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More than 200 attend evening State of the County presentation at Hager Hall

February 07, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Commissioners President Terry Baker, right, addresses questions from the public Tuesday night during the evening session of the State of the County presentation held at Hager Hall in Hagerstown. At left is Commissioners Vice President John F. Barr.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

More than 200 people who attended an evening session of the State of the County presentation Tuesday asked a wide array of questions about everything from funding for a baseball stadium to the possibility of consolidating two police departments.

People at the 6:30 p.m. presentation at Hager Hall in Hagerstown were invited to write questions on cards, which were then read aloud for the Washington County Board of Commissioners to answer.

One questioner asked why the commissioners have not taken a vote on using hotel-motel tax revenue for a Hagerstown Suns stadium project.

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham said no vote has been taken because there has been no formal proposal regarding a stadium.

Emphasizing caution on the issue, Callaham repeated advice her mother often used: “A decision made in haste seldom works out well.”

Commissioners President Terry Baker expressed similar concerns, saying not all partners in a possible stadium project have been identified, and it’s unclear whether a new stadium or a renovated stadium is being considered.

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“Much more discussion needs to be had,” Baker said.

 The commissioners also were asked why a new senior center is slated to be built on Hagerstown Community College’s campus.

Commissioner John F. Barr said benefits of building the center on the school’s campus include a safe surrounding, access to public transportation and education opportunities.

Commissioner William B. McKinley said he thinks there could be senior center satellite operations around the county as the region grows.

Another question asked how the county is solving problems such as  environmental law compliance.

McKinley and Callaham said a challenging issue is environmental regulations keep changing. Callaham said that if the county complied with all the laws that are expected to come from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, it would cost the county “tens of millions” of dollars.

Then people’s taxes will go up exponentially, she said.

Another question asked if there had been any consideration of consolidating the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Hagerstown Police Department.

Although Callaham said the commissioners are always looking for better ways to do things, Barr said the idea would be “a pretty big item to crack.”

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