Hagerstown briefs

August 04, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

City Council OKs loan to Girls Inc.

The Hagerstown City Council gave preliminary approval to lending $281,000 to Girls Inc., a local youth mentoring organization.

Girls Inc. is nearing the end of a major renovation to its building along Washington Avenue, City Community Development Director Larry Bayer said during the council's meeting Tuesday. He said the money would help pay for work to a gym, a kitchen and other interior changes.

The money would come from the city's block grant fund, which is mostly federal money allocated through the state to the city.

Bayer said the loan would be for 30 years, but Girls Inc. officials indicated they could pay it back sooner.

Election expenses estimated at $81,000

It will cost about $81,000 to run the upcoming primary and general elections for the City of Hagerstown, according to estimates provided Tuesday.


Election officials recommended using touch-screen voting systems from Diebold Election Systems, the same that were used in this year's presidential primaries and will be used in the November Elections.

The costs could rise, however, if the state does not renew a contract with Diebold. The costs could drop if the Washington County Commissioners agree to lower the rental rate of the election machines.

Part-timer would enter violence data

Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith received support from the City Council to create a new part-time job that would be supported by state grant money.

Smith said the $15,600 grant will be used to pay someone to enter computer data related to domestic violence orders, which can help better track criminals.

Smith said the department had used a state grant last year for similar purposes, but instead of hiring someone new, the department used current employees and paid them overtime. Smith said that created problems, which he believed would be solved by hiring a new employee.

New employee would do Web design, TV

The City Council gave its support Tuesday for creation of a full-time Web design and television production employee.

City spokeswoman Karen Giffin, who requested the new position, said the city's cable efforts are expanding with new programming. Human Resources Director Donna Messina said the city's Web site is increasingly being used for work applications and other services that used to be handled by secretaries.

The Web site "really does require some additional attention," Messina said.

The council gave preliminary approval to a request of an additional $15,000 in city money to pay for the position. Giffin said $23,000 already was budgeted for wages, equipment and training.

Health system closes inquiry

Washington County Health System officials have ended an inquiry into a statement made by Hagerstown City Council member N. Linn Hendershot at a meeting three weeks ago, according to a letter sent to the councilman.

Health system legal counsel wrote to Hendershot after a July 14 story in The Herald-Mail quoted him as saying, "We're looking at some cooked numbers" from the hospital.

Health system attorney Michael J. Schaefer sought response in five days "so that further action can be taken, if warranted," according to the letter.

Hendershot said in a telephone interview on July 16 that he was discussing financial numbers provided by the hospital to the Hagerstown-Washington County Community Healthcare Coalition, which supports the hospital's move.

Hendershot said on July 16 that he "felt the numbers were being inflated." Portions of the interview were printed the following day.

A letter dated July 28, signed by Schaefer, said Hendershot had not directly responded, the article that was printed on July 17 would be considered as his position "and this matter can be closed."

Move could slow response times

The proposed move of Washington County Hospital could increase ambulance response times by three to four minutes, Chris Amos, Community Rescue Service's chief of operations, told the Hagerstown City Council Tuesday.

In an unrelated update of ambulance service in the city, council members asked Amos during the Tuesday public meeting if he had been contacted by hospital officials about the proposed move.

In response to a question from Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire, Amos said, "if the hospital moves out there (to Robinwood Drive), it adds about three to four minutes to our response time. An alternate company 6 would have to cover the West End" of Hagerstown.

Councilman N. Linn Hendershot asked, "Have you had any conversation at all with them?"

"No," Amos said.

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