FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — The Frederick County, Maryland Executive reflected on achievements made in 2019, and plans for the future during the annual State of the County address.
“Frederick County [Maryland] is soaring to new heights,” County Executive Jan Gardner said as she described the past year of achievements met by her administration.
On Friday morning, county officials, non-profit leaders, and local community members gathered at Winchester Hall for the 2019 State of the County address.
“The state of the county is strong. We have a vibrant economy, outstanding schools, a safe community; really a lot of good news to share today,” Gardner said.
Gardner outlined increased employment within the county that she says is outpacing national trends. County employment is estimated to grow 26-percent between the years 2015 to 2045.
Gardner turned to the topic of education, highlighting a new pay scale for teachers and upcoming school construction. Construction is slated for about five school projects to address overcrowding, particularly in the east side of the county.
“This year we grew by over a thousand students so if you think about it, we’re actually growing by about an elementary or middle school a year. We are building two new elementary schools right now. Urbana Elementary School is being completely refurbished; we will be building Blue Heron Elementary School,” explained superintendent for Frederick County Public Schools, Dr. Terry Alban.
Plans are also underway for Waverly Elementary School, and an addition to Oakdale Middle School.
Gardner announced that Maryland Treatment Centers will be opening 18 detox beds to their Emmitsburg facility in January. Since the start of the year, there have been at least 184 overdoses and 38 fatalities in the county due to opioid use.
“We’re renovating an unused portion of our Work Release Center. That will add another 28 beds so we’ll have a medically-supervised detox program and some step-down beds,” Gardner explained.
The county executive expressed that climate change is a pressing issue. In response, a second solar array will be powered up at the Ballenger-McKinney Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“We are using the energy from that solar array to power up back-up batteries so that our wastewater treatment plant, which is our biggest energy consumer, can have access to that energy,” said Gardner.