Washington County briefs

March 11, 2009

Guidelines for open-air burning released

An increase in brush and forest fires caused by open-air burning has prompted Washington County emergency officials to release guidelines for open-air burning, according to a news release.

The guidelines are:

o Contact the Washington County Health Department at 240-313-3400 to determine whether a permit is required or to report any problems.

o Notify Fire and Rescue Communications at 240-313-2900 before and after each burn.

o Burn only materials produced on the property (branches, yard debris, etc.),

o Do not burn trash.

o Keep the burn at least 200 feet from any dwelling or wooded area.

o Do use any accelerants (tires, fuel oil, gas, etc.).

o Do not leave fires unattended.

o Adhere to any burn bans.


o Extinguish the fire if there are any complaints.

Controlled burns are not allowed within Hagerstown city limits, but special exceptions may be requested through the Hagerstown Fire Marshal's office for certain events.

Additional guidelines are available on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Web site at

Design error adds additional $200,000 to cost of sewer pumping station

A sewer pumping station being built on Newgate Boulevard, west of Hagerstown, will cost almost $200,000 more than expected because of a design error, construction difficulties and a shift from above-ground to below-ground power lines, Deputy Director of Engineering Services Mark Bradshaw told the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday.

The original project cost was $2.19 million.

Most of the additional cost will cover the installation of the underground power lines, which became necessary when engineers determined existing lines couldn't support the station's needs, Bradshaw said.

A design error required a change from 60-hp to 75-hp motors on the pump and related electrical upgrades, he said.

The added cost also covers an overrun caused by unforeseen construction issues, Bradshaw said.

The Cedar Springs Pump Station will serve the growing Newgate Industrial Park near Interstate 81 and I-70. The county is paying the up-front project costs but expects to recoup them through special assessments on new businesses in the park.

The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve the transfer of an additional $193,783.62 to the project from the Capital Improvement Plan contingency fund. The transfer will reduce that fund from about $1.7 million to about $1.54 million, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

Grissom promoted to Deputy Director of Operations

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the promotion of James A. Grissom to Deputy Director of Operations for the Department of Emergency Communications.

Grissom is a part-time emergency communications specialist for the department and also oversees law enforcement dispatch operations in Montgomery County, Md., county human resources director William Sonnik said.

In his new position, Grissom will help oversee the operation of the county's new consolidated 911 center, which will dispatch for fire, medical and law enforcement agencies.

As part of the consolidation process, the position was advertised internally within the Department of Emergency Communications, the Washington County Sheriff's Department and the Hagerstown Police Department, Sonnik said.

Grissom will start his new job next month. He will be paid $45,894 a year, Sonnik said.

Structural engineer hired

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the hiring of Andrew Eshleman to fill a structural engineer vacancy in the county's capital projects engineering department, Deputy Director of Public Works Robert J. Slocum said.

Eshleman comes to the county from the northern Virginia office of engineering and land planning firm Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., Slocum said.

He will be paid $55,404 a year, Slocum said.

-- Heather Keels

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