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GO 106 News Archives for 2014-01

Local News

Two Arrested in November Burglary

Thirty-year old Harold Nichol and 32-year old Derrick James Swick, both of Frostburg have been arrested in connection with the breaking and entering and theft of about $20,000 worth of items from a Vale Summit residence last November 21st. Jewelry, a laptop, electronic items, firearms and other property was taken. Nicol was arrested in mid-December on unrelated charges, and he had one of the stolen guns. He is being held on total bonds of $71,000, pending his next court appearance. Swick was also developed as a suspect, and a warrant was executed at his residence on Pompey Smash Road in Vale Summit Wednesday. He is being held on $200,000 bond, pending his next court appearance. The investigation is continuing by the Maryland State Police and C3I unit.


Bank Robbery Suspect Indicted

Frostburg resident Jeremiah Seib has been indicted by the Mineral County grand jury for the robbery of First People's Community Federal Credit Union in Short Gap last September. Seib is currently jailed at the Potomac Highlands Regional facility. After the robbery, he walked into the Frostburg Police Department to admit to the robbery. On his transport to  Allegany County District Court, he tried to escape, but was recaptured by Frostburg Police officers.


Keyser Outage Affects Over 3,000 Residents

A power outage in Keyser affected about 3300 residents yesterday. The outage occurred around 8:30 and power was restored to everyone around 3:30 yesterday afternoon. The outage is being attributed to the extreme cold snap in the area. The Cumberland area experienced a widespread outage on Tuesday, due to a fire at the Corriganville substation. About 1800 residents were without power during the day on Tuesday.


Sideling Hill Bill Filed

After meetings with residents, Delegate LeRoy Myers has filed a bill in the House that would prohibit the use of off-road recreational vehicles in the Sideling Hill Wildlife Management area, and on state-owned property there. State Senator George Edwards has cross-filed the same legislation in the Senate. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources had wanted to allow off-road trails in Sideling Hill, but met with opposition from residents of the area. Concerns included noise pollution and other possible negative environmental impacts.


Topper Wins Special Election

Bedford minister Jesse Topper won this week's special election in the 78th Legislative District. The election was held to fill the seat of  longtime Representative Dick Hess, who passed away last year. In unofficial results, Topper received 4,269 votes to Democrat Barbara Barron's 925 tallies. Topper, a Republican Party officer in Bedford, will fill the remaining 10 months of Hess' term. The district boundaries will change in the November general election, with portions of Bedford and Huntingdon counties being exchanged for part of Franklin County.


Man Arrested on Assault Complaint

Cumberland resident Gary Smith is being held on $3,000 bond, following an incident in the 300-block of Pennsylvania Avenue in South Cumberland Wednesday evening. A woman had complained that she had been grabbed by Smith, but officers didn't see any injuries. Smith was escorted back to his apartment, and told not to have any contact with the victim. About an hour later, Smith returned to the woman's apartment. He was arrested and charged with second-degree assault, failure to obey, and disturbing the peace.


Mountain Ridge, Fort Hill Designated "STEM" Schools

Mountain Ridge and Fort Hill High Schools have been identified as Maryland Business Roundtable for Education "STEM" schools. Mia Perlozzo Cross, public information officer for the Allegany County Board of Education, says the schools are two of 49 in the state to receive that designation, and will be supported through the use of "STEMnet." A STEM Innovation School means that it will have access to hundreds of trained workplace volunteers who will co-teach STEM lessons, and motivate students to achieve, and to address real-world challenges posed by industry professionals for students to participate in proposing solutions to those challenges.


Hydrant Repair Slated

The Allegany County Department of Public Works will replace a fire hydrant on Piney Mountain Road, off of old Route 40 between LaVale and Frostburg on Tuesday. Water service to Piney Mountain Road and all side streets will be shut down, beginning at 9 a.m. The work should be completed by afternoon, and public water service will be restored at that time. Customers may experience some discoloration of water, but the Utilities Division will take measures to limit the discoloration.


House Allowed to Burn in Somerset County

A more than 100-year old farmhouse in Somerset County was allowed to burn, instead of trying to save the building. After several hours of trying to get the fire under control, it became clear to firefighters that it couldn't be saved, and was allowed to burn out. Firefighters encountered several problems including frigid temperatures and nearby frozen ponds, which couldn't be used to extinguish the blaze. Buses were also on the scene to help keep the firefighters warm, as temperatures hovered near zero.


Beretta Announces Facility in Tennessee

Italian gun manufacturer Beretta says it is building a new manufacturing and research facility in Tennessee; the $45 million plant should create 300 new jobs. The company, which operates a facility in Prince George's County, raised some objections to a wide-ranging gun control measure enacted in Maryland last year. House Minority Leader Nic Kipke says he hopes the state will be able to retain jobs here in the state. Kipke says the announcement was not a surprise, as Maryland has a high tax rate for similar businesses, one of the highest on the East Coast. He says Tennessee's tax rate is two points lower than Maryland's. One problem, according to Kipke, is that although Beretta could manufacture guns here and ship them elsewhere, they can't sell them in Maryland.


Local News

New Page/Verso Merger Hits Snag

Although the debt exchange offers are open until February 10th, the lack of interest by creditors in a debt exchange plan could cause a problem in the New Page/Verso merger, announced earlier this month. A letter has been received by New Page, expressing Verso's concern about its ability to satisfy the condition of the merger, and thus, close it. New Page Corporation emerged from bankruptcy in December of 2012.


Woman Struck By Vehicle on Evitt's Creek Road

Forty-seven year old Sue Moessinger was taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, after being struck by a car while running along Evitt's Creek Road on Sunday. Bedford resident Charles Barb, who was approaching Ms. Moessinger, sounded his horn. Barb moved into the southbound lane to avoid her, but when he sounded his horn, she jumped into the southbound lane and was struck. Barb was not charged in connection with the incident.


Three Arrested in Burglary Incident

Two men-24-year old Jeffrey Morris of Bedford and 28-year old Matthew Trail of Clearville, along with a juvenile boy have been arrested and charged with a burglary on Ragged Mountain Road that occurred between January 14th and 18th. The three are also believed to be involved in other burglaries in the area. They were additionally charged with receiving stolen property. The Pennsylvania State Police are continuing the investigation.


Oakland Man Jailed in Burglaries

Twenty-nine year old Oakland resident Derek Steffan is currently in the Garrett County Detention Center on $14,000 bond, after he was charged with three burglaries at the Success Floor Covering business on Liberty Street. Evidence was found in an apartment in the Success building; Steffan also faces additional charges of theft, destruction of property and drug possession. Cash was taken from the business over the Thanksgiving holiday, in addition to December 19th and 22nd.


Bedford Men Arrested During Traffic Stop

Bedfore residents Eric Klavuhn  and Michael Kovach were arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 68, and now face fugitive and drug-related counts. A check for wanted individuals was done, and it was learned both were wanted in Bedford for burglary and theft. In addition, several hypodermic syringes and other heroin paraphernalia were found on Kovach. They are being held without bond at the Allegany County Detention Center.


Brothers Jailed for Assaulting Father

Two Keyser brothers-Jason and Wilson Riggleman-have been jailed for assaulting their father outside a Maryland Street residence there. Both are being held at the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail following the incident. Keyser City Police responded to a domestic incident, only to find a man lying on the sidewalk, complaining of a rib injury. Additionally, Jason Riggleman was charged with assaulting two police officers at the Keyser Police Station.


Information on Burglary Requested

The McHenry barrack of the Maryland State Police are looking for information on a burglary that recently took place. The burglary was initially reported on January 2nd in the area of Gosling Lane. If anyone has information, they are asked to contact the McHenry barrack at (301)-387-1101.


Action Awaited on Legislation

Maryland State Senator George Edwards has four bills pending, and is waiting for a  hearing time and date on each. The legislation includes a bill regarding the Sideling Hill Wildlife Management area, and the prohibition of off-highway recreational vehicles. Another bill would regulate Sunday hunting in Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties. Another bill would take a look at Sunday deer hunting in the three westernmost counties. Finally, a bill dealing with an enterprise zone property tax credit in Garrett county is still awaiting a time and date for a hearing.


Board Meets in Executive Session

The Garrett County Board of Education is holding an executive session meeting this afternoon at 5:15 p.m., before the start of the Special Business Session Meeting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Central Office in the Board room, and deals with discussing a confidential personnel matter regarding an employee, and to consult with counsel for legal advice. The executive session is not open to the public, but the Special Business Session will be public.


Delegate Comments on Marijuana Bill

A Baltimore City delegate is trying to have recreational marijuana legalized, despite Governor O'Malley's stance that he's "not much in favor" of such a bill. Delegate Curt Andersen commented on what he says is the "inordinate" amount of times people are arrested for marijuana possession. Andersen says his bill would do the same thing as similar legislation in Colorado. Despite the bill not having much of a chance of passing, Andersen says that is why there is a 90-day session; people can change their minds.


Maryland Gains Jobs in December

Maryland added 7300 jobs in December, the most job creation since 2004. Most of the gains came in the private sector; government agencies accounted for 300 jobs added last month and 1900 of the jobs added last year. The December unemployment rate was 6.1 per cent, down from November's rate of 6.4 per cent.


Tank Examined by Federal Hazmat Team

The FBI's Hazardous Material Response Team was on the scene of Freedom Industries, to examine the source of this month's chemical spill in Charleston. The team is reviewing where the leak occurred in the tank, and videotaping the inside of it. Freedom Industries has agreed with an order from the Department of Environmental Protection and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin that dismantling of the tanks should begin no later than March 15th. 

Local News

Outage Affects Over 1800 Customers


A transformer fire at Potomac Edison's  Corriganville substation left over 1800 customers without electrical power yesterday morning. The outage was concentrated to about 800 customers in the North End of Cumberland, but there were also reports in Ellerslie, Mount Savage, Corriganville, LaVale, and a handful in Barton and Frostburg. The fire was reported around 6 a.m., and soon after, warming centers were set up at the Mount Savage Volunteer Fire Department, Cash Valley Elementary School, and Braddock Middle School.



Burlington Man Charged in Home Invasions


Twenty-five year old Burlington, West Virginia resident Gary Dale Hamilton has been charged in two home invasions this past weekend in the Watercliffe Street area of Lonaconing. Hamilton, who had been held on drug charges, is being held on $20,000 bond at the Allegany County Detention Center. Sheriff Craig Robertson said he obtained information on the robberies from residents of the area from a Facebook account; from that, a suspect was developed. Officers found evidence in Hamilton's backpack, that linked him to the crimes.



Layoffs Reported at Potomac Center


Nearly half of the employees at the Potomac Center in Romney have been laid off because of the recent investigation into sexual and other abuses against children. Low-level employee suspensions and terminations have taken place as well. Fifty people were laid off Friday, and the rest of the staff was cut to 32 hours, or a 20 per cent reduction in pay. The removal of the children has affected Medicaid payments, which were terminated when the children were removed from the three buildings. Hampshire County Prosecuting Attorney Dan James says the Department of Health and Human Resources, the West Virginia State Police and child advocacy centers across the state are working on the case.



Ex-Officio Bill Introduced


Maryland State Senator George Edwards has introduced a bill in the Senate to abolish the position of ex-officio member of the Allegany and Garrett County Boards of Education. The District One delegation has introduced a similar bill in the House. The county commissioners and members of the Board of Education agree with the bill, and if abolished, would eliminate a major source of tension between the two bodies.



Love's To Open in the Fall


Love's Travel Center will be opening in the fall at its Ali Ghan road location. The center will employ about 60 people. This will be the first location for Love's in the state of Maryland. The facility will include both a Subway and McDonald's restaurant. It is about 10,000 square feet, and will include seven diesel lanes and eight gasoline islands.



Summons Served on Cumberland Woman


Cumberland City Police have served a criminal summons on 36-year old Tabitha Yonker on obstructing and hindering charges, as well has harboring and fleeing felon. She became a suspect in the case, for allegedly misleading police officers as they tried to locate a fugitive. The suspect was located and arrested in her residence last week. Ms. Yonker was served with the summons and was released pending trial in Allegany County District Court.



