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Local News

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


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.

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