Healthy Hancock ideas highlighted in State of the Town

by Geoff Fox

Mayor Ralph Salvagno delivered the State of the Town during the February town meeting. He addressed making a healthy Hancock, starting a monthly coffee session with the mayor, and other positives from the previous year.

Mayor Ralph Salvagno gave his State of the Town address during the February town meeting noting some of the accomplishments over the last year and plans for the future.

While he talked about the wastewater treatment facility, bringing businesses to Hancock, support for Main Street Hancock, the success of youth sports, and the relationship between the town and Maryland Department of Natural Resources and National Park Service, it was the outline for a healthy Hancock and the establishment of a monthly citizens meet up with the mayor that highlighted the address.

Salvagno is an orthopedic surgeon in his “other job,” and while semi-retired, he is still involved at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown and is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

The CEO of Meritus is currently working to establish “Bold Goals” for health in Washington County and Salvagno said he plans to do the same for Hancock.

“I can give you a little hint. One of those goals will be a weight loss goal for the entire Washington County community over the next 10 years,” he said. “I’m already getting started with my part.”

After seeing success in Hagerstown, Salvagno announced the beginning of the Hancock 100 miler, which would be 100 miles in 100 days.

The beginning of the Hancock 100 miler would begin on April 4 and run roughly to July 20.

In creating the Hancock 100 miler, Salvagno is going to ask the town crews to outline walking trails at Kirkwood and Gerber fields so parents can walk while their kids are at ball practice.

“In addition to using the Rail Trail and C&O Canal, I’ll ask our Main Street Hancock group to outline a walking trail for those who need to walk at night under the street lights,” the mayor said.

Salvagno is also asking athletic groups to provide healthy snacks at concession stands, Interfaith Service Coalition to consider offer healthy cooking classes, and cooperation and assistance from local health providers.

“Together, we can make Hancock a healthy community and I am planning to recruit a volunteer Health Coordinator, anyone who might be interested, to oversee our efforts,” Salvagno said.

During the presentations portion of the meeting, members of Main Street Hancock played the video that had been submitted to HGTV for the “Hometown Takeover” program.

In his address, Salvagno noted the voice of Hancock is rising in the region, state, and “perhaps even in our nation.”

He said this was because of the involvement from all the citizens the town has been so successful.

Salvagno pointed to civic organizations, churches, athletic leagues, volunteers for town committees and the general participation in programs offered to the citizens of Hancock having made the town stronger.

“I appreciate all of you who come to town meetings to voice your opinions,” he said. Salvagno also said he appreciates that participation in civic organizations and coaches for the children.

Knowing people live busy lives and sometimes can’t make it to the Wednesday evening town meetings, so he’s creating a new way for people to engage with town officials.

Starting Saturday, March 7 at 9 a.m., Salvagno will be hosting “Morning Coffee with the Mayor” at his office located at 36 West Main Street. These sessions would the first Saturday of each month and last an hour or longer if need be.

“I hope that many will take advantage of this opportunity and I’m certainly looking forward to it,” he said.

Salvagno said the kickoff to the Hancock 100 miler is the first Saturday in April, so he’d hold his coffee session and then go for a little walk.

“I hope you all are able to join me and if any council member want to come along, that would be great,” he said.

Also in his address, the mayor told everyone the town is in the planning stages of the new wastewater treatment plant and plans are moving along as scheduled. This will also present the opportunity for some growth and development in Hancock.

He also noted participation in youth sports is increasing in the community.

“I was privileged to attend the flag football championship game this year and the enthusiasm was very apparent,” Salvagno said.

There are also plans to install lights on the softball field at Gerber Field to provide opportunities to female athletes in Hancock.

The town has established a “great working relationship” with the DNR and NPS. The DNR is responsible for the Western Maryland Rail Trail and the NPS is responsible for the C&O Canal.

Salvagno said he is hopeful the Bowles House can be staffed, as it is “an important entry into our community” for visitors.

There is also a plan being developed with the NPS and DNR to upgrade the boat ramp to improve river access for boaters, opportunities for fishing and swimming and improve safety.

He also addressed the bridge over the canal being closed due to safety concerns.

“We are hopeful to have an interim bridge solution within the next several months,” Salvagno said. “We understand how critical that is to people who want to utilize the river and certainly want to have that before the beginning of fishing and boating season.”