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GO 106 News Archives for 2014-02

Local News

Victim Identified, Origin of Frostburg Fire Determined

The victim of an early morning fire at 144 Bowery Street two weeks ago, has been positively identified as Lateef Gazal of Bowie. A preliminary report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be thermal burn injuries and smoke inhalation. The fire originated in the kitchen of the home. It has also been determined that the fire was likely accidental in nature. Investigators are still looking for the specific source of ignition of the fire. Smoke alarms were present, but it cannot be verified if they were operational.


Four Arrested in Courthouse Protest

Four people were arrested yesterday, after blocking the entrance to the Allegany County courthouse on Washington Street. They were protesting the Cove Point fracked gas export plan. Taken into custody were Cumberland residents Desiree Bullard and Benjamin Brown, along with Gabriel Echeverri of Frostburg and Unitarian Church minister Terrence Ellen of Pikesville, Maryland. All four were charged with blocking free passage to a public building. Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson said he had some advance knowledge of the protest, in which about 25 to 30 people participated.


Moorefield Man Sentenced to Prison

Hardy County resident Timothy Hawks was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years supervised release for possession of material used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Hawks was among a group of ten individuals who were recently sentenced in United States District Court in Elkins. Hawks was taken into custody of a U.S. Marshal, pending assignment to a federal institution.


Accident Sends One to Ruby Memorial

A three vehicle accident on Chestnut Ridge Road, south of the Pennsylvania state line sent one man to Ruby Memorial Hospital late yesterday afternoon. A car, operated by Jessica Shuck of Ridgeley went out of control and was struck by another, operated by Joe Arnold of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. The passenger in Ms. Shuck's car, Daniel Ryan, also of Ridgeley, was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital. A third vehicle, following the Arnold vehicle, was unable to stop and collided with Arnold's car. The investigation is continuing by the Maryland State Police.


Georgia Man Jailed in Keyser

Bowen, Georgia resident Jared Mitchell was jailed on $1250 bond following an incident at a bar there. Mitchell was staying at a local hotel in the area, and working on a construction project. He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and indecent exposure, when he refused to leave Clancy's Bar. He was also combative with officers who took him into custody.


Federal Lawsuit Settled

A federal lawsuit, filed by two former Bedford County Sheriff's Deputies, has been settled. The deputies, Charles Stuby and Lukas Berkey claimed their civil rights were violated; they further charged  they were fired, as Stuby opposed Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer, and Berkey campaigned for Stuby. A trial date had been set for March 24th, but the settlement was announced this week. While neither side revealed terms of the settlement, the deputies had asked for their former jobs back, and about $83,000 in lost wages and benefits.


Pre-K Through First Grade Registrations Set

Children who will enter Allegany County Public Schools this August should be registered on March 21st and 22nd at the appropriate elementary school, as determined by residence. A child entering the pre-K program must be four years old on or before September 1st of the school year in which they apply for entrance. There is other documentation required. For more information, call either (301)-759-2001 or (301)-759-2012.


Hooley Plunge Set for Tomorrow

A slight chance of snow and rain, with a high near 43 degrees...that's the forecast for tomorrow's Hooley Plunge, to benefit the Allegany County Special Olympics and programs for the developmentally disabled. Becky McClarren says registration begins at 10 a.m., and the plunge is at 1 p.m. Ms. McClarren says that even if you're not plunging, everyone is invited to come to Lake Habeeb and watch the event. Every penny raised stays in the area, and goes to various programs for the developmentally disabled.


Hagerstown Man Convicted of Rape

Hagerstown resident Montague Sutherland could face life in prison, after his conviction for the rape of a Washington County woman. Sutherland is also accused of dousing the woman with bleach after the attack. He was arrested in April of last year, for the March attack, with his arrest coming after a DNA matched a sample taken from the victim. Sutherland was additionally found guilty of first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, reckless endangerment, theft and other charges.


Hotel Stay Bill Proposed

Maryland State Senator Allen Kittleman is proposing a bill that would limit hotel stays for some legislators during the annual session. Kittleman believes lawmakers who live within 50 miles of Annapolis should drive to and from the State House each day, except during the last two weeks of the session or when there is bad weather. His bill, he says, would save almost $800,000 a year. Currently lawmakers are allowed a $101-per day hotel stipend.


West Virginia Teen Sentenced

Seventeen-year old Rachel Shoaf has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the stabbing death of classmate Skylar Neese in 2012, but could be eligible for parole in 10 yers. A circuit court judge imposed a harsher sentence that prosecutors recommended in a plea bargain agreement. Ms. Shoaf will remain in a juvenile facility until she turns 18; after that she will be transferred to an adult detention center. Another person involved in the murder, 18-year old Sheila Eddy, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole.


CDC Determines Water "Safe" for Use

The Centers for Disease Control. says it's now safe to use the water contaminated by a chemical spill in Charleston last month. To this point the agency has avoided the use of the word "safe." The water can now be used for drinking and cooking. The January 9th spill tainted the water supply for about 300,000 people.

Local News

Fishertown Woman Killed in Accident

Eighteen year old Fishertown, Pennsylvania resident Breena Morris was killed Tuesday in a two-vehicle crash on Route 56 in Bedford County. Ms. Morris was driving east on the road, when she lost control of her car on the icy road, and struck another car, driven by Johnstown resident Francis Terek. Ms. Morris was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash; Terek was not charged.


One Hospitalized in Single-Vehicle Accident

One person was flown to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, while the driver was arrested following a single vehicle accident Tuesday evening on Pine Swamp Road in the New Creek area. The accident happened around 6:36 p.m. and police continue to investigate the crash. New Creek, Keyser, and Elk Garden volunteer fire and rescue units responded to the scene.


School Bus Involved in Minor Accident

An Allegany County school bus, transporting students to Braddock Middle School was involved in a minor accident yesterday morning. The bus clipped the mirror of a pickup truck on Fayette Street. There were no injuries and no damage to the bus. Cumberland City Police and school system staff were on hand to investigate. The Braddock Middle School staff was also notified that the bus would be delayed in bringing the students to the school.


Ex-Officio Bill Passed By Senate

A bill that abolishes ex-officio seats on the Allegany and Garrett County Boards of Education was passed unanimously in the Maryland Senate this week. Ex-officio members include one member of the Allegany and Garrett County commissions on the boards. An ex-officio member has the right to attend meetings, including executive sessions, but does not have a vote on issues. The position has caused some problems between the Allegany County Commissioners and the Board of Education in recent years.


Two Arrested in Goethe Street Burglary

Cumberland City Police arrested two men yesterday in a daytime burglary at a Goethe Street residence. As they arrived, police say 30-year old Mark Whorton walked out of the residence with his hands elevated above his head. Another man, 25-year old Rodricus Wilkes was found in a room inside the unoccupied house. They were searched and police found a suspected baggie of cocaine on Whorton; Wilkes was found to have a marijuana smoking device. They were both charged with burglary and drug counts, and were released on personal recognizance.


Mineral Resident Offers Input on Jobs

Mineral County resident Robert Hines has made several suggestions to boost the economic viability of that area. Hines, a native of Mineral County, urged the development of the Fort Ashby Business and Technology Park by marketing it to the health care and/or hospital industry. He also offered suggestions on the development of the CSX property in Keyser. Hines was asked to serve on the Mineral County Development Authority, and a letter of interest will be submitted to the group.


FSU To Host Band Festival

Frostburg State University will be hosting the Tri-State Honor Band festival on Sunday, March 9th at 3 p.m. The event will be held in the Pealer Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center. the festival features high school musicians from around the tri-state area who will come together for the concert. Students from across the region, including those from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, Mineral County, West Virginia, and this region of the state and those from Wicomico, Baltimore and Cecil counties. For more information, call (301)-687-4109 or visit


Horse Rescued from Lake

Firefighters, citizens, animal control officers and neighbors rescued a horse that became trapped in ice Tuesday afternoon. The horse fell into a lake off of Snowy River Road. Ropes were placed under its back legs, which had become lodged in the ice. The horse was uninjured. Units on the scene were Springfield and Romney Rescue, Hampshire County Animal Control and officials from the 911 Center.


Missing Girl Found Unharmed

A girl, originally reported missing Monday evening, was found safe about 12 hours later. Mayson Elizabeth Deighton was found in a wooded area between Cardinal Avenue and the Hagerstown Community College campus, after running away from home. She was found by a K-9 team under a log, where she had covered herself with some brush to stay warm.


Legislation to Correct Retirement/Pension System

Maryland State Senator George Edwards and Delegate Andrew Serafini have sponsored a bill that would allow a certain class of correctional officers to be part of the Correctional Officers Retirement System, rather than the less generous state pension system. The measure would benefit correctional officers who serve as security chiefs, facility administrators, assistant wardens and wardens. The bill was heard by the House Appropriations Committee this week, while a Senate version of the bill was heard in committee last week.


University of Maryland to Offer Credit Monitoring

The University of Maryland has extended the amount of time free credit monitoring will be offered to the over 300,000  people whose personal information was compromised during a recent data breach. Those affected will now be offered five years of free credit monitoring, instead of just one year, as previously announced. Maryland President Wallace Loh is also ordering an investigation of the school's computer systems. The breach affects the records of those who had been issued a university ID since 1998.


Local News

Man Arrested on Sex Charges

Twenty-eight year old Lonaconing resident Christopher Russell Pavlicek has been charged with sexual solicitation of a minor and two counts of second-degree assault. Pavlicek had allegedly solicited two girls, 12 and 13 years old, via the internet. The assault charge is from inappropriate physical contact he had with the victims at his home. He is being held at the Allegany County Detention Center on $20,000 bond, pending his next court appearance. And, the investigation is continuing by the C3I unit.


Highway User Fund Bill to Receive Hearing

A bill that has been filed in both the House and Senate that would increase the Highway User Revenue Fund to local governments will be heard next Tuesday. Local governments were receiving 30 per cent of the money from the Transportation Trust Fund; that amount has dwindled to about 5 per cent. The bill was filed by Senator George Edwards in the Senate, and by Delegate Wendell Beitzel in the House of Delegates.


Candidates File For Office

There are several candidates who have filed for the offices of Mayor and City Council and Allegany County Board of Education. Incumbent Mayor Brian Grim will be opposed by Mary Miltenberger and Jeffrey Grogg. City Council candidates include Seth Bernard, Dustin Freas, Sylvester Young, and incumbent David Kauffman. School Board candidates include Bill Davis, Lorelee Farrell, Wayne Foote, and incumbents Sara-Beth James and Laurie Marchini.


Edwards, Beitzel Unopposed

Senator George Edwards and Representative Wendell Beitzel will be unopposed in the coming election; however, current Delegate Kevin Kelly is being opposed by Jason Buckel, in District 1-B. Delegate LeRoy Myers is leaving statewide political office, and there are several candidates for the District 1-C seat. They include Nick Scarpelli, Ray Givens and current Allegany County Commissioner Mike McKay. Candidates for the office of Allegany County Commissioner include Kevin Shaffer, Tom Striplin, incumbents Creade Brodie, Jr., and Bill Valentine, Jake Shade and Mark Widmyer.


Rocky Gap Announces Expansion Plans

Rocky Gap Casino Resort had previously announced the addition of 150 new parking spaces, but it is also enlarging its Pro Shop and the kitchen at Signatures Bar & Grill. The fitness center will also be expanded and will include new exercise equipment. Landscaping will be added around the resort and new parking lot. Construction will begin this spring, and it was noted in a news release, that the expansion is compliant with the lease from Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.


Fire Destroys Garrett County Barn

A barn on Clifton Terrace in Garrett County was destroyed by fire, just before 7 a.m. yesterday. Numerous firefighters responded to the incident. The first units on the scene reported that the structure had burned to the ground. There were no injuries and the cause is being investigated.


