Friday, October 31, 2014

Divided we are Weak, Together we are Strong

The following is an Editorial from Ken Buckler.

By now, you've most likely heard about Mayor Gysberts' recent personal attack against myself as well as a Board of Education candidate.

I've spent a lot of today thinking on how to approach this topic. You see, when an elected official begins publicly attacking local residents, resorting to name calling and bashing, it's a sign of a serious problem. However, while this problem has manifested itself in the form of a personal attack, the underlying problem is not a personal attack at all - the personal attack is merely a symptom of the problem.

Before I continue, I'd like to share a letter which I received I sent in May, and the response I received from Mayor Gysberts.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Teachers' Union Calls Non-Member Teachers "Parasites"

This article is part of a series of looks into the activities of local non-profit and government organizations in Washington County.

UPDATE: WCTA has moved the "parasite" verbiage from their webpage, but refuses to return any requests for comment regarding this issue.

HAGERSTOWN, MD - In an online document published by the Washington County Teachers Association, non-member teachers are referred to as "a parasite living off the commitment of members paying to support a strong organization."

The webpage, titled "Answering The Hard Question About Joining the Association", is currently located at the WCTA website at (Note: This document has been modified since publication of this article. For a view at the original copy, please view this link.) The document is designed to be used by WCTA representatives to get non-member teachers to join the Association.

The webpage also states that "Individuals who do not join are freeloading off members who do. Those in the school system who pay and support negotiation services also pay to support salary gains for non-members."

And in a rather disturbing question, "If non-members don't want to join, would they be willing to turn their salary gains back to WCTA to be distributed to the members who paid the freight?"

Finally, the document also make multiple references to legislators not acting on the letters of voters, and that only lobbying will produce results. "'writing letters to your legislative representatives' does not produce legislation. It takes a powerful legislative lobbying effort, which is provided by WCTA, MSEA and NEA."

The fact that WCTA makes the claim that joining is the only way for teachers' voice to be heard by legislators is very interesting, considering the WCTA IRS filings state that they do not engage in direct or indirect campaigning, and have left blank for the past three years if WCTA participates in lobbying activities.

Excerpt from WCTA IRS form 990 filed in 2013
In 2010 the WCTA donated $430.00 to Karen Harshman's Board of Education campaign, but only after she won the election. Requests for comment from the WCTA have gone unanswered.

Additionally, WCTA president Denise Fry participated in an press conference at WCPS owned site for the future West Elementary school - a press conference which was not authorized or supported by WCPS or the City of Hagerstown, intended to criticize Maryland Governor candidate Larry Hogan's plan for reforming the state's budget.

This year, WCTA is clearly campaigning, as evidenced by president Denise Fry's Facebook post.

WCTA President posting about campaigning activities

Article by Ken Buckler, Editor

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hagerstown TEA Party Member's Meeting - Thursday, Oct 30

WHEN: October 30, 2014 from 7:00-8:30pm

WHERE: Ramada Plaza Hotel, 1718 Underpass Way, Hagerstown, MD 21740

SPEAKER: Stephen C. Coughlin,

TOPIC: Jihad, Sharia, and National Security

COST: Freewill donation

Registration is not required, but strongly recommended, because seating is limited.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lt. Governor Candidate Interview with Lorenzo Gaztanaga, Libertarian

Lorenzo Gaztanaga (right) with Shawn Quinn (left)
The following is a guest post/interview conducted by David Malekar, who regularly contributes content to the WashCo Chronicle. The interviewee, Lorenzo Gaztanaga, is the Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor of Maryland (running mate of Shawn Quinn, Governor candidate, Libertarian). You can contact Lorenzo through the website,

A very big thank you to Lorenzo for participating in this interview.

DM:  Thank you Mr. Gaztanaga for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview with your candidacy for Lt. Governor of Maryland.  Let's start off with about your history with the Libertarian party, and what inspired you to run with Shawn Quinn this year?
LG:  I’ve been with the Libertarian Party of Maryland since 1992 and run for various offices a number of times. I’ve known Shawn for four or five years, and had the opportunity to see him in action when he was running for state delegate in 2010. As a candidate, I chose the motto “It’s about people” early on. Shawn has embraced this approach in everything he does, from his website to his campaigning style. He inspired me to join his team and he keeps on inspiring me.

