
Property tax relief was available for those age 70 and older. The action adopted a minimum age of 65 for that tax relief and repealed a tax credit for non-homeowner occupied properties, which was non-functional.
The Board approved several appointments to Boards and Commissions.
The Solid Waste Advisory Committee appointed David Gysberts to a first, three-year term through April 30, 2014; and Joseph Caha, Jr. to fulfill an unexpired term through June 30, 2012. The Economic Development Commission reappointed Stuart Mullendore as an at-large member for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014; appointed Daniel Pheil as the Greater Hagerstown Committee, Inc. representative; Andrew Sargent as the Chamber of Commerce representative; and Ronald L. Bowers as an at-large member, all for terms from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014.
Under Citizen Participation, Bob Harsh of Hagerstown, representing County Medical Transport commented on state purchasing procedures regarding transportation for the Health Department.
Commissioners heard an update on the George W. Comstock Center for Public Health Research and Prevention from its Director, Josef Coresh, MD, PhD. The Comstock Center, one of Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, is expanding its activities and is engaging a wider community of scientists, students and prevention experts across multiple departments inside and outside the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Center will Move to a new facility at 1100 Dual Highway. Grand opening June 1, 2011, and has hired 10 new staff for continuing work in the community.
Established in 1962 the George W. Comstock Center for Public Health Research and Prevention: conducts research on the prevention of disease, particularly heart disease, cancer and stroke, provides a base of operations for faculty and students who are interested in community-based research, and serves as a resource for the Washington County Health Department in the areas of public health surveillance and assessment.
The Center is named in honor of the late George W. Comstock, a world renowned leading epidemiologist who helped shape the epidemiology of tuberculosis and who trained generations of leaders in the field.
The Board approved award of the contract for the Forty West Landfill Cells 6 and 7 construction project for the Solid Waste Department to the responsive, responsible, bidder C. William Hetzer of Hagerstown, Maryland who submitted the lowest Total Sum Bid in the amount of $6,287,415.00.
The work to be performed includes but is not limited to: furnish all labor, materials, equipment, plant, services and the construction of the cell with synthetic liner, leacheate collection system, sediment basin, ditches, expansion of leacheate tanks, and access road. The project is to be substantially completed within Two Hundred Seventy (270) consecutive calendar days of the Notice to Proceed.
Funding for the project is budgeted in Solid Waste's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) account for the current fiscal year in the amount of $7,817,700.00 for construction.
The Commissioners approved 5 option agreements for partial real property acquisitions at 19330, 19325, 19420, 19333 Longmeadow Road and 13402 Marsh Pike in the amount of $ 24,450 from the current CIP budget and adopted an ordinance approving that purchase and to authorize the execution of the necessary documentation to finalize the acquisition.
Plans are underway to design the future intersection improvements and widening at Longmeadow Road and Marsh Pike. The realignment requires the purchase of several partial acquisitions to accommodate the turning movements and road widening.
May 1st through the 7th was proclaimed Public Service Recognition Week in Washington County. Commissioner Bill McKinley said that Americans are served every day by public servants at the federal, state, county and city levels who do the work that keeps our nation working. Public employees take not only jobs, but oaths and many public servants, including military personnel, police officers, firefighters, border patrol officers, embassy, health care professionals and others, risk their lives each day in service to the people of the United States around the world.
Public servants include teachers, doctors and scientists, astronauts, nurses, safety inspectors, laborers, computer technicians, social workers and countless other occupations that provide the diverse services demanded by the American people of their government with efficiency and integrity. Without these public servants at every level, continuity would be impossible in democracy that regularly changes its leaders and elected officials.
Deputy Human Resources Director Dee Hawbaker accepted the proclamation on behalf of County Employees.
The Board approved a Transfer of the Scope of Work for Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant funding from the Northwest Quadrant Site Preparation, to Terminal Modifications, at Hagerstown Regional Airport.
Airport Director Phil Ridenour told the Commissioners that the large jets to be used by Direct Air have a 150 passenger capacity. The current terminal is not designed to house that number of passengers and family members, or that volume of passenger luggage.
The ARC funding was originally intended for site work to prepare the Northwest Quadrant of the airport for future development. With the recent Letter of Commitment from Direct Air, the airport has two priority areas in the terminal that need to be addressed in order to better serve passengers departing and arriving at Hagerstown. Those areas are baggage pick-up and increased capacity in the passenger hold room. The new Scope of Work would include a baggage conveyor system and would convert part of the administrative office to hold space to accommodate at least 150 passengers.. Current funding available is $200,000 from ARC with a matching amount of $200,000 from the County.
The Board approved Change Order No. 4 for the Transit Bus Transfer Center construction contract with Callas Contractors, Inc. for additional work known as "Wareham Place Sidewalk Improvements" in the amount of $125,277.03 and a contract time extension in the amount of 62 additional consecutive calendar days to perform this change order work, contingent upon approval and funding, in whole, by Maryland Transit Administration.
The change will include improvements within Wareham Place to provide a safe route for access to the new Transit Center.
The base work includes demolition, excavation (cut to grade), storm water components, construction of new concrete curb and sidewalks to include ADA access, roadway improvements of graded aggregate base materials and asphalt paving. The value of the base work totals $89,916.18.
All funds for the Transit Center are federal, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and no County funds would be expended.

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