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Washington County Commissioners briefs

May 22, 2012

Commissioners hear more about revolving loan fund idea

Nearly a year after the idea first came up, the county is still considering creating a revolving loan fund to help new and expanding businesses.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday heard more about the idea from Jefry Bohn, the chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission’s Resource Development Committee.

Bohn talked about possibly working with the Tri-County Council, a regional economic development organization, which could use its existing structure to administer a program for Washington County.

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A memorandum from Bohn suggested that the county establish the fund with $1 million.

The memo said the Tri-County Council might charge around 1.5 percent of a loan amount for administrative costs.

Traditionally, the Tri-County Council has seen a loss rate of 8 or 9 percent on loan money, the memo said.
County officials had several questions about the proposal, which is still in development.

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham said she’s frustrated the process has been “painfully long” and urged that it be speeded up.

The Herald-Mailreported in July 2011 that the commissioners had begun talking about a possible revolving fund after County Administrator Gregory B. Murray suggested it.

Apple Valley Waste manager complains about program

J.P. Phillips, the general manager of Apple Valley Waste in Kearneysville, W.Va., asked the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to hold Allied Waste, a competitor, to its promises for its new recycling program.

He mentioned a misleading letter Allied Waste distributed to some county neighborhoods, along with recycling bins, as part of an opt-out system.

Residents in those pilot neighborhoods had to call to cancel or they’d be billed $5 a month for service.

Allied’s letter began: “This letter is a follow up to the post card you received from Washington County regarding Allied Waste’s take over of your curbside recycling service.”

Phillips pointed out that this was wrong — Allied, not the county, sent the postcards to residents. Also, Allied didn’t explain in the letter that residents had to opt out to refuse the service.

The letter and Allied’s new program, with support from the county, has been difficult to cope with, Phillips said, noting that people with questions flooded Apple Valley with phone calls.

“I lost two nights of sleep over this,” he said.

Murray reiterated what he told The Herald-Mail last week: Allied’s message to residents was wrong, and the company will have to distribute a retraction letter.

Last week, Don Groseclose, Allied Waste’s Chesapeake area municipal manager, said of the letter: “If it’s not precise wording, I apologize for that.”

Callas Contractors to do terminal renovations

The Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday awarded a $338,350 contract to Callas Contractors of Hagerstown for terminal renovations at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Callas Contractors had the lowest of 12 bids that were submitted, according to a memorandum from Karen R. Luther, the county’s purchasing agent.

The memo said the airport’s hold room will be expanded by 475 square feet to accommodate passengers waiting to board flights. Also, automated baggage-handling equipment will be installed, and security scanning equipment will be relocated and calibrated.

The commissioners approved a base bid of $245,650, plus an alternate bid of $92,700, which will cover the cost to replace a roof.

The next lowest combined base bid and alternate bid came from Milton Stamper Builders of Hagerstown, a total of $353,787.

Airport Director Phil Ridenour said the total project is expected to cost about $452,000, including $80,000 for engineering and a 10 percent contingency, or $34,000, on the Callas contract.

At first, Washington County expected to pay $200,000 toward the work, but grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Maryland Aviation Administration are expected to cut the county’s cost to $100,000, Ridenour said.

Commissioner John F. Barr left the room during the discussion because his company, Ellsworth Electric, was part of two unsuccessful bids.

County to donate $29,850 for Salute to Independence

The Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed on Tuesday to grant the Maryland Symphony Orchestra $29,850 from the county’s hotel-motel tax account for the 2012 Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield.

The county provided $20,000 for the concert the previous three years, according to a memorandum from James B. Hovis, the director of the county’s Office of Community Grant Management.

Last year, the MSO found itself $50,000 short on funding because some of its sponsors cut back.

Commissioner William McKinley, who made the motion to increase the MSO’s grant this year, said he considers the Salute to Independence one of the most patriotic and economically beneficial events in the county.

— Andrew Schotz

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