George Schanberger decided not to come to work Thursday after checking his temperature and seeing triple digits on the thermometer. He woke up, cleared his driveway of snow and ice, and made it as far as the parking lot for his job with Carroll County’s roads operations team, but thought better about interacting with fellow employees and possibly getting them sick during a busy time.
Schanberger sat in his car and spoke via cellphone to the members of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners during their morning meeting, during which county officials recognized Schanberger for his 35 years of service.
Schanberger, who is set to retire Dec. 30, has performed various duties during his career, working as a service writer, mechanic, and warehouse employee. He also served in the fleet management bureau, and bureau chief Keith Vogel said Schanberger always went above and beyond when asked.
“He was very helpful going through COVID ... I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him,” Vogel said. “I want to wish him the best in his retirement.”
Doug Brown, the county’s public works deputy director, said Schanberger’s choosing not to show up for work because he was ill speaks to his selfless nature. Schanberger worked diligently during the pandemic to make sure health and safety supplies were in stock, Brown said, and also delivered them in person when he could after spending time locating certain items and tracking them down.
“Truly a wonderful person who is flexible in all things that we do,” Brown said, “and a true credit to our community.”
Schanberger’s voice cracked as he spoke during the meeting about his decision to retire.
“I enjoyed my 35 years here in the county. It’s very hard to say goodbye,” he said. “It has been a great opportunity. I’ve plowed many a blizzard, [used] graders and dump trucks. When I started in the road crew I kept equipment running for the county. It has been a very, very challenging 35 years, but I’m always up for a challenge.
“It has been a wonderful opportunity here, and I really, really do hate to say goodbye.”
The commissioners each took time to thank Schanberger for his service and wish him well in retirement.
“We will be missing your institutional knowledge,” said Dennis Frazier, R-District 3. “When someone who has done as much as you have throughout the county leaves, it leaves a really big gap. Your shoes are going to be hard to fill.”
Richard Weaver, R-District 2, said when he asked others about Schanberger, the words used were honest and hard-working, “and that is the backbone of Carroll County.”
Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, told Schanberger he appreciated his selfless work and persistence in completing tasks.
“You are what makes this county great, there’s no question about it,” said Stephen Wantz, R-District 1.
‘Season of giving’ as county restaurants get state relief
More than 80% of Carroll’s restaurants applied for grant money from the state that surpassed $1.2 million as part of the Carroll County Restaurant Relief Fund, county director of economic development Jack Lyburn told the commissioners. Lyburn said 146 restaurants applied for money, which left a little more than $220,000 at the Dec. 8 deadline.
Lyburn said the balance is being divided up for all of the establishments that have already received some funding. Lyburn said he expects 100% compliance in the coming days.
“It’s been a real success,” he said. “The staff has been incredible here with emails and visiting people ... We’re not going to return any money to the state of Maryland.”
Lyburn said he’s hoping for another round of funding that could come in early 2021. Rothstein said Lyburn and his staff should feel good about the job they did.
“Outstanding. Definitely a season of giving,” he said. “Thank you, you and your team, for all this hard work.”
Here comes the sun
The commissioners are considering a proposal for a zoning text amendment that would create more opportunities for community solar development in agricultural areas, according to a county government news release. The proposed concepts seek to balance expanding the opportunities with protecting farmland and the county’s investment in agriculture preservation, according to the release, while addressing common solar concerns in those areas.
Commercial solar facilities are a principal permitted use in the commercial and industrial zoning districts in Carroll, according to the release. The proposal would allow community solar facilities to be developed on existing remaining portions five acres or greater in size in the Agricultural zoning district. Remaining portions are the land remaining after residential subdivision lots have been created from a legally established parcel of land through the subdivision process.
A change at the top
Thursday marked the commissioners’ final open session meeting of 2020, and it also served as the last for Wantz as the board’s president. His role as president comes to an end, with Rothstein officially assuming that position Jan. 4 in time for the next scheduled open session meeting Jan. 7.
Weaver becomes vice president in place of Rothstein.
“I truly thank my colleagues for putting your faith in me to steer us through these meetings over the last two years,” Wantz said. “It has been an honor to represent the four of you as the president of this board. It will forever be ingrained in my memories to the opportunity that I had here.”
Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, thanked Wantz for his service as board president and said the board benefited during the pandemic because of Wantz’s emergency service background.
“I think all five us are coming through this better than we had gone into it,” Bouchat said.