by Kate Shunney
The Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed last Tuesday, May 1 to top off local funds for a Hancock veteran banner project that has grown more complicated and costly than originally planned.
During their evening meeting in Hancock, county commissioners heard a request from councilman Leo Murray for an additional $10,000 toward the purchase of poles that will display flags honoring 136 local veterans. Murray said when the project began, the town had just 22 banners. Murray said bids for display poles “came in higher than we thought.”
“For the last month and a half, all I’ve been doing is asking for money,” said Murray.
Commissioner Terry Baker said he supported the funds request and the project. His own father is a World War II veteran, as is Commissioner Jeff Cline’s, he said.
“It’s a wonderful project,” said Commissioner Baker.
Cline initially said he wasn’t ready to commit a second round of funds to Hancock, since an effort by Vietnam veterans to fund their own project has fallen $75,000 short.
County officials eventually agreed to commit $10,000 each to Hancock’s banners and the Vietnam veterans project from the county’s contingency fund.
Commissioner Wayne Keefer said the poles and banners would be a nice addition to Widmeyer Park, especially when the new library opens as the renamed Veterans Library.
In other business, the commissioners remarked on the groundbreaking for Brooke’s House, a sober living facility in Hagerstown. The facility is named for the late daughter of former Hancock police officer Kevin Simmers.
Commissioner Cline called it “heartbreaking” to hear Simmers dedicate it to the memory of his child.
Commissioner John Barr spoke about planning for a U.S. Cycling event in Washington County this year and in 2019. He said the organization chose the county over San Diego, Calif.
“It’s an honor, a privilege and it’s up to us to shine,” he said. One of the competitions will be staged in the Clear Spring area and will require lots of logistical support, he said.
Commissioner Keefer said he had spoken with a business owner in Hancock who suggested the county look at connecting businesses with micro-loans. Keefer said there is a state program that could help small businesses qualify for loans that they might not otherwise get from traditional banks.
Scott Hobbs, the county’s director of the Division of Engineering, said the county would complete a $1.4 million chip seal project to resurface Pennsylvania Avenue from Grove Circle to the Pennsylvania line. He said the work could begin the last two weeks of May. Hobbs said the town could “piggyback” on the county’s project to add paving down to Route 144.
County officials said construction of the new Hancock library is on
schedule, with framing nearly complete and exterior surfaces being installed. The library is expected to reach “substantial completion” by mid-September.
During the citizen participation portion of the County Commission meeting, several Hancock citizens spoke about their worries regarding the future of the high school’s agriculture program. Missy Cubbage encouraged county officials to attend a May 3 listening session with the county’s school board. Cubbage said local parents wanted to push to keep the school’s agriculture teacher, who was recently hired to teach instead at Clear Spring High School.
“We would love to have your support Thursday night,” said Cubbage.