Springfield Resident Charged With Arson

A twenty-year old Springfield, West Virginia resident, Evan Hunt, has been charged with arson, in connection with a fire at a house under construction at the Bird Ridge Estates. A citizen tip led to the arrest. He is being held on a bond of $20,000. Several Hampshire County volunteer Fire companies responded to the fire on February 18th.


Local Man Held on Bond

Cumberland resident Ryan O'Toole is being held on $5,000 bond at the Allegany County Detention Center, awaiting a bond review,  following an incident earlier in the month at a Queen City Drive restaurant. O'Toole is accused of spitting on cars, and passengers in them, pounding on the vehicles and assaulting the passengers, and cursing at them. A private citizen reported the incident, and O'Toole was charged with three counts of second-degree assault, and one count each of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.


SHA Truck Injures Driver

Seventy-four year old Cumberland resident Paul Williams was injured and taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, after his van was struck by a State Highway Administration dump truck. The accident happened in the roundabout of U.S. Route220. The truck, driven by Steven Hughes of Cumberland, was descending the ramp from eastbound Interstate 68, when the truck lost its brakes, entered the roundabout and clipped the rear of the Williams vehicle. The crash remains under investigation by the Cumberland City Police.


Frostburg Woman Charged Twice

Frostburg resident Lillian Holder was served two arrest warrants by Cumberland City Police on Monday. In the first incident, she rented a vehicle from a local business and failed to return the vehicle, according to the agreement. She was further charged with issuing a bad check to a local business. She was released on her own recognizance on all charges, pending trial in Allegany County District Court.


Chestnut Street Resident Charged in Domestic Incident

Cumberland City Police have charged Chestnut Street resident Michael Shindledecker with second-degree assault, following an early morning incident yesterday. He is accused of hitting the victim in the face with his fist, during an argument over a cell phone charger. After being processed, Shindledecker was released on his personal recognizance pending trial at District Court.


Keyser Man Arrested, Also Wanted in Allegany County

Forty-one year old Keyser resident Gerald Baker was arrested as a fugitive from justice, as he is wanted in Allegany County for a traffic-related offense. Baker was stopped for running a stop sign. A check showed Baker was wanted here in Allegany County. During a search, nine narcotic pills for which he did not have a prescription, were found. Baker was released on a personal recognizance bond.


Senator Edwards Discusses Off-Road Vehicles, Marcellus Shale

Maryland State Senator George Edwards says a bill concerning off-road vehicles has received a hearing in the General Assembly. Senator Edwards says the bill would allow "ORV's" to run on private property, if an agreement with the property owner is signed, releasing the owner from liability. Recommendations are due from a Marcellus Shale Commission in August of this year. Senator Edwards acknowledges that some people do not want natural gas drilling at all. He says the key to drilling safely for natural gas is monitoring. If it is determined that there is a sufficient amount of gas, and it is close to a pipeline on the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, gas companies would not be dissuaded from doing it.


Deep Creek Dunk Raises $160,000

Last weekend's Deep Creek Dunk to benefit Special Olympics in Maryland raised $160,000, just shy of the project goal of $170,000. The Maryland Special Olympics has a goal of $2.5 million for the upcoming Polar Bear Plunge; so far, $1.7 million have been raised. Meanwhile, this weekend's 10th Annual Hooley Plunge is set for Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park. All money raised will remain in the community, benefitting the Allegany County Special Olympics and other programs for the developmentally disabled.


Marijuana, Birth Injuries, Health Care Debated

This is eighth week of the Maryland General Assembly session, with a number of issues-including the decriminalization of marijuana and a bill, setting up a birth injury fund-are being discussed. It was announced on Monday that the state's prime information technology contractor for the health care exchange has been fired. Noridian Healthcare Solutions had served as the prime contractor; replacing Noridian is Optum/QSSI, the general contractor hired in December. The marijuana legislation received a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee yesterday; Governor O'Malley says he is not inclined to support the legalization of pot. And, another bill that would set up a birth injury fund will receive a hearing tomorrow. Parents of children who suffer brain injuries would be able to access the fund, rather than sue the doctor or hospital.


MVA Secretary Appointed

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration's new Administrator is Milton Chaffee. the Deputy Administrator is Christine Nizer. Chaffee is a 12-year employee of the MVA, and is being promoted from his current position as the Chief Deputy Administrator, a position he has held since May of 2006. Ms. Nizer has served as the Deputy Administrator for Central Operations and Safety Programs. Current MVA Administrator John Kuo has been named the Associate Administrator at the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The appointments of Mr. Chaffee and Ms. Nizer are effective March 1st.


Meth Lab Cleanup Bill Being Debated

A bill in the West Virginia legislature could end reimbursements for meth lab cleanups through the state's Crime Victims Compensation Fund. West Virginia is the only state in the country that,  within the fund, pays for meth lab cleanup expenses incurred, for example, by landlords. The state has paid more than $700,000 for meth lab claims just last year. The 2014 Legislative Session ends on Saturday, March 8th. For the bill to remain alive, it would have to advance to the House by today, which is the deadline for bills to move out of the chambers where they were introduced.


Local News

Man Sentenced on Drug Charges in Garrett County

Pittsburgh resident Jacob Omar McDonald has been sentenced in Garrett County  to three years in prison, after pleading guilty to possession of heroin, with intent to distribute. Related charges against McDonald were dismissed as part of a plea agreement, and $820 in cash that was seized at the time of his arrest was ordered to be forfeited. Mc Donald was arrested at a Grantsville hotel, after the Garrett County Narcotics Task Force acted on an anonymous tip. He had more than 120 "stamps" of heroin in his possession at the time of the arrest.


Man Arrested in Domestic Incident

Alcohol was a factor in an early morning incident in which a man assaulted his wife in Clearville. Thirty-year old Mark Mills allegedly struck his wife, threw her to the ground and kicked her. The Pennsylvania State Police say Mills was driving home early yesterday morning with his wife and three children-ages 3, 7, and 11. He forced her out of the vehicle, then assaulted her. She did not seek medical treatment; Mills is being charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and recklessly endangering another person.


Short Gap Home Damaged by Fire

High winds made firefighting efforts difficult at a home on Joy Drive in Short Gap yesterday afternoon. There were no injuries, and nobody was home at the time of the fire at the Virgil Markwood residence. The initial call came in around 2:25 p.m.  Allegany County companies were alerted to be on stand by for some of the responding companies. There was no word on where the fire originated, or the cause, and the investigation is continuing.


Car Fire Investigated

The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating a car fire on Arch Street late Sunday night. A 2003 Mercury Marquis, owned by Jordon Swisher, sustained about $2,000 in damage. The fire originated in the interior passenger compartment of the car. Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Fire Marshal's Office at (301)-766-3888.


Man Arrested Following Accident

Ridgewood Avenue resident William Scott Edwards was arrested Sunday, following a single-vehicle accident on Westbound Interstate 68, in the area of Beall Street. Edwards' vehicle had spun out of control and struck the median, and he claimed that he had been hit by another vehicle. Officers detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Edwards, who admitted he had drunk some vodka before driving. He failed a field sobriety test and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was cited and released, pending trial.


Comprehensive Plan to be Presented

Allegany County will have a public hearing on its 2014 Comprehensive Plan in April. The meeting, set for Wednesday, April 9th at 5 p.m., will cover areas such as housing, transportation, public facilities, mineral resources, and other areas. The first ten chapter provide the background information for the last chapter, "Land Use and Implementation," that includes future land uses and proposed general zoning changes.


TGCC Presents Health Care Forum

The Greater Cumberland Committee will hold its next meeting on Thursday, March 6th at 11:30 a.m. at the Western Maryland Health System Auditorium. The program will include a regional overview and current collaborations that focus on the patient to maintain healthier communities, discussions on national health care reform and an examination on how we are impacted at the local level, and considerations of future trends and opportunities. Some of the presenters include Barry Ronan and Kevin Turley of the Western Maryland Health System, and representatives of Garrett Memorial Hospital and Potomac Valley Hospital.


Keyser Library Begins Fiscal Year "In the Hole"

The Keyser City Council has severely cut funding to its library, and the system will begin the new fiscal year operating at a deficit. Funding has been slashed from $13,200 to just $2,279, and with a state funding formula, the cuts equate to costing the library $22,000 as of July 1st. Most recently, the Mineral County Commissioners have provided about $55,000 annually, while the school board has contributed $13,000 in funding. The library also operates branches in Fort Ashby and Burlington.


Blown Tire Caused Accident

A blown tire on a tractor-trailer caused Interstate 70 eastbound to be closed for about 12 hours this past weekend. The driver, 37-year old Lawrence Thomas, was taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment. The rig struck a guardrail and overturned in the center median early Saturday morning.


Maryland Revises Health Exchange Goals Downward

The state of Maryland has revised enrollment figures for its health insurance exchange downward. The state is expected to enroll 160,000 residents by March, as opposed to the 260,000 it had hoped for. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, in speaking before the Maryland Board of Public Works last week, criticized state officials for not having the Board review contracts for the exchange. Franchot expressed hope that future contracts be brought to the Board of Public Works, especially when hundreds of millions of dollars are involved. And, he called the procurement process, "flawed." He asked the Board of Public Works members to think about what would have happened if the problems with the health exchange website could have been anticipated. Yesterday, Maryland's Health Exchange Board voted to fire the state's prime information technology contractor, Noridian Healthcare Solutions.


Maryland Woman Sentenced in West Virginia Fraud Case

Suitland, Maryland resident Sheray McKay will be sentenced in June, and could face up to 20 years in jail, after pleading guilty to participating in a fraud scheme. She and other individuals solicited money, under false pretenses, from about 16 senior citizens living in West Virginia and other states. She and others posed as clergy members, lawyers, or family members and made false claims, including one of being in a traffic accident. The operation netted more than $60,000, and was obtained through wire transfers.


Bills Seek Road Repairs and Jobs

Two West Virginia senators are urging the legislature to consider bills to allot funds to repair roads and create jobs. Several bills addressing job creation have not advanced from committees. And, several others are trying to advance bills to address the state's crumbling roads during this spring's paving cycle. One senator says the roads are already in worse shape than he has seen in years.


Teacher Planning Bill Passes in Senate

West Virginia may allow its teachers to determine, for themselves, how to use their planning time. A bill passed late last week in the Senate, that stated, in part, administrators may not require a teacher to attend training, meetings, or any work-related event during a planning period. This includes parent-teacher conferences. The bill will not go to the house for action.

Local News

Merger of Verso, New Page Likely Will Happen


The proposed merger of Verso and the New Page Corporation will likely happen, because there is no reasonable alternative, according to a New York City-based analyst, Chip Dillon. An article in the Cumberland Times-News further notes that while New Page has emerged from bankruptcy, Verso remains "functionally bankrupt" and has no money to invest in the deal. The article also states that it is likely one or two mills may close, due to overlapping production of paper and paper goods.



Canal Place Officials Testify in Annapolis


Canal Place officials are trying to secure money to cover a shortfall in funding for fiscal year 2014, and traveled to Annapolis recently to secure that funding. One delegate expressed his frustration with the ongoing financial and political struggles, and had referred to the state's effort to "wean" Canal Place off of state aid as "deja vu all over again." It is hoped the heritage area become self-sufficient, without funding from the state, county, or city.



More Parking Planned for Casino


There are an additional 150 parking spaces planned for the Rocky Gap Casino, but it won't involve the use of any park land of the park's current parking spaces. Right now there are 700 spaces there. The president and chief financial officer of Lakes Entertainment, Tim Cope, had also asked for the Department of Natural Resources' approval of the parking lot and kitchen/fitness center projects.



