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WCBC Announces 12 Most Compelling People of 2020

January 6th, 2021 by WCBC Radio



Every year, WCBC News selects those who have made a noteworthy difference during the past twelve months.  Here is the 12 Most Compelling People list for 2020.

Ty Johnson garnered attention when a viral video showed up training by pulling a Jeep to gain leg strength. Waived by the Detroit Lions early in the NFL season, he was picked up by the New York Jets, and injuries moved him up the depth chart. In a game against the Raiders, he ran for more than 100 yards, gaining respect.

Tammy Fraley is the President of the Allegany County Board of Education, and won reelection this past November. She is also the President of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. As the head of MABE, she will be a participant in many key discussions on education policy, including the effectiveness of remote learning.

As 2020 comes to an end, so does the career of Barry Ronan as President of UPMC Western Maryland. And what a way to end a tenure, navigating the integration into the UPMC system, just in time for additional resources to be in place for the pandemic. Ronan also played a key role in the merger of local hospitals and the building of the current campus.

Crystal Bender led the ticket in the 2020 election for three seats on the Allegany County Board of Education. A parent of children in the system, Bender is a political newcomer and, as such, is an unknown quantity. It's believed she could have the deciding vote on many key issues, including selection of the next superintendent.

Gary Howell won reelection this year as Delegate from District 56 in the West Virginia Legislature. Howell was also recently announced as Speaker Pro Temporare, meaning his work has gotten the attention and respect of fellow delegates. In a year when lawmaking will be much different, he is well positioned for influence.

Carmen Jackson is the head of the local chapter of the NAACP, and was at the forefront of the local protests objecting to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Ms. Jackson also proposed a monument to William Burns, who was lynched before trial after he allegedly murdered City Policeman August Baker in 1907.

Matt Miller took the reigns of the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation in September, and was anxious to show progress with the Cumberland Gateway Project which is being developed by Ed Scott. The CEDC also has a key role with the redevelopment of the downtown area, and that project is expected to move forward in 2021.

The Allegany County Public Schools system faced a daunting task moving from in person to remote learning. That meant a big lift for ACPS across the board, from administration to curriculum. Nil Grove heads up the technology department, which took on a prominent role. Resolving issues with Schoology will continue to be important.

Michele Martz is the new President and CEO of UPMC Western Maryland, taking the reigns from Barry Ronan in the midst of the pandemic.  Martz has been part of the local hospital's leadership team for several years, and will be working closely with UPMC leadership to insure operations continue 

Allegany Countians went to the polls in record numbers for early voting. Coordinating that, election day, and the count of mail in ballots fell to Elections Director Diane Loibel. Consolidated precincts for the general worked out. Even a glitch with Board of Education results on the state website was quickly corrected.

In July, local law enforcement made a big narcotics bust, an effort that was coordinated by State's Attorney Mike Twigg. Drug busts are rather common place, but this one required court orders for wiretaps. Later in the year, as Judge Tim Finan announced his retirement, Twigg was considered a leading contender to be named as successor.

When Autumn arrived, so did a spike in Coronavirus cases. Before the state opened up a testing site at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, local testing was being offered by a partnership of AEON Technologies and Pharmacare. Dr. Kim Brown is the AEON president, and played a key role in establishing the drive thru program.