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Mayor, council rapport highlights roundtable

October 29, 2005|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Much of what came up at a business-municipal conference Friday morning was familiar.

A plan to improve Dual Highway at Edgewood Drive is moving slowly.

Washington County is coping with crowded schools.

Local politicians, and others, need to lobby higher-up representatives for more funding.

But some Hagerstown elected officials had something fresh for the 50 or so people who attended: a new rapport.

The conference was an annual roundtable organized by the Greater Hagerstown Committee, a group of business and community leaders who privately meet to work on local issues.

The Washington County Commissioners and members of the Hagerstown City Council attended Friday's meeting at Robinwood Medical Center. The agenda was a variety of issues the Greater Hagerstown Committee considered important.

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When plans to revitalize the city's east end came up, Mayor Richard F. Trump stuck up for the City Council, which had clashed with him for several months.

Trump called the development plan - which includes a convention center and a new baseball stadium - a "tremendous idea," but noted the council's skepticism until there's a "revenue stream."

He said council members are "all good people" who have worked hard and won't let their opinions be brushed aside.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner confirmed that the council and the mayor have reached a respectful understanding.

"You're hearing a very different attitude," Metzner said. "The mayor and council can continue to disagree while still holding one voice."

One month ago, the five council members, all Democrats, wrote Trump, a Republican, a letter saying he was "on notice." They accused him of failing "to follow basic rules of procedure, decorum and civility" and of other "inappropriate behavior."

Since then, the mayor and council have been cordial at meetings and the matter hasn't come up.

Trump urged everyone at Friday's conference - not just the council - to keep each other informed. Several did just that right away.

Washington County Commissioner James F. Kercheval said the county has a plan for building or renovating one school per year, but "it's going to take a while to get that machine going."

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said the state funded the entire cost of some Washington County Schools 30 years ago. Now, the county's share has risen and state funding has lagged.

Some on Friday considered the improvement of Dual Highway and Edgewood Drive the most important local road project, but expressed frustration that there's been little progress.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the state has expanded the scope of the project, increasing the estimated cost from $5 million to $8 million. Local officials would rather the work stay focused and get done.

"It's a dreamland to think it's going to be done in 2007," Metzner said.

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