County Announces Changes TV Recycling Program

The Garrett County Department of Solid Waste & Recycling, has made a change to the electronics recycling program.  We have suspended the recycling of all TV and CRT monitor recycling until further notice.  Our electronics vendor has seen an increase in the cost to recycle elements of the CRT type computer monitors and televisions.  We do not want to pass the additional cost on to the residents or business owners in Garrett County, therefore we will discontinue recycling these items until a better solution can be found.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and will make every effort to restore full service to the electronics recycling program in the future.

Horizon Goodwill Industries in Oakland and Grantsville offer a computer recycling program.  Please ask the Goodwill Representatives at each location for handling & drop-off instructions.  Televisions will still be accepted at all refuse & recycling sites for disposal by Garrett County residents.  A television is covered by the residential refuse sticker program.  Additionally, if you do not have a refuse sticker, a bulk item sticker may be purchased at the sites for $5.00 or televisions may be brought to the landfill and charged by weight at the rate of $45 per ton for disposal.

Electronics materials are accepted for recycling at the Bumble Bee, Grantsville, Kings Run, Garrett Highway refuse & recycling site and Landfill.

If you have a question regarding the recycling of a specific electronics item, or questions, suggestions or comments on the free recycling programs being offered in Garrett County, please contact Kimberly Madigan, Recycling Coordinator at 301-387-0322 or visit www.garrettcounty.org/solid-waste-recycle

New Germany to Participate in 2nd-annual CCC On-The-Air Weekend

New Germany State Park will be hosting local Amateur Radio Operators on Sunday, August 9th for the 2nd-annual CCC On-The-Air Weekend.  This nationwide event encourages Amateur Radio Operators to set up radio operations from the actual locations of former Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps throughout the United States.  The CCC was a program developed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in an effort to create jobs and help restore the nation’s struggling resources during the Great Depression.  The CCC is credited with developing 800 state parks, building 3,980 structures, blazing 13,100 miles of trails, and planting between 2 and 3 billion trees.  Between 1933 and 1942, the program provided jobs for over 3 million Americans in 4,500 different camps.  As New Germany State Park was once the site of one such camp, local Amateur Radio Operators, Scott Beitzel (ku3m), Jim Ruppert (kb3dut), and Howard Reynolds (wa3eoq), will be setting up communications from the front porch of the Recreation Hall – a structure built by the CCC in the 1930’s.  From this location, the operators are expected to make contact with dozens of other stations across the nation. For more information, please call 301-895-5453.


Cuppett Receives Leadership Award

James Cuppett, Administrator of the Garrett County Memorial Hospital Subacute Rehabilitation Unit was honored by the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) with the 2015 ACHCA Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award. The award, named in memory of visionary ACHCA member Eli Pick recognizes administrators whose teams have achieved dimension of organization quality that exceed expectations.

“The Hospital’s Subacute Rehabilitation Unit has also been awarded the Five Star Award from the U.S. News and World Report for the second year in a row under the direction of Jim Cuppett. We are pleased that his dedication has been recognized and he has been chosen as the recipient of the Eli Pick Award,” said Mark Boucot, GCMH President and CEO

Eligibility for the Eli Pick award is based on three years of skilled nursing facility (SNF) survey data, including the Health, Fire (Life Safety), and Compliant Surveys, as well as top quartile performance on designated Quality Measures. The criteria also included an 80% or greater facility occupancy and a three year avoidance of a Special Focus Facility status.

“Advancing leadership excellence is at the core of our mission,” commented Marianna Grachek, President and Chief Executive Officer of ACHCA. “There is a close relationship between facility leadership and quality outcomes - and, ultimately, between quality care and operational success.”

The ACHCA firmly believes that long-term care facility excellence is a reflection of leadership excellence. The prestigious Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award is made possible with the support of eHealth Data Solutions.