DM:  As Lt. Governor, what is going to be your overall strategy for the state of Maryland?  What key points do you want to focus on the most right away?
LG:  Shawn Quinn and I have one overall approach: putting people first. By “people,” we mean individuals, families, local communities and local, home grown businesses. “Putting them first” means putting them ahead of our own convenience or that of politicians and government officials, ahead of special interests and the large corporations that past administrations have attempted to lure into Maryland with tax breaks and outright subsidies. Specifically, we have four key points, many of which will require collaboration with our state legislators.
1.     First and foremost, we need to set term limits for all elected officials.
2.     We will also work to reduce the current 6% state sales tax to 3%, with a view to eventually eliminating it altogether.
3.     Overhaul the tax system.
4.     Restore all of the freedoms enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights so that people can live their lives without government interference. No activity that does not harm others, whether smoking marijuana, carrying a weapon or engaging in a consensual relationship with another adult should be a crime in the eyes of the law.

DM:  There is a rising concern on the local level of many cities within Maryland about unemployment, and homelessness is an issue.  Locally in Hagerstown, MD, our homeless shelters are usually at max capacity, having to turn people away.  What changes can we see on a state level that will help combat this problem on the local level, only possible through Quinn/Gaztanaga?
LG:  Reducing the sales tax and eliminating the personal property tax on businesses will lead to more jobs. The homelessness problem is closely linked to the lack of affordable housing and affordable temporary shelter. We need to reexamine our zoning laws and the regulations governing such things as how many people can legally stay in a given space. Currently, you either have to live in what most of the world would consider a palace or you have no home at all. And I cannot emphasize the latter point enough. A lot of regulations and licensing that make homes unaffordable for low income people have nothing to do with the safety of the home, in terms of collapse or potential fire. A lot of it is politically driven by people who don't want certain other people in their neighborhood. In other words, "love your neighbor as yourself" takes a very long and distant walk, no matter what might be said in church on Sunday. Also, we must consider what sometimes, many years ago, was called a hobo. There are people who by inclination, mental condition, etc. like to wander, go about, etc. As long as they do not steal, kill, rape or trash or damage somebody else's property, the same thing applies. We need to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that might entail, sometimes, a personal loss, but it can return more peaceful living in communities. We're all human beings, and we need to treat each other that way.

DM:  As was pointed out in my last interview with Shawn Quinn, there are over 40 state taxes in Maryland.  What kind of changes would you like to personally see happen with them?
LG: Shawn already mentioned the highly unpopular “rain tax,” that is, the tax on nonabsorbent surface area intended to reduce the amount of polluted water running off into our natural waterways. Another tax that I think needs to go is the personal property tax, under which a business owner has to pay a tax every year on equipment and furniture purchased for the business. We also need to reduce registration and licensing fees and reporting fees.

DM:  In Western Maryland, even across Maryland, there are many individuals who have criminal records because of recreational marijuana use.  It is our understanding that you and Shawn are working towards solving this problem in Maryland.  What is your personal strategy with legalization and helping the many citizens of Maryland clear their records, and regain the eligibility in the job market once again?
LG: I personally congratulated then Governor Ehrlich for signing the medical marijuana bill into law. However, as many states that voted to legalize the medical or even recreational use of marijuana have learned to their chagrin, the laws against the use of marijuana and other so-called “controlled substances” are still in force at the federal level and will need to be repealed by our representatives in the U.S. Congress. Our strategy, therefore, will be to exercise our powers as chief executive officers, setting priorities as to where our limited law enforcement resources should be directed. We can use the power of the executive pardon to assist individuals who are having difficulty finding jobs due to drug offenses on their records.

DM:  As Lt. Governor, what other personal plans do you have to help improve Maryland, and putting the state back on track with long term development?
LG: There’s a lot of education or reeducation that needs to happen before we can truly have a government of, by and for the people here in Maryland. People don’t know what district they live in or who their representatives are at any level. They are also pretty hazy on what the true purpose or mission of a government is. I expect my government to maintain the necessary infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply and sewers), ensure public safety, provide emergency services (fire, police and ambulance) and adjudicate disputes. That’s a lot to do right there. I believe that our state will thrive economically and culturally when government limits itself to these functions and works hard to fulfill them completely. I also believe that it will take some work to sell this vision of government to most people.

Once again, It’s about people.

Lorenzo Gaztanaga
Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.

Photo courtesy of

Monday, October 27, 2014

Candidate Miner Responds to Q&A Re-Usage of Content

Previously it was reported that Board of Education candidate Ryan Miner re-used content from websites without citing his sources. Below is his response.

