Commissioners hold 'meet and greet' at Valley Mall

Constituents talked budgets and agendas at a booth near the food court

March 26, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Washington County Commissioner Jeffrey A. Cline discusses the future of Washington County with Dean Lowery who retired after 31 years of employment with Washington County.
By Chris Tilley, Staff Photographer

Visitors to Valley Mall on Saturday had the opportunity to chat with both alpacas and local politicians as the mall combined a farm weekend with a "meet and greet" with the Washington County Commissioners.

While constituents talked budgets and agendas with the commissioners at a booth near the food court, children squealed over a miniature horse, rabbits, alpacas and a 2-day-old calf set up in pens in a vacant store next to Old Navy.

The animals were visiting the mall as part of a Kids Ag Venture Weekend organized by the Washington County Farm Bureau.

The petting zoo and commissioners meet and greet were scheduled for Saturday only, but a farmer's market, agricultural displays and an antique tractor show were scheduled to continue today.

Mall marketing director Michele Wills said the mall has hosted agricultural displays and tractor shows before, but never at the same time.

"We decided to combine it this year, and we're hoping to make it even bigger," she said.

The Washington County Commissioners were on hand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

At their booth, some people stopped to engage in long discussions with the commissioners while others made quick stops to pick up brochures or simply to say "hello."

"Right now, we don't have any gripes," Peggy Anderson of Williamsport said to Commissioners President Terry Baker as she and her husband passed by the booth. "If we do, we'll let you know."

Among those who stayed for longer conversations was Hagerstown-area resident Tom Janus, who said he was glad for the opportunity to share his ideas about better uses for funding within the school system budget.

"Like most things, I feel that you have to be in the game, you have to make your opinions known, and let the chips fall where the chips fall," Janus said.

The commissioners had copies of their agenda and copies of a proposed capital improvement budget available to hand out as needed.

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham said she had been talking to constituents about the $14 million borrowing level proposed in the capital improvement budget, which had proven controversial at a meeting earlier in the week.

"What I wanted to emphasize is this ($14 million figure) is a 'not-to-exceed' level," Callaham said.

Baker said he enjoyed the meet and greet format, calling it "very open and relaxed."

"Hopefully, we'll do some in the evenings, during the weekdays," he said.

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