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State government taking root in Hagerstown on Thursday

City will be first stop on governor's 'Capital for a Day' tour

City will be first stop on governor's 'Capital for a Day' tour

May 07, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- As this year's first Maryland "Capital for a Day," Hagerstown will be state government's hub city on Thursday.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and roughly two dozen cabinet officials will spend much of their workday in and around Hagerstown.

The governor's schedule includes a 9 a.m. breakfast with local veterans, a 12:30 p.m. stop at Hagerstown City Park to plant a tree in memory of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a 3 p.m. meeting with correctional officers at a state prison.

After a morning cabinet meeting with the governor, the heads of many state agencies will fan out through the community for separate gatherings and events.

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Several officials, including O'Malley, will meet with elected leaders from Hagerstown, Washington County and the county's municipalities.

Once a month, Capital for a Day will continue in other parts of the state, including Kent, St. Mary's, Worcester and Montgomery counties. Cumberland, Md., will be the host city in October.

"It gives that town a chance to kind of show what they're doing," said Christine Hansen, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, a Democrat.

"One of the things that excites me about that is we're going to have the governor's attention for as long as we're going to get it," Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

He said daylong access will come in handy to talk about important issues with O'Malley and state officials.

Bruchey, a Republican, said two of the most important projects involve roads: extending Eastern Boulevard to Leitersburg Pike and extending Professional Court over Antietam Creek to go along with a planned new hospital on Robinwood Drive.

He said he'll also stress how important state funding is for the proposed Barbara Ingram School for the Arts downtown and he will thank O'Malley for intervening so the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown campus could be almost fully funded, overturning a massive budget cut.

Last year, Salisbury, La Plata and Bel Air took turns as Capital for a Day.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican who preceded O'Malley in office, had a similar program during his administration, bringing his cabinet to different counties.

Hagerstown learned last month it would be the first site this year.

Karen Giffin, the city's director of community affairs, said state officials thought Thursday's Maymart, kicking off the downtown Market in the Square season, would be a good tie-in for Capital for a Day.

One challenge in planning the day, she said, was trying to pack several meetings and attractions into a short time.

"We're very happy he's going downtown," she said.

O'Malley is scheduled to spend time at the William D. Byron VFW Post on East Washington Street and the USM-Hagerstown campus on West Washington Street.

His stop at Hagerstown City Park will include a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce lunch at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

It took a few tries to come up with a final itinerary, said Bruchey, who called the day's plans a "totally evolving scenario."

On Tuesday, some cabinet departments still were finalizing their schedules, but several events had been confirmed.

Brown and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John M. Colmers plan to visit Western Maryland Hospital Center.

Brown and Department of General Services Secretary Alvin C. Collins are scheduled to tour Hagerstown Community College's Career Programs Building, which is being renovated.

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary James A. Adkins, the state's incoming adjutant general, will go to the National Guard Armory south of Hagerstown.

City and county department heads are expected to pair up with their state counterparts to talk about issues.

"I think it's the best opportunity in the world for the City of Hagerstown," Bruchey said.

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