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WCBC’s Top News Stories For 2023

January 1st, 2024 by WCBC Radio

TOP STORY – Location of Abortion Clinic in Allegany County - The Women’s Healthcare Center relocated to Route 220 near Rawlings from Charleston, West Virginia when that state made abortions illegal.  Clinic Director Katie Quinonez said the clinic came here to serve the “abortion desert” that exists in Western Maryland.

Hunter Douglas Factory Closure The factory closure announcement came in March of 2023 for the Mexico Farms plant.  Ironically, the closure was due to production moving to Mexico, but it meant the loss of over 300 jobs locally.  Hunter Douglas originally came to the county in 1990. The company also shuttered factories in North Carolina and Texas to move work south of the border.

Rolling Mill Development Collapse The development along Park Street has come to a standstill after developer Scott-Kline-Visco from Frederick defaulted on the development plan, leaving a half-finished building, displaced residents, and a project in limbo.

Future of AES Warrior Run – The coal-fired plant in Mexico Farms needs to adapt or become obsolete.  The state of Maryland has declared that coal-burning plants must cease within the state by mid-2024.  AES has said they are looking at alternate fuels that can be used at the site to keep the plant operational.

Reimagine Cumberland –Updating ancient infrastructure and undoing the urban renewal of the late 1970s that put a pedestrian mall through the middle of downtown, the construction project started in Spring and hopes to have a reimagined downtown ready by next fall.

Senator George Edwards Fund – The board of the $50 million dollar fund intended to spark economic development in Maryland’s three western counties underwent a shake-up after legislation changed the number and makeup of board members as well as hiring an executive director to direct the business of the fund.

Housing on Old Allegany Site  - The 12 acre site where Allegany High School once stood has become a battleground over development.  The land is owned by Allegany County and ever since the winning bid was announced for a housing project, naysayers have claimed unfair tactics, no public input, and demanded more transparency from government.

CSX Employee Dies – A conductor-trainee lost his life in August on the CSX line in Cumberland.  The death of Ridgeley resident Travis Bradley who had only worked since June for the railroad, resulted in CSX recalling all conductors for extended training on switching, radio communications, and other safety practices.

Merchants Alley Murder – Early morning shots rang out through downtown Cumberland in the early morning hours of October 28th, resulting in one dead and three others wounded after underage drinking at a local bar spilled out into the Merchants Alley area. A suspect from Hagerstown was arrested and charged with first degree murder

ACIT Suspended – The historic Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament was put on indefinite hiatus in August.  The basketball tournament had occurred for over 60 years. ACIT organizers Wamba Caravan #89 cited costs, changing regulations and increasing national postseason events for reasons that made securing the traditional eight-team field difficult.

Cas Taylor Passes – Former Speaker of the House for Maryland Cas Taylor passed away on April 24th at the age of 88. Taylor was the voice of Western Maryland in Annapolis from 1975-2003. He was instrumental in getting I-68 completed through Allegany County as well as the Rocky Gap Resort and Golf Course

Out-Of-Town Developer Buying/Developing Properties – At least two more Dunkin’ Donuts, two liquor stores, an ice cream shop and the promise of two additional chain fast-food restaurants are on the hot stove of developer Dharmesh Kotak.  The businessman has been working on obtaining land across the county for the businesses and work can be seen on lots being developed in LaVale and Cumberland.