Refuse To Be A Victim® NRA Crime Prevention Seminar to be Held at Garrett College

 The award-winning crime prevention and personal safety seminar, Refuse To Be A Victim®, will be conducted on Tuesday August 18 at the Garrett College Southern Outreach Center in Oakland. The seminar will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Refuse To Be A Victim® Seminars teach methods to avoid dangerous situations and prevent criminal confrontations. Experts agree the most important factor in surviving a criminal attack is to have an overall safety strategy before you need it. Seminar topics address personal safety issues as well as home, automobile, telephone, technological, and travel security. Seminar participants are presented with a variety of common-sense crime prevention and personal safety strategies and devices they may integrate into their daily lives.

Refuse To Be A Victim® was developed by the National Rifle Association in 1993 in response to nationwide requests for crime prevention seminars. Members of the law enforcement community across the country have endorsed the program. The program is appropriate for teenagers and up. With more than 2,000 instructors, seminars have been held in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Trinidad and Tobago. Tens of thousands of men and women have benefited from the program and its life saving message. This class is being taught through Boston Hill Training by Rick Sivic who is an NRA and Maryland State Police HQL Certified Instructor.

For more information or to register for the seminar, please contact Garrett College Continuing Education & Workforce Development at 301 387-3069.

GC Announces CNA Program Start Dates for Fall, along with New Instructor

 Garrett College Continuing Education and Workforce Development welcomes Brenda Strosnider to the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) instructor pool. She will join Karen Neel in co-teaching the fall Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program to be offered at the Garrett College Southern Outreach Center in Oakland, beginning September 14, 2015.

The first portion of the training program is a 69-hour theory course which is followed by 48 hours of clinical training at a local nursing home. The Garrett College CNA program is approved and regulated by the Maryland Board of Nursing which has set very high standards for attendance and require that student pass the theory section with an 80% or better to move on to clinicals. The fall semester CNA theory classes will be held at Southern High School in Oakland on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and run from September 14 through November 5. CNA clinical trainings will be held at the Oakland Nursing and Rehab Center November 9 – 17, from 6:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The required pre-registration test helps determine the student’s readiness for this CNA course. Pre-testing begins the week of August 3. Potential students must demonstrate a minimum of ninth grade language arts skills and eighth grade math skills on literacy testing prior to registration. Prior to testing, students are encouraged to brush up on skills such as principles of multiplication and division with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percentages. There is no fee to take the pre-registration test. 

For more information on the upcoming CNA program or to schedule a test date, persons may contact Susan Fowler, Program Director, at 301-387-3087 or susan.fowler@garrettcollege.edu.


 Ralph M. Burnett Bridge Completion

The Board of Garrett County Commissioners will be attending a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the newly completed River Road Bridge also known as the Ralph M. Burnett Memorial Bridge on Monday, August 3, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

This bridge which is located near Grantsville replaces a one lane all timber box beam bridge that was irreparably damaged due to suspected over loading and closed in December 2013.

The new bridge is a one lane 84 foot galvanized pony truss that also has a cantilevered 5 foot walkway. The existing abutments were modified to accept the new structure however none of the hand cut stones from the original abutments were removed.

All work including removal of the timber bridge was completed by Garrett County Roads Department personnel with the assistance of Carl Belt Inc., providing crane services for setting the structural steel. The project was completed in 8 weeks.


Ouendeno Joins GC as Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering

 Garrett College recently welcomed a new member to the Garrett College community. Dr. Michel Ouendeno has joined the staff as the new Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering. He has more than six years of relevant experience as an accomplished Embedded Engineer, along with an excellent academic, professional, and research background.

He received his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla. He continued his education at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., to receive both his master of science degree in electrical engineering, followed by his doctorate degree in electrical engineering.

Ouendeno joins Garrett College from Broward College, located in Coconut Creek, Fla. At Broward College, he was the Assistant Professor in Engineering Technology and Computer Science. In addition to teaching, he was heavily involved in reviewing the department program, and was also the principal contributor in updating the new Engineering Technology Program at Broward College.

He has taught the following courses in the following areas: electronics communication, DC/AC circuits, digital techniques, photovoltaic systems, microprocessors, measurement instrumentation, linear techniques, process and materials, industrial safety, and quality control. Ouendeno is a member of the following professional organizations: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): Power Energy, International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), and the International Neural Network Society (INNS).

