City tests roiling fiscal waters PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Kerns   
Friday, 10 October 2008 10:48

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FROSTBURG – As an economic maelstrom of historic proportion broke over Wall Street and markets worldwide, the Frostburg Mayor and City Council stuck their big toe in the roiling waters, to test a possible refinancing of long-term debt that could save the city up to $300,000 over the next two decades.

Meeting Thursday night at City Hall in a public hearing, the mayor and city council voted unanimously to proceed with consideration of bid proposals for refinancing debt from Piney Dam and the city’s joining the state pension system.

The city had solicited bids for the refinancing in August, a month before the storm clouds rose in Manhattan, but it’s a different world already.

Only three banks submitted bids for the refinancing, where in the past the city would have expected six to eight participants.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 October 2008 18:51
Wanted: Citizen Journalists PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Kerns   
Wednesday, 03 September 2008 20:46

FROSTBURG – While the idea of an online newspaper serving Mountain Maryland and its sister-state environs is radical in itself, even more revolutionary is the concept at the heart of the Appalachian Independent: The citizen journalist.


Meeting over the past year, a dozen area residents sketched out the scope of the enterprise that would become Frustrated by the failure of local print media to both hold public officials accountable and celebrate life in these mountains, the group sought to engage, inform and empower area residents through development of an independent, vigorous press.

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 September 2008 02:40
Election Siamese Twins, A Political Opinion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Davis   
Saturday, 04 October 2008 12:14

Election Siamese Twins, A Political Opinion

A very bizarre election campaign it is. For the first time in the history of our national elections, the Vice-presidential candidate is not permitted to campaign apart from her running-mate. In every election in the past, the person running for V.P. would be out on the hustings, criss-crossing the country and giving speeches and interviews. But in the current election it has been decided by Republican political handlers to keep Sarah Palin conjoined at the hip with John McCain, keeping her at a safe distance from the scrutiny of an inquiring press.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 22:28
Followers of the late Charles Fort, connoisseur of anomalies, gather in an anomalous place: Cumberla PDF Print E-mail
Written by Andy Duncan   
Saturday, 20 September 2008 17:40

Aug. 16 marked the second consecutive year that the International Fortean Organization, based in Baltimore, held its annual FortScape conference at the Holiday Inn in downtown Cumberland.

"It's always good to come up to the mountains and get grounded," said William Fellows, a quantum physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. His presentation, "White Gold of the Ark," argued that the Ark of the Covenant was a high-tech communications device given to the ancient Egyptians by "the Visitors."

Fort CoverFounded in 1965 by sibling science-fiction fans Ron and Paul Willis of Alexandria, Va., INFO is dedicated to "the baffling and often hilarious universe of anomalous phenomena" in the tradition of Charles Hoy Fort (1874-1932), a journalist, iconoclast and skeptic of established science whose life's work was the collection of scientifically inconvenient oddi ties. He assembled his voluminous clippings into four remarkable books: “The Book of the Damned” (1919), “New Lands” (1923), “Lo” (1931) and “Wild Talents” (1932). (Tarcher/Penguin brought all four back into print in 2008 in a single volume titled “The Book of the Damned,” alongside a new biography by Jim Steinmeyer, “Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural”)

Speaker Orion Foxwood neatly summarized Fort's philosophy when he told the assembly of several dozen people: "Curiosity didn't kill the cat; it liberated the cat."

To open the meeting, moderator Larry E. Arnold, author of “Ablaze!: The Mysterious Fires of Spontaneous Human Combustion,” noted two choice examples of Fortean phenomena in that week's newspapers:  Dozens of passers-by in the Bronx, not waiting for a tow truck or crane, together lifted a 5-ton school bus off a critically injured pregnant woman; and the Mineral County, W.Va., commissioners discussed an inexplicable bad odor that had plagued residents of a Wiley Ford neighborhood for five years.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 November 2008 09:13
Act II for the Lyric PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Kerns   
Wednesday, 24 September 2008 00:12


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A building whose obituary was written in smoke and ash on the editorial page of the Cumberland Times-News will soon open its doors to new life as a downtown destination for all-things Frostburg State.

 The new downtown FSU bookstore

Gutted by the 2004 fire that destroyed the landmark bar Gandalf’s on its first floor, the Lyric Building was given up for dead in the days and weeks that followed. A hollow shell and fragile façade survived the flames, but when bricks began falling on the sidewalk a few days after the blaze, the Times-News editorialized of the Lyric in the past tense.


I know because I wrote the editorial, and at the time fully realized that the phrasing of the piece essentially pronounced the building dead. It was a conscious decision, and to my mind, a safe call. The bulldozer was warming up to bring it all down in the name of public safety, white-striped asphalt patch where once brick and wood entwined, a Main Street denizen of elegant lines and long memory.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 September 2008 00:53
Summer time done come and gone, my oh my... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Kerns   
Saturday, 04 October 2008 20:09

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A sign of the season in the Mountain City, as sure as Big Savage aglow orange, red and yellow, is The Frostburg Freeze closing down for winter.  Sunday the 5th marks the end of either their 44th or 54th season, depending on which sign you read. Of the former, my cousin Rick Hess of Mount Pleasant Street was born that year, if the latter, my folks were married at St. Mike’s that November. Whatever the year, it’s a grand tradition in Frostburg; more so in spring rebirth, of course, but as day wouldn’t be the same without night, rise without fall, it is our lot to endure life without The Freeze. For now…


Sign of the time

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 October 2008 22:39
Homecoming first game at new Mountain Ridge Stadium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Kerns   
Thursday, 02 October 2008 15:50

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Mountain Ridge High School celebrates its second Homecoming this weekend, with the Miners taking on the Frankfort Falcons in Friday-night football action. It will be the first game played at the new stadium, which was still undergoing last-minute work this week. The roof on the concession stand is still not finished and a mobile"Regal Restroom" is on site to provide facilities for fans while work continues on indoor plumbing.


Last Updated on Thursday, 02 October 2008 16:22
The Raging Controversy of the Allegany County Road Patrol, Part 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Davis   
Tuesday, 23 September 2008 20:31

The Raging Controversy of the Allegany County Road Patrol

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."




This child’s-play adage is certainly being put to the test when it comes to the barrage of criticism recently hurled at the Allegany County Commissioners.  You could hardly blame them for wanting Kevlar skin after being accused at various times of being:  "underhanded, a disgrace, dishonest, incompetent, part of a posse, a jeopardy to safety, spiteful, part of a civil conspiracy, comparable to a roach, and not qualified to be dog-catchers."  And if you think that is not quite enough opprobrium for any three people, throw in the fear expressed on the part of one of our citizens that because of the actions of the Commissioners, “our next President of the United States could hand us over to the European Union, and our way of life, Constitution, and sovereignty will be gone.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 22:35
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