House Vote on Minimum Wage Bill Today
The Maryland House of Delegates may vote on increasing the minimum wage in the state to $10.10 per hour by 2017. Amendments dealing with expanding the exemptions from the higher minimum wage bill were defeated. Another change, which would have linked future minimum wage hikes to the inflation rate, was also defeated. The Senate version of the bill is also expected to be revised, before a vote is taken.
National Pike Home "Total Loss"
A home, on National Pike across from the Flintstone Elementary School, was completely destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon. The two-story home, owned by Edward and Sheila Wharton, sustained a total of $90,000 in damage. The cause was ruled accidental, due to the failure of a wall outlet. The Flintstone Elementary School schedule was affected by the fire, as some buses were delayed, having been re-routed by police and fire personnel to the back entrance. The Whorton family is being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Firefighters On Scene of North End Incident
An off duty Cumberland City firefighter, Lt. Tim Malone is being credited for discovering a structure fire in the 700-block of North Mechanic Street early yesterday afternoon. The flue of a woodburning stove clogged, causing smoke to run from the metal insert into the attic area. There were no injuries and no damage was reported, but the area was blocked off for a short time.
Edwards' Bills Moving in General Assembly
Several bills, sponsored by State Senator George Edwards are making their way through the legislative process. One bill, which would remove the ex-officio member from the Allegany and Garrett County Boards of Education have passed both the House and Senate, and will now be considered by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill which would prohibit Sideling Hill as an off-road vehicle trail has also passed, and is on its way to the House Environmental Matters Committee. The Property Tax Credit for upper stories of commercial structures has unanimously passed the Budget and Taxation Committee and will be heard on the Senate floor soon.
Sunday Alcohol Sales Being Considered
The Garrett County Liquor Control Board has asked for legislation that would allow voters to decide on Sunday liquor sales, both on and off premises, The House Economic Matters Committee considered the on-premises sale bill earlier in the week. Some election districts already have Sunday sales and other merchants want to be able to do the same. The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce also supports Sunday sales for alcoholic beverages.
Guns Stolen In Bedford County
The Bedford Barrack of the Pennsylvania State Police is investigating the burglary of a Liberty Township residence in Bedford County late last month. During the break in, a case of beer was consumed on the premises, and several valuable weapons were stolen, including a pre-Civil War era pistol; a 410-gauge shotgun the was made in 1914; and two black powder derringer pistols. The guns were taken from the 1600-block of Wall Street, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Pennsylvania State Police at (814)-623-6133.
Cattle Stolen from Hampshire County Farm
Eighteen black Angus cows were stolen earlier this week from the Elkhorn Farm in Hampshire County. Thieves entered the farm, owned by Denzil and Danny Smith and stole the livestock, which weighed between 500 and 600 pounds each. The cows could be valued at about $1,000 each. Authorities say the theft had to have been well planned; a $500 reward is being offered for any information leading to a conviction.
Two Arrested for Trespassing, Disturbing the Peace
Two Cumberland residents were served with criminal summonses, and later released, accused of several incidents between the end of February and this past Sunday. Forty-one year old Joesph Ansel and 42-year old Sherry Johnson are accused of repeatedly harassing and threatening to assault a Park Street resident. Joseph Ansel is also accused of spitting on the victim. Both will face trial in Allegany County District Court.
Marking Period Extended, Board Reclaims Days
Earlier this year, the Allegany County Board of Education was forced to extend the second marking period. Mia Perlozzo-Cross, spokesperson for the board says because of recent bad weather, they have been forced to extend the third marking period. Ms. Cross says the third marking period will end on Friday, April 4th, and there will be a three-hour early dismissal on Monday, April 7th. The board has reclaimed April 17th and 21st as instructional days. Schools have been closed for 15 days during the 2013-2014 school year. The Maryland State Board of Education had granted a waiver to the local board, to reclaim President's Day in February.
Hagerstown, Suns Deadlocked in Negotiations
Negotiations between the city of Hagerstown and the Suns are deadlocked. The minority owner of the team, Tony Dahbura, says the team has agreed to pay a lump sum of $50,000 for two additional years. The fee had been $1 per year, until recently. The Suns are optimistic an agreement can be worked out.