Thank you for your email. My team and I began research in January to develop a comprehensive education platform for the campaign. I began attending education speeches, forums and other education-related symposiums years before the thought of launching a bid for the Washington County Board of Education was even a remote thought. My platform, ideas and vision for our Washington County Board of Education are exclusively organic and authentic. 
In the research process, my team and I read literally hundreds of pages of white papers, education position papers, education websites and we spoke with education experts, teachers, administrators, school support staff and many others who provided context to build a cohesive education platform. I developed these ideas into sub points and constructed my vision for our school system based upon the research we conducted. 
I recognize some of the parallels from the websites you provided, and based upon the snippets we certainly did agree with the technology segment and incorporated similar ideas into our own platform. When I began exploring Common Core, I read each individual standard and thus began my concerns with what I believe to be inherent flaws within the standards. I found examples during our research process how our exact feelings and sentiments reflected that of many others. We were in contact with many education expects and discussed different ways to present our message about local control as it relates to the formation and implementation of Common Core. But again, my ideas are my own ideas and I have put those ideas to the test since February 25, 2014, when I became a candidate for the Washington County Board of Education. 
Three of my opponents and their henchmen have focused almost entirely on destroying my credibility as a candidate using disgusting and underhanded tactics to degrade me personally and distract from the same issues that my opponents refused to discuss at an open forum. Instead, my opponents hold secret meetings and form dormant closeted agendas that will likely be executed should they be elected. My opponents have no vision for our school system, which is evident by their lackadaisical and sleepy performances during the one forum they actually bothered to show up to and address voters.  The Slate members are the least transparent candidates in the history of school board candidates in Washington County and they are being supported by a special interest group who has ignored their abject failures and clear lack of any coherent vision aside from their manufactured conflict between teachers and administrators. While two other candidates and myself are out in the public discussing our vision with voters, the Slate and their cohorts have been spreading venom and unleashing vile attacks on anyone who even slightly disagrees with whatever message they pretend to purport. 
Washington County is still waiting on what exactly the Slate and their supporters hope to accomplish. Does The Slate attempt to oust the superintendent? Will they ignore the interests of our students and instead push through their skewed personal agendas? Will the directly involve themselves in the day-to-day operations of our school system? What will be their role in the budget process? What business experience do they have that will be used to guide their decisions on the board? Every day, more questions are left unanswered and The Slate is not the least bit interested in working to provide interested voters with the answers. Moreover, the Slate and their social media friends have no interest in actually discussing issues; instead, they are more concerned about highlighting my past indiscretions and spreading misinformation about my character. 
The opposition formed against me has been bordering hysteria and they are clearly grasping at straws. We are focused our GOTV efforts in the next eight days. While my opponents and their echo chambers are obviously still immersed in the inconsequential drama of this race, I am making thousands of phone calls, knocking on doors and bringing my message directly to the voters of Washington County. I would suggest my opponents and their social media warriors actually learn how to a run campaign on ideas and focus on our kids instead of spending so much time and exerting energy to manufacture inane controversies like this one. 
There are eight days until November 4. I hope my opponents are spending their time contributing to the education conversation. For the Slate and their social media friends, this race isn't about what’s best for our students, it’s about satisfying a personal vendetta against me and stooping so low as to target my family, my girlfriend and her two children we are raising. My opponents and their flunkies have no shame in their actions. I pray for them. 
Ryan Miner 

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tow-or-Treat: Mummers' Parade Spectators Towed from South Potomac Service Center

UPDATED to include Maryland law references.

UPDATE 2: Included response from Nextow

HAGERSTOWN, MD - On Saturday, October 25, Mummers' Parade spectators who parked at the South Potomac Service Center were in for quite a surprise when returning to their vehicles - their vehicles had been towed.

The lot, located at 926 South Potomac Street in Hagerstown, has no signs regarding towing, per photos provided to WashCo Chronicle on October 26.

The City of Hagerstown has an ordinance regarding sign requirements for private towing. Since no signs were present, the towings may have been illegal.

Inquiry sent to Candidate Miner Regarding Re-Usage of Content in Q&A Response

Note: Ryan Miner has responded. You can read his response here.

Today WashCo Chronicle was notified that Board of Education candidate Ryan Miner may have re-used content in answering the Q&A published by WashCo Chronicle.

An inquiry has been sent to Mr. Miner's campaign regarding this issue, and his response will be posted once it has been received.

Below is the inquiry sent to Mr. Miner, as well as the screenshots which were provided.

Board of Education Candidate Harshman May Have Violated Mummers Parade Rules

HAGERSTOWN, MD - This morning a reader notified the WashCo Chronicle that Board of Education candidate Harshman had a convertible in the parade.

The Alsatia Club has a strict rule for the Mummers Parade against anything "political, controversial, obscene or of anti-religious nature in any form".

