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Maryland budget funds $2.6M in Carroll County projects; legislators extend alcohol sales to 2 a.m.

Although Maryland’s 2020 General Assembly session ended early as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, Carroll County received more than $2.6 million for projects and had legislation approved to extend alcohol sales to 2 a.m.

Prior to adjournment March 18, the General Assembly voted to enact Gov. Larry Hogan’s fiscal year 2021 capital budget, which included funding for Carroll. The county’s delegation worked closely with Hogan and in a “bi-partisan fashion” to secure key funding for several projects, according to a news release from Sen. Justin Ready, R-5.

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Chief among the projects that landed capital funding from the state is the Carroll County Public Safety Training Center, which received $1 million for facility improvements. The first phase of the expansion project concluded in 2017, providing a two-story classroom/administrative building, and a seven-bay reserve apparatus storage and maintenance building, according to a county news release. In February, the county commissioners approved a contractor to design the second stage of the project. Plans include: site improvements, utility improvements, stormwater management, upper and lower parking lots compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a new 2-1/2 story live fire training burn building, and training props, according to Eric Burdine, deputy director of Public Works. This phase also includes demolition of antiquated existing buildings.

Board of County Commissioners President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said Tuesday he applauds Carroll legislators who helped secure funding.

“All that means a ton for us,” he said. “We’re very thankful to our legislators for getting those passed for us.”

The Hampstead wastewater treatment plant, which is owned by the county, will have $500,000 to spend on upgrades that became needed with the passage of time, Wantz said.

The Mount Airy Center Street project also received $500,000 in funding. Sen. Michael Hough, R-4, who represents the Mount Airy community, said the money will help the town purchase a right-of-way on a plot of land between Interstate 70 and Main Street so a new road can be built that will make Main Street more accessible from the highway.

Additionally, Carroll County Agriculture Center and Shipley Arena received $250,000 for facility upgrades, though Ag Center staff requested $500,000. In December, the center’s board secretary, Heather Kuykendall, said they wanted funding to build a chain-link fence around Buck Miller Arena for security; large cement blocks to use as barriers to vehicles for events; a generator for Shipley Arena in case of a prolonged power outage; and large ceiling fans for Shipley to keep people and animals cool in the summer heat. The center would also like to resurface a gravel driveway with asphalt and to repair roofs on the existing building, she said.

The county was allotted $250,000 to help transform the former Charles Carroll Elementary School into a community center.

Westminster Rescue Mission was allocated $100,000 for a drug treatment program catered toward women.

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Historical Society of Carroll County received $40,000 to maintain historical buildings.

Penn-Mar Human Services and Change Inc., which merged in July and aims to serve people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in and around Carroll, received $30,000 for technology improvements, though the company requested $50,000.

“The resources we have secured for all of these important local projects is a product of outstanding teamwork and communication between our members, the Budget Committees and the Hogan administration,” Ready said in the release. “We appreciate that Governor Hogan has worked closely with us to ensure that Carroll County is not overlooked.”

“These capital projects span several key priorities, from needed upgrades to infrastructure to necessary funds for services in the county,” Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-5, said in the release.

Alcohol sales

Additionally, the General Assembly approved legislation to extend the hours of alcohol sales to 2 a.m., according to Mike Fowler, legislative liaison for Carroll County.

The change, which the county liquor board proposed, goes into effect July 1. That’s a change from the existing limit of 1 a.m., though all nonessential businesses are currently closed to the public because of executive actions aimed at preventing spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

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Before the General Assembly session began, Ready noted that neighboring counties in Maryland and in Pennsylvania sell alcohol until 2 a.m. He suggested it might be safer to extend the time in Carroll so drivers are not traveling under the influence to other jurisdictions where alcohol is served later.

Also before the session began, Shoemaker expressed a desire to level the playing field for Carroll business owners.

“The concern is that puts our bar owners at a competitive disadvantage with surrounding jurisdictions,” he said.

Bond request

The legislature also passed the county’s bond request of $38.25 million, Fowler said.

Selling bonds is one of the ways the county funds major projects, and the amount of the annual bond request is driven by the projects in the county budget, according to Ted Zaleski, director of management and budget for the county. One of these projects on the horizon is the expansion of the Carroll County Career and Technology Center.

Both chambers also passed a bill to alter the definition of public school employee so that Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructors at Carroll County schools can join a teachers union and be represented in collective bargaining, according to Fowler. Carroll County Public Schools has four JROTC instructors, according to school system spokesperson Carey Gaddis.

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