His previous research and work experience includes serving as a Program Manager for Solar Photovoltaic Systems and an Embedded Software Engineer for Technisource, a Subsidiary of Randstat Technologies, located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. At Technisource, Ouendeno performed contract work for the following organizations: GE Aviation, Hamilton & Sundstrand, Honeywell, and Belcan Engineering. He was also an Electrical Engineer for Rockwell & Collins in Melbourne, Fla. His professional research work has been presented and published in several conference and journal publications, including the International Journal of Signal and Imaging Systems Engineering.

At Garrett College, Ouendeno teaches engineering and mathematics courses and is currently in the process of developing a new certificate program, Electro-Mechanical Technology. The addition of an Electro-Mechanical Technology Certificate degree program supports the College’s mission to develop engaging, innovative and sustainable curricula, programs and initiatives that are responsive to changing and emerging employment opportunities for citizens of Garrett County and the surrounding region.

“I am excited to join Garrett College to help expand the Engineering program leading to the creation of advanced technical skills and training directed toward the application of the new and emerging technologies,” Ouendeno stated. “The Electro-Mechanical Technology Certificate degree program is designed for students who plan to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation.”

Painting the Bob Ross Way Course slated at Grantsville

Garrett College will be offering a course, Painting the Bob Ross Way, on Saturday, August 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Grantsville Senior Center.

This one-day course will focus on the painting style of the late Bob Ross, the artist who became popular on the PBS “The Joy of Painting” television series and popularized catch phrases such as “happy little trees.” Instruction will be given as a step by step method of wet on wet oil painting using all Bob Ross paints and brushes to complete a full landscape painting in one day. All levels of artists are welcome to attend.

The course is being instructed by Allegany County resident, Dee (Savage) Sullivan, certified by the Bob Ross estate. Sullivan has been an instructor since 1995 and is certified to teach landscapes, floral, and wildlife paintings. Students need to bring a 16 x 20 canvas. All other supplies will be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring a bagged lunch.

For additional information contact Terry Beachy at 301-895-4700 or terry.beachy@garrettcollege.edu. To register for the class, contact Garrett College Continuing Education and Workforce Development at 301-387-3069.



Garrett County Announces New County Administrator

The Board of Garrett County Commissioners has announced the appointment of Kevin Null as County Administrator. Mr. Null was previously Town Manager/Chief Operating Officer for West Manheim (Pennsylvania) Township for 5 years and also served on the New Windsor (Maryland) Town Council as Vice President for 12 years. Prior to his position with West Manheim Township Mr. Null had 23 years of corporate security experience with Chevy Chase Bank and Provident Bank.

Kevin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from the University of Baltimore and a Masters of Business Administration from Frostburg State University.

Board of County Commissioners Chairman Paul Edwards stated that “I am very excited to add Kevin to our team in county government. He has years of experience working with municipal governments in Maryland and his skill set matches our needs extremely well. I think he has the perfect demeanor to be successful working in Garrett County and that the public will enjoy working with him. He truly is a great fit”

Mr. Null stated that I’m excited about this opportunity and look forward to joining Garrett County as County Administrator. I’m impressed with the County Commissioners’ vision for the County and I’m anxious to meet with County employees, local government officials, and civic and community groups. My goal is to continue to provide exceptional citizen services to our residents, employers, and employees who call Garrett County home.”

Mr. Null will succeed Monty Pagenhardt who served as County Administrator for Garrett County Government since 1995 and in 2014 announced his intent to retire and not seek reappointment. Mr. Null will begin his employment with the County on July 20 and he and his wife will be relocating to Garrett County.


GCMH Announces Opening of Cancer Center and Clinical Affiliation with WVUH

President and CEO of Garrett County Memorial Hospital, Mark Boucot has announced the opening of a new Cancer Care and Infusion Services Center at the Hospital.  The new Cancer Care Center is expected to open for patients in January 2016 and will be located on the first floor in the original hospital building.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., as well as Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Cancer is also the second leading cause of death in Garrett County.  The need for cancer care services here in Garrett County is particularly important for early screening and prevention programs because the mortality rates for Breast and Colorectal Cancers in Garrett County specifically are 25% higher than the rest of the state and the nation and 15% higher for prostate cancer, according to the Garrett County Health Department statistics.

