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Officials hope wishes come true in '04

January 13, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - There were some big wishes and little wishes as Clear Spring town officials took their traditional look ahead to see what 2004 might bring.

All the big wishes were the same - that the two long-awaited town water projects would at least get started this year, or perhaps be finished before the start of 2005.

A state-mandated water filtration system is expected to cost the town between $660,000 and $1 million. At the same time, a water storage tank designed to hold 340,000 gallons of treated water will be erected at the site of the present town reservoir west of Clear Spring.

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"I hope we'll have all our water projects completed before the year's end," Mayor Paul Hose Jr. said.

While he said he knows that may be optimistic, he would like to be able to move on to other projects.

A little less optimistic that the project will be completed before the end of the year, Terry Baker, the town's newest council member, expressed confidence that work will be started this year.

Dropped into the middle of these issues when first elected in the fall of 2002, Baker spent much of his first year getting acclimated to studying the projects and trying to speed them on their way.

"I've had a very enjoyable first year. It's a great group of people to work with," said Baker, 48. "I feel like I'm contributing to my town."

Under the heading of little wishes for 2004, Baker said he would like to see a 5K race become part of the National Pike Days festival traditionally held each year in the spring. A track coach and teacher at North Hagerstown High School, Baker said he will work toward that goal this year.

Newly re-elected to his council seat, Gary Grove, 56, agreed with the rest of the town officials that the two water projects are top priority in 2004.

Town residents already are feeling the effects of those two big-ticket items as they head into the first full year of increases in the town's water and sewer rates, which were prompted by the mandated improvements to the water system.

Since October 2003, in-town residents have been paying $46.25 per quarter for water, while out-of-town hookups cost $69.49 for three months of service.

Sewer charges are $102 per quarter for the first 12,000 gallons and $3.45 for every 1,000 gallons over that amount.

Grove's little wish has a patriotic flavor to it and was suggested by retired teacher Margaret Cornett, a longtime Clear Spring-area resident.

"I would like to see someone step up and organize an Independence Day event for Clear Spring," Grove said.

Mason Mundey will oversee improvements to North Martin Street and the installation of a number of water meters in that neighborhood. Once that work is completed, nearly all of Clear Spring will be hooked up to water meters so that actual water usage can be tracked and billed accordingly.

"Otherwise, the streets in Clear Spring are in pretty good shape," said Mundey, 68.

Vice Mayor Julie Albowicz, 57, characterized 2004 as the year of purer water and better water for town residents.

"I don't see too much change this year for Clear Spring and that's not a bad thing," Albowicz said.

She said she hears from a lot of people who fear unbridled growth will jeopardize the quaint, small-town atmosphere the town always has enjoyed.

But she reassures them that she will do all that she can to maintain the Norman Rockwell feel of the community.

"I love living in Clear Spring," she said. "It was a great place to have a business and raise children."

As far as the overall picture of his adopted town, Hose, 56, said he believes the changes are unmistakable.

"As each year passes, I see a little more of the small town aspect of Clear Spring disappearing," Hose said. "But it's still a vibrant and good place to live."

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