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Opera singer to headline benefit concert

December 10, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- For the second year in a row, international opera star William Clarence Marshall III will headline the City of Hagerstown's Utility Relief Benefit Concert, an annual event that raises money to help residents pay their utility bills.

Marshall's booking was officially announced Wednesday during a press conference at City Hall. Other performers will include Hagerstown resident Abigail Nigh and choirs from Clear Spring Middle and Smithsburg High schools.

The event also will include a salute to veterans.

Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean, who along with Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh came up with the idea to hold the inaugural concert last year, said the event "is an excellent opportunity to give back to those we serve."

"Our needs are local," she said. "... We are determined and dedicated to help those in need."

City Finance Director Alfred Martin said last year's concert netted $20,500.

But the organization that disburses the funds, the Washington County Community Action Council, said only about $3,000 was claimed.

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That left roughly $18,000 that was never used. That money is available to residents this winter.

Parson-McBean said the money was left over because people would visit the Community Action Council to seek help and learned they could get more utility assistance through other programs.

To help make disbursing the money easier, the city is trying to form a five-member oversight committee.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said he hopes the committee will be in place early next week and establish guidelines for disbursing the money before winter gets into full swing.

Bruchey said residents who are interested in serving on the committee may call City Hall by Friday at 301-739-8577, ext. 116.

Some of the sponsors for this year's event include CSX Transportation, Petrie Ross Ventures, the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Hagerstown Professional Firefighters Local 1605, which donated $5,000 to the cause, Parson-McBean said.

The Maryland Theatre is donating the use of the theater for the event.

If you go ...



What: Utility Relief Benefit Concert

When: Dec. 18, 7 p.m.

Where: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

Tickets: May be purchased for $10 by visiting www.mdtheatre.org or by calling 301-790-2000.

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