Catholic Schools Week Celebrated


Bishop Walsh School in Cumberland and the St. Michael's Early Childhood Center in Frostburg have been holding events to celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Bishop Walsh will hold an open house tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 p.m. Today, St. Michael's holds its event on Main Street. Local Catholic School week will culminate with a liturgical Mass on Friday at 10 a.m. at the BW gymnasium, followed by a ribbon cutting of the school's newly renovated locker rooms, along with the new biology and chemistry labs at 12 noon. The public is invited to attend these events.



Keyser Will Continue To Add Fluoride


The city of Keyser has dropped plans to eliminate fluoride from its municipal water supply. The idea had been proposed, as a cost saving measure, but the savings would be only about $8500, or less than one per cent of the plants annual budget of over a million dollars. And, it wouldn't have resulted in a reduction of citizen's water bills. Keyser Mayor Randy Amtower thanked residents for their response, and noted it was the goal of the Mayor and Council to weigh public opinion on the issue.



Deadly Heroin Making Its Way Across Western Pennsylvania


Days after Garrett County Sheriff Rob Corley warned area residents about the dangers of a deadly type of heroin in Western Pennsylvania, health officials have reported that more than a dozen people fatally overdosed on it in just one week in the Pittsburgh area. The deadly strain, laced with fentanyl, is sold under various names, such as "Theraflu," "Bud Ice," and "Income Tax." Pennsylvania officials are working to warn other communities about the drugs and get them off the streets.



Postage Prices Rise


The price of a postage stamp has risen to 49-cents, and that is a ten cent increase in the past decade. The United States Postal Service says it has to keep up with rising costs and dwindling business. The hike will translate in to about two billion dollars in annual revenue for the Postal Service, which has experienced what a spokesperson called a "challenging" last few years.



"Bridge" Health Exchange Bill Passes


The Maryland Senate has approved legislation, providing temporary health insurance for those who could not get it due to technical problems with the state's website. To date, only about 450 people have signed up for the retroactive coverage. Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller acknowledges that government makes mistakes, just like people do. In commenting on what some consider an "expensive solution" to a problem, Miller says it's only expensive if the state cannot get enough people to sign up. Miller says the state is doing what it can to make sure everyone who wants insurance, will get it.



Maryland One of 10 "Worst States for Taxes"


The state of Maryland has made the unenviable "Top 10 Worst States for Taxes," according to The Fiscal Times. The top state income tax rate is 5.75 per cent, and made the list, due to its relatively high taxes across the board. The article also notes that the state is considering a proposal that would lower the corporate income tax rate in the next five years from 8.25 per cent to 6 percent, bringing it in line with neighboring Virginia. The number one state for taxes? New York, with an 8.82 per cent income tax rate, and per capita property taxes of over $2300.

Local News

Fire Victim's Name Released
Seventy-four year old Wayne Levon Method has been identified as the victim in this past weekend's fatal fire on Bolton Street in Romney. He lived in the upstairs apartment of the two-story complex. The fire was discovered by Dustin Amtower, the chief of the New Creek Volunteer Fire Department, as he was on his way to work as a paid fireman for the city of Winchester. Members of the Romney Volunteer Fire Department made it to the second floor to recover Method's body. The State Fire Marshal's Office says the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

Possible Suspect Arrested in Robberies
A Burlington, West Virginia man was arrested Sunday evening, and an investigation is being conducted, to determine if Gary Dale Hamilton was involved in two weekend robberies in Lonaconing. The two incidents occurred on Watercliff Street in Lonaconing. The first incident, on Saturday night, happened as a man in a ski mask entered the residence of an elderly woman, and demanded money. He fled when the victim told him she had nothing. The second incident, on Sunday night, resulted in the suspect fleeing with an undetermined amount of money. Hamilton was arrested at a home on St. Mary's Terrace in Lonaconing. He is being held on various drug charges.

Domestic Situation in Midland
The Allegany County Sheriff's Department responded to the 17,000-block of Old Dan's Rock Road in Midland Sunday evening for the report of a domestic situation. Twenty-five year old Jason Bernard Seib was arrested in connection with the incident. The Sheriff's Office had reported that a person had discharged a weapon at the home. Troopers from the Maryland State Police and Sheriff's Department chased a late model BMW from Route 36 to Interstate 68 Eastbound, into Cumberland and Ridgeley. During the pursuit, an Allegany County Sheriff's vehicle was hit twice. Seib was taken into custody there.

Man Arrested for Assaulting Father
Twenty-year old Cumberland resident Seth Leonard Wells has been charged with second-degree assault, in connection with an incident on South Street, in which he allegedly assaulted his father. Wells said he and his father got into an argument over the use of the father's vehicle. Wells admitted to police that he "body-slammed" his father, and struck him in the face. He was arrested, taken to a District Court Commissioner, and released on personal recognizance.

Kauffman Comments on Canal Place
The Cumberland Mayor and City Council and the Allegany County Commissioners will be working together to address the Canal Place situation. Cumberland City Council member Dave Kauffman says it is important for all parties involved to work together to make Canal Place as viable as possible.
Kauffman/Canal Place #1            :16 seconds            oc-viability..............
Kauffman says Canal Place is a very complex entity, and one that involves many aspects such as the train station, canal, and the trailhead that comes with the property.
Kauffman/Canal Place #2            :12 seconds            oc-sense...................

Somerset Man Jailed in Hospital Incident
Police arrested 36-year old Adam Gracik at Somerset Hospital early Sunday morning. He had become disorderly, and as officers attempted to talk to him, he lunged off the bed, attacked an officer, and tried to steal his gun. Gracik was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, terroristic threats, criminal mischief, assault, and resisting arrest.

Hardy County Outage Planned for Today
Potomac Edison has scheduled an electrical service interruption for a portion of Hardy County today. The interruption, for repair work, will take place from 9 to noon, and will affect about 2300 customers in the vicinity of Baker, Mathias, and Lost River. Specifically, the outage will impact the region that run south of Baker, to the Virginia state border, along the Route 259 corridor and the surrounding areas. In case of bad weather, or extremely cold temperatures, the work will be rescheduled for next Tuesday.

Woman Arrested on Assault, Reckless Endangerment Charges
Fifty-two year old Maryland Avenue resident Shirley Crites was arrested, after a Saturday incident at her home. She had told police a friend had come to her house, and started an argument with her. She told the friend to leave, retrieved a gun, and threatened to shoot the friend. Police also found a marijuana pipe in the living room. She was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ms. Crites was released on personal recognizance, following a hearing in District Court.

Two Arrested in Somerset County Bust
Guns and drugs were found at a home in Somerset County, which resulted in the arrest of the residents, Michael Pollock and Tenisha Hadix. They were taken into custody at a Boswell Heights housing complex, and the arrests stem from ongoing drug investigations in the county. Charges are pending against both. Assisting was the Somerset County Drug Task Force and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, along with the Somerset County District Attorney.

Sheriff Warns of Deadly Heroin
Garrett County Sheriff Rob Corley is warning the area of a deadly heroin mixture that resulted in the deaths of four people in Pittsburgh recently. People in the community obtain the drug by traveling to Fayette and Allegheny counties.  The heroin is laced with fentanyl and are labeled as "Theraflu." Immediate medical treatment is the only hope for a person who has taken an overdose of this particular strain. Sheriff Corley also urges those who overdose, to be completely honest with medical providers.

West Virginia Residents' Bills Rise
West Virginia residents paid 1.2 per cent more for utilities last year than in the previous year, primarily because of increases in natural gas and water rates. The average monthly utility bill was just over $280 for gas, electricity, water and telephone service. In 2012, the average monthly cost was just over $277.00. Increases in natural gas and water rates last year were offset by a decline in electricity rates.

Local News - UPDATES

Possible Suspect Arrested in Robberies

A Burlington, West Virginia man was arrested Sunday evening, and an investigation is being conducted, to determine if Gary Dale Hamilton was involved in two weekend robberies in Lonaconing. The two incidents occurred on Watercliff Street in Lonaconing. The first incident, on Saturday night, happened as a man in a ski mask entered the residence and demanded money. He fled when the victim told him she had nothing. The second incident, on Sunday night, resulted in the suspect fleeing with an undetermined amount of money. Hamilton was arrested at a home on St. Mary's Terrace in Lonaconing. He is being held on various drug charges.


Domestic Situation in Midland

The Allegany County Sheriff's Department responded to the 17,000-block of Old Dan's Rock Road in Midland Sunday evening for the report of a domestic situation. Twenty-five year old Jason Bernard Seib was arrested in connection with the incident. The Sheriff's Office had reported that a person had discharged a weapon at the home. Troopers from the Maryland State Police and Sheriff's Department chased a late model BMW from Route 36 to Interstate 68 Eastbound, into Cumberland and Ridgeley. During the pursuit, an Allegany County Sheriff's vehicle was hit twice. Seib was taken into custody there.

Local News

Garrett County Teacher Arrested on Sexual Abuse Charges


Garrett County teacher Richard Allan McCrobie has been arrested on charges of sexual abuse of a minor, possession of child pornography, and displaying obscene material to a minor. He had been under investigation since last summer, when he allegedly allowed students unsupervised access to computers on Northern High School property, and had provided access to pornographic materials to students. From the start of the current school year, McCrobie has not had access to any students nor the Northern Garrett High School property. The Maryland State Police are continuing their investigation.



One Dead in Romney Fire


One person died over the weekend in an apartment fire on Bolton Street in Romney. The Chief of the New Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Dustin Amtower, spotted the blaze as he was on his way to work Saturday as a paid fireman for Winchester, Virginia. He was able to save the people in the downstairs apartment, but couldn't get into the upstairs unit because of the heat and smoke. The Romney Volunteer Fire Department recovered the victim's body, whose name has not been released. The West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the fire, which does not appear to be suspicious.



Teacher Arrested for Embezzlement


A Hampshire High School teacher, Bradley W. Tenney, has been arrested for embezzlement. He has admitted to taking $781 from a fundraiser at the school. The choral group, Harmony, was attempting to raise money to go to New York; Tenney was the director of the group. Tenney is accused of depositing the checks, but not depositing the cash. The hearing on the embezzlement charge, which is considered a misdemeanor, has been set for March 12th.



Breakings and Enterings in Midland, Lonaconing


The Allegany County Sheriff's Department is currently investigating several incidents, either breakings and enterings or forced entries in homes in the Watercliff Street area of Lonaconing and in the Midland area as well. There are reports from the Sheriff's Office that at least one suspect is in custody.



Family Displaced in Keyser Fire


The Todd and Teresa Simpson family of Keyser lost all of their possessions in a fire early Friday morning. The fire, on Linden Street, was discovered by Todd Simpson, who got everybody out of the house, before fire companies arrived. The blaze caused about $250,000 in total damage, and the property was insured. The investigation revealed the fire was accidental in nature, and related to electric radiant heating.



McKay Comments on State of the County


Allegany County Commission President Mike McKay says about 70 per cent of the revenue from the slot machine/video lottery terminal earnings at Rocky Gap Casino and Resort has been dedicated to the Allegany County Opportunity Scholarship fund at both Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University. McKay notes that students who receive a higher education will get a higher paying job. Concerning the NewPage Corporation's merger with Verso, McKay says he is encouraged by the news. The Luke Mill is in a good position, because of its proximity to natural resources, its safety record, and work ethic. He notes that NewPage consisted of a group of investors, while Verso has been in the paper making business.




Hardy County Outage Planned for Tomorrow


Potomac Edison has scheduled an electrical service interruption for a portion of Hardy County tomorrow. The interruption, for repair work, will take place from 9 to noon, and will affect about 2300 customers in the vicinity of Baker, Mathias, and Lost River. Specifically, the outage will impact the region that run south of Baker, to the Virginia state border, along the Route 259 corridor and the surrounding areas. In case of bad weather, or extremely cold temperatures, the work will be rescheduled for next Tuesday.