In response to this, I have sent the following email to the Alsatia Club to obtain clarification. I will post their response once I have received it.

I am the editor of the WashCo Chronicle, and am following up on something submitted to me by a reader.
Attached are photos of vehicles at the parade with campaign signs for Board of Education candidate Karen Harshman. The pickup was parked at the beginning of the parade, and the convertible actually participated in the parade.
These signs appear to be in violation of the following parade rule:
"Nothing of political, controversial, obscene or of anti-religious nature in any form may be permitted in the parade."
Did the Alsatia Club authorize an exception to the rules for Mrs. Harshman's campaign, or was her use of political campaign signs in the parade unauthorized?
Were any exceptions for any other political candidates made?
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Ken Buckler, Editor
WashCo Chronicle

Article by Ken Buckler, Editor
Photos courtesy an anonymous source.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Teachers Union Donated Hundreds to Harshman after Winning 2010 Election

HAGERSTOWN, MD - Continuing the WashCo Chronicle's investigations into accountability of local government and non-profit organizations, WashCo Chronicle has begun reviewing campaign finance reports which are publicly available through the State of Maryland.

The first non-profit researched was the Washington County Teachers Association (WCTA), the union for Washington County teachers.

Most of WCTA's political contributions are regular contributions to Washington County Democratic Central Committee. However, one contribution in particular stands out - a 2010 donation to a Board of Education candidate.

A review of  2010 campaign finance reports shows that the WCTA donated $430.00 to Karen Harshman's campaign on November 15, 2010 - almost two weeks after Harshman secured a seat in the Washington County Board of Education in the 2010 General Elections.

Harshman is an incumbent in this year's Board of Education elections.

This contribution gave Harshman a total sum of $484.30 in her campaign account after the general elections were concluded. Additionally, this $430.00 contribution was not only the largest contribution Harshman received, but was also the largest political contribution on record ever made by WCTA.

Several days later on November 21, Harshman received a check from her campaign for the entire $484.30 to cover "Printing and Campaign Materials".

This raises several questions.
1) Why did WCTA donate to a candidate after the general election?
2) What exactly did Harshman spend the $484.30 on, and why did she purchase printing and campaign materials after she had already won the election?

WashCo Chronicle would like to encourage WCTA and Board of Education member Harshman to come forward publicly with answers to these questions.

Full campaign finance reports can be accessed by the public at Maryland's State Board of Elections website.

Article by Ken Buckler, Editor

Thursday, October 16, 2014

UPDATE: Press Conference Criticizing Hogan not Authorized by WCPS or City of Hagerstown

HAGERSTOWN, MD - As reported by the Herald-Mail, on Monday October 13, Hagerstown Mayor Gysberts as well as Delegate John Donoghue and a representative from the Washington County Teachers Association held a press conference at the site of the future West City Elementary School, which is owned by Washington County Public Schools. This press conference criticized Maryland Governor candidate Larry Hogan, claiming that his savings plan would result in $450 million in school construction funds being cut.

In order to help determine if this press conference was paid for with tax dollars or a political action committee, WashCo Chronicle filed a Maryland Public Information Act request with Washington County Public Schools, requesting a copy of the completed Application for Use of Facilities.

In response to this request, WCPS provided the following:
Mr. Buckler,
In response to your request, there is no “Application for Use of Facilities” on file for the event referenced in your e-mail below.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Richard Wright
Richard Wright, APR  |  Communications Officer
When asked for clarification if the usage of the property was not authorized, the following statement was provided by Richard Wright, communications officer for WCPS
"That is correct. We did not receive any requests for the use of the space."
According to the WCPS website, requests for usage of school facilities should be made two weeks prior to the activity date. Non-school groups wishing to use school facilities must present proof of liability insurance, and if applicable, workers compensation insurance. Regulations state that no signs, banners, or the like are to be placed without authorization by the school system. Additionally, "political signage" shall not be placed on or displayed on school property until after 5:00 am on election day.

Washington County Public Schools also has established a fee schedule for various group categories. Fees will vary based upon facilities used and the length of time of the activity. Since no Application for Use of Facilities exists, and the usage of the property was not authorized by WCPS, no fee was likely paid for usage of the property during the press conference.

Update 1:
On October 27, 2014, Erin Wolfe from the City of Hagerstown provided the following statement to WashCo Chronicle:
The press conference was not hosted by the City of Hagerstown nor did the City of Hagerstown pay any costs associated with it.
Given that this was not a City function, your other question should be directed to the individuals or organization associated with the event.
My apologies for the delay in the response.
Erin Wolfe
Communications Manager
This leaves the question - who did host this press conference, and who paid for any costs involved?

