4:44 PM EST, January 29, 2012
How the neighbors do it
Earlier this month, the Washington County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to pull out of a community coalition that hires a lobbyist in Annapolis.
Terry Baker, the commissioners’ president, called the coalition’s estimate of $15,000 for an Annapolis reception for the Maryland General Assembly “appalling.”
The coalition decided this year, for the first time, to hold an open reception showcasing Washington County’s attributes.
On Friday, Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce President Brien J. Poffenberger, a coalition organizer, said the cost of the Feb. 9 reception is now “far below” $15,000, but didn’t have an exact figure.
A possible model for the event happened Tuesday in Annapolis, where the annual “City of Frederick Day” reception was held.
Richard G. Griffin, the city of Frederick’s director of economic development, said government officials get direct access to state lawmakers and can explain key Frederick projects.
The reception cost $4,010, according to Griffin. Five sponsors each gave $750 — the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, SAIC-Frederick, the Fort Detrick Alliance, the chamber of commerce and the Tourism Council of Frederick County. The rest came from Griffin’s office.
“I think it pays off tenfold,” Frederick Mayor Randy McClement said, adding that lawmakers are more impressed by talking directly to local government officials than to their lobbyist.
Dutton thinks fondly of Hagerstown, mostly
Emmy-award-winning actor Charles S. Dutton, a Baltimore native, got a rousing reception Thursday in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he took a moment to lobby.
“In some of our communities, if we had more arts programs instead of crack houses and fried-chicken joints, I think we’d have less crime,” he told the House.
Dutton, who turns 61 Monday, has an everlasting link to Washington County. He served time in Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown for manslaughter and his involvement in a Baltimore prison riot.
While in prison, he earned an associate degree from Hagerstown Junior College before going on to Towson (Md.) University and Yale University.
“One part of Hagerstown I’d like to forget ... (but) the professors at Hagerstown Junior College in 1975 and 1976 prepared me for the world,” Dutton said in an interview Thursday.
He called it “the pivotal point in my life’s change .... Total rehabilitation, total different outlook, you know, started in Hagerstown.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley noticed someone new was at the helm when Washington County Public Schools lobbied the state Board of Public Works on Wednesday for more school construction money.
“You have big shoes to fill out there,” O’Malley told new Superintendent Clayton M. Wilcox, referring to Elizabeth M. Morgan, who Wilcox replaced.
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” Wilcox said. “I’m reminded of it almost every day.”
Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot said Morgan, the 2010 national superintendent of the year, “made the state of Maryland very proud.”
O’Malley suggested that Wilcox might win the award this year.
“And I’ll credit it all to your administration,” Wilcox said.
— Andrew Schotz
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