Woman Arrested on Assault, Reckless Endangerment Charges


Fifty-two year old Maryland Avenue resident Shirley Crites was arrested, after a Saturday incident at her home. She had told police a friend had come to her house, and started an argument with her. She told the friend to leave, retrieved a gun, and threatened to shoot the friend. Police also found a marijuana pipe in the living room. She was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ms. Crites was released on personal recognizance, following a hearing in District Court.



Two Arrested in Somerset County Bust


Guns and drugs were found at a home in Somerset County, which resulted in the arrest of the residents, Michael Pollock and Tenisha Hadix. They were taken into custody at a Boswell Heights housing complex, and stems from ongoing drug investigations in the county. Charges are pending against both. Assisting was the Somerset County Drug Task Force and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, along with the Somerset County District Attorney.



Gunman, Victims Identified


The gunman and two victims of Saturday's shooting at the Columbia Mall have been identified. Nineteen year old Darion Marcus Aguilar of College Park entered the mall about 11:15 a.m. Saturday and shot both 21-year old Brianna Benlolo of College Park and 25-year old Ellicott City resident Tyler Johnson-both employees of the Zumiez skate shop at the mall. Aguilar then turned the gun on himself. Five other people were injured, and the mall will remain closed through tomorrow.




"Bridge" Health Exchange Bill Passes


The Maryland Senate has approved legislation, providing temporary health insurance for those who could not get it due to technical problems with the state's website. To date, only about 450 people have signed up for the retroactive coverage. Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller acknowledges that government makes mistakes, just like people do. In commenting on what some consider an "expensive solution" to a problem, Miller says it's only expensive if the state cannot get enough people to sign up. Miller says the state is doing what it can to make sure everyone who wants insurance, will get it.




Teen Arrested for Possessing Bomb Materials


A 19-year old Russian national was arrested over the weekend, on charges of possessing a weapon of mass destruction. Vladislav Miftakhov, a student at Penn State Altoona, was taken in to custody, after police found an alleged bomb, and other "bomb making materials." He told police he bought the materials over the the internet in the past few weeks. There were no other details on a motive, nor possible targets, and the investigation is continuing.

Local News - UPDATE

Laffey Signs Minor League Contract with Orioles

Cumberland native and Allegany High School graduate Aaron Laffey has signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles. He'll report to the minor league mini-camp on February 22nd, and will compete for a rotation spot with the Triple-A Norfolk organization. During this last season, Laffey was with four different organizations. Laffey will be one of the guest speakers at tomorrow evening's Dapper Dan Awards banquet.

Local News

Changes Considered for Black Bear Hunt

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is considering the elimination of a quota system during the annual black bear hunt, which takes place primarily in Allegany and Garrett counties. Instead, the season would be of a pre-determined length. The proposal, which will be considered during a stakeholders meeting in Owings Mills next month, would help hunters plan better. Last year's hunt yielded 94 bears, and the quota was anywhere from 95 to 130.


Murder Case Dismissed

The case against Taj Green, who had been accused of fatally shooting Ryan Henry in Ridgeley in 2011, has been dismissed. The shooting also seriously injured his brother. The case was dismissed because of additonal evidence that made the state unable to prove the case against Green. Two others, Rasshammach and Rasjahnon Roberts will face trial in the near future, in connection to the murder.


Woman Charged with Child Neglect

Cumberland resident Nikita Courtney Hall faces four counts of child neglect, following her arrest on Wednesday. Cumberland City Police received a child neglect complaint in the 400-block of Baltimore Avenue. Child Protective Services was contacted. Charges were filed through Allegany County District Court, which resulted in a criminal summons.


Cumberland Man Charged in Crash

Cumberland resident Skyler Stone Atkinson was charged, following a motor vehicle crash on Bedford Street. Atkinson, who was driving a 1984 Porsche, hit a car driven by Melissa Ann Cutter, also of Cumberland. Atkinson was cited for failure to yield the right-of-way. No injuries were reported.


Charges Pending Against Somerset Man

Charges are pending against Somerset, Pennsylvania resident Ira Styerer has been charged in connection with an incident at the Sheetz there. Styerer is accused of paying for food with a counterfeit $100 bill. He claimed he received the bill from a friend. A marijuana pipe was also found on him, and charges will be filed, pending the completion of the investigation.


"Wait and See" Attitude for Canal Place

What will happen with Canal Place and the Footer Dye Works building depends on meetings to be held over the next several weeks, among the city, county, and state officials. Maryland State Senator George Edwards says if a private developer is secured for Canal Place, the situation will move forward. Senator Edwards notes that $116,000 has been set aside in next year's state budget for Canal Place. While salaries for the three employees totaled over $211,000, the state has only agreed to set aside $116,000 in Governor O'Malley's $39 billion budget. Senator Edwards says that revenues are also generated from the shop leases, and from parking at Canal Place.


Additional After School Dropoff Sites

The Allegany County Board of Education has approved three additional drop-off sites for Washington Middle School's Afterschool program. The additional drop-off sites are South Penn Elementary School, Maryland Avenue at Spring Street, and Shade's Lane at Cole Street. The bus will continue to drop off students at John Humbird and Flintstone Elementary Schools. The new drop-off sites will be implemented next Wednesday. If parents would like their children to ride the bus to one of the new drop-off locations or would like to enroll their child in the after school program at Washington Middle School, please notify Kevin Williams, coordinator of Extended Learning, at (301)-759-2403.


Cumberland NAC To Hold Meeting

The first monthly meeting of the recently reorganized Cumberland Neighborhood Advisory Commission will be held Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. The Commission will be working to coordinate the efforts of city program, neighborhood  associations and other city boards and commissions to maintain and improve the quality of life in the city's neighborhoods. The meetings will be held on a monthly basis and are open to the public.


Garrett Board to Hold Special Meeting

The Garrett County Board of Education will hold a special work session meeting next Thursday at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Central Office in Oakland. The topic for the meeting is the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The meeting will be open to the public, but there will be no public comment taken.


Safety Grants Available for Schools

There are $50 million available to school districts across the country to develop or update their school safety plans. Senator Barbara Mikulski announced the new Comprehensive School Safety Initiative this week. Another $25 million will be used for research into analyzing the causes of school violence, including the gaps in mental health for students and their exposure to violence. 

Local News

Fire Ruled "Accidental" by Fire Marshal

A fire at a Garrett County agricultural barn Tuesday morning has been ruled accidental in nature, caused by an electrical malfunction. The structure was owned by Henry Kinsinger and was located on the Paul Friend Road in Oakland. Losses were placed at $100,000. It was discovered by Kinsinger on the inside of the barn, and is considered a total loss.


Bedford Commissioner Resigns

Bedford County Commissioner Steve Howsare has announced his resignation, and will be heading up the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission. The commission is a non-profit organization that directs federal and state funds toward business training and assistance. Bedford County President Judge Thomas Ling will select his replacement, after his resignation becomes effective on February 2nd.


Centerville Experiencing Water Problems

Centerville, Pennsylvania has been without a reliable water supply for more than a week. The sporadic service has been blamed on several water leaks that are difficult to find. Recent weather and the age of the water system have played a part in the reduction of service. The Centerville Municipal Authority has pledged to isolate any significant leaks and to restore full water service as soon as possible.


Hospital Demolition on Schedule

If you've been in the area of the former Memorial Hospital, you may have noticed there has been no exterior demolition of the building at this point. Cumberland City Council member David Kauffman says there has been some interior issues, such as asbestos removal and other environmental concerns. He says crews are preparing for the demolition of the exterior of the building. He emphasizes the demolition is on schedule. The Mayor and Council had received a change order for asbestos removal, which is not uncommon.


Senator Edwards Welcomes Intern 

Maryland State Senator George Edwards has welcomed a new intern. Tyler Young, from Odenton, Maryland, is a senior at Frostburg State University. FSU's Political Science Internship program, directed by Professor Timothy Magrath, has provided Tyler with an opportunity to serve the District 1 state legislative district of Garrett, Allegany, and western Washington counties with Senator Edwards during the 2014 session.


Potomac State Program Receives Grant

The Agriculture and Forestry Program Potomac State College of West Virginia University in Keyser has received an over $14,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The money will be used to provide a learning model of hydroponic and vegetable production to the students. This past fall, students in the program built a hydroponic system to grow lettuce, used by the PSC Food Service Department. This spring, they'll be raising winter crops, to help supply certain foods to the college.


Trial Delayed for Former Correctional Officer

The federal trial for a former correctional officer at the Roxbury Correctional Institution has been delayed by the weather. Josh Hummer faces allegations he failed to stop an assault on inmate Kenneth Davis in 2008. Twelve other defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other offenses, while two more still must stand trial. Davis, who at one time had been incarcerated in Cumberland, suffered a broken nose and fractures in his back and ribs from a beating, after scuffling with a guard at Roxbury.


Two Remain Jailed in Murders

Two Maryland women remain jailed, in connection with a case in which two children were killed. Both Zakieya Latrice Avery and Monifa Denise Sanford are accused of killing two of Avery's children-ages one and two-as they were conducting what they said was an exorcism, and believed that evil spirits were moving between the children's bodies. The two received their first court appearance on Tuesday.


Governor, Senator Propose Chemical Storage Regulatory Program

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and United States Senator Joe Manchin are proposing tighter regulations for chemical storage facilities, after a spill contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people in the state. Freedom Industries' underground chemicals were not subject to environmental regulations because the chemicals were not manufactured on site, nor did they produce emissions.

Local News

Charges May Be Filed in Potomac Center Case

Charges will be brought to those proven to be involved in alleged abuses at the Potomac Center in Romney, West Virginia. Specific details on the alleged abuses from an undetermined number of lower management employees have not been revealed, but it is known that minor incidents of sexual abuse may have taken place. State representatives will be traveling to Charleston to discuss the situation with the Department of Health and Human Resources.


Man Charged with Attempted Murder

Schellsburg resident Paul Joseph Griffith has been charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault, and other charges, following an incident this past weekend. Griffith got into a fight with Manns Choice resident Brian Keith Barnett at a home on Buena Road about 2 a.m. Both suffered stab wounds to the neck during the fight. Griffith was released from the hospital, and is being held in the Bedford County prison on $500,000 bail.


Shots Fired at Homes

The Bedford detachment of the Pennsylvania State Police are investigating two cases, in which gunshots were fired into homes. One of the shootings took place near Claysburg and the other on the Maryland border. Police aren't saying whether the shootings are connected; they are searching for shell casings at the two sites. The investigation by the State Police is continuing.


Keyser Woman Facing Charges

Forty-six year old Keyser resident Karen Harms is being held at the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail, following a disturbance at the CVS pharmacy in Keyser. Police say Harms was belligerent and disorderly throughout the incident, resulting in additional charges, including public intoxication and indecent exposure. Bail was set at $2500.


Carpendale Bridge Topic of Discussion

A bridge, linking Carpendale, West Virginia to Maryland was the topic of each meeting during Mineral County Day in Charleston. The bridge is a priority project for several reasons, including the development of a business park, additional employment, and additional revenue for Mineral County. The project was estimated to cost around $5 million, which is-according to Mineral County officials-a small price, when compared to the economic possibilities the bridge would bring.


Analyst Encourages State Budget Cushion

Warren Deschenaux, a top budget analyst is encouraging Maryland lawmakers to create a greater budget cushion than the one in Governor O'Malley's budget plan. He would like to see a fund balance of about $100 million for the next fiscal year; O'Malley's budget has a $30 million cushion. The state's Rainy Day Fund has a balance of about $800 million, but lawmakers always aim to have that money safely set aside without needing to be tapped.


Miller Skeptical of Over $10 Minimum Wage

Maryland Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller says that it is going to be difficult to find a solution to address economic differences in the state. Prince George's and Montgomery Counties have already decided to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017, but Miller says lawmakers from other, rural parts of the state won't be able to support an increase that high. Governor O'Malley is proposing a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour, but Miller says the debate over raising it will be difficult.


