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Hagerstown briefs

June 09, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Group to organize community programs



A new group aims to better organize historic preservation and community programs along Jonathan Street, members of the organization said Tuesday.

Jonathan Street Associates will represent several community groups that serve the Jonathan Street area, group officers said Tuesday during the City Council work session. The group is being organized under Bethel Gardens, which is a privately owned public housing development off Jonathan Street.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he welcomed the group because it will help prioritize several competing interests in that neighborhood.

"I think there's some exciting things in your future," Metzner told the group's officers.

One of the group's functions will be to promote African-American heritage in the neighborhood, said James Wolfson, one of the group's officers.

Brian Robinson, another of the group's officers and a manager of a Hagerstown mentoring program for at-risk youth, said the group will sign on other community groups and act as the voice for those programs when seeking grants from the city and other sources.

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City to use system's landscaper for park



City officials are trying to avoid a case of split personality for University Plaza, the park that will open near the downtown education building of the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue said the proposed space for the park is split between two owners, the university system and the city. The university system has signed on a contractor to begin the landscaping work on the small park, but the city has yet to do so, Tissue said.

Tissue said if the city chooses a different contractor, the park's landscaping and design might be inconsistent.

The City Council, at Tissue's recommendation, gave the go-ahead Tuesday to skip the public bidding process and negotiate directly with the university system's contractor, Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting, for the work to be done on the city's side of the park.




Retirement investor gets preliminary OK



The City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to hiring a new company to invest police and fire employee retirement contributions.

City Human Resources Director Donna Messina said that while city taxpayers will not notice a direct effect, the cost of managing those departments' retirement funds will decrease from about $44,000 a year to about $12,000, a savings of about $32,000.

The money to manage the retirement accounts is taken directly from annual employee and city contributions, Messina said.

The change from Atlanta-based Invesco Capital Management to Baltimore-based Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust should help to boost the accounts' bottom lines, Messina said.

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