Sheriff Wants Refunds Intercepted from Fugitives


Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson will testify in favor of a bill that would withhold state tax refunds from fugitives who have outstanding warrants. Anne Arundel County has had some success with similar legislation. The Sheriff's Office would provide the Maryland State Comptroller's Office with the names of those with outstanding warrants. Their state income tax refund with then be withheld, and the comptroller will send a letter with instructions on how to collect the refund.



Man Arrested in Oldtown Manor Incident


Twenty-two year old Cumberland resident David Lee Kesler was arrested, following an incident Friday at the Oldtown Manor apartments. Kesler was accused of yelling and banging on an apartment door. Officers found Kesler hiding behind the stairs on the first floor. He created a second disturbance by yelling while being placed under arrest. He received a District Court hearing and is being held in the Allegany County Detention Center on $3,000 bond.



Man Arrested for CDS Possession


A Cumberland resident, Wesley Eugene Baker, was arrested at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center for CDS possession. Baker was seen dropping a cellophane baggie between his legs, and a Cumberland City Police officer determined it was a scheduled narcotic. He was arrested for possession, taken for a bond hearing, and released on his personal recognizance.



Bond Bills, Speed Limits Discussed in Annapolis


Legislation has been cross-filed in both the House and Senate for bond bills, benefiting the Allegany and Garrett County Animal Shelters and the Adventure Sports Complex in Garrett County. State Senator George Edwards says ASCI received a million dollars in bond money last year for upgrades, in preparation for the 2014 World Whitewater Championships. Some of that money was spend on the trial, and that money could not be recouped. The House has voted unanimously to pass a bill that would allow the state to hike the speed limit on interstate highways. including Interstate 68,  to 70 miles-per-hour, according to Senator Edwards. Senator Edwards says this is enabling legislation and not mandatory, even though the interstates were constructed to accommodate speeds of 70 miles-per-hour.




Board to Consider Proposed Calendar


The Allegany County Board of Education will consider approving the 2014-2015 academic school calendar at their March meeting. One key change to note on the proposed calendar could include modifications to the structure of parent/teacher conferences in both October and February. The school system is asking for input on the calendar. A draft of the calendar can be found on the school system's website, at "," under the "Quick Links" section of the main page.



CSX Plans Work Near Lock #74


CSX Corporation will be replacing the railroad bridge, crossing the Potomac River near Lock 74 on the C & O Canal. The work will last for the next year-and-a-half. A temporary, vehicular bridge will be built to serve traffic on the River Road and Provide access for heavy equipment necessary to replace the railroad bridge. Park representatives are asking the public to obey all posted signs in the work area for their safety.



Keyser Has Portion of Annual Payment


Keyser High School expects to have only $46,000 of the annual $279,000 of the payment on the high school athletic complex obligation. The payment has come due every year since 2009, with the school making the payment in the first year. Since then, it has not been able to raise the funding to make the full payment. The track, soccer and football programs have not been contributing, according to Board President Kevin Watson. A suggestion has been made to have those coaches attend a work session to discuss how they might become more involved in fundraising.



WVSDB Improvements from School Building Authority


The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a resolution that states improvements for the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind should come from the School Building Authority. The Romney school, according to the resolution, should not have to provide locally matching money for the building improvements. There are several steps involved in asking the SBA for the money, including the testimony principal Lynn Boyer in mid-March. Children from across the Mountain State attend the school, yet their home counties are not responsible for the cost of their education, nor the maintenance of the facilities.



Data Breach at University of Maryland


A data breach of over 300,000 records was reported at the University of Maryland last week. The cyber-attack affected faculty, staff, students and affiliated personnel from the College Park and Shady Grove campuses who had been issued a University ID since 1998. Maryland is offering free credit monitoring to anyone affected by the breach. Anyone who thinks they may have been affected should call (301)-405-4440.


Local News

Delegation Withdraws Funding Request

In a letter to the Allegany County Commissioners, Senator George Edwards noted that bills in both the Senate and House which would have benefitted the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, are being withdrawn. Funding for the group, according to the bill, would have come from Allegany County Marriage License Fees. Senator Edwards says the bill was not given a public hearing in Allegany County, nor did the three commissioners vote on the submission of the legislative request. The bill may be resubmitted when a hearing and vote are held.


Arguments in FSU Football Player Death to be Heard

The lawyers for Frostburg State University's football coaches and helmet-maker Kranos Corporation are seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the family of Derek Sheely, who collapsed following football practice, and later died.  The Sheely family contends that FSU ran drills that caused players to suffer repeated head blows, and that Derek Sheely was never checked for a concussion or to see if his helmet was properly fitted. For their part, lawyers for the coaches claim the injuries that led to his death were not foreseeable. Arguments on the dismissal are being heard today in Montgomery County.


Unpaid Taxes Being Sought in Mineral County

The Mineral County Assessor's Office will be trying to collect over $100,000 in unpaid personal property taxes. They were given the "green light" by the Mineral County Commissioners recently. The Assessor has a list of unpaid personal property taxes, and property owned by businesses, which add up to over $100,000. Property taxes in West Virginia are assessed on mobile homes, and also equipment, machinery, vehicles and inventory owned by area businesses.


South Cumberland Breaking and Entering Reported

A Boone Street resident was slightly injured in a breaking and entering incident on Wednesday. The victim told police that he heard a loud banging noise in his home, and the suspect advised him to stay in his room, and "you won't get hurt." The suspect hit the resident on the forehead, and later fled with a safe, containing a large amount of currency. Cumberland City Police, a K-9 unit, and the Maryland State Police Crime Lab was on the scene. However, the suspect remains at large.

Mineral School Superintendent To Retire

Superintendent of Mineral County Schools Rob Woy is retiring. Woy submitted a letter to the Mineral County Board of Education, noting his intent to retire at the end of the present school year. Woy replaced then-Superintendent Skip Hackworth in 2011; Woy's contract was renewed just last year, but that contract expires at the end of June. There was no announcement on the search for the next Mineral County School Superintendent


Secession Movement Not Gaining Traction

There has been a movement among some residents in the state's five westernmost counties to secede from the state of Maryland, but Senator George Edwards says that idea hasn't gained much "traction" to date. In fact, he says he has heard nothing in Annapolis on the proposal, although some representatives from the eastern portion of the state have asked about it. Senator Edwards says the present legislature won't allow for a portion of the state to secede. The legislature would have to vote on it, and the federal government also has to approve the creation of what would be the 51st state.


Tax Credit for Pet Adoptions Sought

Harford County Delegate Glen Glass is proposing a bill that would give residents a $100 tax credit for adopting a dog or cat from an animal shelter. His bill would also make it easier to provide homes for pit bulls, who were deemed "inherently dangerous" by the Maryland Court of Appeals. Lawmakers are also considering legislation to overturn that ruling. Another bill being considered would give police officers who adopt a retired police dog a $1,000 state tax credit.

Local News

Last Day of School Now June 18

Fourteen days of school have been missed this year because of bad weather, and now the final day for students will be June 18th. Teachers will finish up on June 23rd. The school system has also had numerous two-hour delays, one regional closure and a three-hour early dismissal. While the state of Maryland requires 180 days of school, State Superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery may be able to grant a waiver, to reduce that number.


Canal Place to See Improvements

There are several upgrades for Canal Place, including accommodations for a farmer's market and adding improved access for disabled visitors. The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a plan yesterday in Annapolis. The Board approved $100,000 for upgrades for Canal Place. Construction will begin in early spring, with the hopes it will open sometime in May.


Somerset Man Killed in Accident

Seventy-three year old Somerset resident James Hahn was killed and a 17-year old boy was injured yesterday morning on Water Level Road in Milford Township. The teenager's vehicle went out of control and traveled into the lane, where Hahn was driving. Neither operator was wearing a seatbelt, and the teen was taken to Conemaugh Medical Center in Johnstown for treatment.


Chamber Supports Preservation of Tax Credit

The Allegany County Chamber of Commerce has written a letter of support for preserving the tax credit for Maryland-mined coal. The letter, to Sheila Hixson, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, is signed by Bill DuVall, Legislative Committee Chair, and Stu Czapski, Executive Director of the Chamber. The letter points out the harsh economic consequences, and the inevitable loss of jobs in the area, should the coal tax credit be repealed. The letter urges the Committee to all the coal tax credit to remain in effect.


Dam Maintenance Discussed in Keyser

The Mineral County Commissioners are considering approximately $176,000 worth of what is termed "necessary" work for the county's flood control dams. The county holds the responsibility for 22 dams in the Patterson Creek watershed area, while the city of Keyser is responsible for those in the New Creek watershed. This includes Dam Site 14, the main water supply for Keyser, which is actually located in Grant County. A request has been made to include the dam upkeep in the county budget.


Filing Deadline is February 25th

Next Tuesday at 9 p.m. is the filing deadline for the upcoming 2014 Primary Election. Federal and state candidates file a certificate of candidacy in Annapolis, while local candidates filed at the local Board of Elections. The primary election will be held on June 24th, while the general election is set for Tuesday, November 4th.


Man Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

A Cumberland man was taken into custody early yesterday morning in the 300-block of Columbia Street. Daniel Erwin Smith is accused of sitting outside a home at 320 Columbia, playing loud music. City Police arrived and found a partially full can of beer in the console of the car. Smith was uncooperative and had used profane language with the officers. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, driving without a license, and consuming. possessing, or drinking an alcoholic beverage on  public property.


Childs Named To FSU Posts

Dr. William Childs, who has served as interim provost at Frostburg State University since last summer, has been permanently appointed to that position and will also serve as vice-president for Academic Affairs. The appointment was made by FSU President Dr. Jonathan Gibralter. Childs will fill the position previously held by Dr. Stephen Simon, who returned to the faculty at FSU, and is now a professor in the Department of Political Science.


Service Set for Reverend Chapman

Services have been set for the Reverend Edward "Bo" Chapman, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Reverend Chapman came to the area in 1985, and had been the longest serving rector in the parish's history. He is survived by his wife, daughter and brother, who is also a minister. Services will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Washington Street. The Right-Reverend Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland, and the Right-Reverend Martin Townsend presiding.


Towpath Repairs Set

Repairs to the towpath, just upstream of Evitts Creek Aqueduct near Mile Post 181.2 will begin this month. A large washout that has threatened the towpath continuity for some time will be repaired by CSX Corporation. A pedestrian bridge that spanned the washed-out towpath for many years will be removed. The construction should take about 8 weeks, and visitors should expect delays at the C & O Canal National Historical Park.


College Readiness Program Set

The Allegany County Adult Education Program will sponsor a career and college readiness event, entitled "College Goal Maryland" tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. at the downtown YMCA, in the adult education classroom. This will be an opportunity for free on-site professional assistance in completing the FAFSA form, talk to financial aid professionals, and to get information on statewide student services. Registered participants will have the chance to win one of two $500 scholarships. For more information, contact (301)-687-8025.


Income Tax Relief Proposal Floated

The House Republican Caucus has announced a General Assembly bill that would provide tax relief to all residents of Maryland. House Bill 326 would give a 10 per cent cut in Maryland personal income taxes, regardless of income level, and will be phased in over the next three years. The state ranks 43rd out of 50 in overall business climate


Bill Dealing with Concussions Submitted

Delegate Jon Cardin is sponsoring a bill that would start a pilot program aimed at detecting when student athletes may have suffered a concussion. Cardin says the program will be paid for by the manufacturing company that is chosen to develop the technology. It will be up to individual schools to determine in which sports the technology will be used. Cardin says football coaches and staff "get it," in that they understand the seriousness of concussions.


Rust-Oleum Facility Moving to West Virginia

Rust-Oleum will be moving a distribution center from Maryland to a 630,000 square feet of space in Martinsburg, which formerly had served as the GM building. The Berkeley County Development Authority has been working with the company since last April

Local News

Inmate Sentenced in Death

An inmate at the Western Correctional Institution has been convicted of the first-degree murder of a fellow inmate. Corgiss Ross was sentenced to life, consecutive to the 10-year sentence which brought him into the correctional system. Ross is accused of murdering cellmate Jerod Pridget in November of 2012. Pridget later died at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma center in Baltimore. The case was investigated by the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and the Maryland Department of public Safety and Correctional Services.