Statewide Amber Alert Issued
Police are searching for an 11-year old girl, after her mother was found murdered in their Dundalk home. Caitlyn Virts is possibly with her father, 38-year old Timothy Virts, and police are concerned for her safety. Timothy Virts is the chief suspect in the murder of Caitlyn's mother, 36-year old Bobbie Jo Cortez. Virts is reportedly driving a black Dodge Durango with Maryland license plates 5AJ4458.
Maryland Adjusts Testing Dates
Because of the days lost during the latest snow storm, Maryland Education officials are giving local school systems more flexibility in adjusting the days they give the Maryland School Assessments. The original 12-day window can be extended two more days, until March 14th. Make up tests can be given between March 17th and 18th. The MSA Science Test will begin as scheduled on March 24th, and will close on April 11th. This is the final year for MSA testing, which has been given for more than a decade in grades 3 through 8.
Casino Revenues Grow
Casino revenues grew, in February by more than $15 million since last February. All casinos showed increased revenue, including the Rocky Gap Casino Resort, which took in $3.1 Million after being in operation for just 9 months.
Grant County Woman Dies in House Fire
Eight-six year old Dora Lee Hawk of Grant County died Monday afternoon in a house fire. She was cooking in her kitchen, when the fire broke out, and the blaze is being considered accidental in nature. The body has been sent to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy. The assistant State Fire Marshal, George Harms, said there was heat damage to the kitchen and living room areas, with smoke spreading throughout the rest of the house. The investigation into the fatal fire is continuing.
Woman Sentenced on Heroin Charge
Grantsville resident Sheana Renee Livengood has been sentenced to four years in prison, on a charge of possession of heroin, with intent to distribute. A related charge was merged with the more serious charge. She also must pay $345 in court costs. She was found guilty in October. She was charged last April, when she was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped. Police found a substantial quantity of the drug on her, following a positive alert from a drug detection dog.
Kitzmiller Man Sentenced to Prison on Assault Charge
Kitzmiller resident Michael Evans will spend the next three years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended, on a charge of assault and driving under the influence of alcohol charges. Last September, Evans was accused of hitting a police vehicle with a four-wheeler, then fleeing. He also tried to hit the officer with the vehicle. He was arrested by another officer along Walnut Bottom Road. It was determined he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
Man To Serve Year in Prison
Grantsville resident Ben Nichol will serve a year in prison in connection with a domestic incident. Nichol was sentenced on a charge of reckless endangerment. Maryland State Police responded to a home in the Accident area for a domestic dispute. It was determined he returned to his former marital residence with a shotgun and confronted two adults at the home.
Bus Involved in Minor Accident
An Allegany County school bus was involved in a minor accident yesterday morning on Route 220, while it was on its way to the Career Center. There were 21 students on board Bus #63, when it hit the back of another vehicle. There were no injuries and a replacement bus took the students to the school. The Allegany County Sheriff's Department and personnel from the school system were on the scene of the accident to investigate.
Meeting Set to Discuss CSO Proposal
A meeting among all interested parties has been scheduled to further discuss the combined sewer overflow issue for the Cumberland, Frostburg, and LaVale areas. A meeting was held yesterday morning at the office of State Senator George Edwards in Annapolis. Among those in attendance were representatives from the Maryland Department of the Environment, Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim, City Engineer John DiFonzo, Dave Wendt of the LaVale Sanitary Commission and members of the Western Maryland Delegation. At issue is should the city spend $30 million to mitigate problems with the combined sewer and storm water system; and, if so, would the area be liable for fines if the mitigation does not work.
Board's General Fund Declining
The Allegany County Board of Education's General Fund has dropped to $9.6 million in 2013, and is expected to decline even further to about $1.8 million in Fiscal Year 2015. This year's decrease in funding is due to the board using just over $3 million for operations of the school system and a million dollars to be used for the demolition of the former Sacred Heart Hospital, so that the new Allegany High School can be built on the site.
Flames Destroy Bedford County Home
A home, which is used as a seasonal camp in Bedford County, was destroyed by fire early Tuesday morning. The house is located in the 4800 block of Lincoln Highway, Route 30, in Napier Township. The fire was reported around 4:15 a.m. Crews had difficulty in using fire hydrants in the area because of near-zero temperatures. Route 30 was closed for a short time, because ice had formed on the roadway.
