Hogan brings 'your state government directly to you' in daylong Carroll County tour

Economic growth, education, public safety.

All were major topics of Gov. Larry Hogan's open Cabinet meeting in Westminster on Thursday morning, and his subsequent tour of Carroll County in the afternoon. The meeting, which was held in a packed Scott Theater at Carroll Community College, was the first stop of the daylong trip around the county.

The list of places that Hogan visited in the county included Hampstead Elementary School, the ARC Carroll County, the Public Safety Training Center and LandSeaAir. His staff also spread throughout the county, visiting the Warfield Complex and Springfield Hospital, Westminster High School, Access Carroll Integrated Health Care, the Carroll County Career and Technology Center, Carroll County Career and Technology Center, the Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities, and McDaniel College.


People in rural parts of the state will no longer be neglected, Hogan told the crowd during the morning meeting. It was the second time the Republican governor has taken a Cabinet meeting on the road, having held one in Hagerstown last year.

"We're bringing your state government directly to you," he said. "We're committed to listening to you and your concerns."


There shouldn't be a disconnect between Carroll and Annapolis, said Hogan, who received 82.2 percent of the vote in Carroll when he was elected in 2014. It's a priority to make sure Carroll County, and all of Maryland, has a voice, he added.

A focus on education

Hogan touched on education during his speech in the morning, and funding that his office has given to Carroll as school enrollment continues to decline in the county. He also toured Hampstead Elementary, visiting children in the school's regional autism program, learning about quadrilaterals through song and talking about the skills it takes to be a governor.

"Anyone of you can be anything you want to be when you grow up," Hogan told students at the school.


Hogan took questions about whether he gets to meet celebrities in his job, about the state mandate to start school after Labor Day and how he got to be where he is today.

The governor met with students in different levels of the autism program. He watched as some of the students played with water and learned to splash, and saw others dance and jump around to song.

Hogan even took part in a math song in a third-grade class, dancing along with students as they used their arms to create right angles.

Getting to visit schools is a favorite part of his job, Hogan told the Times. It's a great experience, and a lot of fun, he added.

"Education has been our top priority," he said.

Hogan wrapped up his tour of Carroll sites with a visit to The Arc Carroll County, a facility that teaches life skills and offers support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

After a few remarks, and a presentation of awards to The Arc board member Erica Wheeler and advocate Patti Saylor, Hogan met with dozens of the facility's clients as a line formed for photos with the governor.

After the meeting, Hogan, together with members of his Cabinet, was given a tour of the facilities by Executive Director Don Rowe and client John Brandenburg.

Brandenburg said it was truly a great honor to give the tour of The Arc.

"The Arc is a truly magical place. I am a client here, and they helped me get a job in the community," Brandenburg said. "Hopefully more and more of our clients will be able to get jobs and work."

Jobs were a central factor in Rowe's introduction of Hogan. He thanked the governor for his work helping make Maryland an employer-friendly state. He said more than 70 of The Arc's clients are currently working in the community, with many of the employers on hand for the event.

Hogan said his visit to The Arc was the highlight of his entire day.

"It really made my day to meet the great people here at The Arc," Hogan said. "They do a wonderful job here; this is one of the nicest facilities in the entire state that I've seen, and meeting these wonderful people has really cheered me up."

Growing local business

Hogan also touched on continuing to bring economic growth to the county, something Sen. Justin Ready, R-District 5, and Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, also talked about later during the meeting.

"We're really starting to see a lot of progress in our economic growth in the county," Ready said.

The goal is to bring both large and small local business into Carroll, he added.

Krebs delved into the Warfield Complex, and the county's hope for its future during the morning meeting before the tour.

"It's a jewel for economic development in Maryland," she said. "It is our goal to bring vibrancy and jobs to a portion of the campus that has been long abandoned."

Krebs told Hogan that Carroll needs the state's help in preserving Warfield.

"We are so close to transforming this great, historic property," she added.

Commerce Secretary Mike Gill toured the Warfield Complex in the afternoon, and Secretary of Health & Mental Hygiene Dennis Schrader went to Springfield Hospital.

