News Archive

Envision Frederick County is compiling an archive of news articles, editorials, columns and letters to the editor, from a range of local and regional publications.  The archive will grow to include more than 2,000 entries, from the last decade or so. If you want to search the archives using a combination of tags, you can type multiple tags into the "Search this site" box to the right. If you find a bad link, please let us know, and keep in mind that you can search for the item by using the headline on the site of the publication. PLEASE NOTE: Click on the headlines below to open the individual items in a new window.

Jan Gardner on her board's budget achievements

Frederick News Post
Jan Gardner
09/26/2013
Citizens deserve the facts. A recent letter to the editor by the Young Board of County Commissioners (absent Commissioner David Gray) provided inaccurate information about the county budget. The Gardner board managed the county budget responsibly, controlled spending and earned the first AAA bond rating for Frederick County. By contrast, the Young board has increased spending, raised taxes and redirected significant taxpayer dollars to subsidize new development projects while cutting services to the community’s neediest residents. These are the facts: Fact: Over the four years of the Gardner board, the budget grew from $436.7 million to $438.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million. Over only the first three years of the Young board, the budget grew from $438.3 million to $516.3 million, an increase of $78 million. If the fire tax budgets are separated out, over three years, the Young board increased the budget from $438.3 million to $474.1 million, an increase of $35.8 million. Fact: The Young board raised taxes when the fire tax districts were shifted into the operating budget.

Jan Gardner on her board’s budget achievements

Frederick News Post
Jan Gardner
09/26/2013
Citizens deserve the facts. A recent letter to the editor by the Young Board of County Commissioners (absent Commissioner David Gray) provided inaccurate information about the county budget. The Gardner board managed the county budget responsibly, controlled spending and earned the first AAA bond rating for Frederick County. By contrast, the Young board has increased spending, raised taxes and redirected significant taxpayer dollars to subsidize new development projects while cutting services to the community’s neediest residents. These are the facts: Fact: Over the four years of the Gardner board, the budget grew from $436.7 million to $438.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million. Over only the first three years of the Young board, the budget grew from $438.3 million to $516.3 million, an increase of $78 million. If the fire tax budgets are separated out, over three years, the Young board increased the budget from $438.3 million to $474.1 million, an increase of $35.8 million. Fact: The Young board raised taxes when the fire tax districts were shifted into the operating budget.

Election supervisors want to cap LLC donations

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/26/2013
Frederick's law regarding how much business owners can donate to candidates in elections should mirror the state's law, the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections decided Wednesday. The board will recommend to the mayor and Board of Aldermen that they pass an amendment to the city's election law that limits the amount a person who owns multiple business entities, such as limited liability corporations, is able to donate to each candidate. Anne Leffler, the board's president, said the change is long overdue. The business owner would be limited to the same amounts allowed to a resident or corporation — $2,500 to one mayoral candidate and $1,000 to one aldermanic candidate — no matter how many business entities that person owns or is making donations from.

City board: Clagett broke electioneering rules

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/26/2013
Delegate Galen Clagett broke electioneering rules during Frederick's primary election Sept. 10, according to the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections. Clagett, District 3A, lost the Democratic mayoral primary to Alderwoman Karen Young, who will be on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. The elections board voted at a Sept. 18 meeting to pursue legal action against Clagett, who illegally entered polling places and displayed campaign material on Sept. 10, according to the board's meeting minutes. Clagett said he was within his rights when visiting the polls and never violated any electioneering rules. Anne Leffler, the board's president, declined to comment. Multiple election judges told the board that Clagett violated city code by "entering numerous polling places, introducing himself and conversing with the judges," the minutes state. Clagett "refused to leave when asked to do so."

Open meetings complaints filed against Frederick County commissioners

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/25/213
At least two complaints of an Open Meetings Act violation have been lodged against the Frederick County commissioners for their closed-session vote on a $200,000 grant repayment. The submissions to the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board claim that the decisions should have happened in the open because they relate to public business. Middletown resident Sonja Sperlich wrote one of the complaints, and The Frederick News-Post submitted the other. County commissioners voted Sept. 5 to send the $200,000 check with a letter to the state in order to facilitate the sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. Sperlich’s letter references several portions of state law to bolster her argument that commissioners breached the Open Meetings Act. The law’s intent is to ensure that “except in special and appropriate circumstances, public business be performed in an open and public manner and citizens be allowed to observe the performance, deliberations and decisions of the BOCC,” Sperlich, former chairwoman of the Citizens board of trustees, wrote in her complaint.

