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Washington County briefs

July 10, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

New Planning Commission member appointed

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday appointed a new Planning Commission member to replace Bernard L. Moser, who died in April after a battle with lung cancer.

Andrew Bowen will serve the remainder of Moser's term, which ends in June 2010.

Bowen, a Hagerstown resident, has worked since 1993 as the town administrator for Middletown in Frederick County, Md.

He is also a member of the Maryland Rural Water Association, a grant-funded organization that provides training and assistance to small water systems.

Bowen's name was chosen from a pool of general applications for volunteers on county boards and commissions.

Other names in that pool were considered for the position as well, County Commissioner and Planning Commission member James F. Kercheval said Wednesday.

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Kercheval said Bowen stood out because of his familiarity, as a town manager, with planning issues.

"He'll be able to hit the ground running," Kercheval said.

Mulch sold out until next spring

Washington County is out of the mulch business until next spring, Solid Waste Director Robert G. Davenport said Wednesday.

The county sells several thousand tons of mulch every year at Forty West Landfill and has already sold out for this year.

Since January, the county has made 1,295 sales, Davenport said.

While the county processes mulch continuously, Davenport said mulch will not be available until next spring because it can take six months to cure mulch.

The price was raised in May from $15 per ton to $25 per ton but is still well below mulch prices in the private sector.

Washington County Commissioners Vice President Terry L. Baker said Tuesday that the low price is drawing commercial customers, who are buying mulch in large quantities from the county.

Baker said the county should consider limiting the amount of mulch that can be bought at one time so mulch will be available for residents.

Davenport said Wednesday that he doesn't think businesses buying mulch is a problem.

Of the 1,295 mulch sales the county has made this year, only 79 were classified as commercial, or larger than 3 tons, Davenport said.

Barr tests chip seal on motorcycle

After hearing enough complaints about the county's new chip seal road repair program, County Commissioners President John F. Barr decided last weekend to test the roads himself.

Barr, an avid motorcyclist, took his bike from Sharpsburg to Sandy Hook on Harpers Ferry Road, one of the dozens of county roads that have recently been chip sealed.

Chip seal is a less expensive alternative to pavement that mixes asphalt and stone.

Many people have complained that the process leaves loose gravel on the roads that make vehicles slide. Some have said chip seal makes the road especially dangerous for motorcycles.

Barr, however, said he disagrees with that assessment.

"I had no problem," said Barr, who traveled several chip-sealed roads on Sunday and Monday. "I think if people just slow down and do the speed limit, they'll be fine."

County accepts state grant for emergency communications center

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to accept a $66,891 state grant to help fund a security system, cameras and uninterrupted power supply for the county's emergency communications center.

The grant was awarded by the Emergency Number Systems Board, a division of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that manages the 911 fee assessed on land-line and mobile connections in Maryland.

The fee in Washington County is $1. Of that, 75 cents is returned to the county to cover operating costs and 25 cents is held in a statewide account for special projects.

Grants approved for sheriff's department

Three state grants totaling $81,233 for the Washington County Sheriff's Department were unanimously approved Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners.

The grants, awarded by the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, will pay for a crime analyst to help identify crime trends, civilian personnel to run the county's sex offender registering program and overtime pay for sheriff's deputies to enforce the county's school bus safety laws.

The county will pay $12,121 in benefits for the crime analyst, which will come from unused salaries in the patrol division's fiscal 2009 budget.

Commissioners meet in closed session

The Washington County Commissioners discussed several items in closed session at the end of their meeting Tuesday.

The Maryland Open Meetings Act allows - but does not require - government bodies to meet privately for certain reasons.

The general reasons provided for going into closed session Tuesday were to discuss employee and personnel matters, to consider a business proposal and to hear legal advice.

Commissioners take no action on subdivision proposals

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday tabled three school mitigation requests, saying they want more information before voting on the subdivision developers' proposals.

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