Hagerstown’s swears in new Fire Chief, approves series of community grants

20 December 2023- Tonight’s regular session began with multiple recognitions of services rendered to the city. Various parties received gratitude from the mayor and the council, including retiring Fire Chief Steven Lohr, Board and Commission members, the For Our Kid’s Sake Program, and the Explore and Express Yourself Middle School Program through the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

John DiBacco was sworn in as the new Fire Chief, while Adam Hopkins was sworn in as Deputy Fire Chief.

Once the minutes and consent agenda were approved, the council proceeded to discuss new business. 

Two ordinances were proposed and approved. The first consisted of a complete deletion and repeal of City Code Chapter 33, Code of Ethics, and Chapter 35, Ethics Commission. Both are set to be replaced by a revised version of Chapter 33, which includes mandatory revisions passed by the general assembly in 2021. The second quitclaimed an unimproved portion of Alley #3-13 to Raymond W. Higgins and authorized the mayor to execute the quitclaim deed. 

The council went on to approve the agreements of the eighteen subrecipients of ARPA nonprofit funds. The funds were distributed as follows:

Apples for Children; $50,000

Arc of Washington County; $50,000

Boys and Girls Club of Washington County; $100,000

Brook’s House; $50,000

Children in Need; $50,000

Community Free Clinic; $50,000

Community Rescue Service; $49,000

Discovery Station; $89,450

Gatekeepers Corporation; $60,000

Girls Inc. of Washington County(1); $50,000

Girls Inc. of Washington County (2); $45,000

Hagerstown Children’s School Association; $50,000

Hagerstown Revitalization Corp (1); $25,000

Hagerstown Revitalization Corp (2); $15,000

Head Start of Washington County; $29,220

Potomac Case Mgmt. Services; $50,000

United Way of Washington County; $100,000

Washington County Free Library; $12,000

The time of performance for all subrecipients will be through December 31, 2024, or the date that all available funds have been reimbursed. 

Several other resolutions were also approved. Among these were the subrecipient grant agreements for the ARPA Restaurant Ready Grant Program, the Supplemental Parking Lease Agreement No. 2, and the Little League Electricity Only User Agreement with the Federal Little League of Hagerstown, Inc. 

The offer of dedication by Hillside Manor, LLC for Star Drive, Plateau Court, and Klick Way was accepted. The city will immediately commence full maintenance responsibility for these streets. Additionally, $36,366 of ARPA funding was officially provided to support child and adolescent psychiatric rehabilitation at The Mental Health Center of Western MD, Inc.

The application for FY 2025 Program Open Space funding was approved, as well as the FY23 General Fund Surplus allocations discussed in previous meetings. 

An amendment of the city’s Water and Wastewater Policy was proposed and approved, with only Councilmember Peter E. Perini, Sr. standing in opposition. According to Councilmember Matthew J. Schindler, the amendment is meant to modify the policy “by providing a procedure for addressing mayor and council exception approvals that have expired or had ownership or plan changes since the approval was granted.” Perini expressed concern over the proposal, stating his belief that “any proposed change to an agreement, no matter how small or technical in nature” should be approved by members of the council. 

The ARPA spending plan for the ENVY Initiative was introduced and approved. $13,000 will go toward transportation costs, $6,000 will be spent on equipment, and an additional $6,000 will fund four 5th quarter events. Finally, Amendment No. 1 to the developer agreement for the Hagerstown Field House to be located at 290 East Memorial Boulevard was approved. 

The session concluded with comments by the city administrator and council members. All expressed their sincere congratulations to retiring Fire Chief Lohr, and wished DiBacco and Hopkins success in their new respective roles.