Foes of Myersville compressor station ask for review, Want state to postpone permit

Frederick News Post
Ike Wilson
09/25/2013
A local grass-roots group wants the Maryland Department of the Environment to consider a recent study that tags the Old Line State with the highest percentage of premature deaths due to long-term exposure to air pollution than any other state before the state agency makes a decision on Dominion Transmission Inc.’s request for an air quality permit for its proposed gas compressor station in Myersville. The recently released study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that emissions from cars, trucks, industrial smokestacks, trains, boats, and commercial heating systems contribute to the deaths of 113 people per 100,000 population per year in Maryland, according to Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community, the grass-roots group formed to keep the project out of the western Frederick County municipality. Baltimore has the highest emissions-related mortality rate of large cities in the country, and Frederick, Reisterstown and Montgomery Village all have rates close to Baltimore’s, according to the study. After a recent MDE informational meeting in Myersville, MCRC members said the agency should consider the MIT study, along with numerous scientific studies and facts that support not granting the air quality permit to operate a 16,000 horsepower gas compressor station in Myersville.

Changing faces

Frederick News Post
0924/2013
Any resident of Frederick who hasn’t noticed the increasing diversity of the city’s residents must be either a very unobservant person or doesn’t get out much. Everywhere one goes in town — shopping districts, neighborhoods, the workplace, schools, parks — one sees increasingly significant racial and ethnic diversity. According to The News-Post’s Sept. 19 story “New data: Frederick city more diverse,” that diversity continues to increase. We think that’s a good thing that strengthens the community in a number of ways. As we would have expected, during the last five years both Frederick and Frederick County have grown, with the county making the most gains. When it comes to diversity, however, the city is a veritable melting pot compared to the county. The Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey found that in the city of Frederick one of every three residents are a member of a minority group. In the county, only two in 10 are minorities.

Frederick County group eyes farm growth rights

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/242013
The nine people charged with designing a market for selling farm growth rights agree that the new program should be straightforward and promote agricultural preservation. Reaching consensus on the details could be another matter, and time is in short supply. County commissioners gave the work group a November deadline for hammering out a proposed transfer of development rights program. While the group spent its first three meetings discussing options for the program, they still have some knotty issues to untangle, such as whether shifting growth rights would actually increase development rather than preserve farmland. A TDR program allows farmers to sell their subdivision rights to other property owners.

County hears input on transportation priorities

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
09/23/2013
County staff members and representatives from the State Highway Administration met with the commissioners last week to go over transportation priorities for Frederick County. Transportation projects tend to develop slowly, so many of the items on the county priorities list were carried over from earlier years. The overall top priority remains widening U.S. 15 between I-70 and Md. 26. However, three key changes were made possible by state funding. Planners secured construction funding for the U.S. 15, Monocacy Boulevard interchange and a streetscape project on Main Street (Md. 144) in New Market. Streetscapes generally involve improving or adding sidewalks and upgrading roadways to make them more navigable.

Clean Chesapeake Coalition faces challenges changing minds

Carroll County Times
Timothy Sandoval
09/22/2013
The Clean Chesapeake Coalition, which Carroll County joined last year, includes six other rural counties in Maryland, and attempts to change conventional wisdom on the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and restoration efforts. The coalition advocates for cost-effective policies that will help the bay, pointing out the issues concerning the Conowingo Dam, which they say releases the largest amount of pollution into the bay. They argue the dam should be the priority, downplaying the effectiveness of environmental polices handed down by the state. But some have questioned the effectiveness of such a coalition, including one commissioner in Carroll County. Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, R-District 2, who voted against joining the coalition, said at the time of the vote that he was unsure the state would stop its focus on septic system regulations and other mandates it is looking to impose.

No success for secession

Frederick News Post
09/14/2013
The last time a state was able to successfully break away from another was West Virginia after pro-North residents split from Virginia more than 150 years ago. But that hasn’t stopped others in recent years from trying in other states such as Colorado, Michigan and California. And now there’s another campaign afoot in Maryland — this time with the state’s five westernmost counties, including Frederick. The five counties, which also include Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Carroll, have a majority of registered Republicans in a heavily Democratic state. To say this is an uphill battle is an understatement. There’s virtually no chance this is going to be successful, and we’ll tell you why in a minute.

