Washington County briefs

November 29, 2011

Commissioners seek broadband study funding

The Washington County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed on Tuesday to apply for Appalachian Regional Commission funding for a broadband impact study in the county.

The project would be connected to the One Maryland Broadband Network, which, according to the state Department of Information Technology’s website, is “a planned 1,294-mile fiber optic broadband network that will link 1,006 government facilities and community ‘anchor institutions’ in every county in the state ....”

A memorandum from Robert P. Mandley of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission said Washington County’s “fiber optic backbone” is expected to be done by 2013.

The “backbone would connect Hagerstown Community College, the Maryland Division of Correction, seven public schools and the Washington County backup 911 center,” the memo said.

The study would look at the best way to use that broadband ability.

Mandley told the commissioners that Allegany and Garrett counties are trying to have 90 percent coverage by 2014.

The cost of the study is expected to be $50,000 to $100,000, the memo said.

Alllegany and Garrett counties each have received $50,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission to work on a business model connected to the broadband network.

Commissioners Ruth Anne Callaham and William B. McKinley said the broadband expansion should be considered for its potential to create jobs and strengthen the economy.

County backs retirement home expansion

Washington County is helping Homewood Retirements Centers of the United Church of Christ with up to $9.9 million in financing for a local project.

Homewood at Williamsport is planning to add about 5,300 square feet to the existing 62,000 square feet at 16505 Virginia Ave.

Conrad D. Peachey, the vice president of operations for Homewood Retirements Centers of the United Church of Christ, said there will be 35 new independent-living apartments, averaging about 978 square feet each.

People at least 55 years old can live in the new apartments.

He said the project started Nov. 1 and is scheduled to take about 10 months.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 on Tuesday to authorize revenue bonds for the project.

Lindsey A. Rader, the county’s bond counsel, said Homewood, not Washington County, will be responsible for paying the debt.

Commissioner John F. Barr excused himself from the Homewood discussion and stayed outside the meeting room.

— Andrew Schotz

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