New School $6.2 Million Short

The new Allegany High School is $6 million over budget. The updated price estimate on the facility is now $42.3 million. While the proposed three-story school has a number of features, it was pointed out at the Board of Education meeting that not having an auditorium would save around three-million dollars, and removing a bay of classrooms would save over a million dollars. And, estimates on the demolition of the former Sacred Heart campus of the Western Maryland Health System would cost around $4 million. Board officials are hoping that all projected funding sources come through; however, that would still leave the project nearly $3 million short.


Canal Place Authority Supports State Recommendation

The Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority is in support of a state recommendation that future plans for Canal Place be turned over to the state. Chairman Rick Thayer agreed that a recommendation from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services be supported. A state plan for Canal Place is expected to be completed by the end of the year. County Commission President Mike McKay recently presented a plan to abolish the Canal Place Authority, with management shared by both the city and county.


Fires Termed "Accidental" In Nature

Two recent fires in the region have been determined to be accidental in nature. Sunday afternoon's fire on Old Dan's Rock Road caused $200,000 in damage to the home and its contents. The fire originated inside the house, and it is considered a total loss. A fire, early Friday morning on Lower White Oak Drive in Swanton, was electrical in nature. Damage to the mobile home, owned by Steven Fike, was placed at $10,000. Smoke detectors in the structure were present, but not activated.


Authority Interviews Applicants

The Mineral County Development planned to interview applicants for the position of executive director. There are 16 prospective candidates, and the position has been open since the January 1st retirement of Mona Ridder. Interviews for the position were held in executive session at the authority office at 87 North Main Street in Keyser.


Piedmont Foreman to be Named

The town of Piedmont is expected to name a new foreman at its meeting next Wednesday. There are 10 applicants for the position, and that field was narrowed to five, who will be interviewed today. The new foreman will replace John Shingler, who was recently released from a federal penitentiary, after serving a sentenced for being convicted of felony embezzlement in connection with FEMA trailers.


Ridgeley Community Center to Open

The Ridgeley Community Center will be reopening, following an agreement reached yesterday evening. Town Council members have entered into an agreement with Lamar Smith to lease the center for 25 hours per week for $20 per hour. Smith is a captain in the town's volunteer fire department, and the center will be used for baseball and softball practice; there are also plans to start a volleyball league at the center.


Sanitary District Meeting Set

The Allegany County Commissioners have scheduled a public meeting regarding the upcoming sewer rehabilitation projects in the Braddock Run Sanitary District. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 4th at 7 p.m. The location is the Mountain Ridge High School cafeteria in Frostburg. All customers in the Sanitary District, residents of Frostburg, along with all interested citizens are invited and encouraged to attend the meeting.


Police Serve Numerous Warrants

The Cumberland City Police served a number of warrants yesterday, including one for Jeremy Austin Kesner of Fort Ashby. He was arrested for driving an uninsured motor vehicle. Kesner was released after posting $250 bond. Twenty-nine year old Nathan Frye was served a bench warrant for failure to appear in District Court. And, Raymond DeSales Washington was arrested for violating a protective order. Washington was released on personal recognizance.


Course Selection Open

The window for Allegany County Public School students to register for 2014-2015 high school courses opens today. Students can make changes to their course selections until Wednesday, March 5th. The programs of study and course selection are available online at the school system's website. Hard copies of the Program of Study can be requested from school counselors.


Pennsylvania Holds Line on Community Colleges

The state of Pennsylvania will not provide a funding increase for its community colleges. In Governor Tom Corbett's proposed 2014-2015 budget, there is no increase earmarked. Federal stimulus money was budgeted for community colleges for two years under former Governor Ed Rendell. That money, however, disappeared during Corbett's first year in office.


Stormwater Fees Discussed

Stormwater has never been more visible politically in Maryland. A law, that requires the ten most populated jurisdictions to charge fees to treat or naturally filter the runoff is being debated. Legislation to modify the law, or repeal it, is expected. Opponents call the fees a "rain tax," and Bill Stack of the Center for Watershed Protection, says stormwater fees have been supported for years in other states without controversy, as a more transparent and equitable way to pay for water treatment. Stack adds that people are often surprised to learn how common stormwater utility districts are; one survey shows that there are up to 2,000 of them in place around the nation.


Tougher Penalties for Sexual Predators Proposed

West Virginia Delegate Mark Hunt is proposing two bills that would take a tougher stance on pedophiles who approach children and try to harm them. Hunt proposed similar legislation last year, but was not passed. He says the Legislature must move on it this year.

Local News

Minimum Wage Debated in Annapolis

Governor Martin O'Malley wants to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by July of 2016, and also wants to tie future increases to the federal cost of living index. House Economic Matters Committee Chairman Derrick Davis says there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller believes the Governor's figure of $10.10 per hour is too high. Davis says he is not a big fan of the various minimum wage proposals; he says it can lead to a competitive disadvantage situation. There are still several weeks left in the General Assembly session, and a vote on the issue is not imminent.


Future of Canal Place To Be Discussed

Allegany County Commission President Mike McKay has come up with the draft of a plan for the future of Canal Place, which includes the abolition of the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority, and the creation of a smaller board. That would include representatives of both the city and county. McKay's plan would also have the state continue to own the property, but allow the city to manage and market the shops and the festival grounds. The Authority is scheduled to meet today.


Two Injured in Garrett County Collision

A two-vehicle collision on New Germany Road sent two people to the Western Maryland Health System early yesterday morning. Baltimore resident Todd Wyche was northbound, when he lost control of the car, and hit a Chevy Silverado, operated by Merrill Bittinger of Grantsville. Wyche and a passenger, Usha Tyson of Baltimore were taken to the hospital; Bittinger was not injured in the collision.


Crews Battle Midland Fire

There were no injuries, but a home on Old Dan's Rock Road suffered serious damage in Sunday afternoon's fire. A dozen crews arrived on the scene, and Allegany County road crews were also there to treat snow and ice-covered roads. No injuries were reported, and the fire broke out shortly after 3:30 p.m. The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.


Maryland Crews Respond to Morgan County Fire

A number of crews from Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania responded to a house fire in Morgan County, West Virginia Sunday evening. The home on Willey Lane sustained heavy damage. There were no injuries, but it is believed some pets perished in the fire.


Man Involved in Single-Vehicle Crash

Fifty-eight year old Frostburg resident Clyde Michael was apparently uninjured in a single-vehicle accident early Sunday morning. Michael's vehicle ran off the travel portion of eastbound Interstate 68, just east of the Route 220 on-ramp. The car landed on its roof. Michael was taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center for further evaluation. Eastbound Interstate 68 was shut down for about 45 minutes following the crash.


Man Dies While Fleeing Authorities

A man who had been wanted by authorities for failure to appear, jumped into the Big Coal River and died this past weekend. He has been identified as 43-year old James Alfred King III of Charleston, and deputies were attempting to arrest him for failure to appear on methamphetamine charges. He was also wanted on felony charges in Virginia. Another man who was with King also jumped into the river, but was arrested.


Pseudoephedrine Bill Considered in Charleston

A bill that would require a doctor's prescription for cold medications containing pseudoephedrine is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in West Virginia. "Pseudo" is the main ingredient in methamphetamine, and lawmakers are trying to reduce meth manufacturing in the state. Sales of medications, containing pseudoephedrine are limited and tracked in the Mountain State; a complaint of many residents is that they don't want to go through the process of getting prescriptions for medication they can now buy over the counter.


Teacher Raise Being Proposed

The West Virginia Senate's Education Committee is proposing a $1,000 pay raise for all teachers across the state. The goal of the bill is to attract highly qualified teachers to West Virginia. Another aspect of the legislation would increase the minimum salary for entry-level teachers to $43,000 by 2019. The bill has passed to the Finance Committee.


Local News - UPDATE

Reverend Chapman Passes Away

The Reverend Edward "Bo" Chapman, of Emmanuel Episcopal Church passed away yesterday. In an official announcement from the parish, the wardens of the church have asked for prayers for his family in their time of grief.  In an email to his parishioners, Reverend Allen Weatherholt noted that Reverend Chapman had been a guest at his church, St. Thomas Church in Hancock. Funeral arrangements for Reverend Chapman are incomplete at this time.

Local News U

Fatal Fire Victim Tentatively Identified


The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office continues to investigate Friday's fatal fire in Frostburg. FSU President Dr. Jonathan Gibralter has tentatively identified the victim as a senior in Business Administration, Lateef Gazal. Gazal was from Bowie and Dr. Gibralter noted that the school will forward any information on memorials that may be planned. The two-alarm blaze at 144 Bowery Street early Friday, brought out nearly 75 firefighters from Allegany and Garrett Counties. The home was owned by Judy Knieriem, and it is considered a total loss, with a partial collapse of the second floor into the first.



Couple Arrested in Domestic Dispute


Two Ascension Street residents were charged with second-degree assault on Saturday. Tyler and Lisa Logsdon were taken into custody following a verbal argument, which became physical. Lisa Logsdown reported that she was hit on the side of the head, while Tyler Logsdon claimed his wife bit him on the forearm, and was hit several times in the chest. Both were released on personal recognizance, following a hearing by a District Court Commissioner.



Garrett County Burglaries Reported


The Garrett County Sheriff's Office is investigating a string of burglaries in the Deep Creek Lake area. The incidents have been reported in the Lake Shore Drive, Mayhew Inn Road, Skipper's Point, Rock Lodge Road, and the State Park Road areas. Flat screen televisions and other electronics have been reportedly stolen. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Garrett County Sheriff's Office at (301)-334-1911.



Edwards Submits Legislation


Maryland State Senator George Edwards has submitted three bills of local interest. A bill, heard last week, would allow the possession of handguns for the protection of bow hunters. It passed, and will now go to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Other bills under consideration deal with heart disease and hypertension presumption for Allegany County Correctional officers. Another bill would provide for a capital bond loan for the Garrett County Adventure Sports Center. A third bill would allow marriage license fees to be disbursed to the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization.



Tenth Annual Hooley Plunge Set for March 1st


The Hooley Plunge is coming up on March 1st, and this year is a special one, as it is the tenth annual event. Dr. Sean McCagh says registration begins at 10, and the plunge starts at 1. He says they are setting a lofty goal for this year. Becky McClarren says that last year, nearly $125,000 were raised for the Special Olympics and other programs in the area for the developmentally disabled. All money raised stays in the area, and Dr. McCagh says the event has grown tremendously over the past ten years.




Commissioners Discuss Passport Service


The Mineral County Commissioners may want to reinstitute passport service for Keyser residents, while the circuit clerk, Krista Dixon, says her office does not have the time to resume issuing passports. Commissioner Janice LaRue says the money for passports is going to Maryland; money that should be kept in West Virginia. Ms. Dixon says her office is presently working overtime and on weekends, just to keep pace with court paperwork.




Family Support Services Sets Meeting


The Allegany County Family Support Services will host a Down Syndrome Support Group meeting tomorrow evening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the John Humbird Elementary School gym. Families of children with Down Syndrome are invited to attend. The group will also host an Autism Support Group on Thursday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Allegany County Library on Washington Street. Families of children with autism are invited to attend.



Three Face Contraband Charges


Two female inmates of the Somerset County jail, and another man, are being accused of conspiring to bring heroin in to the facility. Sharrell Brown, Emily Jo Tressler and Joshwa Larry Slope of Somerset are being charged in connection with the case.