The 51st State, Western Maryland: How to succeed without seceding

MarylandReporter.com
Barry Rascovar
09/22/2013
The mountain natives are restless in Maryland. They want to have it their way, though they represent just 10 percent of the state’s population. Here are a few things that annoy them: * A stream of tax increases (including one on rain!) from Annapolis. * State restrictions that devalue their land. * Tougher gun-control laws. *A bleeding-heart law that does away with the death penalty. * A state law legalizing gay marriages. * Political map-makers who deprive them of their conservative congressman. It’s enough to make you want to secede, which is the plan put forth by a Carroll County blogger, Scott Strzelczyk of New Windsor, for the five counties often lumped together as Western Maryland. The verb “to secede” is a curious term not to be confused with the similar-sounding verb “to succeed.” Indeed, were the five western counties to secede from Maryland, there would be no chance for that movement to succeed. It won’t happen Here’s why. * The 51st state: Western Maryland would be the third smallest by population (less than 660,000). Only Wyoming and Vermont would have fewer residents. * It would be a state divided between “haves” and “have nots.” Under-populated and impoverished Garrett and Allegany counties would be heavily outvoted by the far more crowded, well-off jurisdictions to the east. As the French say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” * It would be one of the most homogeneous states, close to 90% white with few African Americans or Latinos. Nearly everyone would be Christian, too. * It would be filled with non-productive residents. Folks of retirement age and children 18 years or younger would constitute over 40% of the population. * Two wealthy counties – Carroll and Frederick – would be forced to support the other three jurisdictions that have high unemployment (Washington County’s jobless rate, for instance, stands at 8.4%). * The five counties would lose $622 million in direct Maryland school aid and a lot more Maryland aid earmarked for other social programs. Yet these jurisdictions only produce $326 million in income tax revenue.

Citizens Protest Proposed Incinerator

WFMD
Kevin McManus
09/21/213
Chanting "Hey, hey; ho, ho; incinerator has got to go," and unfurling a banner which read "Draw The Line; No Incinerator; Fight CLimate Change," a group of citizens gathered at the McKinney Industrial Park Saturday morning to protest the proposed waste to energy facility for Frederick County. The demonstration was local, but it was driven by national organizations such as 350.org, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which are concerned about the impact incineration has on climate change. "It's the most environmentally irresponsible approach we could take," says former county commissioner Kai Hagen, who was at the rally. "There are public health concerns and it's an incredibly risky financial endeavor that was never really justified. The economic model used to justify it was indefensible then, and it's even more indefensible now." Hagen was on the Board of County Commissioners when approval was given to go ahead with the project. He voted in opposition.

Scientists defend storm-water controls

Baltimore Sun
Tim Wheeler
09/20/2013
Scientists and others engaged in protecting Maryland's rivers and streams are rising to the defense of the state's storm-water management laws in the wake of Harford County Executive David Craig's call for their repeal. Craig, a leading Republican candidate for governor in next year's election, said earlier this week that he would push for repeal of at least three state environmental laws, including one requiring property owners in Baltimore City and the state's nine largest counties to pay a fee for reducing storm-water runoff in their communities. The fee, which Craig and other critics have dubbed a "rain tax," is generally assessed based on the amount of pavement and rooftop that property owners have. Craig contends the fees are inconsistently applied and so steep in places like Baltimore that they'll drive businesses out. But in calling for the fee's repeal, Craig took aim at the scientific basis for focusing on such "impervious surface." "The impervious surface really doesn't matter," Craig said. "The rain is going to get through somewhere, somehow." Craig also called for repeal of a 2007 law tightening requirements for new development to limit storm-water runoff, and of a 1984 law limiting development near the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Scientists take issue with Craig over his statement questioning the science behind the storm-water fees. "Mr. Craig's comment flies in the face of all available science on the issue, and more importantly, in the face of common sense," said Andrew J. Elmore, an associate professor at the University of Maryland's Appalachian Environmental Laboratory in Frostburg. Hye Yeong Kwon, executive director of the Center for Watershed Protection in Ellicott City, said the connection between impervious surface and stream vitality has been established for years now. Rainfall runs off pavement and roofs when in an undeveloped setting it would soak into the ground, explained Kwon. Her nonprofit center works with local governments and others to curb the effects of storm water.