Article by Ken Buckler, Editor

Q&A with John Barr, candidate for County Commissioner

The following are answers to the WashCo Chronicle County Commissioner candidates' questionnaire for John Barr, candidate for County Commissioner. Thank you very much Mr. Barr for responding to the questionnaire!

1)     Why should the citizens of Washington County vote for you to become a member of the County Commissioners?
I am a lifelong resident of Washington County and have been involved in this community through business, non-profit community endeavors and philanthropic my entire adult life. I have had the opportunity to serve two terms as County Commissioner and will strive to work with ever ounce of energy serving a third term if given the opportunity. Over the past eight years, I have worked hard to demonstrate leadership in a cooperative nonpartisan way. I look forward to representing Washington County as MACo President (Maryland Association of Counties). I feel that having the opportunity to demonstrate this leadership in a state wide initiative, will only be an added benefit to Washington County.

2)     What do you feel is the most important challenge currently facing our county? How will you address this challenge?
Without a doubt I feel the most important challenge Washington County is currently facing is economic development. We are extremely challenged with our geographic location having a very competitive spirit both north and south of our borders. Expediting and increasing business, jobs and economic development is vital, an emphasis on raising our tax base and not our tax rate. I plan to encourage continual and increased local business visits to becoming more aware of local businesses and their operation in assisting with regulatory, permit and environmental issues. I will also continue to reach out as having done over the last eight years to organizations such as Allegiant Air, First Energy and many others.

3)     What are your thoughts on the Western Maryland New State Initiative – an attempt to break off Western Maryland from the rest of Maryland, in order to better protect our area’s interest?
These ideas on the surface seem to have some merit. However, with all the legal, tax implications and overall logistics such talk only further alienates our counter parts in leadership in Annapolis. Once again, with the help of MACo (Maryland Associations of Counties) I would like to think that a rural Maryland coalition counterpart can assist both Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore with collaborating with leadership in Annapolis to realize that our state is quite diverse and has major differences throughout its region. With a 250 year history of our boundaries the state impediments deeply rooted, succession is not the right answer.

4)     With the increase in cost of running fire and ems service in Washington County and the decrease in volunteerism how do you plan to increase funding or do you plan to propose a fire tax?
I am not in favor of a fire tax at this time. As a County Commissioner I would work and make every effort to increase the communication, transparency and financial accountability of our fire, rescue and EMS services. I feel strongly that with local and state assistance, along with local fundraising and an element of continued volunteerism is of utmost importance. Citizenship and volunteerism needs to take on a whole new perspective. The layers of regulation that have been added in most recent years, stifle volunteerism and compounded cost of operations. These need to have a serious review.

5)     If elected, what will you do to bring more businesses into Washington County, and boost our economy?
We need to establish and recognize our planned growth areas. Locally, we have a group that is opposed to any type of expansion or development. The Chamber, Greater Hagerstown Committee, City Council, County Commissioners, Economic Development Staff and Airport Commission need to pull together in a positive, forward thinking group to promote Washington County.

6) Do you have any closing statements you'd like to include?
It has been an honor to represent Washington County and serve this community for the past eight years. I would be greatly honored if given the opportunity to serve a third and final term, as I do believe in term limits, representing Washington County in a hardworking, loyal, honest and forthright fashion. I thank all of those who have trusted me with these years of service to our community.  -John F. Barr

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.

Opinion: I can't wait until November 5th

I can't wait until November 5th. This has been an extremely ugly election year, with personal attacks in multiple campaigns, and some candidates refusing to focus on the real issues that affect Washington County and the rest of Maryland.

At the end of the day, it is my hope that any candidate running for a public office is doing so because they care about the community. As such, once the dust has settled from the elections, maybe we can actually get some real improvements and changes for Washington County by working with our elected officials.

I started WashCo Chronicle to make a difference in this community, and help give the community a voice. Unfortunately, as with many elections, the voice of the community is drowned out by the sound of the election war drums. Once the elections are over, we'll have almost a solid two years to get some real work done.

