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Health Systems To Discuss Collaboration

Representatives of  the Western Maryland Health System, Meritus Health, and the Frederick Regional Health System have signed a memorandum of understanding to enter into strategic discussions of collaboration and affiliation. The Chief Executive Officer of each respective system and their boards of directors have agreed to study and discuss opportunities that will allow each organization to enjoy continued success in meeting the challenges of the current and future health care environment. The group will undertake a feasibility study with the Berkeley Research Group, that will explore the merits of affiliation and collaboration of the three health systems. It is expected to take several months to receive a final recommendation.

Fire Termed Accidental in Nature

A fire early yesterday morning, in the 23,000-block of Oldtown Road, has been termed accidental in nature. A one-story, single family dwelling, owned by Jerry Crabtree, sustained $15,000 in damage to the structure, and $5,000 to the contents. There were no smoke detectors in the home. The fire was discovered by the occupants, and originated in a wood stove that overheated and extended into the structure. Six fire companies responded to the blaze.

Fourmile Project in "Sensitive" Area

The proposed Fourmile Ridge project has been determined to be in a "sensitive area by the state. About 75 per cent of the proposed wind farm is in areas designated as having rare, threatened, and endangered species, and it is unclear as to whether the project would need a federal permit, when the project would likely result in the death of those threatened or endangered species. The review process could take up to two years. The project involves up to 30 turbines, to be built near Frostburg.

Man Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

A Somerset County man has pleaded guilty to secually assaulting an Everett woman last May. Thirty-four year old Brian Scott Artis accepted a plea agreement, in which he would be sentenced from 6 to 23 months in the county jail. Sentencing is set for March 22nd. Artis will also be required to register his address as a for the next 15 years. The Pennsylvania Sexual Offender Assessment Board will determine if Artis is a sexually violent predator.

Man Arrested in Connection with Assault

Forty-four year old William Webster Cook was released on personal recognizance, after being arrested in connection with an assault that took place in the 100-block of Columbia Street on January 19th. He allegedly assaulted another adult male, by striking him several times in the face, briefly rendering him unconscious for a short time. The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Cook was charged with second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.

Cookman to Replace Helmick

Judge Donald Cookman has been appointed to represent West Virginia's 15th Senatorial District, filling the vacancy created when former Senator Walt Helmick resigned to serve as Agriculture Commissioner. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin made the appointment; Judge Cookman was one of three candidates named last week by an 18-member Democratic Party Search Committee.

Man to Stand Trial in Alleged Ponzi Scheme

Former Somerset, Pennsylvania resident Brian Dinning will go to trial in May, on charges he orchestrated a $2 million Ponzi scheme, facing 25 charges of wire fraud. Dinning allegedly recruited nearly two dozen individuals to invest in numerous corporations he established. He falsely advised those investors that they would receive significant financial gains from several South African projects. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.

Preston County Man Faces Additional Charges

A Preston County man, arrested earlier this month on arson charges, now faces more counts. Forty-nine year old David Allen Ridenour was additionally charged with intentionally setting a fire that badly damaged an unoccupied home in the Corenth area of Preston County, near the Maryland border, last October. Ridenour had been free on $50,000 bond, but authorities are now searching for him, to serve the second warrant.

Maryland Eliminates Paper Checks for Child Support

The state of Maryland is now sending all child support payments electronically, a move the Maryland Department of Human Resources says will save $1.4 million. The new option favors direct deposit and a new Electronic Payment Issuance Card. The state of Maryland is collecting record amounts of child support, disbursing $544.4 million in the last fiscal year, or just over $25 million than the year before.

Barry McKay
Barry McKay
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