Morgantown Runway Closed Briefly

A runway at Morgantown's airport was closed for about 10 minutes, when a small plane tipped forward upon landing. There were no injuries. The plane's owner was flying with an instructor pilot, when the plane landed quickly. The propeller was damaged when the aircraft tipped forward onto its nose. A small amount of fuel was cleaned from the runway.


Local News

Budget, Health Care Exchange on General Assembly Agenda

Writing Governor O'Malley's $39 billion budget is on the table this week for the Maryland General Assembly. The budget does not raise taxes, but increases college tuition no more than three per-cent. And, there is also the issue of a structural deficit of about $300 million. This week, the Senate is due to take a final vote on emergency legislation that would provide health insurance for those who tried, but failed to get coverage due to technical problems with the website.


Employees Steal $70,000 Worth of Merchandise

Two employees of Bedford businesses have been accused of stealing more than $70,000 worth of merchandise from their respective employers, and selling it online for a profit. Thirty-four year old Joshua Baker and Kevin McMakin were involved in a scheme, where stolen bike parts from the Cycling Sports Group were sold on eBay by McMakin, an employee of Fat Jimmy's Outfitters. Both were arraigned last Friday in Bedford County District Court.


"Wait and See" Attitude for Canal Place

What will happen with Canal Place and the Footer Dye Works building depends on meetings to be held over the next several weeks, among the city, county, and state officials. Maryland State Senator George Edwards says if a private developer is secured for Canal Place, the situation will move forward. Senator Edwards notes that $116,000 has been set aside in next year's budget for Canal Place. While salaries for the three employees totaled over $211,000, the state has only agreed to set aside $116,000 in Governor O'Malley's $39 billion budget. Senator Edwards says that revenues are also generated from the shop leases, and from parking at Canal Place.


Enrollment Packages Sent to Wrong Addresses

Because of an error with the state's health exchange, nearly 400 Medicaid enrollment packages were sent to the wrong addresses. While the packages don't contain private medical information or social security numbers, they do contain the applicant's name, date of birth and Medicaid ID number. It was reported over the weekend the exchange website had posted the wrong customer service number in some sections, where applicants were actually calling a pottery business in Seattle. These are the latest in a series of problems with the health exchange website.


"Exorcism Killing" Reported in Montgomery County

A Maryland woman accused of killing her two children has told investigators that she thought an exorcism was necessary to remove the presence of the devil. Zakieya Latrice Avery, along with another woman-Monifa Denise Sanford-are charged in the deaths of one year old Norell Harris and Zyana Harris, a two-year old girl. Two other children in their Montgomery County home were injured. Both women are being held without bond.


No Injuries in Winchester Plane Crash

There were no injuries at the Winchester Regional Airport, when a small aircraft crash while practicing "touch-and-go" landings. The plane, which was registered out of Martinsburg, veered off a runway, hit a runway light and went through a sign, before stopping in the grass. The pilot and a passenger were uninjured. The unidentified pilot said he swerved to avoid hitting a deer.


Company Files For Bankruptcy

The company at the center of the chemical spill in Charleston earlier this month, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Freedom Industries says it can't pay its bills, because its clients are demanding cash payments because of  the leak. Freedom Industries says it believes the ground below a chemical tank froze, causing about 7500 gallons of a hazardous material to leak into the Elk river. The bankruptcy filing will have no impact on the ongoing federal investigation.


Local News

Children Removed from Potomac Center


Two dozen children have been removed from the Potomac Center on Blue Street in Romney, because of what one state official says was "inhumane and degrading" treatment. West Virginia State Police are conducting an investigation. Two other group homes, on Birch Lane and Washington Street were not affected. While not being specific on the nature of the investigation, it is known that State Police will continue to monitor the situation on a 24-hour basis.



O'Malley To Speak at PACE Breakfast


Governor Martin O'Malley is scheduled to deliver the keynote address Friday morning, at the annual PACE breakfast to be held at the Loew's/Annapolis hotel. The breakfast begins at 8 a.m., and other speakers include Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and Maryland United States Senator Ben Cardin. The annual PACE reception will be held Thursday evening, and 22 displayers are signed up for the event.



McKay Comments on "State of the County"


Allegany County Commission President Mike McKay says the county is in its strongest financial position in years, despite the reduced size of government. This has been accomplished, without sacrificing services. Commissioner McKay says county employees have "bought into" the idea of doing more with less, and expressed his thanks to them. Commissioner McKay notes that the Rocky Gap casino now has 500 full-time employees, who have benefits. Thanks to the Western Maryland delegation, and in particular to Senator George Edwards, the county can designate where and how proceeds from the casino can be spent. Through the Allegany County Commissioners' Scholarship Fund, funds are sent to both Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University.




Edwards Submits Speed Limit Legislation


Maryland State Senator George Edwards is submitting legislation that would increase the maximum speed limit on Interstate 68  to 70 miles-per-hour. The legislation was read for the first time last Monday, and also addresses speed limits in other areas of the state.



Scholarship Fund MOU Signed


A memorandum of understanding was signed last last week, that would establish the Allegany County Opportunity Scholarship at Frostburg State University. The fund would benefit students from Allegany County, and will funded by revenues to the county from the Rocky Gap Casino Resort. One-fourth of the revenue received will benefit Allegany County Students attending FSU, and the first of those will be awarded this year.



Adult Education Orientation Sessions Set


The Adult Education Program offered by the Allegany County Public School System will offer two, two-hour orientation sessions on February 5th and 6th, and February 19th and 20th at the One Stop Job Center in Cumberland. The orientation will give an overview of the adult education programs, the GED and the National External Diploma Program. For more information, call the Adult Education Program at (301)-687-8025.



Fired Dispatchers to Appeal


Two Grant County dispatchers who were fired last week, say they intend to appeal. Both Hunter Whetzel and Jared Alt were fired, after airing a Christmas message, with overtly Christian overtones, on the county's pager system on Christmas Eve. The message was sent out when all emergency vehicles in the county were in service, and not responding to emergency calls. They say they were cited for insubordination and violation of Federal Communications Commission  regulations regarding public safety frequency usage.



PBS Lays Off More Workers


PBS Coals, based in Friedens, Pennsylvania, has laid off another 40 people. The coal company reached a high of 1,000 employees in 2011, and was one of Somerset County's larges employers. The company now has fewer than 450 workers.



Citi Facility to Lay off Employees


The Citi facility, north of Hagerstown, has announced plans to lay off 650 employees by the end of the year; fifty will be furloughed by the end of March, and an additional 600-about 200 who work at the facility and another 400 who work from home-will be laid off by the end of the year. Layoffs are part of Citi job losses nationwide. A total of 950 will be laid off as a result of the sale of mortgage-servicing rights.



Spending Bill Includes Air Traffic Control Towers


Part of  the federal appropriations bill last week will provide about $140-millionin funding, to ensure all 149 federally contract air-traffic control towers threatened by last year's sequester budget cuts will remain open. This includes the tower at Hagerstown Regional Airport. The House and Senate passed the overall $1.1 trillion spending bill that contains the appropriations for the towers.  Maryland U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski is the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.




Local News - UPDATE

Miner Killed in Accident

State and federal investigators are on the scene of a fatal coal mining accident that happened after 9 p.m. last night at the Mettiki Coal Mine near Davis, West Virginia. Killed was 20-year old Kitzmiller resident Daniel Lambka. Preliminary indications are Lambka was crushed to death. He had been at the Moutain View location less than six months, and had more than four years of mining experience. The investigation is ongoing.

Local News

Man Accused of Assaulting Police Officer

Keyser resident Christopher Lee Redman is accused of striking a police officer there, and then fleeing the scene. Officers were initially called to the 400-block of Carskadon Road for a domestic incident; an officer tried to subdue Redman, but-after hitting the officer in the face-left the scene. Redman was apprehended a short time later. He remains jailed on $1,000 bond.


Bedford Man Arrested on Child Porn Charges

Bedford County resident Kerry Ritchey is jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail, set at 10 per cent, on numerous counts of possessing child pornography. Ritchey is one of five men across the state of Pennsylvania who have been arrested, on unrelated charges, as part of ongoing efforts to target online sharing. Items seized from Ritchey's home included a laptop and desktop computer, a notebook computer and an external hard drive, along with other electronic media. Ritchey has a preliminary hearing next week.


Safe Streets Initiative Nabs 22 Fugitives

The latest Safe Streets Initiative, conducted by the Cumberland Police Department, has resulted in the arrest of 22 people on a variety of charges. Counts rangted from robbery, to driving under the influence to theft, and failure to appear. The Cumberland City Police has expressed its thanks to the public for their help in apprehending those who were wanted.


More Fallout from Canal Place Meeting

The state of Maryland has run out of money to develop Canal Place, and Delegate Kevin Kelly says there are issues there that need attention. Delegate Kelly says water is leaking from the basin at Canal Place, and there is trash and algae in the water. He is pushing for a city/county takeover of the property, and Kelly says both provided funding for years from the hotel/motel tax. As it is presently structured, Delegate Kelly says Canal Place cannot be self-sufficient; in fact, it costs more and more each year. Should the city and/or county take over the property, Delegate Kelly says citizens will know who they can bring their concerns to...


McKay Comments on "State of the County"

Allegany County Commission President Mike McKay says the county is in its strongest financial position in years, despite the reduced size of government. This has been accomplished, without sacrificing services. Commissioner McKay says county employees have "bought into" the idea of doing more with less, and expressed his thanks to them. Commissioner McKay notes that the Rocky Gap casino now has 500 full-time employees, who have benefits. Thanks to the Western Maryland delegation, and in particular to Senator George Edwards, the county can designate where and how proceeds from the casino can be spent. Through the Allegany County Commissioners' Scholarship Fund, funds are sent to both Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University.


Authority Asks For Clarification

The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority will ask State Senators Joe Manchin and Ben Cardin to clarify language in the Federal Aviation grant as it pertains to the annual autocross event that held been held. The Authority, in November, sent a letter to the National Road Autosport group, stating that the event could no longer be held at the Cumberland Regional Airport, because of funding criteria established by the FAA for runway rehabiliation. 


Valley Health Laying Off Workers

Thirty-three Valley Health employees were laid off this week, including one from Hampshire Memorial Hospital. The furloughs were in response to payment cuts from the federal government, and Virginia's decision not to expand Medicaid. Valley Health also trimmed about six employees from Valley Health's corporate office. The federal government's two-per cent spending cut equates to about $5 million less from Valley Health's bottom line.


Keyser May Eliminate Fluoride in Water Supply

In an effort to trim operating expenses at its water treatment plant, the city of Keyser is considering the elimination of fluoride there. Keyser could save about $8,000 annually by eliminating the treatment. But, even with the savings, there wouldn't be any reduction in water bills for residents using the system.


Garrett Public Schools Set Graduation Date

The Garrett County Board of Education has set the graduation date for both Northern and Southern High Schools. Northern High School's graduation will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 31st. Southern's graduation will take place the same day, at 3 p.m.


Senator Wants FCC Probe of Dropped 911 Call

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to look into why a 911 call placed by a man who was fatally shot on Interstate 81was dropped as he crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Casey's letter calls for a "renewed effort to improve services in rural communities, where calls may be dropped or of poor quality. Maine resident Timothy Davison was killed after placing 911 calls to Washington County, as he was being pursued by a driver, in a pickup truck. Davison was shot to death by the assailant.

Local News

Meeting Held on Canal Place

A meeting with all parties involved in Canal Place was held in Annapolis yesterday afternoon, and the future of the entity was discussed. Delegate Kevin Kelly says the city and county will  meet to come up with a plan for the promotion, maintenance and operation of Canal Place. Once that agreement is in place, they will approach the state to see what it would want to relinquish control of Canal Place. Kelly noted that the Governor has allocated $164,000 in the FY '15 budget for the continued operation.


