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Commissioners share ideas, needs at state conference

August 21, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Changing demographics, water allocations and road construction were on the minds of some Washington County Commissioners during recent meetings with county and state officials.

For Commissioner Doris J. Nipps, the Maryland Association of Counties' annual conference also provided the opportunity to talk turf.

"The jury's still out. I still have to look at it a little bit closer, but I think there may be some use for it," said Nipps, who took part in a discussion about artificial turf while at the conference, which ended Saturday.

Nipps and Commissioner James F. Kercheval and Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said they learned more about issues facing the county and state while taking advantage of the opportunity to thank officials who already have provided help on some projects.

The commissioners said they were especially grateful for state contributions for upgrades to the Edgewood Drive-Dual Highway intersection and county communications systems.

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"We are a Western Maryland county. We don't have the clout of some counties east, but I think we have gotten a lot of support from this administration, and I think that's because of the relationships we've built up over the last few years," Kercheval said.

John C. Munson was the only commissioner who did not attend the conference in Ocean City, Md., Nipps said. He and William J. Wivell did not return phone calls about the conference Sunday.

Snook, who served on the planning committee for the conference, said more than 900 registrants and 2,700 vendors - including architects, contractors and representatives from state departments - turned out for the biggest conference ever. According to Snook, the county pays an annual fee to maintain its membership in the Maryland Association of Counties.

In individual meetings with state officials, Snook said he stressed the county's appreciation for help in the past, and he also brought up the county's needs for school construction and transportation funding.

"We emphasized school construction. We emphasized to the governor that in the upcoming years, even though we may not be building a whole lot of new schools, renovating existing schools is just as important," Snook said.

While officials make no commitments at the conference, Kercheval said the opportunity to meet can lay the groundwork.

According to Nipps, the discussions about artificial turf - it is being considered for a field at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park - will continue locally. Installation can cost $750,000 to $1 million, she said.

At last year's conference, Nipps said, the commissioners were asking for help with the Edgewood Drive intersection.

"That's where some of the conversations start, and it's just a good chance to meet face to face," she said.

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