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Heritage tourism plan gets state OK

July 14, 2006

Signs marking the area's Civil War history and sidewalk dining are in the works as part of a three-county tourism plan that got state approval Thursday.

According to Tom Riford, president and CEO of Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Maryland Heritage Authority agreed to help fund four Washington County projects as part of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area it approved Thursday.

A joint project of Washington, Carroll and Frederick counties, the plan will exploit the area's history to attract tourists, Riford said. Municipalities that have included the plan in their comprehensive plans are eligible for matching funds for eligible projects, he said.

The project could bring in $60 million more for the counties annually, Riford said.

The three counties will receive $316,640 in grants to fund the first projects as part of the tourism plan, Riford said.

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The grants include $55,000 to Hagerstown to widen sidewalks to allow outside dining and $12,500 to Hagerstown for panels explaining the city's role in the Civil War, Riford said. Boonsboro's town museum, which will feature the personal collection of Doug Bast, will receive $50,000, and the Pry House Field Museum will get $4,500 for a lecture and concert series, he said.

Grant money may go toward capital or operating projects, Riford said.

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