Here's my list of topics which need to be discussed with elected officials after the November elections.
  • Public Transportation - What can we do to help improve public transit within Hagerstown and Washington County, as well as public transit to surrounding communities, including Washington DC?
  • Crime - When gangs have shootouts in Downtown Hagerstown in broad daylight, there's a problem - and this is a problem which should concern all of Washington County, not just Hagerstown. We must take control of the situation and eliminate the gang presence within our community. Community members cannot simply sit around and wait for someone else to address the problem. There are steps we as citizens can take to help with this issue.
  • Growing Washington County Economy - On October 18, yet another local business is closing - the Cearfoss Emporium. We need to bring businesses back to Washington County and provide good paying jobs for local residents. Hagerstown needs to start promoting and taking advantage of its HUBZone status to bring in small business Federal contracting companies.
Working together, we as a community can ensure the growth and success of Washington County. Please join me and share your thoughts with our local elected officials on how our county can improve.

Would you like to have your voice heard? Please email your letters, guest articles, and thoughts to Together, we can make a difference.

Article by Ken Buckler, Editor

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Western MD Tech Showcase Speakers Discuss Economy, Jobs, Innovation

HAGERSTOWN, MD - A consistent message persisted throughout speakers at the Fort Detrick Alliance 2nd Annual Western Maryland Technology Showcase - Fort Detrick is an asset to our area, and can be used to keep Western Maryland competitive. Small businesses and representatives from many local organizations were present, including Hagerstown Mayor Gysberts, as well as a representative from Ben Cardin's office.

Congressman Delaney discussing keeping Maryland competitive.
Photo by Ken Buckler
Congressman Delaney spoke of the need to make western Maryland thrive, be competitive, and bring in jobs. Delaney also spoke of the need to maintain and improve transportation in our area to DC, and how there are currently five million jobs in this country which are not currently filled due to a skills gap. Community colleges such as Hagerstown Community College can help close that gap for area students. Two of the areas which Delaney spoke about were Cyber and Energy sectors. Both sectors are expected to rapidly grow and change over the next several years - and western Maryland can embrace these growing economic sectors.

Linda Berger, from the NSA's Technology Transfer Program, discussed how the NSA at Fort Meade is working to move information and technology from the NSA's Federal laboratories to the public for further innovation. Currently there are approximately 200 patent technologies owned by the NSA and licensed to the public.

Four different methods exist for transferring information and technology to the public:
  • Patent Licensing Agreements
  • Cooperative Research and Development
  • Technology Transfer Sharing
  • Educational Partnership Agreements
Some of the most important technologies available for sharing are cyber security related, helping to keep our nation's computer systems secure.

Daltof discusses licensing technology.
Photo by Ken Buckler
The NSA also shares their tools with other government agencies at no cost, in order to provide the latest technology to all agencies at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

According to a study, between 2000 and 2011, NSA's technology transfer program resulted in an extra $118 million in the US economy, and that current numbers are most likely far higher. Western Maryland businesses should take advantage of this program, and boost the area's economy.

Barry M. Datlof, from the Medical Technology Transfer program of the U.S. Army, also spoke about their efforts to license technology to the private sector. Innovations such as spray-able foam casts and caffeinated gum are available for private sector to license, manufacture, and market to the public - creating opportunities for start-ups to gain capital with lower start-up costs.

In all, the event provided excellent reinforcement that there are public and private organizations working to stimulate the economy of Washington County and the surrounding area.

More information about the Fort Detrick Alliance can be found on their website:

Article by Ken Buckler, Editor.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Regarding Mayor Gysberts' Recent Statements Concerning the Hogan Campaign

In response to inquiries from community members on social media regarding Mayor Gysberts recent statements concerning the Hogan Campaign, I have sent the following media inquiry to the City of Hagerstown's communications department.

I am writing you in regard to the following article in the Herald Mail:
In the article, Mayor Gysberts and Delegate John Donoghue spoke of concerns regarding Maryland Governor Candidate Larry Hogan's plan for cutting costs in Maryland potentially affecting Washington County.
1) Was this press conference hosted by the City of Hagerstown?
2) Was this press conference in part or in full paid for by City of Hagerstown?
3) Are Mayor Gysberts' statements endorsed/authorized by the City of Hagerstown or its council? If not, what political action committee authorized these statements?

Thank you for your time,
Ken Buckler
Editor, WashCo Chronicle

Additionally, I have sent a Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) request to Washington County Public Schools for a copy of the completed "Application for Use of Facilities" for this press conference.

