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USMH forum reveals public's concerns for upcoming session in Annapolis

December 11, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

Concerns over Maryland’s new gay marriage law, money for a proposed public safety training center in Washington County and an “assault” on Maryland’s farmers through new environmental regulations were among the issues discussed in a public forum with the Washington County delegation at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown on Tuesday night.

The meeting was held to allow the public and others a chance to meet with county legislators before they start their session in Annapolis.

Legislators attending the forum included Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington; Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington; Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington; Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington; Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington and Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington.

Brandt Ridenour, a retired correctional officer from the Maryland Correctional Institution, raised concerns about Maryland’s new gay marriage law.

While at MCI, Ridenour said he was assigned to a homosexual wing and some inmates in the unit were serving time for heinous crimes against children.

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Ridenour said he was not labeling all homosexuals as potential felons, but Ridenour said he wants to know who will make sure children are safe when they are adopted by gay parents.

Parrott said there are many facets to the new law and it was important to let state residents vote on it.

Parrott said a recent referendum vote in favor of gay marriage shows the state is divided over the issue and there are may repercussions of the bill that will come forward and will have to be dealt with.

Glenn Fishack, former president of the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, was looking for support from the legislators for a new training center for police, firefighters and prison correctional officers.

Fishack said those local workers currently have to go to a facility in Allegany County for training, which needs to be changed.

“This is something we have been putting off and putting off in this county. We have a plan,” Fishack said.

The proposal is to build the training center on the Hagerstown Community College campus and more than $600,000 is needed to get the facility started, Fishack said.

Edwards asked who would own the facility.

Fishack said the HCC would run it but a variety of people would have input on its operations through a board of directors.

Jerry Ditto of Clear Spring railed against new nutrient management regulations, the so called “septic bill” and other state mandates that amount to an “assault” on Maryland farmers.

Shank sympathized with Ditto and said much of the new environmental regulations are designed to preserve rural land “on the cheap” at the expense of farmers.

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