One Dead in Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Incident

Sixty-three year old Chester Porter of Cumberland is dead, and 67-year old Ronald Eugene Mowery of Ellerslie is in critical condition, as the result of a carbon monoxide incident Tuesday on Boone Street in Cumberland. The two were working at a private residence, and were using a kerosene heater and a gas-powered generator inside the home. There were no windows or doors left open for ventilation, and both were overcome by carbon monoxide. No foul play is suspected. Porter was pronounced dead at the scene.


One Cold Weather Related Death

One Allegany County resident died during the most recent cold snap in the area. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygience did not release the identity of the victim, but did state he was 65 years old, or older. The location of the death was not released. Statewide, there have been seven cold weather-related deaths.


Traffic Disruption Possible Tonight

Traffic on Interstate 68 Eastbound, between LaVale and Cumberland and on Route 51 (Industrial Boulevard) from Lamont Street to Interstate 68 will be disrupted this evening, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Local crews will be moving a large piece of equipment in the area. Drivers are asked to avoid those areas, if possible; otherwise, expect delays during those hours.


Two Candidates File in Mineral County

Two people filed to run for office on Monday, the first day of the official filing period. Kevin Watson has filed to run for re-election to the Mineral County Board of Education; David Webb has filed to run for Mineral County Commission. Watson's seat is one of three opening up this year. Other seats that will also be open this year will be those of Lara Courrier and Terry LaRue. The board of education race is a non-partisan one.


Two Somerset Residents Waive a Hearing

Two Somerset men have waived a hearing in a case where they are accused of robbing a man and a juvenile female at gunpoint in Somerset Borough on November 25th. Nineteen-year old Lake Ryan Koval and 18-year old Michael Allen Cullison have been charged with robbery, criminal conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, and disorderly conduct charges.


Ex-Husband of Slain Woman Indicted

The former husband of a slain Preston County woman has been indicted by a Harrison County grand jury for failing to allow the couple's daughter to visit her grandparents. fifty-four year old Shinnston resident Larry Mitchell shot and killed his former daughter-in-law, Shannon Stafford, in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in April of 2012. Her estranged husband, Nathan Edward Mitchell was indicted this month on four counts of concealment or removal of a minor child from a custodian, or from a person entitled to visitation.


No Ethics Violation for Young

The Frederick County Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint of misconduct against County Commission President Blaine Young. A political activist, Patrick Allen, made an allegation that Young was having an affair with a county employee. Harold Otis, Ethics Commission Chairman, has ruled there was no evidence of an ethics ordinance violation.


Post Article Blasts Website

In a scathing article in the Washington Post this week, the Maryland healthcare exchange website was taken to task. The article questions how such "epic bungling" could have happened in Maryland, which it says "oozes self-satisfaction" with its progressive policies, led by a Governor who considers himself a 2016 presidential contender. Attorney General Doug Gansler, who is himself running for Governor, was asked whether the state can recover any money from the North Dakota contractor who built the site.Gansler commented on his Democratic opponent for Governor, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, and how he has handled the situation. One option that had been discussed, was shutting down the state website, and simply allowing Marylanders to use the federal site.


Federal Investigation Launched in West Virginia

A federal investigation into last week's chemical spill into the Elk River in Charleston is ongoing. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says his office will throroughly investigate the timeline of what happened, and what was done-or not done-before and after the incident. He also says that if criminal laws are being violated, they will move rapidly to hold the wrongdoers accountable. The chemical leak occurred at Freedom Industries' storage facility, located less than two miles from a water treatment plant in Charleston.


Local News

One Dead in Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

One 63-year old man is dead, and another, who is 67 years old, is in critical condition, following a possible carbon monoxide poisoning incident on Boone Street. The Cumberland Fire Department and the C3I unit were on the scene of the incident yesterday afternoon, and the Cumberland City Fire Marshal was also on the scene. The 67-year old man was taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center for treatment. Names are not being released at this time,  out of respect for the families. An investigation found that both were working on the interior of the residence; a gas-powered generator and a kerosene heater were being used inside, which caused the carbon monoxide levels to become lethal. The investigation is continuing.

Local News

Schleuniger Sentenced in Simmons Murder

Steven Schleuniger who pleaded guilty to the 2nd-degree murder of Lisa Simmons of Cumberland, was sentenced in Allegany County Circuit Court yesterday. Judge Timothy Finan sentenced Schleuniger to the maximum of 30 years in prison, without the possibility of parole. Schleuniger was allowed to plead guilty to 2nd- degree murder in exchange for cooperating with investigators by confessing to the murder of Lisa Simmons and showing them where he had buried the her body in Winchester, Virginia. Schleuniger also admitted to the July, 2010 murder of Tammy Myerly of Hagerstown; because of the plea agreement, Schleuniger will not be prosecuted in that case.


Zello Found Incompetent to Stand Trial

Finan Center patient Craig Harris Zello, who attacked a male nurse there last October has been found incompetent to stand trial in the case. He had been charged with attempted first-degree murder, and other counts, when he allegedly stabbed the nurse in the back of the head with a 7-inch galvanized metal spike. The victim was treated and released at the hospital following the incident.


Issues Discussed During Delegation Meeting

Several local issues of importance were discussed during a legislative meeting, held yesterday in Annapolis. During a conference call with the media, members discussed raising the speed limit on Interstate 68 to 70 miles-per-hour; bond funding for the Allegany County Animal Shelter and Friends Aware was also discussed. Delegate Wendell Beitzel also discussed increasing highway user funding for this area of the state. The delegation will meet today with all interested parties, to discuss the future of Canal Place and the Development Authority.


Burglary Suspect Turns Self In

A woman who was wanted in connection with a home burglary last Sunday, has turned herself into authorities. Forty-four year old Angela Lloyd of Westernport is accused of stealing about $32,000 in vintage coins from a Keyser residence. Police are still searching for former Keyser resident Robert Casto, who also has an arrest warrant for the June 17th burglary. Casto's name is now in the FBI's National Crime Information Center, which will alert any law enforcement officer to the outstanding warrant.


Traffic Disruption Possible Thursday

Traffic on Interstate 68 Eastbound, between LaVale and Cumberland and on Route 51 (Industrial Boulevard) from Lamont Street to Interstate 68 will be disrupted tomorrow evening, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Local crews will be moving a large piece of equipment in the area. Drivers are asked to avoid those areas, if possible; otherwise, expect delays during those hours.


Woman Enters Probation Program

Meyersdale resident Angela Hutzell has been accepted into a first-time offenders probation program, after investigators say she helped her boyfriend, Michael Moore, move the body of 53-year old Frankie Sass' body out of her apartment and across Somerset in January of last year. Sass died of a drug overdose. Ms. Hutzell can have her record expunged, if she completes on year of probation. Moore is currently serving 10 months to 2 years in prison, after pleading guilty to the abuse of a course last April.


Traffic Proposals Won't Happen In Mineral County

Mineral County residents received some bad news during their day at the Legislature in Charleston, when they were informed three proposed traffic projects won't happen. Requests included a traffic light, at Fort Avenue and South Mineral Street, primarily for Potomac State College students, who would cross Fort Avenue to get to campus. The second denial came when a traffic signal placement was requested at Route 220 and Stoney Run Road. And the third would have provided a left turn arrow from Southern Drive onto Route 220.


Planned Power Outage for Hardy County Area

Potomac Edison has scheduled an electric service interruption for part of Hardy County on Tuesday, January 28th. The interruption will be from 9 to noon, and will affect about 2300 customers in the vicinity of Baker, Mathias, and Lost River. Specifically, the affected region will be the area from south of Baker to the Virginia state border, along the Route 259 border and the surrounding areas. It will be rescheduled for Tuesday, February 4th, in case of bad weather. Potomac Edison, while regretting the inconvenience, says it is necessary to ensure service reliability in the area. 


Hall of Fame Ceremony Rescheduled

The "We Are Fort Hill" Hall of Fame induction ceremony and luncheon, scheduled for Friday, January 24th has been changed from 12 to 12:30 p.m. to accommodate the now three hour early dismissal that day. Attendees are asked not to arrive prior to noon, so as not to interfere with school dismissal and bus traffic.


O'Malley Wants Minimum Wage Increase

Governor Martin O'Malley has come up with a figure for Maryland's minimum wage-$10 per hour, as compared to the present rate of $7.25. While Montgomery and Prince George's counties have already raised the minimum wage, Governor O'Malley would like to see the increase across the board in Maryland. And while he says this is the biggest issue of his final General Assembly session as Governor, O'Malley may see some opposition from business and restaurant owners, who say an increase could actually harm those it seeks to help by forcing employers to cut staff or hours, or even close down.


First Full Week of General Assembly

This is the first full week of the General Assembly session, and on the agenda is final approval of emergency legislation, submitted by the Governor to address those who couldn't get health insurance through the state's health benefit exchange website. Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller says he would like to make the sessions more productive, and to balance the work load more evenly during the session. Miller says he had encouraged lawmakers to pre-file bills before the session began. Miller says that, traditionally, most of the major bills don't pass until the last day of the session.


Winchester Makes Top 10 Retirement List

Winchester, Virginia has been rated as on the top ten places to retire, according to AARP.  An article notes its proximity to Washington, D.C., and the fact that it offers below-average cost of living, and access to job training, for retirees who want to remain, at least partially, in the work force. The article also offers recreational opportunities and historic attractions.


Local News

Sex Offender Wanted By Authorities

Registered sex offender Paul Luther Kennedy is being sought by authorities for an alleged violation of probation. Anyone with information on his whereabouts, is asked to contact local law enforcement authorities. Kennedy is wanted on an open arrest warrant.


Water Main Break Reported

Crews were on the scene of a 12-inch water main break last night, in the vicinity of Allegany College of Maryland on Willowbrook Road. Service was interrupted to the area around the Cumberland Country Club, the Allegany College dorm apartments, and the Cumberland Meadows apartment complex. The break caused an emergency shutdown in the area.


County To Apply for Funding

Allegany County is applying for Block Grant Funding from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to access unspent federal funds that have been set aside for the state of Maryland to address damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in October of last year. If successful, the county intends to use the funds to buy additional properties in a mapped flood plain. Over the past two decades, over 250 homeowners chose to participate in the county's voluntary flood buyout program.


Police Investigate Vandalism Complaints

The Cumberland City Police Department is investigating 13 complaints of vandalism to vehicles, primarily on the West Side of Cumberland. A group of people were seen driving down the street in a light blue or turquoise station wagon, throwing eggs and flour at cars parked in the Fayette and Washington Street areas, along with Karns and Patterson Avenues. If anyone has information, they are asked to contact police at (301)-777-1600.


Assault Complaint Investigated

Patterson Avenue resident Kody Austin Martin was charged with second degree assault, following an incident early yesterday morning. The victim said she wanted her live-in boyfriend, Martin, to leave the residence as they had been fighting all day. She also told police he had assaulted her several times. Martin was charged, processed and released on personal recognizance, pending trial in District Court.


Visitation Slated for Bestpitch

Local labor leader James "Jim" Bestpitch died Saturday at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center at the age of 62. Visitation will take place Thursday at the Adams Family Funeral Home from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. A funeral service will take place at 7.


Man Uninjured in Single-Vehicle Accident

New Creek, West Virginia resident Kenneth Umstot was uninjured in a single-vehicle accident in the 16000-block of Maryland Highway this past weekend. Umstot drove his truck off of the roadway and into a ditch due to severe fog conditions. He was not transported to the hospital, and police are reminding residents to be cautious when driving during severe weather conditions.


Unemployment Rate Drops in County

The unemployment rate in Allegany County dropped to its lowest point in five years in November; the rate was 7 per cent. In November of 2008, the rate was 6.3 per cent and in December of 2008, it was 7.1 per cent. In 2008, the average number of people in the labor force was 35,562; in 2013, that number grew to 36,396.


Anniversary of Crash Remembered

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the B-52 plane, armed with nuclear warheads, that crashed in Grantsville. Three of the five crew members died; the two that survived are now deceased. The incident happened during a heavy snow storm, as the vertical fin of the plane separated from the body during weather-related turbulence. Dean Hillegas was a reporter on board a helicopter that found the body of the tail gunner, Tech Sgt. Melvin Wooten. His body was found in Salisbury, Pennsylvania, nearly 15 miles from the crash site.


