Worcester News In Brief
SNOW HILL — At this week’s Worcester County Commission meeting, the process to replace the roofs on two library branches began, the use of the Langmaid Road Sand Pit for FBI usage was approved, an error that would have deprived an agency of $40,000 in funding was corrected and a potentially hazardous nuisance property was discussed, among other items.
New Roofs For Library Branches
Both the Berlin and Snow Hill library facilities will be getting new roofs this year.
“We’ve got a very old slate roof on [the Berlin] facility,” John Tustin, director of Public Works, told the commissioners Tuesday. “That is on the lands of the Berlin Fire Company. We have been in contact with them to let them know what we’re doing with that. They are in favor of it.”
The Snow Hill facility has a different composite roof but is just as in need of replacement, with its wooden shingled roof dating back to 1974. In both cases, the old roofs will be entirely replaced with 50-year rated asphalt shingles.
Bids for both projects will open on Aug. 26. Once bids are received they will be reviewed for approval by the commissioners at a meeting in the near future. Money for the projects has already been allocated from FY2013 funds.
FBI Returns To Newark
As has become a pattern over the last several years, the FBI will be coming to Worcester in September for a course on explosives.
“I’ve had a request from the FBI to host a two-day improvised explosive course for a variety of disciplines in September,” wrote Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon in a memo to the commission. “The course will be for the region’s bomb technicians and post blast fire-explosive investigators.”
The featured instructor this year will be Dr. Kirk Yeagar, “a renowned expert with the FBI laboratory,” according to McMahon. Training will be from 9 a.m. to noon each day, Sept. 17-19, with range activity from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“They’ve done this the last couple of falls, in September or October of the last couple of years,” McMahon said. “They’ve limited their explosive range to less than a pound of explosives, 16-ounces of explosives. And this time it’s probably going to be more along the line of household chemicals and explosives.”
While the testing isn’t new, it is still a sensitive subject after Hardwire LLC, decided to withdraw its application to use the Langmaid range for explosives testing because of backlash from residents in 2011. Commissioner Jim Purnell told McMahon that he was still aware of the feelings of the community about testing and stressed the need to contact residents about the test details and schedule before they hear about it some other way. “What about the residents? Have they been notified or will they be notified?” Purnell asked.
McMahon explained that residents near the site in Newark will be contacted prior to the explosives course and traditionally have been. One South Point resident did call about the testing last year the day after, McMahon added. Commission President Bud Church recommended extending advance notification to some of those South Point residents directly across the bay from the firing range.
Center Awarded $40,000
A recent invoicing error left the Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) short funding from Worcester for FY2012-FY2013 to the tune of $40,000.
“We had a supervisor in our grants office who retired,” said John Hickman, executive director. “Normally, they were in charge of making sure these were submitted. So for FY12 the invoice didn’t go out.”
The $20,000 in annual funding support for SBTDC has been provided for several years, according to Bill Badger, director of Economic Development for Worcester. Missing out on two years of funding could have been extremely damaging for SBTDC, especially since their partnership with the county has intensified since this spring when Worcester became a fund manager, in tandem with Anne Arundel County, for state casino-supported small business loans.
“Since we partnered with Anne Arundel Economic Corporation, the load of work that we placed on the SBTDC has doubled, or close to it,” said Badger.
He recommended forgiving the lack of an invoice for FY12 or FY13 funds from SBTDC and restoring the $40,000 in funding immediately.
“We’ve identified some surplus funds from FY13 so the actual cost of making whole on our commitment is $27,000, not $40,000,” Badger added.
The commission agreed unanimously to approve transferring the funds. After hearing about how much Worcester has come to utilize SBTDC in the last few months, Commissioner Judy Boggs asked Hickman to return to the group in the near future for a status update.
“I’d be very interested in a listing of businesses that you have served in Worcester County because I know that you’re involved in Wicomico,” she said. “But I think it’s important that the commissioners know exactly what businesses are availing themselves of your services. And also, we want to get out to the newspapers that these services are available.”
Hickman replied that he can compile a summary of what SBTDC is able to do and return to the commission. Because of confidentiality issues, he can’t generate a list of specific businesses helped in Worcester, though he promised to disclose as much as he was allowed.
For a second consecutive meeting, Commissioner Jim Purnell has urged the county to intervene with a property issue in his district. The home of a 94-year-old resident is being negatively impacted by the dereliction of her neighbor’s property and it’s past time for the county to get involved, according to Purnell.
“You’ve got tree limbs coming over to her property, hanging this close to her house … I don’t know if it’s gotten to the point where they’re going to tear the [neighbor’s] house down or burn it down,” he said. “But if we burn it down it’s got to go beyond that. That lady should not have to endure what she’s enduring.”
The offending property in question is considered a nuisance that needs to be abated, Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins informed the commission. He recommended having Ed Tudor, director of Development Review and Permitting, evaluate the property and report at the commission’s next meeting.
“I know that he had looked at it and there were some concerns about it,” said Higgins.
Church agreed that the problem as Purnell described was the kind of situation that the county needs to remain on watch for, especially since it “could be a health issue.”
“When all’s been said and done, more’s been said than done,” said Church. “Let’s get somebody out there and get a report and see what we can do.”