Members of the Washington County government, as well as the Board of County Commissioners, gathered at the library in downtown Hagerstown on Tuesday night, for the annual “State of the County” address.
This year’s theme was “Let’s Build a Better Washington County.” The commissioners believe that the county has emerged from the economic downturn.
“We’re trying to move forward, and we have a great vision – a great group of county commissioners that want to move the county forward,” said Terry Baker, the president of the Board of County Commissioners.
Their effort to bring jobs to local residents uses both local and international partnerships. Commissioners recently visited South Korea to meet with firms interested in establishing business in Washington County.
“They’re still not only interested in that, but they’re partnering with others so those relationships can even grow and have bigger business interests that would come to Washington County,” said county administrator Greg Murray.
The commission itself is down one member, after Vincent “Woody” Spong resigned last week, amid allegations of making sexually derogatory comments about women and racist postings on social media.
Spong was sworn into office on April 27, 2015, to replace former county commissioner William Wivell, but was still subject to a formal appointment. The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault sent a letter opposing the nomination.
Governor Hogan also had requested that a Senate committee led by Sen. Jamie Raskin deny his appointment. According to Sen. Raskin’s office, Spong did not appear for his meeting with the executive nominations committee, so no official action was taken.
“Well, it played out the way it played out,” Baker said. “We need to move forward, and I have nothing but confidence in our Republican Central Committee to find a suitable replacement for former commissioner Bill Wivell.”
At the top of their legislative priorities in 2016 continues to be the expansion of Interstate-81 in Maryland. Construction of the bridge over the Potomac River is already set for later this year, but commissioners are pushing to make it three lanes in each direction all the way up to the Interstate-70 interchange.
“I-81 is a vital East Coast transportation network,” said county commissioner John Barr, who is also a member of the I-81 Coalition. “With all the improvements in West Virginia, they’ve kind of made us look bad. We need to move forward as quick as possible.”
Later this month, commissioners are set to celebrate the grand opening of the new Washington County Senior Center on Willard Street in Hagerstown.