County Comment Snow, Insurance And Testing

by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

The three topics have absolutely nothing in common. In one of the last columns, I predicted a rapid melt of the snowpack in the County. I guess there’s a reason why Lou Scally does the weather and I don’t.

The million-dollar-plus cost of snow removal plus pending cuts to the Highway User Fund have led County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer to testify before the Maryland General Assembly recently. Rohrer, Chair of the Maryland Association of Counties’ (MACo) Engineering Committee made the case for funds used to pave roads and repair potholes. Forty six percent of the County’s Highway User Fund revenue would be cut under the proposed state budget.

In its regular meeting on March 11, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed the week of the 10th through the 16th as “Cover the Uninsured” Week.

Kery Hummel, Executive Director of the Western Maryland Area Health Education Center (WMAHEC) and Maryland Covering Kids and Families, along with County Health Officer Bill Christoffel and Earl Stoner, Director of Health Services at the Washington County Health Department received that proclamation from Commissioner’s President Greg Snook.

The proclamation cited the 41 million Americans who do not have health care coverage and said that 8 of 10 uninsured people are in working families. Uninsured Americans live sicker and die younger than people who have health care coverage. Those factors, along with the slow economy, higher unemployment and rising health costs mean that the rate of uninsured citizens is on the increase.

The Commissioners recognized the urgency of finding solutions for this problem and urged all citizens to observe “Cover the Uninsured” Week.

Citizens of the southern portion of Washington County, especially around Sandy Hook, should be on the lookout for tests of cellular signal strength that will be conducted by T-Mobile, Inc. in the coming weeks.

An antenna will be raised on a crane to find out if a proposed site for a 40-foot cell tower will function well for the company. The site for the proposed tower is adjacent to the Sandy Hook Water Tower, on County-owned land.

In the March 11 meeting, the Commissioners gave Real Property Administrator Dean Lowry permission to sign an owner authorization agreement allowing the company to conduct the tests.

Lowry told the Board that both T-Mobile and CSX Railroad are interested in “monopole” sites in the area, and that towers erected would not exceed tree height. Lowry told the Board that representatives from the Harper’s Ferry Conservancy had referred the cell phone company to Washington County and had recommended the site to that company.

Residents of the area should watch for further notification as the time for those tests approaches.