To whom it may concern,
I am writing to you under the Maryland Public Information Act, State Government Article §§10-611 to 630, to request a copy of the following records:
A copy of the completed "Application for Use of Facilities" form for the Press Conference held by Mayor David Gysberts and Delegate John Donoghue on 10/13/2014 at West City Elementary School.
If all or any part of this request is denied, I request that I be provided with a written statement of the grounds for the denial. If you determine that some portions of the requested records are exempt from disclosure, please provide me with the portions that can be disclosed. 
Since this request is in the public interest, I would like to request that all fees be waived, in accordance with §10-621(e).
I look forward to receiving disclosable records promptly and, in any event, to a decision about all of the requested records within 30 days. Thank you for your cooperation. If you have any questions regarding this request, please email me back at this email address.
Thank You,
Ken Buckler
Editor, WashCo Chronicle

I will post any responses received.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Q&A with Ron Bowers, candidate for County Commissioner

The following are answers to the WashCo Chronicle County Commissioner candidates' questionnaire for Ron Bowers, candidate for County Commissioner. Thank you very much Mr. Bowers for responding to the questionnaire!

1)     Why should the citizens of Washington County vote for you to become a member of the County Commissioners?

My campaign slogan says it best...Less Talk, More Action. A leader leads by example and actions speak louder than words! My leadership has been honed in several ways over my career. First, I served as an officer in the United States Military with several commands. Second, I have served 5 terms as County Commissioner, (8 years as President), in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Third, I have been an active leader in public, private, and Fraternal organizations including several non-profits and charitable causes, Government commissions, including the Economic Development, Aging, Transportation, Planning, and on 2  Governor's Commission’s  on School Construction. I will bring five decades of leadership back to the people of Washington County and draw on these experiences to deliver sound judgment and reasonable actions to County Government.

2)     What do you feel is the most important challenge currently facing our county? How will you address this challenge?

The Number one challenge for the newly elected County Commissioners should be to represent the interests of all  the people, Republicans, Independent/Unaffiliated, and Democrats,  while keeping and open and transparent government. Working with the other four (4) commissioners is absolutely essential to insure there’s less talk and more action!  A County Commissioner must be willing to work with ALL political parties to make sure that the will of “all” people is represented. I believe that a Commissioner needs to be proactive with the people who he or she represents. That is why I encourage citizen participation in County Government and will push for open work sessions for the public to let their voices be heard. I have represented the county over 5 different decades and have seen the good and the bad of county government. I want us to get back to the days where the Commissioners actually listen to the people and governed accordingly.

3)     What are your thoughts on the Western Maryland New State Initiative – an attempt to break off Western Maryland from the rest of Maryland, in order to better protect our area’s interest?

This is not a New Initiative, its been around in different forms for many years! With all parties working together we can protect our area’s interest and become extremely competitive with our neighbors to the North and South, their biggest fear today is that we will get our act together and become the dominate county we once were!!!

Rather than take an isolationist position of breaking away from the state, we should work with the communities to the North, South, East and West to make our area a stronger,  more economically viable community which will make the rest of the State want to come to us. It is just plain fact that for all of the communities that surround us, Washington County is the epicenter of the economic, social and entertainment culture. We should promote that to our friends in Annapolis and in the metropolitan centers to let them know of the value of Washington County to the rest of the state’s greater good.

4)     With the increase in cost of running fire and ems service in Washington County and the decrease in volunteerism how do you plan to increase funding or do you plan to propose a fire tax?

Washington County should provide added incentives for citizens to join Volunteer Fire and Rescue Companies by adding benefits to the Length of Service Awards Program.  First, include a Medicare Supplement when reaching age 65.  Second, add Group Life Insurance benefits for individuals who are members enrolled in the LOSAP. Third, offer a property/renters tax credit after so many years of service. Forth, ask Leadership Washington County to champion a project to determine what would cause citizens to become volunteers for our Fire and Rescue Service…what a novel idea, working with the entire community to help solve our volunteer problem without a property tax increase!! 
The proposals I’ve made would take additional funding over a period time but would not require a fire tax!

5)     If elected, what will you do to bring more businesses into Washington County, and boost our economy?

Until over two decades ago, Manufacturing Jobs dominated the landscape of the Washington County Economy. As the times have changed there has been a shift in the job market to be more service oriented. Washington County has developed core strength with the education system including the expansion at HCC, the development of Kaplan University, and the University Systems of Maryland.  Washington County has developed a wealth of individuals trained in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medical. Now, we need to recruit the jobs meeting the skills of the talented people we are developing in our educational system. STEMM jobs are food paying careers which will ensure a bright future for the economy while expanding our tax base.
To attract these jobs, I propose that we set up an INDEPENDENT Economic Development Authority whose primary focus would be attracting companies that would bring the jobs for our trained workforce.  The current EDC structure is too antiquated to be an effective job developer!  By setting up a new independent system of Economic Development, the county will be more able to recruit companies which offer jobs of the future. We cannot forget the Manufacturing base that we still enjoy in Washing County; every effort to expand that base must be taken by the new Authority.
While new technologies are important to develop our future workforce, we must still remember that Washington County is an agricultural county. We need to focus on the future while not forgetting the present and our rich past. Our farming community is strong and we must do what we can as County Commissioners to encourage new farming opportunities, Agribusiness and farm friendly communities.