MCDA Appoints Director
The Mineral County Development Authority has named Kevin Clark as its new director. Clark was chosen from a field of 19 applicants, and his first day on the job will be March 15th. Clark is a graduate of Petersburg High School, but moved to Mineral County in2005 as a student at Potomac State College. He is the owner of Clark Construction in Fort Ashby; he and his wife are partial owners of the Subway franchise in Fort Ashby.
Dirt Bike Stolen From Grantsville
The McHenry barrack of the Maryland State Police is investigating the theft of a dirt bike from a residence along Chestnut Ridge Road. The incident happened sometime between the end of January and February 25th. It is a 2003 Honda XR 100 R. It has a "number 88" graphic on the front plate and also has a torn seat with black duct tape over it. An "AMSOIL" sticker is on the side plate. Anyone with information is asked to contact the McHenry Barrack of the Maryland State Police at (301)-895-1101.
Woman Accused of Stealing from Hidden Valley
A woman has been accused of committing false transactions, after she was seen, on video, taking merchandise off the rack at a Hidden Valley Ski Shop, scanning the merchandise to the computer to be purchased and returning it for money to be put on her credit card. Authorities say Billie Sleith did this ten times over a two-week period. About $2800 worth of merchandise was returned. The owner of the ski shop provided state police with evidence of the falsified returns, and additional charges may be filed in the future.
House Considering Gun Bill
The Maryland House of Delegates is considering a bill that would link Maryland's gun registry to its criminal database. Montgomery County Delegate Luiz Simmons says the crime database and the gun registry do not presently "communicate" with each other. Delegate Simmons says there are approximately 110,000 Maryland residents who now have guns, that shouldn't own them. Meanwhile, Delegate Mike Smigel, an Upper Eastern Shore Republican, is trying to have gun control repealed in the state, pointing out that Maryland is losing money, revenue, and people. Despite the fact that such a bill is presented each year, legislators don't even take a vote on it.
Former Superintendent Dies at 78
Former Maryland State Police Superintendent George Brosan has passed away at the age of 78. Brosan lived in Annapolis, and began his career with the New York City Police Department as a foot patrolman, working beats in Central Park and Harlem, and later with the department's tactical police force. His career ended during the Schaeffer Administration. Bishop Robinson, the-then secretary of public safety and corrections, was asked to explain why Brosan was let go, Robinson simply commented that it was a "professional decision."
Frederick Deputy Resigns After Guilty Plea
Frederick County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Joia has resigned, after pleading guilty to breaking and entering a Berkeley County, West Virginia business. The Sheriff's Office there says Joia stole money from two gaming lottery machines at Ruby's gaming parlor. Joia took a plea deal, and was sentenced to a year in jail, which was suspended. Her also was ordered to pay restitution of just over $245.00.
February Good Month for W.Va. Tax Collections
State tax collections in West Virginia came in at $9 million above estimates. It is the second month in a row for better than expected revenue collections. Overall, the news is not as good. Revenue collections are $64 million below estimates for the year with just four months remaining in the present Fiscal Year. Personal income tax collections were about $6 million above estimates, while sales tax collections were reported to be $2.3 million below estimates.
Man Arrested in Arson Case
A Westernport man is accused of setting his own car on fire. Anthony Serpone set several fires inside the car last Friday morning on Front Street in Westernport. Damage to his 2007 Pontiac G6 was estimated at $5,000. He was arrested yesterday and admitted setting the fire. He is being held on $5,000 bond on several charges. Serpone was employed as a driver for the Tri-Towns Emergency Medical Services, and was placed on suspension, pending the results of the investigation.
School System Extending Marking Period
The Allegany Country Public School system will extend the end of the third marking period of the current school year, as the result of additional lost instructional days due to inclement weather. The end of the third marking period will be Friday, April 4, 2014, with a three-hour early dismissal on Monday, April 7th. Report card distribution has been delayed until Monday, April 21, 2014.