Two Face Charges in Child Rape Case


Two residents of Freedom Township faces charges in connection to a child rape case there. Felony charges have been filed against Hansford Allen "Hamp' Dively and 38-year old Michele Lee Zeigler of Redman Court. The incidents happened when the victim was 12 and 13 years old. Dively's bail has been set at $80,000 while Zeigler's is $40,000. Both face preliminary hearings Thursday in Roaring Spring District Court.



West Virginia House Approves Minimum Wage Increase


The West Virginia House of Delegates has approved a minimum wage increase of $1.50 over the next two years. The increase would be from $7.25 to $8 per hour in January of next year, and to $8.75 in January of 2016. Two Berkeley County delegates voted against the bill, as did Delegate Daryl Cowles of Morgan County. The last minimum wage increase, to $7.25 per hour, happened in 2008

Local News Update

One Dead in Frostburg Fire

One person is dead, and the other treated for smoke inhalation as the result of a fire in Frostburg early this morning. The initial call, from the occupant of the house, came in for firefighters to respond to 144 Bowery Street; the building collapsed just before 6 a.m. One person was able to flee the building, while the other was not. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Local News

Man Pleads Guilty in Smothering Death

Somerset County resident Cody Schartiger has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the smothering death of his girlfriend's eighteen-month old infant daughter in November of 2011. Schartiger faces up to 22 years in prison on the manslaughter count and one of reckless endangerment for injuring his own 3-year old son in November of 2010. Baylee Svenungsen was found dead in her crib, and her mother, Amanda had previously pleaded guilty to endangerment charges related to the death. She was sentenced to time already served in jail, a total of 74 days.


Beitzel Introduces Highway User Legislation

Delegate Wendell Beitzel has introduced a bill in the house which would increase the portion of motor fuel tax and highway user revenue that is shared with the counties, Baltimore City and municipalities. The state has drastically reduced the Highway User Revenue share, and local governments have struggled to adequately budget for local funding to maintain roads. Some counties have been forced to reduce road crews and eliminate or delay road projects and improvements. Delegate George Edwards has cross-filed a similar bill in the Senate, and it is expected to be heard next Wednesday, February 19th.


Sideling Hill Bill Heard

Supporters of a measure that would prohibit off-road vehicle trails in the Sideling Hill Wildlife Management area received a hearing before committees in both the Senate and House on Wednesday. The bill was introduced by State Senator George Edwards and Delegate LeRoy Myers, and it is backed by a group of residents from the area near Hancock.


Edwards Introduces Pistol Legislation

State Senator George Edwards'  bill that would allow bow hunters to carry a handgun for protection, passed in the Maryland Senate this week. The vote was 43 to 2, and now goes to the House of Delegates. Senator Edwards says a bow and arrow would not adequately protect hunters if a bear tried to attack them.


Man Drives Into Porch, Arrested for DUI/DWI

Hyndman, Pennsylvania resident Harvey Sturtz was arrested in Cumberland yesterday, and charged with DUI/DWI. Sturtz is accused of driving his vehicle into a woman's porch in the 500-block of Centre Street. There were no injuries, and the home was not damage. He was issued citations and released pending trial in District Court.


Grading Periods Pushed Back in Mineral County

Mineral County is moving its last three, six-week grading periods because of the number of weather-related school closings. The end of the school year is also being delayed. The last six-week period will now end on Thursday, May 29th, and the date for report cards will be announced.


Garrett County Featured in Baltimore Sun

Garrett County was the focus of an article in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun, naming the county as “Maryland’s Sweet Spot For Snow”.  Writer Dan Rodricks says he likes to go over Garrett weather facts now and then for their shock value and for the perspective they provide for weather-worried neighbors in Baltimore.  Rodricks points out that the average snow fall in Garrett County is 138 inches, and 4 years ago recorded 262.5 inches.  In the winter of 1985, the temperature at Oakland hit minus-36 with a wind chill of minus-120, with 42 inches of snow on the ground.  The article also pointed that snowfall is sometimes early in Garrett County, In 1976, Garrett County had snow on May 20.


Minimum Wage Debate in Annapolis

Both Governor Martin O'Malley and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown have testified in favor of a bill that would increase the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016. Washington County Delegate Neil Parrott has also testified in support of a bill that would allow counties to set their own minimum wage rates. George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller says that even with an increase to $10 per hour, one-half billion dollars is taken out of the economy, and there are effects from that.


Verizon Reorganization Affects Some Maryland Workers

Verizon announced some changes this week, which include closing customer service centers in some states and changing the types of jobs in other states. Severance packages are being offered to those who don't want to move or can't find different jobs within the company. The changes are expected to be completed by May, and would affect workers at the Hanover, Maryland location.


Committee Holds Hearings on Pre-K

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee held hearings on a bill that would expand pre-kindergarten to 1600 more children in the state. Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown has set a goal of making pre-kindergarten universal in Maryland by 2018. Governor O'Malley has budgeted $4.3 million for the project, and would expand kindergarten to children who are up to 300 per cent of the federal poverty level.

Local News

City Pre-Treated Roads Before Storm

The city of Cumberland has anywhere from 110 to 115 tons of salt on hand for the current winter storm. Cumberland City Administrator Jeff Rhodes says that, in order to conserve on solid salt, yesterday crews used a liquid, salt brine to pre-treat streets before the storm hit. Rhodes says, that in any given winter season, the city bases its salt needs on past history, but always has several hundred tons of salt on hand. Rhodes says there is currently a salt shortage in the Northeastern portion of the country, but it's not because of a lack of product. According to his Facebook page, Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim says the city is critically low on road salt, with about 40 tons brought in this week. The city is cutting back on its use, but pre-treated the roads yesterday in advance of the storm. Untreated and unsalted roads could remain icy and slick for a few days.


Bill Could Aid Cumberland's Downtown

A bill, introduced by the Western Maryland delegation, could help in marketing the upper stories of commercial buildings, such as those in downtown Cumberland. Senator George Edwards says the goal of the legislation is to fill up the empty space of those structures. According to the language of the bill, a property tax credit would be granted for the "adaptive reuse" of upper stories. The Senate and House will hear the bill next week.


Man Jailed in Assault

Twenty-six year old Cumberland resident Kevin Lee Gordon is being held at the Allegany County jail on $5,000 bond, after being arrested for assaulting his wife. Cumberland City Police learned that Gordon had allegedly pushed his wife to the ground in the North Mechanic Street area. He also allegedly hit her. She suffered minor injuries that did not require medical attention. Following a hearing he was taken to the Detention Center.


Keyser Considering Impound Lot

The city of Keyser is considering the use of a lot, adjacent to the courthouse, as an impound facility, where seized cars are taken for drug cases or other offenses. The lot could be a revenue source for the county, as any fees assessed for storage would be paid to the city itself. The West Virginia Department of Highways bought the lot, which formerly housed the Mineral News-Tribune, and decided to turn it over to Keyser, following completion of the new Memorial Bridge.


Wiley Ford Fire Company Receives Ambulance

The Wiley Ford Volunteer Fire Company will be able to provide ambulance service to the area, after receiving a unit from Fort Ashby. The company will operate the new ambulance according to licensing requirements, members can staff it, and if the company retains insurance for six months. After that, the service will be reevaluated. And, while Wiley Ford requested to become a member of the ambulance authority, the group noted it was at capacity with 15 members and the request was not approved.


Mineral Commissioners Begin Budget Process

As is the case with Allegany County, their Mineral County counterparts are beginning budget hearings for Fiscal Year 2015. The proposed budget is due at the West Virginia Auditor's office by the end of March. Several groups presented their budget requests yesterday, including the Mineral County Soil Conservation District, the Family Crisis Center and the Potomac Valley Transit Authority.


Employee Remains on Leave

County employee Kevin Shaffer remains on paid leave, after twice using a vulgar word at the December meeting of the commissioners. Shaffer is meeting with his attorney, and county officials are remaining tight-lipped, because it is a personnel matter. Shaffer was placed on administrative leave a day after the meeting, which began as a discussion on the commissioners' refusal to aid the Western Maryland Food Bank. Commission President Mike McKay quickly gaveled the meeting to a close, and Shaffer has been told not return to the County Office Complex until "told to do so."


Washington Middle Parent Meeting Scheduled

Fort Hill High School counselors will host an informational session for the parents of Washington Middle School 8th graders next Tuesday, February 18th. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. in the Fort Hill High School cafeteria. Information will be provided on high school graduation requirements and ninth grade course selection.


Garrett Sets Make Up Days

Garrett County has now missed 14 school days because of bad weather, and, as is the case in Allegany County, some of those days will have to be made up. Schools will now be open from Monday, April 14th through Thursday, April 17th; Monday, April 20th; along with June 4th through the 13th. The last day for students will be Monday, June 16th, and they'll be dismissed two hours early. The last day for teachers will be June 17th, and the last two days for instructional assistants will be June 18th and June 19th. The calendar remains subject to change, depending on any more closures.


Feds Raid Somerset County Charity

The FBI and IRS agents raided the Somerset County home, business, and donation warehouse of Sam Childers, who is known as the "Machine Gun Preacher." Childers, who is Africa doing work, says the federal government is looking for something they won't find. Agents removed computers from the warehouse and boxes of donations for the "Angels of East Africa" charity. Childers believes it stems from actions of his former son-in-law, who he says stole thousands of dollars from the non-profit group.


Comcast To Buy Time-Warner Cable

Comcast has announced its intent to acquire Time Warner Cable, in a $45 billion deal that will result in the largest cable company in the United States. The two companies expect the merger to take effect by the end of the year. With the acquisition, Comcast will have even more leverage of the television, broadband Internet and phone service marketplace. It appears unlikely that Charter, another company that tried to acquire Time Warner, will stand in the way of the Comcast offer.


Residents Want to Form Their Own State

A group of Western Maryland residents are still pushing to form their own state. Residents of five counties, including Allegany, Garrett, Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties are saying Governor O'Malley is out of touch and they want to break from the rest of the state. The group claims Maryland lawmakers are not listening to their concerns, so they want to form a state that is more "in sync" with their beliefs. More than 8,000 people like the Facebook page for the Western Maryland initiative. Western Maryland is not alone in its frustration, as similar movements are underway in Colorado, California, Arizona and Michigan.


Attorney Believes Bail for Suspect Wrong

The Blair County District Attorney, Richard Consiglio disagrees with the decision of a federal judge to grant bail for 18-year old Russian citizen Vladislav Miftakhov, who is accused of making bombs in the his Altoona home. The case was moved to federal court last week, and he is charged with making and possessing unregistered destructive devices. Miftakhov is a legal, permanent resident of the United States, but is not a citizen. For his part, Attorney Consiglio, who has had bitter disagreements in the past with the federal public defender's office says they are "anti-victim, anti-law enforcement, and amoral," as far as he is concerned.

Local News-UPDATES

Cumberland Man Arrested for Threats

Thirty-two year old Cumberland resident Christopher David Shrader faces numerous charges in connection with threats he allegedly made against employees of the Allegany County Department of Social Services. Shrader allegedly threatened to blow up the Social Services building, and had threatened individual employees. Shrader had an assault rifle and handgun, that were found during a search of his residence. Investigators also found suspected marijuana and crack cocaine; however, no explosive or bomb-making materials were found. He is being held on $75,000 bond, pending his next court appearance, and additional weapons and CDS charges are pending.


Garrett County Developers Indicted

Two Garrett County developers have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to a $3.7 million bank fraud conspiracy. Accident resident Samuel R. VanSickle and Louis Strosnider have been charged. The indictment alleges they were involved in land deals together, and used fake documents that included false names and inflated sale prices to secure a total of over $3 million in bank loans for two properties in Garrett County. Federal authorities are asking for the forfeiture of the money, and 40 properties in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, held in either Van Sickle's name or in the names of nominees. A hearing is scheduled for February 28th in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.