Gas Prices Fluctuate in 2013

For the fifth straight year, New Year's Day brought higher gas prices than the year before. This year, on January 1st, a record was set for the highest price for a gallon of gasoline. Marylanders ended the year paying an average of $3.46 per gallon. Triple "A" of Maryland has a list of the lowest gas prices in the state.


State of Emergency Remains in Effect for West Virginia

A state of emergency was lifted in parts of several West Virginia Counties, as a result of contamination from the Freedom Industries Plant in Charleston. About 300,000 people are affected by the leak of a chemical, used in coal preparation. A "do-not-use" water order was in effect since about 5 p.m. last Thursday, when tests confirmed the chemical was in the water at the Kanawha Valley water treatment plant. It could still be days before the ban is completely lifted.  


Superintendent Eyeing Instructional Time

State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jim Phares says that, even though schools in West Virginia started earlier, some school systems may not meet the 180-day instructional mark this year. State law now requires school to end by June 8th, but a new Senate bill will allow classes to continue through much of June.

Local News

Man Indicted in Child's Death


A Hampshire County grand jury has indicted Cody Orndorff of Green Spring. He is suspected of killing his girlfriend's child, 18-month old Leah Barnes,  last October. Orndorff was charged with a count of death of a child by a custodian, involving child abuse and five more counts of child abuse resulting in injury. The grand jury formally indicted 25 people, with charges ranging from drug counts, sex-related crimes, sexual assault and distributing obscene material to a minor.



Damage Assessment Underway in Piedmont


Several houses on Second Street and a business on Childs Avenue, in what is considered the heart of Piedmont, West Virginia, were destroyed overnight Thursday. Two firefighters were treated at Potomac Valley Hospital. Thirteen residents were displaced by the fire. The library there sustained smoke and water damage, and the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.



Three Positions Open on Mayor and Council


With a little over a month away until the filing deadline, only Mayor Brian Grim and Council member David Kauffman have announced their intentions to seek re-election. Councilman Nick Scarpelli announced his intention to the run for the House of Delegates seat being vacated by Delegate LeRoy Myers. The council seats of members Nicole Wagoner and Dave Caporale will be open in 2016. The deadline to file for this year's election is February 25th.



Canal Place to be Discussed


In a letter to Delegate Kevin Kelly, Senator George Edwards has promised a face-to-face meeting with all those involved with Canal Place. And now, that meeting has been set for Wednesday in Annapolis. Representatives from the City of Cumberland, Allegany County, Canal Place and the media will be on hand for the meeting. Delegate Kelly says his position is to be "transparent" on the issue and will insist the media be present. Kelly says he would like to see Canal Place directly under the jurisdiction of elected officials, who will be accountable to the taxpayers. if that happens and if they (the taxpayers) are not satisfied, they have the option of changing their elected officials. Delegate Kelly says he would like to see "all-around accountability" for Canal Place.




Vandals Deface Veteran's Memorial


Vandals have defaced the Veteran's Memorial on South Centre Street. A visitor there reported to police that a person or persons had spray painted a curse word on the memorial. There are no suspects or witnesses at this time, and it is not known how much it will cost to restore the memorial to its original condition, and anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Cumberland City Police at (301)-777-1600.



Second Marking Period Extended


The Allegany County Public School System will extend the end of the second marking period for the school year, as the result of losing four instructional days due to bad weather. The end of the second marking period will be on Thursday, January 23rd, with a three hour early dismissal for students on Friday, January 24th. This Friday will now be a full day for students. Report card distribution will now be delayed until Monday, February 3rd. Schools will be closed for parent conferences on Thursday, February 6th, as originally scheduled.



50th Anniversary of B-52 Crash


Today is the 50th anniversary of the B-52 crash near Grantsville. The aircraft, armed with two nuclear bombs, was brought down by bad weather on Big Savage Mountain. Three of five crew members died, and two others survived the crash, but are now deceased. It took several days for the Air Force to recover the bombs and remove them from the crash site. Gerald Beachy, of the Grantsville Community Museum, is organizing a 50th anniversary memorial service on July 12th, when summer weather will make it easier for people to visit the sites.



Thousands of Gallons of Milk Spill in Bedford


A truck, carrying over 6,000 gallons of milk, crashed on Covered Bridge Road in Bedford County, spilling about 4,000 gallons of its payload. Some officials fear the milk could have an impact on the local wildlife population. The driver of the truck was taken to the hospital to be checked out, and Pennsylvania State Police continue to investigate the crash.



Potomac Edison Completes Local Upgrades


Potomac Edison has completed scheduled reliability projects designed to further enhance the electrical system and reliability in its Western Maryland and its Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia service areas. One of those projects involved replacing equipment at the Ridgeley substation, to help ensure reliability for 13,000 customers in Allegany County. The project also involved the inspection of 37,000 utility poles and the replacement of 250 poles, at a cost of about $2 million, in its service area.



Cases Could Go Before Law Judge


If some type of settlement is not reached this week, the meter-reading case involving Potomac Edison could go before a public utility law judge. Complaints involve some Western Maryland customers, who say they were being over billed, because the utility failed to read their meters as often as required by law. A formal settlement on the case was offered to P.E. on November 15th, and a written response was to have been provided by mid-December. For its part, FirstEnergy Corporation, parent company of Potomac Edison, acknowledged it missed some readings, but maintains its readings were fair.

Local News

Firefighters Respond To AES/Warrior Run

Numerous companies responded to AES/Warrior Run at Mexico Farms in Cumberland late yesterday morning for a fire. A Rapid Intervention Team was called in, but the fire was contained to the area of a coal feeder on the fifth floor of the plant. No injuries were reported, but several firefighters and at least one worker were checked as a precaution.Units cleared the scene around 2 p.m.


Multiple Buildings On Fire in Piedmont

Volunteer firefighters from around the area were on the scene of a fire, that was originally reported around 9 p.m. last night on Second Street in Piedmont. The fire involves several buildings, and was threatening the Piedmont Public Library. Firefighters were still on the scene today.


Fatal Garrett County Accident

An Accident resident, 48-year old Raymond D. Piper,  was killed in a single-vehicle accident yesterday afternoon along Route 219, south of Aiken Miller Road. Piper's vehicle went off the road, struck an embankment and overturned. He was ejected from the vehicle. Route 219 was closed for about 2 hours. Investigators say weather was not a factor in the crash.


Two Sought in Burglary

A Keyser man and a Westernport woman are being sought in connection with the June burglary of a residence on South Water Street in Keyser. Forty-six year old Robert Casto and 44-year old Angela Lloyd are considered fugitives and are being sought in connection with the burgarly. Jewelry and silver and gold coins were taken from a residence in the 100-block of South Water Street. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact the Keyser City Police at (304)-788-1311.


Woman Served with Warrant

Forty-seven year old Nita Miller was placed under arrest, following an incident in the 500-block of Fairview Avenue early yesterday morning. She had been involved in a domestic incident there, and police discovered she had an active arrest warrant for failure to appear in District Court in November. She was held on a $250.00 pre-set bond, after a hearing.


Mineral Receives Block Grant Funding

Mineral County has received $1.3 million in Small Cities Block Grant Funding, to be used for the Fountain Water Project, which will extend water service and increase capacity to nearly 413 households in the Fountain Public Service District.  Nearly $13 million in funding was presented by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, which will be used with more than $40 million more in federal, state, and local funding to serve over 11,000 low and moderate-income individuals.


Rocky Gap Lands Comedy Club

Rocky Gap Casino Resort has announced it will become home to the newest location of "Bonkerz" Comedy Club, which has been hosting stand-up shows around the country for 30 years. A preview of the club will be held on Thursday, January 23rd with comedians Carmen Vallone and L.A. Lycan. The grand opening will take place on Thursday, February 6th with Sally Brooks and James Yon, who is the host of Dish Network's "Viral Breakdown." For more information or to purchase tickets, call (301)-784-8573, beginning on Monday.


Woman Appointed District Court Judge

A 1995 graduate of Keyser High School has been appointed as a District Court Judge in Fallston, North Carolina. Jeannette (Brooks) Reeves is now presiding over cases involving family law, abuse and neglect cases, juvenile law, and child support. Judge Reeves is a 1999 graduate of West Virginia University, and graduated from law school in 2002. She was appointed to replace Judge Anna F. Foster, who moved to Florida in August of last year.


Task Force Formed to Investigate Shooting

A multi-state task force has been formed to aid in the hunt for a suspect, who shot and killed a man on Interstate 81 last weekend. Authorities warn the violence may not be over, and have announced the formation of a task force with the Maryland State Police, the Carroll Township, Pennsylvania police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Another incident was reported last Friday, when someone shot at a vehicle in that area. The driver was uninjured. Callers can report information to 1-800-4PA-TIPS.


Top Democrats Want Website Abandoned

Maryland may set a precedent if it decides to abandon the state-run health care website, as other states may follow. is reporting that Governor Martin O'Malley has shifted his tone, and appears open to a solution to the problem, if only temporarily, until the state website improves. Congressman John Delaney first proposed the idea of switching to the federal site, and several other Democrats, including Attorney General Doug Gansler-who is running in the primary against Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown-who said that "all options for a potential fix" should be on the table.


O'Malley Comments on Marijuana Legislation, Minimum Wage

Governor Martin O'Malley says he is "not much in favor" of legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, but says the state can afford to make strides with the regulation and use of medicinal marijuana. Governor O'Malley, in explaining his position, says he has seen so many people, whose lives were ruined by drug abuse. The Governor says that raising the minimum wage is his top priority during this General Assembly session. He points out that although 21 states have a higher minimum wage than Maryland, none has a higher median income.Governor O'Malley points out that there are several different economies at play in Maryland-a different consumer price index, cost of doing business, and cost of living.



Local News

O'Malley Wants Higher Minimum Wage

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley says Maryland has the highest median income in the nation, and is looking to increase the state's minimum wage. Twenty-one other states have higher minimum wage rates than Maryland. O'Malley is presiding over his final General Assembly session as Governor, and believes when workers have the ability to spend more money, the economy does better.


Casinos Report Low Revenue

Maryland's four casinos generated only about $65 million in December, the lowest monthly total since the Rocky Gap Casino opened in May. For its part, Rocky Gap, with 558 slots and 13 table games, brought in about $2.6 million in December. Overall, the highest amount of revenue last year was in August, when the casinos brought in about $71 million. Revenues in December contributed nearly $25 million for the state's education trust fund.


Keyser Resident Killed in Crash

Fifty-six year old Keyser resident Robert Paul Thomas died in an early morning crash along Route 93, near the Mineral-Grant County line. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. His truck left the roadway, hit two trees and caught fire. He and a passenger were trapped inside the truck. There is no word on the condition, nor the identity of the passenger. The investigation into the 5:30 a.m. crash is continuing.


Locally Wanted Man Arrested at Airport

An Aberdeen, Maryland man, who is wanted in Allegany County, was arrested at BWI/Thurgood Marshall Airport, while attempting to board a plane to Canada. Thirty-seven year old Michael Shanahan is wanted by the Allegany County Sheriff's Office for failure to appear in court on  a charge of drug paraphernalia possession. He was arrested and turned over to the Maryland Transportation Authority Police for extradition back to Allegany County.


Man Taken to Hospital

Eighty-eight year old Rawlings resident William Heyl Ack was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, after he got out of his truck, while it was still in gear. Ack pulled off the shoulder of Route 135; he was flown to the hospital and treated.


Truck Accident in Hampshire County

There were no serious injuries in an accident involving two trucks on Route 28 in Springfield, West Virginia. A 2008 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Jacob Weimer and traveling northbound, traveled left of center and hit a 2014 CSX dump truck, driven by Edward Long which was traveling in the opposite direction. The dump truck went off the roadway, striking Charles Boland's "Storybook Joinery" handcrafted furniture and two vehicles in his driveway. Neither driver was hospitalized.