City Begins Budget Discussions
Discussions have begun on the city of Cumberland's Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which has been estimated at $36.3 million. The city could save $400,000 annually by switching the health care provider to CIGNA insurance, from the present coverage provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The Mayor and City Council are currently involved in a dispute with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1715, as the firefighters want workforce and safety issues addressed in conjunction with switching the providers.
Three Hurt In Accident
Three people were injured in two accidents Monday night on Interstate 68 near Flintstone. In the first accident, a truck driver was injured, when his rig traveled out of control at the 57-mile marker. One half-hour later, another tractor-trailer crashed into five stopped vehicles, whose drivers were waiting for the lanes to be cleared. Two people were taken to the hospital. There are no details on the identities of the drivers involved in either of the accidents.
Garrett Struggles With School Calendar
Garrett County has issued a statement, noting the school system has been closed 19 days due to bad weather, with the possibility of further closures during March. The statement notes that any consideration of waiver days would be made after March, and that it is talking with the Maryland State Department of Education to determine the alternatives, when adjusting the 2013-2014 calendar.
Ridgeley Streamlining Code Enforcement
The town of Ridgeley has established a uniform process and series of fines for code enforcement. The penalty for violating a town ordinance is $25 for the first offense, with a progressive structure to $100. If a violation is not corrected fines, up to $100 can be written every five days. Unpaid fines of over $1,000 will be turned over to collections or a lien placed on the property. Before being adopted, a second reading on the ordinance will be held during the March 11th meeting.
Man Charged for October Incident
A Rockwood man faces felony charges as the result of a fiery, high speed crash in which he and a female passenger were injured. Twenty-three year old Mason Ansell is being charged with aggravated assault by motor vehicle while under the influence, driving at safe speeds, careless and reckless driving and driving on the right side of the road. The incident happened on October 6th.
Somerset Driver Hit By Train
Somerset resident Brian Ronald Trent was seriously injured when he drove his vehicle onto a railroad crossing, even though the warning lights had been activated. His vehicle was struck in the front passenger side; it then spun around, and was hit, and pushed along the tracks, before coming to rest. Trent was flown to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
FSU Football Joins NJ Conference
Frostburg State University, along with Christopher Newport University, Salisbury University and Wesley College have agreed to become associate football members of the New Jersey Athletic conference, beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year. In addition, Southern Virginia will be an affiliate member of the NJAC, starting in the fall of 2014, and will elevate to associate member in 2015-2016.
Possible "Jumper" Taken Into Custody
A Hagerstown man was treated at Meritus Hospital after he attempted to jump from the southbound side of the Interstate 81 bridge spanning the Potomac River yesterday morning. The man had first driven to the northbound side of the bridge, and returned to the southbound side. The 43-year old man climbed onto the wall in an apparent suicide attempt. Washington County deputies and Maryland State Police troopers made contact with him, and were able to physically take him into custody, to keep him from falling. Southbound Interstate 81 was closed for about 25 minutes. No names are being released by authorities, because of the sensitive nature of the call.
Gas Prices on the Rise
Gas prices have risen fifteen cents higher per gallon, on average, than they were a month ago locally and 17 cents higher nationwide, according to the Triple-A Daily Fuel Gauge report. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Maryland is now $3.46; In West Virginia, the price is $3.50, and in Pennsylvania, the price is $3.63. The national average is $3.45, which is up from the $3.41 average last week.
Hagerstown Man Arrested in Altoona
Hagerstown resident Darrell Brown and James Harris have been arrested in Altoona, after being accused of bringing drugs into that area. During a traffic stop, Brown was found to have several grams of crack and a small amount of marijuana on him. Found in the car were digital scales, two cell phones, and a box of plastic bags. Bail for Harris was set at $7500; Brown's bail was set at $25,000 cash.
Minimum Wage Debate Continues
The Maryland General Assembly has yet to agree on a minimum wage bill. Governor Martin O'Malley wants to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016, with future increases tied to the inflation rate. Lawmakers on Monday night proposed a statewide increase to $10.10 an hour over the next three years, rather than allow smaller counties with a lower cost of living to have less of a wage hike. Matt Hanson, campaign director for "Raise Maryland," says the Governor's minimum wage plan for "tipped" workers would be 70 per cent of the minimum wage. He says tipped workers are more likely to fall below federal poverty levels. Hanson acknowledges there are objections from both Republicans and Democrats on the minimum wage issue. Hanson says if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now be over $10.74 per hour.
