WorCo in brief 10/24/2014

WorCo in brief 10/24/2014

By Brian Gilliland

Park repairs

The commissioners accepted bid documents to repair posts at the pavilion in John Walker Smith Park, in Snow Hill, during their Tuesday meeting. Program Open Space funds of $17,000 will finance the repairs.

Fire inspections

The Worcester County Commissioners narrowly passed a new fire inspection program during their Tuesday meeting.

Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon said his department noticed that, while the county allows third-party vendors to make fire inspections, there is no process to review their findings. The vendors are also not obliged to provide the county with reports that they have performed inspections. Therefore, the Fire Marshal’s office has no idea of their validity, completeness or thoroughness.

Up to 60 percent of structures might not have reported inspection data, McMahon said, adding that when Ocean City implemented a similar system, their compliance jumped to nearly 100 percent.

Thinking it might be a burden on small businesses, commissioners Madison Bunting, Virgil Shockley and Louise  Gulyas voted against the measure.

Sewer hookup

At the request of petitioner Mitchell Parker, the commissioners postponed a hearing to integrate Frontier Town into the Mystic Harbour Sewer Planning area until their Nov. 18 session. They did not disclose their reasoning.

A portion of Frontier Town is already serviced by the Assateague Pointe system, but the integration with Mystic Harbour would eliminate 50,000 gallons per day of conventional wastewater.

HazMat training

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency is providing almost $6,900 for a two-day HazMat training session, provided Worcester County matches 25 percent of the funding.

Director of Emergency Services Fred Webster said the county would have no problem meeting the match using staff time and facilities, which would not cost the county anything they didn’t already have.

Similarly, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System is providing a $1,500 grant for Emergency Medical Dispatch employees to purchase videos they can watch while on duty that would count toward recertification hours.

Nitrogen monitoring

Calling the highest level of funding available for the most stringent controls “punitive,” the commissioners embraced the next-highest level at $10,000 annually to encourage the use of “best available technology” for septic systems.

At that price, the county is required to monitor for the best technology, verify service contracts, notify owners of non-compliance, respond to complaints with on-site evaluations, log all service visits and report discrepancies.

Funds are renewed annually and the county can increase or decrease involvement at that time.

Vehicle purchases

The county commissioners approved funding for the following cars and will move forward with bids to purchase vehicles, except for those the Worcester County Health Department will be purchasing by itself:

Public works maintenance is looking for two trucks. Water and wastewater will get five trucks and plus a utility truck. The Fire Marshal wants one full-size 4×4 SUV. The Health Department wants three compact cars, two minivans and two eight-passenger vans. The Sheriff’s office requests one full-size 4×4 SUV and six full-size 4×2 police pursuit SUVs.

STEM computers

The county purchased 21 laptops in 2013 for use in the Step-up and Reach for the Stars STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) enrichment programs offered during the summer to local students.

The commissioners approved using these machines, upon proof of proper insurance, by Fawn Mete, director of the Red Doors Community Center, to generate interest in the program.

Pump stations

The commissioners approved the division of six sewage pump projects in Ocean Pines into three groups of two stations each with similar requirements to expedite construction during their Tuesday meeting.

Inspectors will be onsite to ensure each project is compatible with the contract, the consistency of the work product and integrated into the system properly.

Administrative fee

In what was a normal reimbursement proceeding for paperwork associated with Department of Human Services’ cases, Commissioner Virgil Shockley made an observation during the county commissioner’s Tuesday meeting.

State senate candidate Mike McDermott was representing the Sheriff’s office for what usually amounts to a housekeeping measure. The reimbursement to him was $53,000, but Shockley noted a $2,100 charge to McDermott for an administration fee. A lighthearted, yet partisan, exchange followed since the two officials represent different political parties.

Code corrections

The county commissioners approved a new definition of townhomes during their Tuesday meeting. Townhomes traditionally called “multi-family structures” in former iterations of law are now defined as single-family structures in terms of the fire code, and a provision in V-1 (Village) zoning omitted regulations for cemeteries within those zoned areas.

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