6) Do you have any closing statements you'd like to include?

Ronald L. Bowers was  Born, July 11, 1943, and lives in Maugansville, Md.
Served an unprecedented five consecutive four-year terms (1978-1998) as Washington County Commissioner and was President of the Board for eight years. Was an active member of the County Planning Commission, Transportation Commission, and Commission on Aging, and served on the Smart Growth Commission for the State of Maryland.
Member of the Maryland Association of Counties Board of Directors and served on many planning sessions. Ron was able to bring the Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference to Hagerstown from its customary place in Hunt Valley. Ron was appointed to, and served on many local, state, and national boards and commissions over a 40-year period while serving on the Governor's task force on school construction two different times, the Kramer Commission and the Hutchision Commission.
Retired from Mack Trucks, Inc., after 39.6 years of service in the shipping and receiving department,  proudly served  his country for 20 years in the Maryland Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve as a Company Commander and staff officer, retiring with the rank of Major. Ron commanded the 1007th L.E.M. Co. located on Willard Street the new home for the Senior Center for Washington County. was awarded the Meritorious Service Metal and the Army Accommodation Medal and was an Expert Marksman with the Rifle and Pistol.
Serves on the Board of Directors of the Historic Maryland Theatre and was the Chair of the Building Committee for many years, Mason-Dixon Council Boy Scouts of America, Salem Lodge 196 AF & AM of Smithsburg, Ali Ghan Shrine, Tall Cedars of Lebanon, Hagerstown Forest no. 95, American Legion Post 42, Life Member Amvets, Elks Lodge 378, Past President of the Hagerstown Torch Club, Life Elder of First Christian Church, and enjoys working in politics and reading a few books.
Held Real Estate licenses in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and was elected in 2009 to a second three-year term as Trustee for the Realtor Political Action Committee in Maryland,  and held the office of Treasurer.  Currently serves as Chair of the Governance Committee for Horizon Goodwill Industries and is an active member of several committees. Past President of the Long Meadows Rotary Club for two terms.
Former Vice Chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, Chair of the Site Development Committee, and a current member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee and the Lobbying Coalition. In 2001 appointed for a six-year term by Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening as Administrator to the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Boards for the twenty-three counties and Baltimore City.

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Questionnaire Sent to Washington County Commissioner Candidates

This was sent out a bit later than I would have liked, but I finally sent out to the County Commissioner candidates the following questionnaire.  I will post responses as I receive them.

I am the editor of the WashCo Chronicle, an independent news source for Washington County, and currently working on covering local elections. Since you are a candidate in the November Gubernatorial Election, the following are the questions I wish to cover as part of the WashCo Chronicle.  Your assistance with this will be appreciated!

All responses will be published as received, and no editorial comments will be added.  Nothing will be added or removed from your response, so that voters can see the "raw" story.  All candidates are being sent the same questions.

Your participation is much appreciated!

1) Why should the citizens of Washington County vote for you to become a member of the County Commissioners?

2) What do you feel is the most important challenge currently facing our county? How will you address this challenge?

3) What are your thoughts on the Western Maryland New State Initiative - an attempt to break off Western Maryland from the rest of the Maryland, in order to better protect the our area's interests?

4) With the increase in cost of running fire and ems service in Washington County and the decrease in volunteerism how do you plan to increase funding or do you plan to propose a fire tax?

5) If elected, what will you do to bring more businesses into Washington County, and boost our economy?

6) Do you have any closing statements you'd like to include?

Thank you very much for participating! There is no word limit, and no deadline for submission. Of course, submitting after election day would be counter productive.  Responses will be posted to the WashCo Chronicle as they are received from the candidates.

Ken Buckler
Editor, WashCo Chronicle

The status of each candidate's response will be updated below as they are received.

Beall, Brian  (Awaiting Response)

Bowers, Ronald L  (Received)

Miller, Millard H. Jr.  (Awaiting Response)

Miller, Paul F.  (Awaiting Response)

Baker, Terry  (Awaiting Response)

Barr, John F.  (Received)

Cline, Jeff  (Awaiting Response)

Myers, LeRoy  (Awaiting Response)

Wivell, William Joseph  (Awaiting Response)