Washington County briefs

January 06, 2009

Sheriff's Dept. gets three grants

The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to accept three grants for the Washington County Sheriff's Department totaling about $164,000.

One, a $72,461 Comprehensive Anti-Gang Activity Strategy Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, will fund a new 18-month position for a criminal gang intelligence analyst, Col. Randy E. Wilkinson said. The analyst will compile data on gang-related crimes, he said.

Another grant accepted Tuesday is a $20,000 Law Enforcement Technology Grant from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Wilkinson said. It will be used to equip an interview room with a digital video and audio recording system required by a new state law.

The third grant is a state grant of about $72,000 for vehicles and equipment for deputies who enforce child- support laws, Wilkinson said.


Farmers encourage agricultural preservation

At a public hearing Tuesday, several local farmers encouraged the Washington County Commissioners to continue on a county level an agricultural preservation district program discontinued by the state.

Until recently, the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program has preserved farmland by purchasing permanent easements, which permanently restrict the land to agricultural use, and by entering five- and 10-year district agreements, which place temporary limitations, land preservation planner Eric Seifarth said. On July 1, the state eliminated the district agreements aspect of its program, allowing counties to decide whether to continue offering district agreements, Seifarth said.

The Washington County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board recommended that the county continue the 10-year district agreements so landowners can continue to take advantage of a tax credit while waiting to be chosen for an easement sale, Seifarth said.

The commissioners are scheduled to vote on the issue Jan. 13.

-- Heather Keels

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