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County looks to 2002

December 28, 2001

County looks to 2002



By SCOTT BUTKI
scottb@herald-mail.com


Washington County will have elections, a large re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam, school redistricting, a possible new county comprehensive plan and more in 2002.

Elections


Washington County residents will elect the Washington County Board of Commissioners this year as well as three Washington County Board of Education members.

The primary is Sept. 10. The general election is Nov. 5.

All five commissioners' seats are up for election. So far, only one commissioner, Paul L. Swartz, has filed for re-election.

Board members J. Herbert Hardin, Paul W. Bailey and Mary Wilfong are up for election.

Only Russell Williams has filed for the school board election.

The positions of the county sheriff and the county treasurer also are on the November ballot.

All local state senators' and delegates' seats also will be on the ballot.

Antietam re-enactment


The 140th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam will be Sept. 13 and 14, 2002.

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It will be similar to the 135th anniversary re-enactment and again will be on private land, Washington County Planning Director Robert Arch said.

The 1997 event had 12,000 to 15,000 re-enactors, he said. The 2002 one will have at least that amount, Arch said.

About 70,000 people attended the 1997 event, Arch said. Weather permitting, the county expects 70,000 to 100,000 people to attend the 2002 re-enactment, Arch said.

School redistricting


The School Board is scheduled to vote Jan. 22 on which recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Redistricting Committee to adopt.

In early December, the committee of parents, teachers, principals and some School Board administrators recommended renovating the aging Maugansville and Conococheague elementary schools rather than closing them.

The committee also made 10 other recommendations to shift enrollments in some of the county's elementary, middle and high schools. The committee was formed by the School Board.

'Gods and Generals'


The Civil War movie "Gods and Generals," filmed partially in Washington County, is scheduled to be released in 2002.

The movie will hit most theaters in November after a week-long series of premieres, one of which will be in Hagerstown, said local historian Dennis Frye, who coordinated the 3,000 re-enactors who volunteered for the movie.

Comprehensive plan


The County Commissioners in 2002 will consider adopting a revised comprehensive plan, which lays the groundwork for the county over the next 20 years. The draft of the plan was released May 15 and public meetings were held through July. The Washington County Planning Commission has discussed the proposed revisions in recent months.

The Planning Commission will present a recommendation on the draft plan to the commissioners by March 2002, Arch said. The commissioners must hold a public hearing before voting on a plan.

Right-to-farm


The commissioners are expected to vote in early 2002 on a right-to-farm ordinance, which would inform buyers of property next to farms what to expect, Assistant County Attorney John Martirano said.

Under the proposal, when property is transferred, a statement will be provided warning of potential problems associated with living next to a farm, including flies, dust, chemicals, smoke, vibrations, hours of operation, odors and noises.

Washington County Farm Bureau officials pushed for the ordinance. County officials have met recently with Farm Bureau officials about further revisions to the proposal.

The commissioners must hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance prior to the vote.

Foreign trade zone


Washington County is expecting to find out by March whether an application for a 1,866-acre foreign trade zone is approved, said Cassandra Latimer, marketing director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Foreign trade zones are designated areas in which companies don't have to pay tariffs when importing products.

The draft application for a foreign trade zone for Washington County was submitted to the U.S. Department of Commerce on Aug. 31, 2001.

Nobody spoke against the establishment of the zone during a Nov. 17 public hearing at the Washington County Administration Building. The public hearing was required by the Commerce Department.

Runway extension


Work on extending the main Hagerstown Regional Airport runway from 5,450 feet to 8,000 feet will continue in 2002.

The cost of the extension, including studies, is estimated at $62 million. That includes funds to build two adjacent underpasses to carry U.S. 11 under the runway.

The county's goal is to complete the runway extension by September 2005.

Preliminary engineering work is scheduled for completion in the spring, Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said.

Design of the runway expansion will begin this summer, she said.

In late 2002 the county will begin acquiring portions of land needed for the extension, she said. Motz said she did not know how much land they will have to acquire.

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