Carpendale Fire Reported

No injuries were reported in a fire on Maryland Street in Carpendale yesterday morning. Firefighters were called out shortly before 8 a.m., with the Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Department the first to arrive. They were joined by several other Maryland departments, along with Potomac Edison personnel and Carpendale town employees. The Mineral County 911 Center handled the communication throughout the incident.


Four Remain in Hospital

Four people remained in the hospital, following Sunday's tour bus accident on Route 220, near the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line. That number includes the driver of the bus, Terrence Shultz. The bus, owned by Freedom Excursions of Altoona, was on its way to the Rocky Gap Casino Resort, when Shultz lost control on the snow-covered road. The owner of Freedom Excursions, Bill and Deborah Scully, said the driver's reaction in the moments before impact avoided a much more serious accident.

Pealer Passes at Age 92

Woodward "Woody" Pealer, a retired businessman, philanthropist, and judge of the Maryland Tax Court, has passed away at age 92 in Sun City Center, Florida. Frostburg State University named its recital hall and performing arts building in honor of Pealer and his wife, Virginia, who has also passed away. A memorial service for Pealer will be held in the spring for Pealer at Arlington National Cemetery. He had asked that donations be directed for Frostburg State University in his memory.


Garrett County Man Sentenced for Heroin Possession

Thirty-one year old Grantsville resident Jarrod Olen Wilburn has been sentenced to ten years in prison, with six of those suspended, for conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute. Wilburn entered an Alford plea, which does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state had sufficient evidence to convict him. He will be on probation, following his release. The case stems back to July, when he was stopped for a traffic violation; police found hypodermic needles in his car. Wilburn had admitted that he was traveling to purchase heroin for others.


Chamber Issues Minimum Wage Position

While the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce does not oppose raising Maryland's minimum wage, it feels the amount of the increase should be determined by the individual counties. Executive Director Stu Czapski says there are eight bills being considered in the General Assembly. He notes three things can happen now, including allowing businesses to absorb the cost; they can eliminate the expense, or pass it on to the consumer. Czapski said that one small business in the area did a quick calculation on increasing the minimum wage by only one dollar. Raising the minimum wage would increase the cost of goods and services, possibly driving consumers out of the area. Czapski observes that it is very easy to move, to do business elsewhere.


Destruction of Property Investigated

The Cumberland City Police are investigating a series of destruction of property incidents in the Pine Avenue area of the city. Several vehicle windows were shattered during the early morning hours of Monday. It is believed that a person or persons shot out the windows of the cars with a BB-gun. The damage in each individual incident is believed to be several hundreds of dollars. Anyone with information should contact Cumberland City Police or Allegany County CrimeSolvers.


Westmar Parent Meeting Set

Westmar Middle School will host a meeting for the parents of current 8th grade Westmar students who will be attending Mountain Ridge High School as 9th graders next year. The meeting will be held at Westmar this evening at 6 p.m. School counselors from both Westmar and Mountain Ridge will be on hand to explain high school course selection.


First Mariner Files for Bankruptcy

First Mariner Bancorp has filed for bankruptcy and plans to sell to a group of investors. First Mariner has less than $5.5 million in assets and more than $60.5 million in debts. The holding company says First Mariner Bank will not file for bankruptcy and will operate separately from the holding company, and that there will be no interruption in services to customers. First Mariner Bank operates 16 bank branches in central Maryland.


House Introduces 4th Amendment Protection Act

A group of eight Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates has introduced the "Fourth Amendment Protection Act," which would deny state support to federal agencies engaged in warrantless electronic surveillance in a move aimed at curtailing the National Security Agency's power to monitor and track citizens. The bill would deprive the NSA's headquarters at Fort Meade water and electricity carried over public utilities. The bill also prohibits the use of evidence gathered by the NSA in state courts and prevent state universities from partnering with the NSA on research.

Local News

Cumberland Man Arrested for Threats

Thirty-two year old Cumberland resident Christopher David Shrader faces numerous charges in connection with threats he allegedly made against employees of the Allegany County Department of Social Services. Shrader allegedly threatened to blow up the Social Services building, and had threatened individual employees. Shrader had an assault rifle and handgun, that were found during a search of his residence. Investigators also found suspected marijuana and crack cocaine; however, no explosive or bomb-making materials were found. He is being held on $75,000 bond, pending his next court appearance, and additional weapons and CDS charges are pending.


Carpendale Fire Reported

No injuries were reported in a fire on Maryland Street in Carpendale yesterday morning. Firefighters were called out shortly before 8 a.m., with the Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Department the first to arrive. They were joined by several other Maryland departments, along with Potomac Edison personnel and Carpendale town employees. The Mineral County 911 Center handled the communication throughout the incident.


Four Remain in Hospital

Four people remained in the hospital, following Sunday's tour bus accident on Route 220, near the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line. That number includes the driver of the bus, Terrence Shultz. The bus, owned by Freedom Excursions of Altoona, was on its way to the Rocky Gap Casino Resort, when Shultz lost control on the snow-covered road. The owner of Freedom Excursions, Bill and Deborah Scully, said the driver's reaction in the moments before impact avoided a much more serious accident.


Garrett County Man Sentenced for Heroin Possession

Thirty-one year old Grantsville resident Jarrod Olen Wilburn has been sentenced to ten years in prison, with six of those suspended, for conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute. Wilburn entered an Alford plea, which does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state had sufficient evidence to convict him. He will be on probation, following his release. The case stems back to July, when he was stopped for a traffic violation; police found hypodermic needles in his car. Wilburn had admitted that he was traveling to purchase heroin for others.


Chamber Issues Minimum Wage Position

While the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce does not oppose raising Maryland's minimum wage, it feels the amount of the increase should be determined by the individual counties. Executive Director Stu Czapski says there are eight bills being considered in the General Assembly. He notes three things can happen now, including allowing businesses to absorb the cost; they can eliminate the expense, or pass it on to the consumer. Czapski said that one small business in the area did a quick calculation on increasing the minimum wage by only one dollar. Raising the minimum wage would increase the cost of goods and services, possibly driving consumers out of the area. Czapski observes that it is very easy to move, to do business elsewhere.


Destruction of Property Investigated

The Cumberland City Police are investigating a series of destruction of property incidents in the Pine Avenue area of the city. Several vehicle windows were shattered during the early morning hours of Monday. It is believed that a person or persons shot out the windows of the cars with a BB-gun. The damage in each individual incident is believed to be several hundreds of dollars. Anyone with information should contact Cumberland City Police or Allegany County CrimeSolvers.


Westmar Parent Meeting Set

Westmar Middle School will host a meeting for the parents of current 8th grade Westmar students who will be attending Mountain Ridge High School as 9th graders next year. The meeting will be held at Westmar this evening at 6 p.m. School counselors from both Westmar and Mountain Ridge will be on hand to explain high school course selection.


First Mariner Files for Bankruptcy

First Mariner Bancorp has filed for bankruptcy and plans to sell to a group of investors. First Mariner has less than $5.5 million in assets and more than $60.5 million in debts. The holding company says First Mariner Bank will not file for bankruptcy and will operate separately from the holding company, and that there will be no interruption in services to customers. First Mariner Bank operates 16 bank branches in central Maryland.


House Introduces 4th Amendment Protection Act

A group of eight Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates has introduced the "Fourth Amendment Protection Act," which would deny state support to federal agencies engaged in warrantless electronic surveillance in a move aimed at curtailing the National Security Agency's power to monitor and track citizens. The bill would deprive the NSA's headquarters at Fort Meade water and electricity carried over public utilities. The bill also prohibits the use of evidence gathered by the NSA in state courts and prevent state universities from partnering with the NSA on research.

Local News

Authorities Looking for Missing Teens


Authorities are looking for two teenagers, who have apparently run away. Police say Janelle Helmick and James Long are boyfriend and girlfriend, and are both special needs children who need medication. They may be traveling in a gray Honda Element car. Both are wearing jeans. Janelle Helmick was also wearing an orange hunting jacket, a gray American Eagle sweatshirt and black snow boots. James Long was wearing a black Carhart coat with a hood. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact any police department.



Waiver Granted for President's Day


Students will have to go to school on Monday, which was, for them, the President's Day holiday. The Thursday before Easter and the Monday after, are also being used as make up days. Dr. David Cox, School Superintendent, has requested a waiver for Monday, as the result of 11 missed days of school, due to bad weather. The Board of Education will vote on Dr.Cox's recommendations at its February 18th meeting. While Maryland requires a minimum 180-day calendar, State Superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery may consider waivers from local school districts later this year.



Bikeway Open House Scheduled


The city of Cumberland has been awarded a grant from the Maryland Bikeways Program to create a partial, dedicated bike lane/partial shared lane bikeway along Bedford and Frederick Streets from the Cumberland city limits to Mechanic Street. In order to explain the project, an OpenHouse has been scheduled to present design plans and receive public comment. The Open House has been set for Thursday, February 20th from 5 to 7 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church, at 930 Bedford Street.



Cumberland Man Files for County Commission Seat


Cumberland resident Jake Shade, the legislative director to Delegates LeRoy Myers and Andrew Serafini in the Maryland House of Delegates has filed his candidacy for Allegany County Commissioner. Shade, a Republican says he sees two major issues facing the county; those include economic development and growth, along with the Allegany County budget. He is a graduate of Allegany High School and the University of Maryland-College Park.



Keyser Man Arrested on Felony Charges


Keyser resident Roscoe Redman has been jailed under felony charges, for stealing liquor numerous times from a Keyser Pharmacy. REdman had been held for one shoplifting offense, but a review of video surveillance showed he had stolen an additional six bottles of liquor over a period of time. Shoplifting becomes a felony offense in West Virginia for three or more incidents. 



Beitzel Receives Pro Business Award


Delegate Wendell Beitzel has received the prestigious John Shaw Award for what is being called his "exemplary track record of supporting pro-business legislation in 2013." He received the award at a ceremony in Annapolis on February 5th. Delegate Beitzel received a score of 83 per cent, based on the scorecard standards set by Maryland Business for Responsive Government.



County Sets Budget Process


The county's budgeting timetable for Fiscal Year 2015 has been set, with the first hearings scheduled for March 20th. Various groups, such as the library system, circuit court, and the Allegany County Narcotics Task Force will present budget requests that day. After all requests have been received, preliminary hearings will begin in May, with the adoption of the budget set for Thursday, June 5, 2014.



"Financial Aid Days" at ACM


Financial aid officials at Allegany College of Maryland will share their knowledge with students and parents at the second annual Financial Aid Days on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Graduating high school seniors and community members planning to enroll at the college next fall are encouraged to attend. The event is being held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the ACM College Center. For more information, contact the ACM Student Financial Aid Office at (301)-784-5213.



Officers Facing Trial in Brutality Probe


The last two defendants in a federal probe of brutality at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown. Jury selection began yesterday for the trial of former Lieutenant Jason Weicht and former correctional officer James Kalbflesh. The have denied allegations they conspired to violate the civil rights of inmate Kenneth Davis, after he punched at guard at Roxbury in 2008. Kalbflesh allegedly participated in Davis' beating, while Weicht is accused of taking part in the cover-up.


Two Arrested in Drug Bust


Frederick resident, Steven Todd Bowie and Jermaine Reed from Walkersville were arrested by Maryland State Police in Washington County over the weekend. They were stopped and Maryland State Police detected an odor of marijuana coming from the car. Bowie attempted to swallow some evidence in the car, and was taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment. Doctors were able to remove a plastic bag from his mouth, which contained 12 individual bags of crack cocaine and four individual bags of heroin. Both have been charged with possession with intent to distribute, along with marijuana, cocaine and heroin possession.