While the need for services provided locally is paramount, access to cancer care services has been minimal, which forces residents to travel at least one hour each way to the nearest regional medical center.  “This is a real hardship for our residents, especially the elderly, disabled, and under-employed people who often may go without access to cancer care services entirely,” stated Boucot.

Approval for the new Cancer Care and Infusion Services Center was given to Mark Boucot by Donna Kinzer, Executive Director of the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) in June of this year. “Obtaining the HSCRC approval is an important step that required extensive data gathering and strategic planning to present the case for the GCMH request to open the center,” explained Boucot.  GCMH considers the HSCRC to be a strategic partner of the hospital.  The agency is responsible for setting hospital rates and ensuring that hospitals in Maryland meet reporting guidelines and adhere to established hospital revenue and rate setting standards.  GCMH administration was very appreciative of the support from the HSCRC to implement the Cancer Care and Infusion Services Program.

Over the last year, Garrett County Memorial Hospital has reinvigorated its relationship with the American Cancer Society and the hospital also enjoys a longstanding relationship with Cindy’s Fund.  The availability of cancer care in the community has become a priority with both administration and staff at Garrett County Memorial Hospital.  The Hospital’s Relay for Life team, headed by Jessica Lucas as Team Captain, is poised to raise over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.  “GCMH's new cancer center will not only save lives, but change lives.  Having the hospital as the top sponsor for Relay For Life of Garrett County, as well as one of the top fundraising teams, speaks volumes.  Having the hospital’s support, to show our community that we are committed as partners in the fight against cancer, has given new hope to the people of Garrett County,” said Courtney Case, Community Manager for the American Cancer Society.

To support its efforts to provide Cancer Care services, the hospital applied and was awarded a three year grant of $600,000 from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which paved the way to implement a new Nurse Navigator Program for Cancer Care in Garrett County.  The nurse navigator will help patients find medical services and assist with research and education on the disease processes. The program will also identify social and support services for patients and families to cope with the hardship of a cancer diagnosis.  Hospital leaders recently announced the selection of Gina Artice, RN as the first Nurse Navigator.  With the program already getting underway, Artice explained, “Our goal is to ensure positive patient experiences and outcomes.  My role is to support patients in their journey and provide assistance whenever they need it.”

The new Cancer Care and Infusion Services Center has been embraced by community members that are poised to kick off a capital campaign drive, specifically for the center.  The fund raising initiative is being led by Dorothy and Darryl Walters and is setting a goal to raise over $1 million in community and corporate support.  “This is definitely a project we can all rally behind- One million reasons to beat cancer,” said Dorothy Walters.  Also volunteering to help with the project are Tracy Bemiller, Bill Grant, Sandy Hill, Carole Perez, Rob Sharps and Bill Weissgerber.

The provision of cancer care services locally at Garrett County Memorial Hospital has been endorsed by our congressional leaders as well.  Their letters of concern and support for the Nurse Navigator Program and the New Cancer Care and Infusion Services Center show their dedication to the community at large. “We should be doing everything we can to provide Marylanders – wherever they live – with access to affordable and quality health care,” said U.S. Representative John Delaney.  State Senator George Edwards added, “The Cancer Care Center at GCMH will be able to provide the most up to date medical treatments available so patients won’t have to travel great distances to connect with cancer care services.  This is a great happening for the Garrett Region.”

To support the Cancer Care effort, Garrett County Memorial Hospital has implemented a Clinical Affiliation with West Virginia University Healthcare (WVUH).  “Our first goal will be to provide Cancer Care Services here in Garrett, and afterwards, the clinical affiliation will help GCMH to improve the community’s access to specialty and subspecialty care, as well as support physician recruitment initiatives,” explained Mark Boucot.  WVU was chosen as the hospital’s partner following a proposal process led by Henrietta Lease, the GCMH Board leader of the Strategic Planning Committee.  Proposals were sought from other large hospitals in the surrounding areas, however, Western Maryland Health System declined to submit a proposal. 