Maryland Case Could Set National Precedent
State lawmakers are considering an overhaul of how poor, non-violent offenders are handled in the court system. The outcome of a Maryland case could provide a blueprint on how to litigate for change in other states where legal counsel is not guaranteed during bail hearings. Each year, thousands of defendants appear before court commissioners, not judges in the early stages of their case, where bail is set without an attorney present. One suggestion has been to move toward a one-hearing process before a judge and eliminate the court commissioners' current role.
Standardized Testing Underway
The annual round of standardized tests are underway in Maryland this week, despite legislator's efforts to cancel or replace them this year. At least two Maryland legislators say the tests are a waste of time, because they no longer reflect what students are learning. Common Core Standards have led to curriculum changes, and they say Maryland tests haven't kept pace. Canceling and replacing the tests could have taken weeks.
Lottery Revenues Drop in January
Lottery revenues continued to drop in January, falling 12 per cent when compared to January of 2013. Competition from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland has contributed to the drop. Year-to-date lottery revenue of just over $612 million is down 8 per cent from the same point in the 2012-2013 budget year.
Gee Named WVU President
The West Virginia University Board of Governors has unanimously selected E. Gordon Gee as the next permanent president of the university. Gee has been the temporary president since January of this year, and was also president of the university from 1981-1985. The Higher Education Policy Commission is expected to hold an emergency meeting to approve an offer to Gee.
Two Dead in Preston County Fire
Two people were killed in an early morning fire Sunday in Preston County, West Virginia. Several fire companies, including those from Preston and Garrett Counties responded. While the investigation is being conducted by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office, the bodies were taken to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner's Office for positive identification, and to determine the cause of death.
Garrett County Developers Headed to Trial
Two Garrett County men will go to trial in May, after pleading not guilty to a $3.7 million bank fraud scheme. Forty-nine year old Samuel R. Van Sickle and 47-year old year old Louis Strosnider of Oakland were indicted by a federal grand jury last month. They are accused of attempting to fraudulently obtain money and property from area financial institutions through false names, and inflating the value of the properties. Both are on release, promising to appear for their next court date.
Downtown Bill Approved in Senate
A bill, sponsored by Senator George Edwards that would benefit downtown areas has unanimously passed the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. The legislation would create a tax credit to attract developers and support building owners, and would make the upper stories of downtown buildings more attractive to potential business owners. The vote was 13-0, and a companion bill has been introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Residents Arrested for Numerous Disturbances
Two Cumberland residents have been served summonses in connection with an investigation that began in November of 2013 through last month. Both Brenda Sue Thomas and Joshua Michael Darby are accused of causing disturbances on February 10th, and nearly a dozen more between November of last year and this past February. Both are awaiting trial in Allegany County District Court.
Cumberland Man Arrested for Burglary
Cumberland resident Anthony Eugene Palmisano has been charged with burglary, destruction of property and trespassing, following an incident last month at a Pennsylvania Avenue residence. Palmisano is accused of breaking into a home, causing damage to the front door. He left the area and was not immediately located, but he was arrested. He was served with the charges and released, pending trial in Allegany County District Court.
Keyser Receives Reduction in Finance Rate
The city of Keyser will save nearly a million dollars on the financing of a loan. Mayor Randy Amtower appeared before the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council in Charleston last week, to ask for a reduction in the interest rate on a 40-year loan on a $2.6 million project in Hawthorne Heights. The rate was reduced from 2.5 to just one percent, with the total savings estimated at $921,000. Improvements to the Hawthorne Heights area includes new sewer lines, storm water management systems, gutters and drainage, and repaved streets.
Hooley Plunge Raises $100,000
Estimates are that the 10th annual Hooley Plunge this past weekend raised approximately $100,000 for the Allegany County Special Olympics and other programs for the developmentally disabled. Becky McClarren, one of the organizers of the event, says that while about 800 people actually "plunged," thousands more watched. It is important to note that all money raised on Saturday will stay local. Ms. McClarren noted that there were several gold medals awarded to local participants in the Special Olympics Winter Games. Dr. Sean McCagh, who spearheads the fundraising effort each year was presented a proclamation from the city of Cumberland and a key to the city during Saturday's event. Cumberland City Council members Nicole Wagoner, Nick Scarpelli, and Dave Caporale presented the proclamation.