Hogan toured LandSeaAir, a technology and manufacturing company in Westminster, and said he saw a lot of great things.

"[I] saw the benefit of our More Jobs for Maryland Act, and they say they invested in this equipment as a result of that and were able to hire more people," Hogan told the Times.

Hogan said his administration knew that initiatives like the More Jobs for Maryland Act would help people create jobs. It's great to see first hand the kinds of things that the state has invested money into, he said.

Gov. Larry Hogan and other members of state government visited Carroll County Thursday May 11, 2017.

Supporting public safety

Hogan spent the early part of the afternoon touring the Public Safety Training Center.

Led by Scott Campbell, director of the county's Department of Public Safety, Hogan walked through the classroom, offices and the auditorium inside the center.

Once in the auditorium, Campbell showed Hogan plans for the center's future. Hogan then took time to meet with the various law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders. In addition to Hogan's own people, he was joined by Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, and Dels. Susan Krebs, Haven Shoemaker and April Rose.

Hogan thanked Campbell for showing him around the Public Safety Training Center and thanked the first responders who came. He said that while first responders, especially law enforcement, might not feel as if they have support, the majority of Maryland citizens appreciate them.

"We've got your back. We know you put your lives on the line for us every day," Hogan told the first responders.

In an interview after the tour, Hogan called the training center "incredible."

"This is the best joint training facility I've seen in the state," Hogan said.

It was his first visit to the training center and he wanted to check it out, he said, adding that he likes to stop by fire halls and police stations when he visits to thank first responders. After he spoke to the first responders, Hogan took some time to take photos and chat with the firefighters, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers.

Campbell said that the county was a leader when it opened the Public Safety Training Center since it was a new concept. With the funds from the state, Campbell said that it's on its way to becoming a leader again.

The training center started out as a fire training center, and when it was changed into the Public Safety Training Center, Campbell said all the first responder divisions were at the table to make it the collaborative place it is today.


With Hogan's visit, Campbell said he was able to show the governor how the state funding helps and where it is going.


"Personally and professionally, I consider it [Hogan's visit] an amazing honor," Campbell said.

Visit to Tech Center

After watching masonry students create oyster reef balls, the Governor's Council on the Chesapeake Bay, also known as the Bay Cabinet, met at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster.

"The cabinet focuses on some very important strategies for protecting the bay," said Department of Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.

Cabinet members also included Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton, Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder, Maryland Energy Administration Director Mary Beth Tung, Maryland Environmental Service Director Roy McGrath and Secretary of Planning Wendi Peters.

The cabinet listened to a presentation by Maryland Environmental Service's director of technical and environmental services CeCe Donovan. Donovan discussed the next steps of the Conowingo Dam Sediment Capacity Recovery and Innovative Use pilot project.

According to a 2016 Hogan news release, the Conowingo Dam, situated on the Susquehanna River, has been producing clean and cost-effective energy since 1928. The Susquehanna is the largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, providing about half of its fresh water and accounting for almost half of the bay's nitrogen pollution, a quarter of its phosphorus pollution and a quarter of its sediment pollution. A Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment confirmed that the Conowingo Dam reservoir has essentially reached its capacity, and is no longer capable of trapping sediment and associated nutrients over the long term.

Donovan said a pilot scale project would demonstrate the feasibility of capacity recovery behind the dam. It would also be less costly and have a shorter timeline than a large-scale project.

"This is an opportunity we must seize," said Grumbles. "The sediment buildup is a continuing threat."

Donovan asked the Cabinet to determine the path the project would take. Option 1 calls for mechanically dredging 25,000 cubic yards and reusing the dredged material for "innovation uses" such as landfill cover. Donovan expects the project to be complete within two years and predicts that it will cost $4 million.

Donovan said Option 2 involves one of 13 companies that will dredge and reuse the dredged material within a set quantity of set budget. She estimated Option 2 could take up to five years depending on which proposal was selected.

Donovan said either option would "demonstrate to the bay community that it can be done."

The Cabinet plans to mull over the options and make a decision before the next Conowingo Summit.

Staff writers Michel Elben, Jacob deNobel, Jon Kelvey and Heather Mongilio contributed to this article.