Regarding Cancer Care and this new affiliation, Boucot stated, “We are pleased and honored to announce the new Cancer Care and Infusion Services Center will be a satellite of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center of WVUH, located at Garrett County Memorial Hospital.”  Recruitment efforts are getting started for a medical oncologist-hematologist to lead the center.  “We are excited to be partnering with GCMH to provide Cancer Care and other specialty services in Garrett County.  It’s our mission to provide high quality care in the communities we serve,” stated Albert Wright, President and CEO of WVUH.  “We will support the cancer program at GCMH with clinical trials and research, especially when patients present with aggressive or rarer forms of Cancer,” added Hannah Hazard, MD FACS, Director of Clinical Services and Surgeon-in-Chief of the Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Design plans for the new Cancer Care and Infusion Services Center have been completed with construction slated to begin in July of 2015.  Projected opening for the new Cancer Care and Infusion Services Center at Garrett County Memorial Hospital is planned for January 2016.  As Chair of the hospital Board of Governors and Mayor of the Town of Oakland, Peggy Jamison states, “The opening of this center is one of the most important recent developments of the hospital.  We are thrilled to be able to bring these services to our community with such a respected partner as WVUH.”

     12th Annual Quilt Raffle to Benefit Friendsville Library

The Friendsville Library Quilters have completed their 12th annual quilt as a fundraiser for the Friendsville Library. Titled "Songbirds and Sunflowers," this queen-size quilt was hand-quilted by members of the group. Pictured in the photo are (left to right) quilters Mimi Demaree, Marilyn Moors, Ina Hicks, Helen Bowser, Jennifer Pletta, and Louise Lawrence. Glenna Reese was absent.

Raffle tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5, and all proceeds benefit the library. Tickets are available from the quilters, local Friendsville businesses, and End of the Line Books in Oakland. They are not available at the library. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn at noon on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at the Friendsville Library.

The quilt will be on display at the Friendsville Library, which is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 - 8 p.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 - 5:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

GC Announces Inaugural Mountain Maker Fest to be held August 15 in Accident

Garrett College has announced plans for the inaugural Mountain Maker Fest to be held with the purpose of bringing regional makers in the arts, technology, consumer products, wood, agriculture, metal, leather, robotics, Legos, textiles and other components together to share ideas, learn and participate in the maker movement.  As the name indicates, makers are those that create things – food, technology, art, products – for fun or profit.

The Mountain Maker Fest, part of the College’s regional Power of Possibilities Summit Series in partnership with The Greater Cumberland Committee and other private and public organizations, will be held at the Garrett College Career Training and Technology Center in Accident on Saturday, August 15. The goal is to bring together people of all ages and interests to experience, participate, and learn about ways others make goods as hobbyists, inventors, entrepreneurs, or would-be entrepreneurs. 

According to Mike Tumbarello, Director of the Garrett College Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, “this event is designed to share and showcase all of the neat and exciting things made in the region. We will have demonstrations and examples from area makers on 3D printing, rocket making, wood cutting, robotics, welding, Lego design, bread baking, cheese making, art and numerous other endeavors. Our goal is to bring people together to see what others are doing in the area in both low- and hi-tech making environments.”

“We will be having some very cool demos and activities, around drones, straw rockets, food making, robots, 3D face scanning, ceramic printing, Legos and other areas, that are designed for all ages and levels of interest and participation,” added Sarah Myers, co-director of the Power of Possibilities series and event. “The event will be great for families wishing to expand their children’s horizons while having fun, as well as for new or serious hobbyists and craftspeople wishing to learn about specific crafts from those already engaged in them.”

The Maker Movement is gaining lots of momentum worldwide; makers, and those interested in learning more, have been coming together in various forums in the past few years. This will be the inaugural event in our region and there should be enough diversity of ideas and products to engage people from all walks of life, from farmers to students to engineers. The plan is to provide hobbyists space to share their passion and knowledge and to also allow those that sell their creations space to get their products into the market. There will also be a number of demos throughout the day, which runs from 10am to 3:00pm, as well as music, food and dance demonstrations.

