Looking back at 2020

by Geoff Fox

It’s 2021, which means everything that happened in 2020 is now behind us. Whether it was a pandemic, loss of jobs, a presidential election, or just events going on around the world, last year was one we’d rather forget.

But there were some things that happened around the Hancock area that we could look back on…


Washington County Emergency officials propose changes to Hancock addresses and street names. This would be discussed multiple times through the winter and spring.

Officials from neighboring Morgan County come to Hancock and ask town officials to support MARC train service to the train station in Hancock, WV.

Main Street Hancock enters Hancock into a contest for an HGTV renovation program. Folks from Hancock would gather at Hancock Middle-Senior High School for a rally later in the month. The town would not win the renovation contest.

Hancock residents gathered in the school’s courtyard as part of a rally in hopes HGTV selects Hancock for the restoration show “Home Town.”


Former Councilman Nigel Dardar was found deceased along the C&O Canal towpath after being reported missing by family members. Dardar, 72, served as councilman for several years and twice unsuccessfully ran for mayor.

A social media post with threats about harming students at Hancock Middle-Senior High School prompted Hancock police to have an increased presence at the school following the Presidents Day holiday.


Schools, churches, restaurants, and other businesses see schedules change or temporary closure due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of the year, some stores and restaurants had closed permanently. Some churches were still doing virtual services by the end of 2020.

The first two cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in Washington County.

Non-essential businesses are closed due to the pandemic.

Teachers from Hancock schools form a caravan and parade through the school district as students and families stand outside waving and showing support for each other.


Mayor Ralph Salvagno issues a state of emergency for the town of Hancock and closes public playgrounds and parks. Governor Larry Hogan instructs Marylanders to stay home during the pandemic.

Fulton County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

Town officials agree to repay a $600,000 state grant used in conjunction with the Stanley Fulton Building due to ties with Harvest, Inc., a medical cannabis firm.

Town officials are split on repaying a property owner for fire damage to the former visitor center on Main Street.


Maryland schools close to in person learning for the remainder of the school year. They would temporarily re-open at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year but revert back to distance learning in late 2020.

Food donations for Interfaith Service Coalition start rolling in by the truckload thanks to donations from DOT Foods.

Brianna Buskirk creates snack pans for Washington County first responders.


John Phillip True is charged in an embezzlement scheme from the Masonic Temple in Hancock. True is still waiting trial.

The Confederate flag on a mural along the Town Tavern in Hancock was painted over early this month by the town mayor.

Governor Hogan names Hancock Maryland’s Trail Town.

Seniors from Hancock High School are paraded through town in honor of not having an in-person public graduation.

Mayor Ralph Salvagno is charged for painting over the Confederate flag on two walls belonging to the Town Tavern. Salvagno would agree to do community service.


Both Hancock Elementary and Middle-Senior High School have new principals as Amanda Mulledy replaced Christopher Cline at Hancock Middle-Senior High School after one year and Jennifer Scarberry Price replaced long time principal Michelle Gest at Hancock Elementary.

After 40 years working for the Morgan Messenger and Hancock News, Kay Nesbitt called it a career and retired.

COVID-19 hits Hancock Little League. A fast response by league leaders keeps the spread to a minimum.

A petition is started to name the gym at Hancock High School after former basketball coach Jeffrey Spielman who passed away on June 22. In November, Washington County Public Schools officially approves the naming of the gym in honor of the late coach.


Mariah Shoemaker is indicted on felony charges in Allegany County Circuit Court for her role as driver in a September 2019 double fatal crash along Route 40.

Eric J. Smith, a former teacher at Hancock High School was charged on multiple sexual accounts for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a 17-year old student.


The process for moving the town’s elections from January to April is called into question by town officials. Officials would later revote on the date and make the approval for the dates.

Halloween activities in Hancock take a hit with the cancelation of the Rotary Club Halloween Parade and questions on how trick-or-treat would take place. It was decided to hold a Candy Land type event along the Rail Trail for kids to trick-or-treat.


A trailer from an eastbound tractor-trailer ended up in the Maryland Avenue yard of Richard Powers after it came loose on Interstate 70.

A Cumberland man is arrested for assault after an incident on the Rail Trail.


Firefighters and a Columbia Gas representative head to the sight of a gas leak along Main Street. 

A gas leak at Joseph Hancock Park closes Main Street in that area and forces residents and businesses to evacuate.

After a year being closed to vehicular traffic, work begins on the removal of the bridge over the C&O Canal. There would be a temporary delay in the removal of the bridge, but it was removed in December.


The area sees its first snowfall of the season as around seven inches of snow falls on the ground.