Report Outlines Reading Challenges for Maryland Fourth-Graders


Overall, Maryland fourth-graders are more likely to be on track with reading proficiency, as compared to ten years ago. However, the story changes for low-income students, according to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. David Beard, at Advocates for Children and Youth says 76 per cent of low-income students are behind, as compared with 42 per cent of higher-income students. Beard says absenteeism often is a problem in the early years of a child's education, and there are a lot of reasons why children miss school.




West Virginia DMV Worker Pleads Guilty


A former West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles worker has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, stemming from a driver's license scheme. Kermit Miller of Martinsburg was accused of accepting cash from 18 people in exhcnage for driver's licenses from February through August of 2010. People who received the licenses weren't required to submit applications or pass tests. H e faces up to 15 years in prison and a quarter-million dollar fine.



Bomb Case Moves to Federal Court


The case of a Penn State-Altoona student will be prosecuted by federal authorities, rather than at the state level. Charges against Vladislav Miftakhov include possession of bombs and bomb-making materials; if convicted he could be sentenced to ten years in prison. A preliminary hearing in federal court is planned for later today.

Local News

Thirty Hurt in Bus Crash

Approximately 30 people were hurt yesterday, when a tour bus went out of control on U.S. Route 220, not far from the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line. Route 220 was snow-covered at the time, and was closed, following the crash, to allow for emergency vehicles to reach the scene. The injured people were prioritized, and taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center for treatment. Patients were also taken to Bedford Memorial Hospital. There was also an unconfirmed report that a Bedford County ambulance crashed while en route to the scene. The bus was owned by Freedom Excursions of Altoona, Pennsylvania.  The initial call was received around 2:20 p.m.

Plea Agreement Reached in Child's Death

Green Spring resident Cory Orndorff will be sentenced on March 12th, in connection with the death of 18-month old Leah Grace Barnes. The penalty for abuse, resulting in death is not less than 10, nor more than 40 years in prison. Orndorff was arrested last October. On Friday, his $150,000 bail was revoked, and taken to jail to await sentencing.

Pleasant Valley Road Home Destroyed by Fire

A home, near the entrance to the Rocky Gap State Park Campground was destroyed by fire late Saturday morning. It  began at the home of Joseph and Joanne Miltenberger at a home, occupied by their son. Joseph Miltenberger was injured while trying to put out the fire. The property loss was preliminarily estimated at about $65,000, and the cause remains under investigation.

BW Principal Announces Resignation

Bishop Walsh School principal Shelby Webb is announcing her resignation, effective this Friday, for what she called "personal reasons." Assistant Principal Ann Workmeister has been named principal, until the Department of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore works with the school to appoint a new principal. Webb was appointed principal in June of 2011, to replace Sister Phyllis McNally, who retired; Ms. Webb had previously been assistant principal for three years.

Everett Woman Arrested for Paraphernalia Possession

Thirty-four year old Everett, Pennsylvania resident Cody Amanda Clark was arrested at the Sheetz store on Virginia Avenue, and now faces various drug charges. Police responded to the store, after a report of two people acting suspiciously. Ms. Clark, was found to have a hypodermic needle, along with heroin paraphernalia. She had admitted to using heroin earlier in the day. She was taken to District Court, and released without bond.

Destruction of Property Incidents Investigated

Cumberland City Police are investigating several destruction of property incidents in the Cecilia Street area from yesterday morning. A resident of 314 Cecilia Street discovered several small holes in her front storm door, and one in the storm window. Police also discovered several vehicles where the driver's side window had been shot out by a BB-gun. Damage for each individual incident is estimated at $500.00. Anyone with information is asked to contact Cumberland City Police at (301)-777-1600.

School Bus Involved in Accident

Allegany Public Schools bus number-66 was involved in a minor incident on Friday, while transporting students home from Braddock Middle School. A passenger vehicle hit the bus in the LaVale WalMart parking lot. There were no injuries or damage to the bus. Maryland State Police were on the scene to investigate. The bus had some minor delays, and all parents of students on the bus were notified.

Hearing Held on Phone Service Changes

The telecommunications industry has been moving away from traditional landlines for several years, to wireless based forms of communication. There are differences between the two, and a Maryland House of Delegates hearing was held last week, that would place a moratorium on selling the new services until a study of the pros and cons is completed by the Public Service Commission. Tammy Bresnahan, with AARP-Maryland explains some of the implications of the new type of service. Wireless landlines made the headlines in New York, when phone companies replaced traditional landline service with the wireless version after Hurricane Sandy. Customers had complained of dropped calls, inability to access 911, and lower sound quality that affects those with hearing disabilities. Ian Hoffman, at Common Cause, fielded many of those complaints.

Gas Prices Likely to Rise

Gas prices could rise this spring, as main refineries slow production of gas in February to conduct seasonal maintenance. Although they are not expected to rise as quickly as in past years, they are expected to be between $3.55 and $3.75 a gallon. After the spring peak, prices will likely fall again. This year could be a better year than last; the average price in 2014 could end up being 5-cents less than the 2013 average of $3.49.

Local News

Baltimore Man Served with Retake Warrant

Forty-three year old Baltimore resident Michael Oneil was arrested at a North Centre Street residence on Wednesday. The warrant charged him with violation of probation, as a result of a previous arrest in Baltimore County. The charges against him there included possession of heroin, distribution of CDS, assault on police, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. Cumberland City Police were assisted by members of the C3I Fugitive Warrant Unit. He was taken to the Western Correctional Institution, and was to have a parole hearing in Baltimore.


Keyser Man Arrested on Drug and Traffic Charges

Keyser resident Timothy Sirk II was arrested on a number of charges, following a traffic stop near "B" Street. Sirk was using a cell phone while driving, which is illegal in the Mountain State. Sirk also was driving on a suspended license, and he also had two oxycodone pills, for which he did not have  a prescription. He was charged with misdemeanor possession and driving with a revoked license, and issued a warning for the cell phone offense.


Violation of Probation Charge Against Cumberland Man

Eighteen year old Duranique Miller of Cumberland was served a bench warrant for violation of probation. Miller is accused of failing to pay fines and costs from a previous theft arrest. Miller was arrested when police went to a disturbance call at a home on the Old Willowbrook Road. He was one of the individuals involved. He was processed, served, and released after posting bond of $157.50.


Destruction of Property Investigated

The Allegany County Sheriff's Department is investigating a destruction of property incident that happened at the Route 36 Park and Ride in Frostburg. Someone caused significant damage to a car that was parked in the lot. The incident happened sometime between 6:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. yesterday. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to contact Corporal J.M. Dowden at (301)-777-1585, extension 224.


Edwards Receives Award

Maryland State Senator George Edwards has been honored by the Maryland Business for Responsive Government for what is termed his "exemplary track record of supporting pro-business legislation in 2013." The organization is a statewide,  non-partisan organization which selects recorded votes in the General Assembly session that have practical or philosophical importance to the widest possible range of Maryland businesses, trade associations, and chambers of commerce. Senator Edwards received a cumulative score of 84 per cent, along with a minimum of four years of service.


Somerset Man Arrested in Stabbing

Somerset resident Kyle Duane Haer was arrested for allegedly stabbing another person with a four-inch knife. Brian Eugene Schreck sustained injuries to his right shin and the side of his forehead. An argument between the two apparently began when Haer asked Schreck for a ride to his girlfriend's house. Her name was not released.


Mineral Commissioners Oppose Pay Raise

Due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the economy, the Mineral County Commissioners have gone on record, opposing a bill, which would increase the salaries of county elected officials. The bill would implement a pay raise for all county elected officials, including county commissioners, circuit clerks, county clerks, prosecuting attorneys, sheriffs and assessors. The commissioners oppose the raise also because of impending money woes for the year, decreases in severance monies, and budget cuts on the state and federal levels. Currently the county commissioners earn just under $35,000 annually. County clerks earn just over $53,000, and prosecuting attorney's salaries are around $90,000 annually.


Meeting on Health Exchange Set

Even though legislators had indicated there wouldn't be enough time to conduct an investigation into the Maryland Health Exchange problems before the 2014 session ends in April, some of the top lawmakers changed their minds and will hold more hearings. Democratic Senator John Astle, the vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says the hearings are being held on the progress of fixing the site. And, Senator Astle says he would also like to know how we got here. Senator Allan Kittleman, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, characterized Monday's meeting as a "briefing," rather than a hearing. Some legislators have pushed for a special committee.


Casino Revenues Down for January

It's being called "lackluster." Maryland's four casinos brought in only about $66.2 million in January, the third lowest monthly total since the Rocky Gap Casino Resort opened last May. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency says December, in fact, was the worst month during the same period, with about $65 million in revenues reported. Revenue for January were up 43 per cent, when compared to January of 2013, and that was before the addition of table games at all casinos, and the opening of Rocky Gap in May of last year.


Judge Denies Bond for bomb Suspect

Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker has denied a motion to reduce bail for a Russian student, accused of building bombs in his Juniata apartment. The bond will remain at $500,000 cash for Vladislav Miftakhov, a Penn State-Altoona student from San Carlos, California. The judge denied a reduction after determining the amount was appropriate, given the seriousness of the charges.

Local News

Frederick Officer Arrested in Garrett County Assault

Frederick Police say one of their own, Officer Benjamin Whitmore, was arrested and charged with second-degree assault in Garrett County on Tuesday. There were no specifics on the incident, but it is known that Officer Whitmore's police powers have been suspended. An investigation is being conducted by the Garrett County Sheriff's Department; there will also be a separate internal investigation by Frederick Police.


Woman Sentenced to 8 Years Home Detention

A Garrett County woman was sentenced to eight years of home detention, with four years suspended. Miranda White had been accused of attempted second-degree murder and other counts in connection with an incident in March of last year. White is accused of assaulting her former boyfriend. she struck him with a car, then crashed the vehicle into the Cornish Cafe. She was also ordered to make restitution to both the victim and the business.


Shearin "Surprised," Union Officials Praise Former Warden

Former NBCI Warden Bobby Shearin says he was surprised to have been replaced at the prison, and union leaders say employees are "puzzled" by the move. For his part, Shearin-who placed the inmates there on lockdown for weeks following the stabbing of a correctional officer-Shearin says he had been gradually lifting those restrictions, but state officials were unsatisfied with the pace. The officers' union praised Shearin's record at the prison, but the former warden says he was disappointed that he couldn't "finish what he started." He had been on the job since 2009.


Three Potomac Center Employees Fired

Three employees of the Potomac Center have been fired and 50 have been laid off so far. The executive director of the West Virginia Behavioral Health Care Providers Association, Mark Drennan, says "demeaning and degrading acts" were experienced by the children, and West Virginia State Police characterize them as acts of physical and sexual abuse. The program is a 6 to 24 month residential stay for kids between the ages of 5 and 17, who have developmental disabilities and behavioral issues.


Man Arrested on Paraphenalia Charges

A Keyser man, Paul Harland Ellis, was arrested Tuesday evening on Industrial Boulevard, and charged with possession of CDS paraphernalia. Ellis had originally been stopped for speeding, and admitted to officers he had a pipe in his pocket; the pipe had a small amount of marijuana residue in it. While searching his vehicle, another pipe with burnt cocaine residue in it, was found. He was taken to police headquarters, issued a criminal citation and released.


Former Correctional Officer Won't Be Retried

Former Roxbury Corrections Officer Josh Hummer will not face any further charges, in connection with a 2008 incident in which inmate Kenneth Davis was beaten by other officers. Davis had been, at one time, housed at the Allegany County Detention Center. Hummer was acquitted last week of violating Davis' civil rights by failing to stop other officers from beating him. Hummer was, however, convicted of lying to state police, and faces up to 20 years in prison on that count. He is one of 15 officers indicted in the case.


