New Driving Laws to Take Effect
Beginning Tuesday, talking on a cell phone while driving will become a primary offense in the state of Maryland, with first-time violators being fined from $40 to $70. A second violation will cost you $125, and a third and subsequent offenses will be $175. Another law will also require all people inside of a vehicle to wear seat belts. if there are more people in a vehicle than belts, that will also be a violation, and the new fine for that will be $50, an increase from the previous amount of $25.00.
Demolition Firm Chosen for Memorial
A Utica, New York company has been chosen to demolish the former Memorial Hospital and the medical buildings there. Ritter and Paratore submitted a bid of $1.5 million. The highest bid came from Carl Belt, Incorporated, which was the only local firm to submit a bid. The hospital demolition is expected to take about a year to complete.
Columbia Rate Increase Granted
An increase in rates for Columbia Gas has been reaffirmed by the Maryland Public Service Commission. The decision grants a revenue increase of over $3.5 million and an overall rate increase of 7.25 per cent. The average monthly gas rate will increase from $67.93 to $79.18 per month.
DNR Relocating to Rocky Gap
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Office on Pershing Street in downtown Cumberland is moving to offices at Rocky Gap State Park. The office will be closed Friday to make the move. The new location will be at the former park headquarters, immediately off Interstate 68 at Exit 50.
Memorial Manufacturers Charged with Fraud
The owners of Cook and Lintz Memorials, Fred Lichty of Glade City Road in Somerset, and Roger Paul Lichty of Keystone Street in Meyersdale have been charged with fraud, for allegedly taking customers' money and failing to deliver a finished product. The complaint filed against the two outlines seven different incidents. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for noon on October 31st in Confluence.
Charges Against Prison Employee Dropped
Charges have been withdrawn charges against a Boswell man, who is an employee of the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands. Forty-four year old Harold Maust along with another worker, Stephen Toth of Johnstown, had been accused of falsifying documents to purchase equipment, at the expense of the Department of Corrections, and using inmate labor for personal projects. The case was withdrawn, because it had lacked "prosecutorial merit." Both men have not been recalled to their jobs, as both were suspended pending the outcome of the case.
Cumberland Man Served Outstanding Warrants
Cumberland resident Christopher Lee Cosenza has been served with two warrants, one each from Washington County, Maryland and the other from Mineral County, West Virginia. Both were for failure to appear in court. Cosenza was held on $3500 bond at the Allegany County Detention Center. The warrant through Mineral County is being used as a detainer until he is extradited back to West Virginia.
Man Charged with Trespassing
Cumberland resident Michael Thomas Shipley was taken into custody for trespassing on a property located in the 200-block of Paca Street; he had previously been warned against trespassing on the property. He was issued a criminal citation and released, pending further action in District Court.
FSU Welcomes Largest Transfer Class
Frostburg State University experienced its largest transfer class ever, a 9.5 per cent increase over the previous year in the size of the freshman class and the largest percentage of freshmen returning for their sophomore years in at least seven years. The fall 2013 transfer class number 507, and the freshman class of 897 is 9.5 per cent higher than the previous year's class of 819. And, the retention rate of freshmen who return for their sophomore year is 77 per cent.
Commissioners Schedule Tire Drop-Off Day
The Allegany County Commissioners are encouraging all Allegany County residents to take advantage of an upcoming opportunity to recycle unwanted tires. The event happens on Saturday, October 12th at the Allegany County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The scrap tire drop off is free of charge to Allegany County residents. Proof of residency, for example-a valid driver's license or a current utility bill-will be required.
Steele Decides Against Gubernatorial Run
Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele has decided not to run for Governor. Steele, who had served a term as the Republican National Committee Chair and is now an analyst for MSNBC, considered a run over the summer, but has now decided against it. He will however, vigorously help elect the Republican Party nominee for Governor.
SNAP Cuts Will Increase Hunger in the State
Anti-hunger groups say if legislation that passed the House last week becomes law, nearly four million people will be "booted off" food assistance next year, including thousands of children in Maryland. Molley McCloskey, the director of Share Out Strength's Maryland "No Kid Hungry Campaign" says the impact of 40-billion dollars in cuts to the program over the next decade would be devastating. McCloskey says critics of the program are wrong when they say it does more harm than good to help people in need, purchase food. She says most households that receive SNAP benefits include those who are elderly or disabled, or even a child.