Rail Trail to Close for Maintenance
Portions of the Western Maryland Rail Trail will be closed for scheduled maintenance, beginning next Monday through March 27th. The work involves the removal of trees and limbs damaged by insects and recent ice storms. Maintenance will be done throughout the trail; as an alternative route, visitors can use the adjoining C & O Canal unpaved towpath.
MIPS Program Set for FSU Next Week
The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, or "MIPS," will be presented next week at Frostburg State University's Compton Science Center. The program provides funding for university-based research projects, and the event takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information on the MIPS briefing, contact Linda Steele, program specialist at (301-687-4137 or email her at email@example.com.
Allegany County Hosts MASC Legislation Session
The Allegany County Association of Student Councils played host for the first time, to the Maryland Association of Student Councils 2014 Legislative session held at Allegany High School. The theme was "Landing on the Mountaintop." Nearly 400 students from across the state had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities during the session.
Somerset Distributes Grants
Somerset County distributed about $320,000 in grants to various businesses through its Tourism Grant Program. Among the grants were $18,000 to the Allegheny Trail Alliance; the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial received $15,000 for marketing; and, Seven Springs Mountain Resort received $35,000 for its marketing efforts. Businesses and groups have to submit a business or marketing plan that shows how the money will be used to help grow and benefit their businesses.
First Energy to Invest In Improvements
First Energy Corporation, the parent company of Potomac Edison, says it will invest more than $143 million this year to improve reliability in the P.E. service area. That's $80 million more than what First Energy invested in projects last year. Along with the inspection and replacement of utility poles, Potomac Edison will be completing systemic repairs and replacing equipment on a 138-kilovolt regional transmission line spanning Hardy and Mineral Counties in West Virginia.
Paper Company Merger on Hold
The bond holders of Verso paper company are not "on board" with the New Page merger, so the deal is off, for now. Verso's bond holders are concerned about the debt exchange needed to finance a planned merger with the company. Despite trying to make a deal, the bondholders are presently unwilling to engage in "constructive dialogue."
Maryland May Eliminate Black Bear Quota
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is considering a plan which would eliminate the black bear hunt quota, rather than opening the season for a pre-determined number of days. The plan would eliminate the need for hunters to call a hotline each night to determine the status of the hunt. Comments are being accepted at the DNR website, and a meeting has been set for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Mountain Ridge High School cafeteria.
Circuit Judge to Retire
Garrett County Circuit Court Judge James Sherbin has announced he will retire, but will remain on the bench until Governor Martin O'Malley appoints his replacement. Sherbin has been a judge for 18 years. Nominations are being accepted through August 20th, but there is no time frame for making the appointment.
Car Fire Ruled Arson
A car fire early Friday morning in Westernport has been ruled arson, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office. A 2007 Pontiac G-6, owned by Anthony Serpone was reported to be on fire on Front Street. Firefighters from Potomac, Tri-Towns and Piemont responded. There were multiple points of origin in the car. Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Fire Marshal's Office at (301)-766-3888.
Garage Fire Ruled Accidental
A fire in a garage on Neck Lick Acres Road in Oakland has been determined to be accidental in nature. The blaze a the Leroy Bernard property, caused about $70,000 in damage to the structure and its contents. The origination point was inside the building, and was caused by a faulty electrical outlet. Smoke detectors were present and activated. The fire was reported early Friday morning.
Delaware Man Issued Drug Citations
A traffic stop on Interstate 68 in Garrett County early Friday morning, resulted in the discovery of marijuana and CDS paraphernalia in a car, driven by 21-year old Maliek Shammack of Newark, Delaware. He was charged with possession of marijuana and CDS paraphernalia and released after signing them.
Cumberland Man To Be Extradited
Cumberland resident Travis Maurice Peck is awaiting extradition to the state of West Virginia, for failure to appear for a 2011 Grand Jury indictment in Mineral County. Peck was arrested after a traffic stop on Oldtown Road on Saturday. He was placed under arrested, and taken to Police Headquarters for processing. He was then taken to District Court and held in the Allegany County Detention Center to await extradition to Mineral County.