Lawmakers Consider Contraband Penalties

Maryland lawmakers are considering stiffer penalties for bringing in or receiving contraband cell phones in correctional centers. The measures are being considered following the contraband conspiracy at the Baltimore City Detention Center, where 44 people were indicted last year; that number includes 27 correctional officers. One proposal would increase the penalty for providing a cell phone to a detained person from three to five years, and making it a felony, rather than misdemeanor. In a separate proposal, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services would like to see the use of a polygraph test on correctional officers as a condition of their employment.


Testing Bill Being Proposed in Annapolis

Delegate Eric Luedtke is sponsoring legislation that would cancel this spring's Maryland School Assessments. States can request a waiver on the testing. Luedtke says there is good reason parents, teachers and others support the move, as Common Core curriculum roll-outs around the state would make the long-used assessments inaccurate. Delegate Luedtke admits the state is in a tough spot, because of the requirement to test. He sees a benefit to a discussion, because the public has become so engaged in what's going on with education.

Local News

WCI Warden to Oversee NBCI

The current warden at the Western Correctional Institution,  Frank Bishop, has been named to the position of warden at NBCI, following Monday's firing of Bobby Shearin. Richard Graham, assistant warden at WCI, has been promoted to warden at the facility. Shearin was given a letter on Monday, terminating his employment, as of February 17th. The letter contained a llist of complaints about his (Shearin's) service, including failure to provide leadership, according to department policy; allowing the chain of command to lapse the point that supervisors were ineffective; and, failure to address serious staff misconduct, among other points. For his part, Shearin says he will evaluate his legal options.


Man Held on a Total $50,000 Bond

Cumberland resident Louis Passano was arrested Monday afternoon, and is being held on a total $50,000 bond at the Allegany County Detention Center. Passano is accused of assaulting three victims at a Knox Street residence. He was seen leaving the residence, but was stopped and officers determined he was impaired, and a small amount of marijuana was found on him. Police also discovered that there was a warrant for his arrest, for assaulting another female victim in the 1,000-block of Van Buren Avenue. Passano also stolen some U.S. Savings Bonds. He was held on $30,000 bond and on $20,000 for the arrest warrant.


Minister Named to Development Authority

The Reverend Paul Allen has been named to serve on the Mineral County Development Authority, replacing Dave Boden, who resigned last year. There are two more open seats, and nobody has come forth to fill those. The commission will continue to accept letters of interest until the positions are filled.


Adult Ed Program To Sponsor Career and College Readiness Week

The Allegany County Adult Education Program, in partnership with the YMCA Family Center, the Western Maryland Consortium and Allegany College of Maryland will sponsor a week-long Career and College Readiness event next week. Two events during the week that require registration include a seminar on hospitality and a College Goal Maryland event. To register and get more information on session times, call the Adult Education Program at (301)-687-8025.


Meritus Cutting 120 Positions

Meritus Health in Hagerstown plans to cut about 120 position, including 60 current workers by February 15th, as part of a system-wide staff reduction. The health system also plans to cut hours for 43 employees; the layoffs were blamed on shrinking revenues due to federal budget cuts and an upswing in costs due to uninsured patients.


Brinkley Calling for Investigation

Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley is renewing his call for an independent investigation on what caused the technical problems of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. Brinkley says part of that investigation should include technical staff. He says the predominant issue is how the issue is being pushed back as political.The answers, according to Brinkley, may not be known until after the primary or general election. As of late last week, nearly 27,000 individuals had bought insurance policies through the exchange. The O'Malley administration is hoping to enroll 150,000 by March 31st, the federal deadline for enrolling uninsured individuals.


West Virginia Tax Collections Up in January

Tax revenue collections in West Virginia brought in about $391 million last month, which was about $8 million above projections. However, the state remained $73 million below estimates for the fiscal year. The current state budget may require more cuts or a mid-year search for additional revenue. The personal income tax shows a current shortfall of $61.6 million.


Local News -UPDATE

WCI Warden to Oversee NBCI

The current warden at the Western Correctional Institution,  Frank Bishop, has been named to the position of warden at NBCI, following Monday's firing of Bobby Shearin. Richard Graham, assistant warden at WCI, has been promoted to warden at the facility. Shearin was given a letter on Monday, terminating his employment, as of February 17th. The letter contained a llist of complaints about his (Shearin's) service, including failure to provide leadership, according to department policy; allowing the chain of command to lapse the point that supervisors were ineffective; and, failure to address serious staff misconduct, among other points. For his part, Shearin says he will evaluate his legal options.

Local News

NBCI Warden Fired


The warden at the North Branch Correctional Institution, Bobby Shearin, was reportedly fired yesterday morning. Shearin says that two officials from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services delivered a letter of termination to him around 10 a.m. He was placed on administrative leave, and will be terminated from state service on February 17th.



Two More File for City Election


Two more candidates have filed for a spot on the Cumberland Mayor and City Council. Seth Bernard and Dustin Freas have filed for election, as the two council seats up for election are currently occupied by Nick Scarpelli and David Kauffman. Scarpelli has announced his candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 1-C.



Bank Consolidating Locations


M & T Bank on Baltimore Street is closing May 2nd, and will be consolidating with the drive-up M & T bank at 166 Baltimore Street. The downtown Cumberland Mall location at 118 Baltimore Street will no longer offer banking services, but will house some of the institution's offices, including the manager's office. All employees are being transferred to either the consolidated location or to other branch locations in South Cumberland and LaVale.



Edwards Files Bills for Animal Shelters


Maryland State Senator George Edwards has filed bills for funding both the Allegany County Animal Shelter and HART for Animals in Garrett County. As for Allegany County the amount is $250,000 and the Garrett County amount is $150,000. If passed, the effective date on both pieces of legislation would be June 1st.



Man Threatens Family in Somerset County


Somerset County Police have arrested a Stoystown man, who they say threatened family members with a gun. Several children were also involved in the incident.  Richard Kelly, Jr. is a convicted felon, and wasn't supposed to own a gun. Neighbors called 911 after they heard semi-automatic gunfire. Several law enforcement agencies arrived on the scene, and took Kelly into custody.



Greater Cumberland Committee To Meet


The Greater Cumberland Committee will hold a meeting on Thursday at the Cumberland Country Club. A review of both the Mineral County Day events in Charleston and the PACE reception will be held. Other updates will also be given. The meeting begins at 11:30 a.m.



Maryland Biodiversity Seminar To Be Held


A free seminar is being held Thursday at Frostburg State University on the Maryland Biodiversity project, which is cataloging all living thins in Maryland. The seminar will be held at 7 p.m. at the Compton Science Center, Room 224. For more information, visit the website at



Worker Killed By Exploding Tire


A Hagerstown-area machine shop worker died Sunday, after a tractor tire he was inflating exploded. Thitry-one year old Pablo Juan Martinez was killed at Eastern Trailer Sales on Mount Lena Road. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Agency is investigating the accident.



O'Malley Running for President in 2016


Governor Martin O'Malley has told the Washington Post that he is preparing a possible run for President. Not waiting for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, O'Malley says he needs to get started on the groundwork for a national campaign. O'Malley has raised nearly $1.7 million last year with his political action committee.



Maryland Ranks 14th in School Breakfast


Maryland's school breakfast ranking in a scorecard released from the Food Research and Action Center shows that more low-income students are participating in school breakfast programs and the state is ranked 14th in the nation for its participation rate. Michael J. Wilson, executive director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, says while nearly 162,000 students are receiving nutritious breakfasts, thousands more need to be served. Wilson says parents should talk with school officials if breakfast is not available, or readily available. He points out the benefits.

Local News

Ten Targeted in Potomac Center Investigation


At least ten suspects have been identified in the investigation which led to the removal of two dozen children from the Potomac Center in Romney. There is no word on what charges would be filed. Several employees had been suspended or fired, and Medicaid has cut off payments to the Potomac Center, as the children no longer receive services there. In addition, nearly a third of the center's employees were temporarily laid off and the rest of the staff had its hours cut.



Moorefield Resident Pleads Guilty


A resident of Moorefield, West Virginia, Jose Francisco Ramirez, has pleaded guilty to two counts in federal court. Ramirez, also known as "Chico," enter pleas to a count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and one of "aggravated reentry of a previously deported alien." He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count. The case against Ramirez was investigated at the federal, state, and local law enforcement levels.



Man Held on Bond for Burglary


A 20-year old Keyser man, Anthony Haggerty, is being held on $5,000 bond at the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail, in connection with a December 30th burglary at the Grand Central Business Center. He was arrested after paying an unrelated fine at the Mineral County Magistrate's Office. An outstanding warrant had been filed against him. The business center, owned by First United Bank & Trust, is now empty after bank officials notified tenants that their leases would not be renewed this year.



Both Groundhogs See Shadow


Both Murray, Western Maryland's official groundhog and Punxsutawney Phil saw their shadows during ceremonies held yesterday morning. Both being in agreement, it means six more weeks of winter.



Woman Charged with Assault


A 29-year old Cumberland woman has been charged with second-degree assault, following an incident late Friday night at a Race Street residence. Jessica Hinzman is accused ot stabbing another person on the right hand and forearm with a broken picture frame. Others witnessed the argument and assault. The victim suffered only minor injuries, which did not require medical attention. Following a District Court hearing, she was released on $3,000 unsecured bond.



Ohio Man Arrested for Drug, Paraphernalia Possession


Twenty-one year old Ohio resident Brandon Michael Banks was arrested in the Grantsville area early yesterday morning. Marijuana was located in his vehicle, and he was also charged with possession of paraphernalia. He was charged, and released.


Applications Received for Authority Director


Sixteen applications have been received for the position of director of the Mineral County Development Authority. Mona Ridder, who had held the position for nearly five years, retired on January 1st. Two of the applicants are from out of town, and the next step is to choose fix or six of the candidates for interviews. Then, three finalist will be chosen for a second interview by board members.



Dallara Chosen to Succeed Howsare


Sixty-eight year old Alum Bank resident Barry Dallara has been chosen to replace outgoing Bedford County Commissioner Steve Howsare. He announced his resignation, which became effective yesterday, as he accepted the position of executive director of the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission. Dallara ran unsuccessfully for Bedford County Commissioner three years ago. He is being sworn into office today.



Large Drug Bust on Turnpike


A large amount of heroin was seized on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Somerset late last week. A traffic stop led to the arrest of Quayln Cephis-Latimer and Rasheim London Wallace. About 7500 stamp bags of heroin were found, and both remain in jail.



Double Fatal Accident in Hagerstown


A single vehicle accident early Saturday morning took the lives of two Hagerstown residents. Both 31-year old Shawn Ashley Minnick and her male passenger, 29-year old Courtney Lee Bridge were killed, when Ms. Minnick's 2002 BMW went off Cearfoss Pike, hit a utility pole and large boulder. The vehicle came to rest on its roof.



Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Makes Its Way to Maryland


There has been a total of 37 deaths, related to heroin, laced with the potent painkiller fentanyl. Two of those deaths have been reported in Washington County. Dozens of people have died in several states, prompting law enforcement and health officials to issue warnings about its danger. Fentanyl is 80 times more powerful than morphine, and greatly increases the risk of death through an overdose, by causing respiratory failure.



House, Senate Join Forces on Tax, Business Bills


Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Bush and Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller are working together to improve the state's economy, including tax credits and changes in the estate tax to exempt a higher amount from taxation. Through a series of bills, Miller says the General Assembly is trying to both create and retain jobs in the state. As for the estate tax, they are suggesting moving it from a one million dollar to a five million dollar exemption over the next four years. This is one of the few times Miller has "teamed up" with Busch on legislation.




Nearly Half of WV Graduates Work In State


The West Virginia University College of Business and Economics has found that 48per cent of West Virginia's public college graduates over the past decade are working in the Mountain State. Of those, the average income in 2012 was nearly $42,000. More than half of the graduates were employed in social assistance, education services and health care.


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