Incinerator opponents plan weekend rally

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/20/2013
Opponents of building a waste-to-energy incinerator in Frederick County are planning a Saturday morning demonstration at the site of the proposed facility. The gathering fits into a nationwide movement to protest projects that protest participants believe will intensify global warming, according to a news release. The Frederick County event will begin at 10 a.m. at 4549 Metropolitan Court. Event organizers say projects that create climate problems will place a burden on future generations. "Sure, we need to challenge our kids. But not to pay bigger bills while adjusting to a warmer, more disaster-prone climate," said Kathryn Ruud, of Middletown. "We need to challenge them to create energy with renewable sources and to learn ways to consume and recycle that do not create mountains of trash and materials to bury." The Draw the Line campaign is supported by 350.org and Chesapeake Climate Action Network and will include rallies, demonstrations and other events.

New data shows Frederick is growing, city remains more diverse

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson and Kelsi Loos
09/19/2013
Moving to Frederick was pure economics for the Hughes family. “Honestly, the rent was a lot cheaper here,” said Shontez Hughes, who moved with his wife and two children to Frederick in January after considering Montgomery County, where he works. The Hugheses, an African-American family, are part of the city’s diversifying population. As more people move into Frederick County, the area is increasingly becoming a melting pot — especially the city, according to data released today in the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Frederick County’s population grew by 2,837 from 2011 to 2012, to 239,582 people. Frederick city’s population grew 225 residents, to 66,390, according to the data. In the last five years, from 2007 to 2012, nearly 15,000 people have moved into the county and nearly 5,000 people have moved into the city. The community survey data is less accurate than data from the U.S. Census, and the margin of error can be higher than 5 percentage points in some categories. In the city, one in every threeresidents is now a minority, about 33.4 percent of residents, according to the data. Step outside the city limits, however, and the diversity diminishes. About eight in every 10 county residents are white, or about 81.6 percent of residents, the data states.

Air of dissatisfaction

Frederick News Post
09/8/2013
A recent Capital News Service story on air pollution raised a number of questions. Those who read deeply enough into the story also found an eye-opening bit of information about Frederick. According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study released last month, a higher percentage of Marylanders die prematurely due to long-term exposure to air pollution than residents of any other state. What is particularly galling about this situation is that, to some extent, the costly efforts Maryland has made to clean up its air are being sabotaged by some “upwind” states that haven’t made similar sacrifices. The MIT study listed Baltimore as the worst large city in the entire nation when it comes to emissions-related mortality rate. For those of us who are used to hearing all the horror stories about Los Angeles, Denver and other pollution-choked cities, this is somewhat of a shock. A bit further into the story, the news got even worse. Frederick pops up as one of several Maryland cities whose air-pollution-related death rate is nearly as high as Baltimore’s.

Shades of Green

Saving the Planet Touches Almost Every Area of Frederick County Living, and it Comes with a Price Tag
Frederick Magazine
Linda Norris-Waldt
09/16/2013
Save the Bay. Buy recycled. Reduce your carbon footprint. Conserve water. The list goes on and on. And so does the number of programs and projects that aim to improve Frederick County’s environment— and with them, the debate about where lies the responsibility: Who pays, who is inconvenienced by change, and how much habit-breaking is practical when the returns aren’t immediately evident. A myriad of regulations, public education programs and businesses have brought environmental initiatives to our doors. The new programs, like mandating rain barrels and rain gardens for new subdivisions, roll in with great fanfare like ocean waves, supported by public demand. And then they are either delayed or abridged because of cost, impact or feasibility. A constant rebalancing is always taking place. Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County commissioner whose work in construction takes him into the field where he has direct encounters with environmental regulations, has been no fan of the feasibility of government programs regulating the environment. They have “grown exponentially and for no good reason other than to expand the role of government in our lives,” he says. “Stormwater has been ruled by courts to not be a pollutant, yet we still seem to have governing bodies that can’t let go of the power and control of regulating the lives of personal property owners.” Kai Hagen, a community activist and former county commissioner known for championing environmental causes, has a differing view. “If people knew the real environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with the choices we make—as a community—I’m convinced we would be making a lot more responsible choices than we are now,” he says. Here’s how current environmental programs in Frederick County touch water, land and lives.