Some Bedford County Residents Without Water
More than 300 people in 120 homes in the Six Mile Run area of Bedford County have been without water since February 11th. The water company there had a roof collapse, with company members unable to filter water until there is a new building. Trucks had been bringing in water, but hoses were freezing, which made it difficult to deliver the water. Residents there are under a boil water advisory, which is expected to last for some time.
USS Somerset Commissioned
The USS Somerset was officially commissioned over the weekend, joining the U.S. Naval Fleet in Philadelphia. The motto of the ship is "Courage Through Adversity," and pays tribute to the passengers and crew of Flight 93, which crashed in Somerset County on September 11, 2001. The Somerset now joins the USS New York and USS Arlington in the Naval Fleet.
Chamber Urges Increase Highway User Sharing
The Allegany County Chamber of Commerce has written to both House and Senate Representatives, urging favorable reports to bills dealing with increased local highway user revenues. The letter notes a 95 per cent reduction in Highway User Revenues, which makes it extremely difficult for local governments to maintain and improve local roadways. Prior to the reductions, local governments received about 30 per cent of the revenues, but now receive less than 10 per cent.
Potomac Valley Now Part of WVU System
Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser is now a part of the West Virginia University United Healthcare System. The deal became effective over the weekend. WVU bought Potomac Valley for a reported $22 million. Potomac Valley is expected to offer more services in the future, and to enhance those that already exist.
More Allegany County Make Up Days Announced
The Allegany County Board of Education has voted to change the Thurssday before Easter and the Monday after, as instructional make-up days for students. To date, Allegany County Schools have been closed due to bad weather a total of 14 days. With the most recent decision to reclaim the time around Easter, the final day for students will be Monday, June 16th; the last day for teachers will be Thursday, June 19th, barring no further calendar adjustments.
Heroin Bust Yields 15 Pounds
Pennsylvania State Police found 15 pounds of pure, uncut heroin in an air compressor during a stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Somerset late last month. Law enforcement authorities say this is unique, in that they have never seen this much unadulterated heroin before. It could be worth millions of dollars. Taken into custody were Illinois residents Maria Pina and her passenger Gilberto Ocampo. They both remain jailed on bonds of one-half million dollars each.
High School Course Registration Underway
Online high school course registration is underway for Allegany County students entering high school this fall. Mia Perlozzo-Cross, spokesperson for the Allegany County Board of Education, says the registration is ongoing, through Wednesday. Ms. Cross says that course selections are available on the school system's website, or hard copies are being made available through high school guidance counselors.
Harsher Penalties for Second-Degree Murder Possible
In a move that could have an impact on upcoming murder trials in the state, the Maryland Senate has unanimously passed a bill that increases the penalties for second-degree murder. The bill would change the maximum sentence for second-degree murder from 30 years to 40 years in prison. The bill will now go to the Maryland house of Delegates for consideration.
Tomblin's Brother Charged with Drug Crime
The brother of West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has been charged with selling the painkiller oxymorphone in the Chapmanville area of the state. Governor Tomblin acknowledged that this is a difficult time for his family, but commented that his brother must be held accountable for his actions. The case is being investigated by the U.S. 119 Task Force and the West Virginia State Police.
Victim Identified, Origin of Frostburg Fire Determined
The victim of an early morning fire at 144 Bowery Street two weeks ago, has been positively identified as Lateef Gazal of Bowie. A preliminary report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be thermal burn injuries and smoke inhalation. The fire originated in the kitchen of the home. It has also been determined that the fire was likely accidental in nature. Investigators are still looking for the specific source of ignition of the fire. Smoke alarms were present, but it cannot be verified if they were operational.
Four Arrested in Courthouse Protest
Four people were arrested yesterday, after blocking the entrance to the Allegany County courthouse on Washington Street. They were protesting the Cove Point fracked gas export plan. Taken into custody were Cumberland residents Desiree Bullard and Benjamin Brown, along with Gabriel Echeverri of Frostburg and Unitarian Church minister Terrence Ellen of Pikesville, Maryland. All four were charged with blocking free passage to a public building. Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson said he had some advance knowledge of the protest, in which about 25 to 30 people participated.
