Williamsport briefs

April 13, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Group makes pitch for Civil War event

WILLIAMSPORT - Representatives of a nonprofit history group on Monday renewed a pitch to use parts of Williamsport for a Civil War history event in October.

Forest Glen Commonwealth of Kensington, Md., plans to re-enact - on a smaller and more modern scale - the mass exodus of more than 13,000 Confederate soldiers retreating after the Battle of Gettysburg.

Richard Lank, the group's president, said John D. Imboden, a brigadier general, averted a "second Gettysburg" by successfully managing the retreat to Williamsport.

The 42-mile re-enactment procession, in motor vehicles this time, is to be Oct. 8.

The group wants to have educational programs and entertainment throughout Williamsport on Oct. 8 and 9.

During February and March Town Council meetings, which group representatives did not attend, some Williamsport officials questioned and criticized Forest Glen Commonwealth's plans.


On Monday, Lank and Rebecca Rush, Forest Glen Commonwealth's chairwoman, were at the council meeting, facing a new mayor and council members.

"I'm not for or against ya," said Councilman Jeff Cline, who was elected in March.

He asked about marketing, parking and possible turnout.

"I hope for a couple thousand (people)," Rush said.

Mayor James G. McCleaf II asked Cline, who is in charge of the parks department, and Councilwoman Gloria J. Bitner, who is in charge of the buildings department, to work with Forest Glen Commonwealth on the plan.

Rush asked if the town could give the group an answer next week about what events it could hold and where, but McCleaf said that was unlikely.

School bus accident anniversary noted

WILLIAMSPORT - The 70th anniversary of a train hitting a school bus, killing 14 people, was remembered at Monday's Williamsport Town Council meeting.

In 1935, a group of Williamsport students was on its way back from a University of Maryland field trip when the bus was hit at a railroad crossing in Rockville, Md.

Debi Robinson, who wrote a book about the crash, spoke briefly about it Monday and showed two old television news segments.

The crash became national news and led to immediate widespread changes to unsafe railroad crossings, according to Robinson and news accounts.

Some people at the meeting, including Assistant Mayor Monty R. Jones, dabbed at tears as the story was told.

Town's tax rates to remain steady

WILLIAMSPORT - The town's tax rates will stay the same this year, according to Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie J. Errico.

Errico said the rates will remain at 40.5 cents for real property and $1.01 for personal property. Each rate is per $100 of assessed value.

Tax revenue will increase because of increased property assessments, Errico said.

Repair work planned for soccer fields

WILLIAMSPORT - Recent flooding damaged the Riverbottom Park soccer fields, according to Richard Sullivan of the Williamsport Youth Soccer League.

Sullivan said the league plans to bring in a heavy roller to help get the fields back into good shape.

Pool co. official explains surcharge

WILLIAMSPORT - Century Pool Management of Monrovia, Md., which maintains Williamsport's pool in Byron Memorial Park, told the town this month that it will start adding a fuel surcharge to certain work.

"The fuel surcharge amount will be equal to 1.2 percent of the services we bill up to a maximum of $35 per project," says a letter from Don Vetal, Century's chief financial officer.

Town officials defiantly said Monday that they're not required to pay the surcharge under the current contract, so they won't.

"I'm not interested and will not accept these surcharges," Councilman Nelson F. Deal, the new head of the pool department, said, noting that the town is locked into a contract.

One side can't unilaterally change the contract, Town Attorney Edward Kuczynski said.

Vetal said in a phone interview Tuesday that the surcharge only applies to work outside the contract. He agreed that Century can't change the terms of the contract.

Deal also said he protected the town from having to pay sales tax, from which municipalities are exempt.

Vetal, who is new in his job, did not know if Williamsport has been charged sales tax before.

Deal said the town will open a concession stand at the pool instead of relying on vending machines that "won't handle wet bills."

The vending machines were the "worst headache" for Century, Deal said. But Vetal said Century doesn't handle the vending machines.

Sewage rate rises

WILLIAMSPORT - The new sewage rate for Williamsport's customers, as determined by the Washington County Commissioners, is $4.20 per 1,000 gallons, Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie J. Errico said Monday.

The old rate was $4.05, which was up from $3.93 the year before, Errico said Tuesday.

Financial support given for fireworks

WILLIAMSPORT - Councilman Jeff Cline said several organizations and a resident have contributed to plans for a larger July Fourth fireworks celebration.

So far, Roger Fairbourn Real Estate in Hagerstown, for which Cline works, and Conococheague Little League each have pledged $1,000, Cline said.

Red Barron in Williamsport is giving $500 - the same amount town resident J. Maury Werth offered after hearing a presentation at a Rotary meeting, Cline said.

"I'm very proud of that, that people are stepping forward and helping this town," Cline said.

Tuesday morning, in a voice-mail message, Cline added that Tony's New York Pizza contributed $100.

Municipal Works celebration set

WILLIAMSPORT - The town will celebrate Maryland's Municipal Government Works Week on April 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Community Building at Byron Memorial Park, Councilwoman Gloria J. Bitner said Monday.

Town employees will be there with equipment, she said. Light refreshments will be served.

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