Hancock briefs

November 10, 2005

Hamilton sworn in as a town councilman

HANCOCK - Hancock resident and artist Sinclair Hamilton was sworn in as a town councilman Wednesday night, taking the place of David Smith, who resigned in July to accept a position as the town's manager.

"He's somebody who has come to this community and sunk his teeth into this community in a variety of ways," said Mayor Daniel Murphy, who administered the oath of office to Hamilton.

"I don't really have much to offer beyond a willingness to do what I can to help the Town of Hancock," said Hamilton, 52, a three-year resident of the town who made one of the statues as part of a veteran's memorial in Widmeyer Park.

Mayor, council honor Hepburn Orchards

HANCOCK - The Hancock Mayor and Town Council honored the owners of Hepburn Orchards Fruit Market Wednesday night as part of the town's continuing effort to recognize community businesses that benefit the town.


While orchards remain a part of the family business, Mayor Daniel Murphy said the family's expansion into the bakery business in 1989 helped distinguish Hepburn Orchards and establish it as a landmark extending beyond either the town's or Washington County's borders.

"Family operations have been the backbone of what's been good in this community that we love so much," Murphy said. "If I'm in Garrett County, or on the Eastern Shore, people talk about going to Hepburn market."

Grant will pay for bay at rescue station

HANCOCK - The Hancock Rescue Squad recently was awarded a $431,000 grant from the Maryland State Firemen's Association to add a new apparatus bay to the station at 6 E. Main St., Stephen Barnhart told the Hancock Mayor and Town Council Wednesday night.

Barnhart said it should be at least a month before the squad receives the funds and construction could occur in the spring.

Barnhart and Daniel Pelton, also of the squad, were on hand Wednesday to accept $4,000 from the town on behalf of it and the Hancock Fire Co. Barnhart and Pelton are members of both organizations.

"This community is truly proud of what goes on," Mayor Daniel Murphy said. "We need you guys, you need us, and we're just proud of what's been happening."

Barnhart said the fire department also recently replaced a 1980 Pierce Mack tanker firetruck with a 2005 Pierce engine tanker.

Lull in admission causes pool deficit

HANCOCK - The Hancock Municipal Swimming Pool finished its fiscal year with a $4,901.59 deficit, pool operator Bill Sterner told the Hancock Town Council and Mayor Wednesday night.

Sterner said the pool was on track to either break even or enjoy a small surplus before a lull in admission, coupled with increased costs for chemicals, sent operations into the red.

"Many of our income sources were up, but the one expense that really hammered us was chemicals. That almost doubled," he said. "I think we need to decrease our hours of operation in August."

Admissions for the summer were up $2,753, and swim lessons were up $1,250, from $850 last year, but chemical costs also climbed $2,343.51. In addition, Sterner said, the pool was open an additional 14 days this summer, at an added cost of $2,600.

Moving forward, Sterner said he will try to circulate a community-usage survey to find out what residents want from the pool and what activities would make them want to use the facility more in August. Depending on the results of that survey, he said, he will have to consider reducing the pool's hours during August. In addition, Town Manager David Smith will look into whether the town can find a less costly supplier for the facility's chemicals.

Town invited to join gang task force

HANCOCK - The Town of Hancock has been invited to take part in a gang task force being established by the Washington County Sheriff's Office and is planning to send a representative to the group's first workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 18.

Pipe replacement project completed

HANCOCK - Hancock public works crews recently completed a long-overdue infrastructure replacement project that will, for the first time, provide fire protection to about 25 homes off Parrell Street in the town, Town Manager David Smith told the town council Wednesday night.

"We made all the hookups this afternoon," Smith said. "I believe we are going to come in under budget from what we were told seven years ago."

"I think this is a feather in Dave's cap," Mayor Daniel Murphy said.

Following the meeting, Smith said the council had been planning to replace the 2-inch water pipe with a new, 6-inch pipe for at least seven years but never got around to it. He said the pipe was at least 70 or 80 years old, and public works crews had to make at least seven repairs to it this year.

Earlier this fall, public works crews and an outside contractor brought in for excavation work undertook the project, for an estimated cost of less than $20,000, though the final figure has not yet been determined. Smith said the likely cost for the work will be between $13,000 and $15,000.

Auditor gives town's books a clean report

HANCOCK - The Town of Hancock recently received a clean audit report for its 2005 fiscal year from independent auditor Smith Elliott Kearns & Co.

Terry T. Eisenhauer, an accountant with the firm, said there were no outstanding issues with the town's books and he commended the town on maintaining a general fund with about $93,000 in excess revenues.

"The town did a very good job of keeping up, maintaining with their budget," Eisenhauer told the mayor and town council Wednesday night. "The town had a very clean bill of health."

"It does show we did abide by a budget very closely," Mayor Daniel Murphy said of the report.

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