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Delegates will meet with Cascade group

November 27, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Two Washington County delegates will meet Monday with Cascade Committee members about issues concerning the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base, but members of the media will not be permitted to attend, Del. Robert McKee said Wednesday.

McKee, R-Washington, said he and Del. Christopher B. Shank will meet with the Cascade Committee to discuss the recent resignations of PenMar Development Corp. board members and other Fort Ritchie issues.

The meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Germantown Church of God in Cascade.

PenMar was created by the state in 1997 to redevelop the approximately 600-acre base, which the Army shut down in 1998.

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PenMar has been the subject of controversy in recent weeks, including allegations of in-fighting among board members, PenMar's slow progress in redevelopment efforts and the resignations of seven of its 15 board members since September.

Shank, R-Washington, has suggested that the state have more oversight over the PenMar board, and some Washington County Commissioners have said the number of board members might be reduced.

The County Commissioners appoint the PenMar board.

Cascade Committee Director Karl Weissenbach said the committee would not have a problem with the media attending the meeting.

"We believe in public access," Weissenbach said. "We're dealing with some very complicated issues. We certainly don't object to the media being there."

Weissenbach said the Cascade Committee, a civic grassroots organization, does not feel comfortable meeting behind closed doors.

"We regret that it's going to be a closed session," he said.

He said it's possible other members of the community would attend the meeting.

"If other Cascade residents show up, we're not going to tell them that they can't be at the meeting," Weissenbach said.

McKee said he didn't think the meeting should be open to the media because only two members of the eight-member delegation plan to attend, which isn't enough for a quorum.

He said the meeting would be an "informational session to get a sense and feeling of the folks that are there."

McKee said he did not expect to make any decisions or commitments, but just planned to listen to the residents. He said the concerns of the Cascade residents may lead to a public delegation meeting later.

Delegation members also plan to meet with the PenMar board, a meeting McKee said also would probably be closed to the media.

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