Man Arrested in Business Burglary

Cumberland resident Michael Edward Brennan, an employee of Uncle Jack's Pizzeria, has been arrested in connection with a burglary there that occurred in early December. Brennan is accused of removing a small safe, containing an undisclosed sum of cash, and a DVR recording system. There was no sign of forced entry, and surveillance video of several other local businesses in the area was reviewed. Brennan was charged with burglary, but also marijuana possession, when a small amount was found on him. He is being held at the Allegany County Detention Center on $20,000 bond.


Man Arrested in Domestic Incident

Wills Creek Avenue resident Trevor Laber was arrested by Cumberland City Police, following an alleged domestic assault incident at his home. Laber is accused of assaulting his wife, then taking their infant son from the home. He was located a short distance away, and was placed under arrest. After being charged with second-degree assault, he was taken for a bond hearing, and released on personal recognizance.


Speaker Discusses General Assembly Session

Several Democrats, on both the state and federal level, have been critical of the troubled health care exchange site in Maryland. Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch  says he doesn't want to point fingers of blame, and that everyone had the best intentions with the state and national sites. He says that the states that established websites before the launch of the federal site, are in a much better position. Busch says Maryland is in "reasonable territory" with regard to corporate income taxes, although some Republican may push for as much as a 10 per cent reduction in income taxes. Busch believes that consumer confidence may be bolstered by an agreement that will prevent another government sequestration for at least two more years. He also commented on a possible benefit from increased transportation revenues.


County Executive Wants Gas Tax Exemption

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz wants county owned vehicles exempted from the state's gas tax. Kamenetz says the exemption could save Baltimore County about $2 million annually. Baltimore County now receives about $3 million in highway user funds, but that amount is down from the $45 million it used to receive.


Highway Funding to be Discussed in West Virginia

West Virginia has lost about $100 million, or 20 per cent of its highway funding, and legislators in the Mountain State will be addressing that shortfall, as its legislative session gets underway. The State Transportation Secretary and the Tomblin Administration are looking for ways to make up the shortfall. While tolls and tax hikes are unpopular suggestions, some cost-cutting measures are already underway.

Local News

Cumberland To Receive Block Grant Funding

The city of Cumberland is expecting around $700,000 in block grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for FY 2015. The money will be distributed to a variety of local, non-profit organizations that offer programs for low-income neighborhoods. Interested organizations should submit requests in person at the regular Cumberland Mayor and City Council meeting on February 11th at 6:15 p.m.


Cell Tower Won't Interfere with Aircraft

A proposed cell tower in Flintstone won't interfere with air navigation, but a construction date is uncertain. A cell tower is being proposed by Verizon, and in a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration, it was stated the tower does need to be lighted, in accordance with federal regulations. Construction should begin later this year, and should be activated, no later than June, according to Verizon.


Cause of Fire Determined

The cause of Monday night's fire on "A" Street in Lavale has been traced to electrical wiring in the wall, which caught a couch on fire. The home of Amy Shirey sustained a total of $50,000 in damage to the structure and contents. The fire was discovered in the living room by Ms. Shirey. About 30 firefighters from several area companies responded. Ms. Shirey is being assisted by family members.


Woman Arrested for Receiving Stolen Property

Twenty-one year old Rachael Erin Twigg was issued a criminal summons for receiving stolen property. The summons was issued as a result of a breaking and entering investigation handled by the Cumberland City Police, and then forwarded to the C3I unit for investigation in June of last year. Ms. Twigg revealed she was involved in the incident in receiving the property. She was charged with theft of less than $1,000, theft of less than $100, and being an accessory after the fact in the case.


Moorefield Man Arrested in Garrett County

Moorefield resident Benjamin Whetzel was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia, following a traffic stop late yesterday morning on Route 219, north of Glendale Road. Whetzel was originally stopped for speeding and not using his seat belt. A probable cause search was done on the car, and Whetzel was taken into custody, and later released after signing a criminal citation.  


Ludwick Sworn In As Board of Health Member

Dr. William Ludwick was sworn in as the newest member of the Mineral County Board of Health, during a special meeting held yesterday afternoon. Dr. Ludwick was appointed by the Mineral County Commission at last month's meeting, and replaces Rodney Leatherman, who has left the area.


No Changes Foreseen at Luke Mill

The purchase of NewPage Corporation by Verso was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and will better position the new company to serve its customers and compete in a competitive global marketplace. Patsy Koontz, public relations manager at the NewPage plant at Luke, says they will be able to offer a broader range of products, which is important in light of the decline in the use of paper products. Ms. Koontz emphasized there are no plans to close any NewPage or Verso mills and the company will continue to do what they do best. Rick Watro, Luke Mill manager released a statement, thanking the dedicated employees for an improved year-over-year performance in both safety and production. Watro's statement noted the company's focus will remain on making the Luke Mill an ever safer and more cost-effective operation in 2014, so that it will be a valuable asset to the new organization.


Explosives Found in Hagerstown

Commercial grade explosives were found at a construction site, north of Hagerstown on Monday. A construction crew noticed a blasting cap in the ground, while working on a sidewalk project, and the explosives were detonated in the ground. Bruce Bouch, director of public education and media affairs for the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office, says the explosives were left in the ground when a shopping center was being built in that area in 1989.


FBI Looking for Random Shooter

The FBI has joined in the search for a suspect, who fatally shot a Maine resident during an incident on Interstate 81 southbound. Timothy Davison of Poland, Maine was killed in what police believe was a random, road-rage incident. Davison called "911" to say he was being pursued by a pickup truck, whose occupant was firing a gun at him. Police are sending a special plea to collision and auto-body shops that might spot a vehicle matching the description of the one involved. It was described as a smaller-style pickup truck, possibly a Ford Ranger.


Former Police Commissioner, State Official Dies

Bishop Robinson, the first African-American police commissioner in Baltimore City, has passed away at the age of 86. Robinson also served as the State Secretary of Juvenile Justice under former Governor Parris Glendenning. In a statement from the Baltimore City Police Department, it was noted Robinson served as one of the founding members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives or "NOBLE." Funeral arrangements are incomplete.


Plane Equipped with 'Chute System

A plane that crashed last weekend in Upshur County, West Virginia was equipped with a parachute system that was deployed when the engine lost power. It is the only plane of its kind to be equipped to lower itself to the ground in an emergency. Both the pilot, 30-year old James Meadows of Hendersonville, Tennessee and 42-year old Billy King of Buckhannon were uninjured in the crash.


Local News Update

House Fire in LaVale

Several fire companies were on the scene of a house fire, at 516 "A" Street in LaVale last night. No injuries were reported; on arrival, flames could be seen coming from the house. Everyone inside got out all right. The fire was brought under control in about 15 minutes. The Maryland State Fire Marshal arrived on the scene to investigate the cause. The call was initially received around 9:30 p.m.



Local News

Verso to Buy NewPage Corporation

Verso Paper Corporation and NewPage Holdings, Incorporated have announced an agreement, under which Verso will acquire NewPage in a $1.4 billion deal. The combined company will have sales of approximately $4.5 billion and 11 manufacturing facilities in six states. NewPage had previously declined a deal with Verso, while NewPage was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The deal should be finalized during the second quarter of the year.


County Opens Warming Center

If you are experiencing a power outage during the cold weather and high winds, Allegany County has opened a warming center at the multi-purpose building at the Allegany County Fairgrounds. The center will be open through tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. Residents are being encouraged to take precautions in preparation for the weather event. Potomac Edison customers should report any outages to the utility by calling 1-888-544-4877.


Sheriff To Conduct Sobriety Checkpoint

The Allegany County Sheriff's Department is conducting a sobriety checkpoint at an undisclosed location this week, to promote awareness and reduce the number of alcohol-impaired drivers on the roads. The checkpoint will be clearly marked with signs, lights and uniformed officers. The department conducts several checkpoints throughout the year, in addition to utilizing special enforcement details specifically targeting drunken, drugged, and distracted drivers. Last year, the Allegany County Sheriff's Office investigated 183 crashes resulting in 134 injuries and 3 fatalities.


Oakland Fire Under Investigation

A fire, just after noon on Sunday in Garrett County, is under investigation by the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office. The blaze, at 5629 Gorman Road, was first reported by a passerby at the home of Allen and Jennifer Moreland. Damages were set at $30,000. It was brought under control in ten minutes by 30 volunteer firefighters from several Maryland and West Virginia companies.


Hangar Restaurant Sold

The Main Street Hangar in Frostburg  was recently purchased at auction by Vivian and Greg Diehl, owners of Diehl's Ford Sales in Grantsville. The restaurant may be renamed, but plans are for it to open later in the summer. The former owners, Thomas and Lillian Jacobs, bought the building in 2005. The primary structure was built in 1925.


Keyser Investigating Car Thefts

The Keyser City Police are investigating at least a half-dozen complaints of thefts from parked cars. Thefts were reported on South Main Street, "A" Street, West Piedmont Street, and St. Cloud Street. The cars were apparently all unlocked, but there have also been recent reports of actual break-ins of locked vehicles. Anyone with information is asked to contact Keyser City Police.


Man Arrested for Marijuana, Outstanding Warrant

A Keyser man was taken into custody Sunday, and charged with possession of marijuana and on an outstanding warrant from Washington County. Thirty-five year old Tyrone Miner was initially stopped for making an illegal turn on West Oldtown Road. A K-9 scan of the vehicle led to the discovery of a small quantity of marijuana. And, police found out Miner was wanted in Washington County on a failure to appear count. He was taken to the Allegany County Detention Center, where he was held.


Man Arrested for Theft

Cumberland resident David Painter was arrested by Cumberland City Police on a charge of theft from a Canal Street business. Painter, an employee of the business, was observed on video surveillance, taking an undetermined amount of currency from the business. He was charged with theft of less than $1,000 and was later released, pending trial in Allegany County District Court.


LaRue Re-Elected Mineral County Commission President

In her final year in office, Commissioner Janice LaRue was re-elected president of the board. She has reiterated she won't be seeking re-election to office. Also during the most recent commissioners' meeting, committee assignments for state and local boards were approved.


Shelter Urges Pet Welfare

This is the coldest weather we have experienced in Allegany County in the past two decades, and no pet in the community can be assumed to be safe outside, during the overnight hours during the next couple of days. If you need assistance with keeping a pet safe from the weather, please call the Allegany County Animal Shelter at (301)-777-5930, or call local emergency services at "911." This is a true emergency situation and local residents who own outdoor pets are expected to act accordingly.


Wages, Taxes to Dominate General Assembly

Some Western Maryland delegates believe that efforts to raise the minimum wage, and a possible reduction in the corporate income tax will dominate the 2014 session of the General Assembly, which begins tomorrow. However, outgoing Delegate LeRoy Myers says the session will be as "quiet and non-controversial as possible for both parties" An unsuccessful bill to raise the state's minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2015 was introduced last year. Delegate Michael Hough, from Washington County, says he will introduce a measure seeking term limits for legislators.


Martinsburg VAMC Prepares for Extreme Weather

The Martinsburg Veteran's Affairs Medical Center has taken action to deal with the anticipated record-breaking cold weather by activating "Operation Veterans Respite." Any Veteran and family members in need of shelter should call the National Homeless Hotline at 877-424-3838. It's estimated that on any given night, there are an estimated 100,000 veterans on the streets. For more information on Veteran Homelessness, visit the VA Homeless Veterans website at ""


General Assembly Opens Tomorrow

The 434th session of the Maryland General Assembly opens tomorrow, but don't expect much controversy, since the primary elections are only five months away. Senate President Mike Miller says he expects to hold hearings on the health benefits exchange website, which has experienced problems. Miller responded to claims that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have mishandled the situation.Miller said last year's federal sequestration has had an effect on the state's efforts to reduce its deficit. He feels this is the "beginning of the end" of the recession. Miller says Maryland went into the recession slowly, and is expected to come out of it in the same fashion.