To learn more about the inaugural Mountain Maker Fest and how to participate as an attendee, hobbyist or vendor, persons may go online to www.4ruralsuccess.com or contact Mike Tumbarello at 301-387-3167 or Sarah Meyers at 301-387-3771. 


Property Tax Announcement

Garrett County Government Director of the Department of Financial Services Scott Weeks would like to remind all residents and real property tax payers that effective July 1, 2015, the discount rate for early payment on Fiscal Year 2016 real property tax bills will be reduced from 1% to .50%.

The discount will only be offered to those taxpayers who pay online with an E-check payment method. Taxpayers can go online at www.garrettcounty.org  and click on the “Pay Taxes Online” link. They can then create a new account and add tax accounts for payment. If any taxpayer choses the E-Check payment type, they will need to enter their bank routing and account number, then they will receive a .50% discount. This payment method is FREE to the taxpayer and is the only payment method currently available to receive the discount for this tax year.

Questions on this payment process can be addressed to Mr. Weeks at 301.334.8971 (sweeks@garrettcounty.org) or Lori Paugh at 301.334.1965 (lpaugh@garrettcounty.org).

Garret County Signs Agreement with SolarCity for 1st Solar Arrays
Solar power will help county reduce energy costs

Garrett County and SolarCity have signed an agreement to install approximately 5 megawatts of solar power capacity in the county. When installed and interconnected, the planned solar projects will cover approximately three-quarters of the county’s entire annual electricity needs and save significant taxpayer dollars. The projects will be the county’s first move into solar energy and, when completed, are expected to be the largest solar arrays in the county.

“The solar projects are a win/win for the county. The county is able to reduce energy costs while supporting renewable energy initiatives,” said Brian Bowers, Purchasing Agent for the county, who is serving as Project Manager for the solar projects.

The county’s decision to move forward with solar energy projects with SolarCity is the direct result of its commitment to energy conservation and renewable energy, and the continued implementation of the Energy Conservation Plan, adopted in August 2012. Since that time, the County has enrolled with the Maryland Smart Energy Communities Program and received three Maryland Energy Administration energy conservation/renewable energy grants to date. The most recent was $142,500.00 to assist with interconnection fees for these upcoming solar projects.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our county and our taxpayers to utilize an alternative energy source to keep costs low. Great job by Brian and his team to continuously look for ways to maximize our resources,” said Commissioner Paul Edwards, Chairman of the Board of Garrett County Commissioners.

The solar projects are financed by a 20 year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the county and SolarCity. The solar projects require no upfront investment from the county—instead the county will purchase the energy created by the solar arrays for less than the current cost of utility power. The rate for the solar energy will be roughly 20 percent less than current utility costs.

Garrett County expects the solar projects to be installed and interconnected throughout 2015 and 2016. The current plan is for three separate solar arrays on county land at the following locations: Deep Creek Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant, 762 Mayhew Inn Road, Oakland, Maryland; Oakland Roads Garage, 375 Francis Sanders Drive, Mt. Lake Park, Maryland; and the Grantsville Refuse and Recycling Collection Site, 13168 National Pike, Grantsville, Maryland.

SolarCity is the nation’s #1 solar power provider with service in eighteen states, and has been operating in Maryland for more than four years. SolarCity gives customers control of their energy costs to protect them from rising rates. The company has helped several other Maryland counties and municipalities reduce their energy cost with clean solar energy.

Deep Creek Lake Named One of TripAdvisor’s 30 Rising Vacation Rental Destinations in 2015

  McHenry in Garrett County, Maryland has been named  by TripAdvisor as one of thirty rising vacation rental destinations in 2015. The list is made of the top 30 destinations who experienced “huge jumps in vacation rental interest on TripAdvisor from 2014 to 2015.” Along with McHenry, the list includes such notable destinations as Gatlinburg, Tennessee; The Adirondacks, New York; St. Petersburg, Florida; South Lake Tahoe, California; Smoky Mountains, North Carolina; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Flagstaff, Arizona; Killington, Vermont; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Catskill Region, New York; and Nags Head, North Carolina.

