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Lawmaker optimistic about funding for MELP, fire station, C&O Canal

March 12, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — Washington County legislators who have introduced bond bills during the current session of the Maryland General Assembly remain optimistic that they will be fully funded.

These bills — one seeking $300,000 to demolish the former Municipal Electric Light Plant in Hagerstown, another seeking $85,000 for the Antietam Fire Company for renovation of its firehouse and a bill requesting $175,000 for improvements to Lock 44, Lockhouse 44 and the Maryland Railroad Lift Bridge in Williamsport — were heard at committee hearings Saturday.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, who has introduced the bills dealing with the MELP plant and the fire station said he was pleased with the hearings.

“Both hearings went very well. The committee seemed very receptive,” Donoghue said.

David S. Gysberts, the Hagerstown mayor, City Councilman Donald F. Munson and Antietam Fire Company President Ron Horn were among those present at the House Appropriations Committee hearing, Donoghue said.

The former MELP plant is an environmental hazard, Donoghue has said previously, and the bond bill, if funded, would partly finance its demolition.

“We talked about the asbestos (from the plant) potentially affecting the Antietam creek and the environment,” Donoghue said about the hearing.

The $85,000 requested by the Antietam Fire Company will be used to renovate its new fire station located in the north end of Hagerstown.

The fire company also is applying for a grant worth $162,000 from the Maryland State Fireman’s Association.

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, who has introduced a bond bill requesting $175,000 for improvements to Lock 44, Lockhouse 44 and the Maryland Railroad Lift Bridge in Williamsport, said “you just try to get what you can get.”

Edwards had requested $320,000 through a similar bond bill in the last session of the Maryland General Assembly but that bill was funded for $175,000.

Kevin Brandt, superintendent of the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park, and Tom Riford, President and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, were present at the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee hearing Saturday.

Riford, said in an email, that the project “will also positively impact the local economy of Williamsport and Washington County, and help create and maintain jobs.”

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