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WCBC’s Top News Stories of 2021

December 31st, 2021 by WCBC Radio

The following are the WCBC Top Stories for the year 2021:

  • Some nursing homes in Allegany and Garrett counties head state’s list for the fewest employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination.  According to the report, Cumberland Healthcare Center and Sterling Care at Frostburg Village had the lowest rates of vaccinated employees earlier in the fall.
  • Construction of a FedEx Transport Distribution Center will soon begin in Mexico Farms, according to the Allegany County Board of Commissioners. The 193,000-square-foot distribution center on 40 acres at the corner of Maryland Route 51 and Mexico Farms Road should result in many new jobs.
  • While COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly, the health departments in Allegany and Garrett counties face challenges with administering vaccinations partly due to residents who are “vaccine hesitant” or lack internet access. As the year ended, Allegany County’s vaccination rate remained under 50%
  • Cumberland City Councilman Seth Bernard announced his resignation and a search led to Joe George filling the vacancy. In other city leadership changes, Jeff Silka of Monroe PA was hired as the new Cumberland Administrator replacing longtime administrator Jeff Rhodes who retired from the job in July
  • District 1B Jason Buckel was elected House Minority Leader in April, following several years as the Republican whip, and was re elected to the position in late December. Buckel also had harrassment charges filed and quickly dropped in Allegany County District Court as the year came to a close, not affecting his state position.
  • Local lawmakers proposed Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties secede to West Virginia during a whirlwind process that surfaced in early fall. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called it a political stunt. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice welcomed the move with open arms. The proposal was dropped very quickly.
  • A bi-partisan citizens committee’s proposed legislative redistricting maps were rejected by the Democrat controlled General Assembly. The new gerrymandered map was vetoed by Governor Hogan and then overriden. The maps will be taken to court for a final adjudication prior to the 2022 election.
  •  A “Save the Gap” political campaign begins when rumors surfaced of plans to privatize some parts of the state park at Rocky Gap, Local elected officials said that while there had been some state originated discussions for allowing private interests to become involved in some park operations, rumors were overblown.
  • Congressman David Trone fired his district representative, Cassie Conklin, in Allegany County after it was alleged she was to have sent racially harrassing texts to a candidate for Frostburg State University student body president. The fallout also led to grievances between the local NAACP and the FSU administration.
  • Days before the Fort Hill Allegany Homecoming Football game, Sentinal receiver Saquan Jenkins was stabbed near the school and died. Athletes from both schools…and around the region…were affected by the tragedy, and the killing cast a pall over what is usually a joyous end of season atmosphere.
  • State Senator George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel announced over the summer than they were retiring from the General Assembly, throwing the local delegation into uncertainty. Delegate Mike McKay and County Commissioners President Jake Shade both said they would be a candidate for Senate. After hearing from local constituents, the Allegany County Board of Commissioners sends a letter to the state superintendent of schools requesting that decisions on COVID-19 regulations, including the wearing of masks, be decided at the local level. The mandate had inspired several parents to protest.