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Commissioners tout accomplishments at State of the County presentation

February 08, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham, right, speaks as fellow commissioner John F. Barr listens Tuesday at the State of the County event at Fountain Head Country Club.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Historic bridge rehabilitation, a consolidated 911 center, record-high graduation rates and a home-building stimulus program were among the 2010 accomplishments highlighted Tuesday in Washington County's State of the County presentation.

The address — traditionally delivered by the president of the Washington County Commissioners — was presented this year in the form of a video shown during a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Fountain Head Country Club outside Hagerstown.

The professionally produced video combined clips of the commissioners with voice-over narration and images of the year's biggest projects.

The video was edited and produced by Antietam Cable, using footage from After Five Productions, Commissioners President Terry Baker said.

County Administrator Gregory B.  Murray estimated the video cost the county about $10,000 to make.

The video will be available "On Demand" for Antietam Cable's digital subscribers, he said.

"We as a new board are starting on a journey during trying times that requires us to make difficult decisions to keep county government efficient and responsive at the lowest cost to our citizens," Baker said in the video.

The county absorbed about $18 million in revenue reductions and budget cuts in its fiscal 2011 budget, which was down about 6 percent from the previous year, according to the video. Fiscal 2011 began July 1.

"The new Board of County Commissioners will be addressing the fiscal year 2012 budget challenges knowing that revenue will be further reduced, requiring careful construction of a conservative budget," the video said.

To help combat high unemployment, the county instituted a temporary stimulus package to encourage residential construction, which the commissioners are now considering reinstating, the video said.



Capital projects

"The public investment in our community for capital projects totaled $11.5 million in 2010, with another $20 million investment following in early 2011," Commissioner John F. Barr said in the video.

Major projects currently under way include the construction of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math building at Hagerstown Community College, a new regional library in downtown Hagerstown, and the county's first senior center, Barr said.

The Division of Public Works implemented the design and construction of 15 major projects in 2010, including two historic bridges that were preserved and rehabilitated with federal funding, the video said.

The Harpers Ferry Road Bridge rehabilitation was completed in December, and the Barnes Road Bridge rehabilitation should be complete and open to traffic in early 2011, the video said.

Federal stimulus funding paid for $2.3 million worth of pavement maintenance and helped fund a new transit transfer center currently under construction on West Franklin Street, the video said.



Public safety

Public safety improvements included the opening of a new central booking operation at the Washington County Detention Center, a consolidated dispatch center, a new radio communications system and the addition of two advanced life support units to supplement existing emergency responder operations, the video said.

"All of these initiatives demonstrate a true commitment to increased public safety for the citizens we serve regardless of the tough decisions that are necessary to balance government spending with the overall good of the public," the video's voice-over said.



Education

The video congratulated Washington County Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Morgan for being named 2010 National Superintendent of the Year.

It also touted an all-time high Washington County Public Schools graduation rate of 92.36 percent in 2010, with 1,459 seniors meeting the graduation requirement by passing all four Maryland High School Assessments tests.

Washington County also received state-level recognition for its commitment to arts education and national-level recognition as a top community for music education, the video said.

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