Bradley Wantz stood in a line of fellow public officials with scissors in hand, and upon snipping a long, red ribbon, he declared Taneytown City Hall reopened.
It marked a highlight, and perhaps a turning point, along a rather hectic timeline for the city, which 14 months ago saw one of its landmarks damaged and several employees displaced and traumatized when a Taneytown resident repeatedly slammed into the building with his truck.
Taneytown’s mayor was excited about Friday morning’s short yet significant ceremony that officially put the hall back on the map. “The goal was to bring our city staff back to where they belong to work,” Wantz said. “They do such amazing work for our residents. It’s important that they were unified again.”
Wantz cut the ribbon alongside Taneytown council members Judith Fuller and Joe Vigliotti, State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo, county Commissioner Stephen Wantz, and state Del. Haven Shoemaker.
Wantz, president of the Board of County Commissioners, said he was in Taneytown on Aug. 30, 2019, when Rodney W. Davis, 56, repeatedly rammed his Dodge Dakota pickup into the front section of City Hall. Taneytown police arrested Davis at about 6 p.m.
Vigliotti said he was on the phone with Davis’ wife after their water was shut off on the day of the attack. A news release from the Office of the State’s Attorney for Carroll County after the attack said Vigliotti had heard Davis laughing on the call and said he was “done with the city” and was going to crash into the office.
“I remember that day very well ... I applaud Mayor Wantz and all the council folks, I applaud your resiliency as you got through a very difficult time here,” Commissioner Wantz said during the ceremony. “This place looks great. It looks like nothing ever happened, and that’s wonderful.”
Davis, a Taneytown resident, pleaded guilty in June to first-degree assault and malicious destruction of property valued at more than $1,000. In September he was sentenced to 10 years, suspending all but 18 months, for the assault charge, and three years, suspending all but 18 months, for malicious destruction of property. The two sentences are being served concurrently for a total of 18 months. Upon his release, Davis is set to pay $51,735.99 in restitution to the city.
The incident took place in the evening hours, and Mayor Wantz said it’s fortunate the lone employee in the building at the time wasn’t injured.
Friday’s ceremony was about moving forward, however.
“It’s good to see Taneytown back up and running here at City Hall again,” Commissioner Wantz said.
The renovation project lasted about 12 months, city manager Jim Wieprecht said, and it cost about $245,000 to get City Hall back in working order.
The mayor led a tour through the facility to show those who attended the ceremony.
First-floor offices have security cameras that now allow for a view of Baltimore Street. There’s a separate entrance for employees, and the building that was established in 1903 is making use of its distinct architecture with a larger front-door space for the public.
There’s also a series of security posts along the front of the building that act as a traffic deterrent on the street.
“When you think about what’s happening these days, security, things like that, you want to have a little better control of what people can access,” Mayor Wantz said.
The upstairs council chambers got a bit of a touchup, he said, and there are conference rooms and other spaces that have been reconfigured in various spots within the building.
Wantz credited Wieprecht and architect Dean Camlin for their work in giving City Hall its makeover and retaining a historic look while also making it functional.
“It is a great day in Taneytown, right?” Shoemaker said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is a fabulous structure ... this facility for a long time will help [city staff] provide the great services that they do to the fine people of Taneytown.”
DeLeonardo said he was honored to be on hand to help “celebrate, really, the rebirth of this location.”
“What was shaken certainly was the buildings, but what was not shaken was the commitment of all the people that work here in delivering the service to the community,” he said.
The mayor said the redesign of City Hall helps represent a renewal across Taneytown.
“We have a long history,” he said during the ceremony, “and we have a better, longer future ahead of us. This simply goes to show what we can do.”