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Sewer system, technology on agenda

January 10, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - Town officials are looking forward to a renovated library, new playground equipment and more computer technology in government in the coming year.

The biggest project, though, is improving the sewer system, said Mayor James G. McCleaf II.

"The main concern is to get the infiltration problem solved," said Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr., who oversees the town's water and sewer department.

Pereschuk said a sewer system upgrade carried an estimated price tag of $5 million a year ago. The town is seeking grants to help with that cost.

The town's four pumping stations need to be replaced, he said.

Pereschuk said the town's water system, which will be tested for leaks, is in relatively good shape.

McCleaf said his personal priority is Williamsport's financial health. The town has worked the past few years to overcome a mounting deficit.

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Library work

The town's library is in the midst of a renovation project.

McCleaf said Washington County paid $67,000 for the roof to be replaced. The library board is paying for most of the work on the inside, which will cost close to $60,000, he said; the town is covering the rest.

The library is expected to reopen next month.

Council members mainly mentioned projects in their areas of interest when asked what would be significant in Williamsport in 2007.

Councilman Jeff Cline, who oversees the town's parks, said new playground equipment will be installed by spring.

The town is trying to get more money to complete a road where the Little League plays.

Councilman James C. Kalbfleisch said there are electrical upgrades left to do, which is his department.

Councilwoman Gloria J. Bitner, who is in charge of town buildings, said the town will fix up the tenant house on Springfield Lane, which was heavily damaged by fire in August. An 18-year-old woman who used to live there has been charged with arson.

"The main thing in my department," Assistant Mayor Monty R. Jones said, "is resurfacing some streets and alleys that we haven't done for three years. I'm working on that with the state of Maryland."

Jones later e-mailed an additional idea, which he called making Williamsport a "T.T.O.P." town. The letters stand for Tenants Taking Ownership Program.

Jones wants tenants with utility connections to be required to pay the town a small security deposit. When they move out, they would get the deposit back if their space is clean and their bills are paid.

Cline mentioned his own idea for innovation: A volunteer park corps upon whom the town can call for projects.

"The more you include people, the more it steamrolls," he said.

McCleaf said Town Hall will increase its computer proficiency. Residents will be able to pay bills with credit cards. A town Web site will have minutes of meetings, pictures and more.

Cline also pitched the idea of having a merchants' association to bring in new shops and promote the area.

In addition to the library, Councilman Nelson F. Deal said he is most looking forward to the town's traditional events, particularly the July Fourth celebration. Plans already are in the works.

McCleaf, Cline and Pereschuk added a land-related goal for the town this year: annexation.

Pereschuk said annexation would keep the town healthy, with more people paying for townwide services.

"For our town to survive, we're going to have to annex ...," he said. "If not, Hagerstown's going to be on our back door."

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