“We are delighted to be included in this list by TripAdvisor,” said Nicole Christian, President and CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “We have been watching our numbers of vacation renters and visitor number hit record levels and now our data has been validated by the world’s largest online travel site. According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, the Deep Creek Lake Area and Garrett County is outperforming every other county in Maryland in tourism growth. Now we see that we are outperforming or on par with some of our largest competitor destinations. Our goal is to continue this trend through our ongoing aggressive marketing efforts.”

Grantsville Receives Arts & Entertainment Designation

After many months of planning by a group of dedicated volunteers, the town of Grantsville has received notice that the application for an Arts & Entertainment District designation has been successful.

Secretary Mike Gill of the Maryland State Department of Business and Economic Development sent a letter to the town on behalf of Governor Larry Hogan announcing the ten year designation.  The award is effective July 1, 2015.  In addition to Grantsville, the community of Chestertown in Kent County will become an A&E District.  The towns of Denton and Salisbury will expand the boundaries of their existing A&E areas and Berlin's district has received a renewal of their previous designation.

Maryland is one of the first states in the country to develop Arts and Entertainment Districts on a statewide basis.  A&E Districts help develop and promote community involvement, tourism, and revitalization through tax-related incentives that attract artists, arts organizations and other creative enterprises. The benefits offered to designated districts include property tax credits for new construction or renovation of buildings that create live-work space for artists or space for arts and entertainment enterprises.  An income tax subtraction is available to artists that work and sell within the district.  And an exemption from the Admissions and Amusement tax to an arts related business or qualifying residing artist is available through the ten years of designation. Through these incentives, the state is creating a structure for creative placemaking.

Grantsville becomes the first community in Garrett County to successfully obtain the A&E District title.  The town has a rich history of being a haven for cottage industry arts.  With the keystone attraction of Spruce Forest Artisan Village and signature events such as the Music at Penn Alps summer concert series and Grantsville Days, the town is positioned to grow the interest in the arts.

Former mayor and now Garrett County Commissioner Paul Edwards states "This is fantastic for our town and its revitalization efforts.  The beauty of this is that we don't have to reinvent the wheel.  We have a strong arts history here with well known Maryland photographer Leo Beachy, artist Aza Stanton, and world champion bird carver Gary Yoder,  and the venue, thanks to Dr. Alta Schrock (Spruce Forest), to highlight and attract new artisans and tourists.  We can take what we already have and expand on it and draw even more attention to it.  This is a home run for Grantsville!"

Current Mayor Mark Diehl credits the committee that worked closely with Karen Reckner, Executive Director of Garrett County Arts Council in submitting the application to the Maryland State Arts Council review panel.  "We hosted the folks from MSAC on May 1 and I think we 'wowed' them!  The members of the business community, Spruce Forest and Penn Alps, our Grantsville Revitalization Organization and the others that came out that day demonstrated the excitement and energy that is happening in our town."

Reckner agrees that the community of Grantsville is working together to create a new environment within the town.  This is evidenced by businesses such as High Country Creamery and Cornucopia Café, both scheduled to open soon.  "On behalf of Garrett County Arts Council, our residents, and especially the artists that call Garrett County home, we thank Maryland State Arts Council, the Department of Business and Economic Development and Governor Hogan for the Arts & Entertainment designation."

Short-term and extended goals for the Grantsville A&E District have been established and include strengthening the town's appeal as a regional tourism destination, developing an Artist Relocation Program, installing public art projects and increasing the number of businesses and residents of the community.

Grantsville and Chestertown join 22 other A&E Districts across the state. The most recent Impact Analysis of Arts and Entertainment Districts across Maryland for the fiscal year 2014 indicates nearly $571.4 million in total state GDP was generated.  6.000 jobs were supported and visitor spending at events brought more than $38.5 million in tax revenues during the study period.