Hagerstown briefs

February 08, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

Zimmerman, Metzner to stand in for mayor

The Hagerstown City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to let City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman sign off on all documents that normally would be signed by the mayor and to let Councilman Lewis C. Metzner serve as chairman of city council meetings until a new mayor is selected.

Mayor Richard F. Trump resigned Feb. 1.

The council also adopted an ordinance establishing the procedures to select a new mayor from a pool of candidates who apply for the post by Feb. 15.

Residents who are at least 25 years old, have lived in the city for the past year and have been "affiliated with the Republican party for more than one year" may apply for the position. The council also voted to require the city to make public the applications of all candidates who apply for the position.

City employees might get aid buying homes

City of Hagerstown workers soon could get financial help in buying houses in the city as part of a program run by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.


Larry Bayer, manager of the city's Community Development Department, said city workers would be eligible for as much as $1,500 toward their closing costs, or as much as $2,500 if they are buying homes within the city's downtown residency initiative boundaries, as part of the state's House Keys for Employees program.

The council gave Bayer permission to let the city take part in the program. He said the city can finance the program with federal Community Development Block Grant funds for low- to moderate-income workers, but will need to use general fund revenue for residents who earn beyond a certain income level. Residents who either move out of the city or no longer are employed by the city within five years of receiving the grant would have to repay the money, he said.

Little Heiskell to refresh wardrobe

Members of the Hagerstown City Council offered a resounding "no" to a plan to turn the bayonet-carrying Little Heiskell figure on the city's flag into a bobblehead to be given out this summer at a Hagerstown Suns game.

"We're not into spending tax dollars in buying bobbleheads," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said.

The council decided instead to use the money to buy new clothes for a re-enactor who, for the past quarter-century, has dressed up as the pre-Revolutionary War character for the benefit of history enthusiasts.

"I'm living history," said the re-enactor, Chas. H. Rittenhouse Sr., who said his audiences have become so familiar with the subject they notice if he is not wearing clothing authentic to the period he portrays. "I take on the persona of whomever I'm portraying."

City Public Information Officer Karen Giffin asked the council last month for permission to spend $3,000, including half from her budget this year and half from next year's budget, to give out the bobbleheads at Suns games to promote the city's craft days.

Instead, council members said Tuesday the city should give Rittenhouse the funds to update his costume for Little Heiskell.

"I like the idea of Little Heiskell getting new trousers," Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said. "I think it kind of reduces the significance of a historical icon by making it a bobblehead."

Council favors selling park land

After exploring other options, including turning it into a parking lot or a community garden, the Hagerstown City Council said it would prefer to see the city sell a 1,200-square-foot piece of Fairgrounds Park to developers and use the funds to buy parkland elsewhere in the city.

The land, on the southwest side of North Cannon Avenue, is vacant and was appraised in August at $70,000. City Engineer Rodney Tissue said the city bought the land with Program Open Space funds, and that if it sells the land, it must use the proceeds of the sale to buy other open space property of equal or greater value.

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