Local News

Police Investigate Possible Meth Lab


The C3I unit is expected to file charges, after a possible meth lab was found in the 500-block of Linden Street late last week. Cumberland Fire and Police departments responded to the fire, inside the residence. Firefighters observed some suspicious items that lead them to believe some of the materials in the home may have been used to manufacture methamphetamine. Also  responding to the scene was the Allegany County Hazardous Material team.



Safe Streets Initiative Begins


The Safe Streets Program is conducting another warrant initiative, beginning today, and running through Friday. Sixteen residents are being sought for a number of violations, including drug counts, violation of probation/failure to appear, robbery and domestic assault. The Safe Streets program is requesting citizens and residents of communities to assist in the apprehension of numerous individuals wanted for various criminal activities.



Kelly Calls for Termination of Canal Place Authority


Delegate Kevin Kelly believes the city of Cumberland and the county should be responsible for Canal Place, and that the Preservation and Development Authority should be disbanded. During recent remarks at the Maryland Retired School Personnel Association, Delegate Kelly believes Canal Place should be under the control of elected officials, who are directly accountable to the taxpayers. According to an article in the Cumberland Times-News, Kelly believes he has "seen enough."



Scarpelli Officially Announces House Bid


Cumberland City Council member Nick Scarpelli has officially announced his bid for the District 1-C House of Delegates seat being vacated by LeRoy Myers. During his announcement Saturday, Scarpelli noted that he has had the opportunity to work with a team that has taken a city that couldn't pay its bills, to one that now has a positive fund balance. All this, without cutting services to its citizens. Having chosen his family home and business, the Scarpelli Funeral Home to make the announcement, Scarpelli promises, if elected, to work diligently to bring employment opportunities to Western Maryland. Councilman Scarpelli noted that he has assembled a team that has accomplished several objectives, including having secured funding for a playground at Canal Place.




Romney Residents Face Drug Charges


Two Romney residents, 24-year old Cassandra Lynn Kesner and 19-year old Dillon Shawn Cleaver, have been arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. During a traffic stop on Interstate 68 westbound, a K-9 scan alerted Cumberland City Police to the presence of drugs. Numerous hypodermic syringes, along with two burnt spoons that later tested positive for morphine, were found in the car. Both were arrested, and Ms. Kesner was later released; Cleaver was held in the Allegany County Detention Center on $4,000 bond.



MCDA Looking for Executive Director


The Mineral County Development Authority is looking for an executive director, following the retirement of Mona Ridder. The Authority is accepting applications until Wednesday, January 15th. Qualifications include a bachelor's degree in business, economics, or a closely related field, along with a minimum of seven years experience in the same fields. Letters of interest and resumes can be sent to the MCDA, 87 North Main Street, Suite 1, Keyser, West Virginia 26726.



Grants Awarded by Pennsylvania Department of Education


The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced $1.7 million in career and technical education equipment grants, including nearly $50,000 to Somerset and Bedford Counties. The Bedford County Technical Center was awarded $10,000, while Somerset County's Technology Center was granted over $38,000. Funding will be used to purchase equipment for training students in the programs, but they must also align with Pennsylvania targeted industry areas.



Homicide Investigated Along Southbound Interstate 81


A Maine man is dead, in what can only be described as a "bizarre" incident on Southbound Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania early Saturday morning. Twenty-eight year old Timothy Davison of Portland, Maine, was traveling southbound, when he reported to "911" that he was being pursued by a Ford Ranger-style truck. The driver was firing a weapon at him, then rammed him, and forced his vehicle into the median. The driver then fired several rounds into Davison's car; he later died at a York-area hospital. The Interstate was shut down for several hours, but the suspect is still at large.



Microbrewery Legislation to be Proposed


\Maryland Delegate Kelly Schulz will sponsor a bill to allow microbreweries in the state to sell their own pre-packaged beer on site. Currently, that is now allowed under state law. Delegate Schulz sponsored a new law last year, that allows Maryland microbreweries to distribute their beer off-site, such as at a retail store.


Gas Prices Rise in West Virginia


Gas prices rose about four cents over the last week in West Virginia, with the average price of a gallon of regular gas, pegged at $3.39. That is higher than the U.S. average of $3.32, but below some of the steep increases reported in several other states. Prices range from a low of $3.22 in Parkersburg to a high of $3.50 a gallon in the Martinsburg and Wheeling areas.


Local News

Fire Displaces Family

A fire Wednesday afternoon displaced the Roy Payne family of Hazen Road. The cause of the fire was determined to be combustible materials, placed too closely to a desk lamp. There were no injuries, and total damage to the structure and contents was placed at $30,000.


Bus Involved in Minor Accident

An Allegany County school bus was involved in a minor accident yesterday morning. Bus #35 was leaving Mount Savage School, and was hit by a passenger vehicle. No students were aboard the bus at the time of the accident. No injuries were reported.


Total Loss for Buildings Involved in Fire

Two commercial storage buildings were declared a total loss, following a fire Wednesday evening. The buildings were owned by John Squires, and were located on Dixon Road in Friendsville. The fire is currently under investigation by the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office and the dollar loss was placed at $410,000. The fire reportedly spread from one building to the other, causing a total loss of both buildings.


First Baby of the New Year Arrives Wednesday Afternoon

The first baby of the New Year wasn't born until early Wednesday evening at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center. Jayce Sturtz arrived a month early and was just over four pounds at birth. The parents are Kim Kifer and Joshua Sturtz of Mount Savage. The baby was delivered by Dr. Dale Wolford.


Somerset Guard Sentenced for Smuggling

Former Somerset County Correctional Officer Donald Lynch, Jr., was sentenced to two to 23 months in the Somerset County Jail. Lynch was charged with smuggling contraband into the State Correctional Institution at Somerset. The jail term will be followed by two years of supervised probation. He will also be required to perform 100 hours of community service and pay a fine of $500.00.


Man Held on $10,000 Bond for Trespassing

Cumberland resident William Bernier is being held at the Allegany County Detention Center on $10,000 bail, after he was arrested at the Union Rescue Mission on New Year's Day. Bernier was allegedly creating a disturbance, and was asked to leave. He returned, and was arrested. He was charged with both trespassing and disorderly conduct.


Public Schools Launch Facebook Page, Twitter Account

The Allegany County Public School System recently launched a Facebook page, as well as a Twitter feed in an effort to enhance communication with parents, students and the community. Both social media platforms will feature announcements, information about upcoming events, ACPS highlights, as well as school closings and delays. The Facebook page can be accessed by visiting The Twitter address is ACPS_Supt.


Large Drug Bust In Hagerstown

Three Hagerstown residents are in jail, following a large drug bust in Washington County. Police say about $50,000 worth of drugs were found inside a home on Hamilton Boulevard. Both heroin and methamphetamine were found, along with several guns and $9,000 in cash. Arrested were 23-year old Breezy Jill Beckette, 26-year old Cody William Grant, and 25-year old Daniel Matthew Anderson. A warrant is out for 25-year old Benjamin Joseph Beckette. The investigation is ongoing.


Pennsylvania Doctor Wants New Trial

A Tyrone, Pennsylvania doctor, who was sentenced 10 years ago for sex and drug offenses with teenage boys wants a new trial. Attorney Joel Seelye says his client, former doctor Barry Bender, wants either a new trial or some type of remedy to his case, because part of his plea agreement contained a promise the prosecution would not oppose his parole. Bender's defense attorney says there is also newly discovered evidence, and that the court's should step in and review the case.


Slots Boost Horse Breeding Industry

There is evidence that slot machine revenue has helped boost the Maryland horse-breeding industry. There is a 13-per cent increase in Maryland-bred mares and a 23-per cent increase in new stallions for the 2014 breeding season. Josh Pons, owner of Country Life Farms says a campaign has been launched to announce the rebirth of the horse racing industry in the state. The campaign is entitled, "The Colts are back."A portion of slots revenue has been set aside for horse racing purses, and Pons that in its heyday, the racing industry had about 2,000 mares that would run at both Pimlico and Laurel. Pons admits that slots do detract from horse racing profits. There is a movement to several neighboring states, but the Free State can boast of several Kentucky Derby winners.


Woman To Be Sentenced In Severe Case of Neglect

Charleston, West Virginia resident Susan Nicole Adkins faces from one to five years for overdosing on drugs last July, while her 2-year old son was found in the back seat of her car. She was found guilty by a jury of child neglect, creating a substantial risk of injury or death. She had injected heroin, and passed out. Her defense attorneys had argued that while her conduct needed to be addressed, she parked her car in such a way that it would be found if something happened to her. She will be sentenced on February 7th.


Declining Population Becoming Problem For West Virginia

One of the biggest problems West Virginia is facing is the decline in population. Economist Dr. John Deskins of West Virginia University says there is a "ripple" effect when young people leave the state. Markets become smaller for businesses, and that makes them less inclined to move into the state. Businesses consequently have fewer workers. Both the Mountain State and Maine both lost population during the past year.

Local News

Howell Proposes Economic Development Plan


West Virginia Delegate Gary Howell is proposing an economic development plan, resulting in what he hopes are more jobs, with a focus on Mineral County Delegate Howell is proposing a commercial park in Carpendale, as well as the much-discussed bridge to Allegany County. Howell also says he was to propose a change to  the Interstate Coal and Use Act, which would allow coal companies to apply for mining permits with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, instead of the EPA.



Sheriff's Office Nears Completion


The new Sheriff's Office, adjacent to the Allegany County Office Complex on Kelly Road is nearly complete, and could be opening sometime in the spring. Nearly all of the concrete has been poured on the interior of the building, and the timetable depends on the amount of time county employees have to outfit the inside of the building. The complex will replace what has been termed "cramped quarters" on Furnace Street. The groundbreaking for the new Sheriff's Office took place last August.



Police Warn of Scam


Cumberland City Police are warning residents of a scam in which a caller asks for money because a family member being incarcerated. The Cumberland City Police say, obviously the calls are false, and that no money or account information be given over the phone.



Woman Arrested for Threats


Cumberland resident Jacquelyn Graham has been charged in connection with a New Year's Eve incident on Lafayette Avenue. She went to the victim's home, got into an argument and pulled a knife from her purse, pointing it at the victim. The person was able to flee and was not harmed. Ms. Graham left in her vehicle, but was served and released pending trial in District Court.



Teen Sexually Assaulted on Towpath


A 14-year old was sexually assaulted while walking along the C & O Canal towpath in the Big Pool area on Monday. Police say the juvenile was taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment of injuries, non of which was life-threatening. They are not releasing the gender of the teen. The suspect, who fled on foot, was described as a male wearing a dark-colored jacket with a hood.



Local Governments Want Highway Funding


For years, local governments received about 30 per cent of money raised from the gas tax and vehicle registrations for local transportation projects, but now receive only about 10 per cent. The other 20 per cent has been used to balance the state budget.  One legislator says he doubts the local funding will be restored this year. Michael Sanderson, president of the Maryland Association of Counties believes that, with the increased gas tax, the legislature should return a greater share to local governments.



Top Paid State Employees Revealed


Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley earned $150,000 in 2012, but that was nowhere near the salary of Maryland football coach Randy Edsall and basketball coach Mark Turgeon earned-more than $2 million each. A salary database shows that by 2018, the governor's salary will increase to $180,000 and the state's legislators will see their pay jump to more than $50,000 under a state salary commission survey. The top wage earners in the state, other than college coaches, were University of Maryland doctors.



Officers Killed in the Line of Duty Down


In 2013, only one police officer in Maryland was shot and killed in the line of duty, and that is Officer Jason Schneider. Sue Nickerson, president of  Maryland Concerns for Police Survivors, says the trend of officers killed was also down nationally. She says the goal of her organization is to support families of those officers during what she called their "journey of grief." Her group provides financial and emotional support, along with scholarships for the children of slain officers, along with line of duty death benefits. The biggest needs, according to Ms. Nickerson, are emotional and material support, the largest of which is emotional support.




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