Moorefield Man Sentenced to Prison
Hardy County resident Timothy Hawks was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years supervised release for possession of material used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Hawks was among a group of ten individuals who were recently sentenced in United States District Court in Elkins. Hawks was taken into custody of a U.S. Marshal, pending assignment to a federal institution.
Accident Sends One to Ruby Memorial
A three vehicle accident on Chestnut Ridge Road, south of the Pennsylvania state line sent one man to Ruby Memorial Hospital late yesterday afternoon. A car, operated by Jessica Shuck of Ridgeley went out of control and was struck by another, operated by Joe Arnold of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. The passenger in Ms. Shuck's car, Daniel Ryan, also of Ridgeley, was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital. A third vehicle, following the Arnold vehicle, was unable to stop and collided with Arnold's car. The investigation is continuing by the Maryland State Police.
Georgia Man Jailed in Keyser
Bowen, Georgia resident Jared Mitchell was jailed on $1250 bond following an incident at a bar there. Mitchell was staying at a local hotel in the area, and working on a construction project. He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and indecent exposure, when he refused to leave Clancy's Bar. He was also combative with officers who took him into custody.
Federal Lawsuit Settled
A federal lawsuit, filed by two former Bedford County Sheriff's Deputies, has been settled. The deputies, Charles Stuby and Lukas Berkey claimed their civil rights were violated; they further charged they were fired, as Stuby opposed Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer, and Berkey campaigned for Stuby. A trial date had been set for March 24th, but the settlement was announced this week. While neither side revealed terms of the settlement, the deputies had asked for their former jobs back, and about $83,000 in lost wages and benefits.
Pre-K Through First Grade Registrations Set
Children who will enter Allegany County Public Schools this August should be registered on March 21st and 22nd at the appropriate elementary school, as determined by residence. A child entering the pre-K program must be four years old on or before September 1st of the school year in which they apply for entrance. There is other documentation required. For more information, call either (301)-759-2001 or (301)-759-2012.
Hooley Plunge Set for Tomorrow
A slight chance of snow and rain, with a high near 43 degrees...that's the forecast for tomorrow's Hooley Plunge, to benefit the Allegany County Special Olympics and programs for the developmentally disabled. Becky McClarren says registration begins at 10 a.m., and the plunge is at 1 p.m. Ms. McClarren says that even if you're not plunging, everyone is invited to come to Lake Habeeb and watch the event. Every penny raised stays in the area, and goes to various programs for the developmentally disabled.
Hagerstown Man Convicted of Rape
Hagerstown resident Montague Sutherland could face life in prison, after his conviction for the rape of a Washington County woman. Sutherland is also accused of dousing the woman with bleach after the attack. He was arrested in April of last year, for the March attack, with his arrest coming after a DNA matched a sample taken from the victim. Sutherland was additionally found guilty of first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, reckless endangerment, theft and other charges.
Hotel Stay Bill Proposed
Maryland State Senator Allen Kittleman is proposing a bill that would limit hotel stays for some legislators during the annual session. Kittleman believes lawmakers who live within 50 miles of Annapolis should drive to and from the State House each day, except during the last two weeks of the session or when there is bad weather. His bill, he says, would save almost $800,000 a year. Currently lawmakers are allowed a $101-per day hotel stipend.
West Virginia Teen Sentenced
Seventeen-year old Rachel Shoaf has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the stabbing death of classmate Skylar Neese in 2012, but could be eligible for parole in 10 yers. A circuit court judge imposed a harsher sentence that prosecutors recommended in a plea bargain agreement. Ms. Shoaf will remain in a juvenile facility until she turns 18; after that she will be transferred to an adult detention center. Another person involved in the murder, 18-year old Sheila Eddy, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole.
CDC Determines Water "Safe" for Use
The Centers for Disease Control. says it's now safe to use the water contaminated by a chemical spill in Charleston last month. To this point the agency has avoided the use of the word "safe." The water can now be used for drinking and cooking. The January 9th spill tainted the water supply for about 300,000 people.
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