“I attended a lot of summer MACo conferences when I was an economic director,” said Commissioner Jim Hinebaugh, “and I think this was probably one of the most productive conferences we’ve ever had, as far as meeting with key leadership.”
MACo is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization. Its membership consists of county elected officials and representatives from Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City, who advocate for local issues with state officials and legislators. The conference provides opportunities for members to attend workshops, view exhibits, network, and present their concerns to state and county leaders.
“MACo went great,” said Paul Edwards, commission board chair. “We had a lot of productive meetings set up every day we were there.”
Garrett County officials met with Chris Shank, chief legislative officer for Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.
“We met with him twice,” Edwards said about Shank. “He’s helping us with some of the projects we’ve talked about.”
The commissioners had discussions with Secretary Mark Belton, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Secretary Ben Grumbles, Maryland Department of the Environment, about Deep Creek Lake area issues, including sediment and dredging, the Deep Creek Watershed Administrative Council, and the Hoyes Run water project.
“We talked to Secretary Gill, Department of Commerce, about some issues at Keyser’s Ridge,” Edwards added.
Specifically, the county is seeking state assistance to construct a shell building and install infrastructure at the business park to encourage companies to locate there.
“Those meetings were nice because it was just us and them,” Edwards said about the commissioners’ discussions with the secretaries. “They were intimate meetings, where we could talk about those things.”
The commissioners and county administrator Kevin Null were also able to speak briefly with Gov. Hogan.
“He knows where we’re at; he knows who we are,” Edwards said. “It’s nice to see a governor who actually knows we’re Garrett County people and approaches us.”
Edwards noted that Director Scott Weeks, Garrett County Department of Financial Service, attended meetings about insurance issues, and Nathaniel Watkins, Department of Technology and Communications, met with officials to discuss broadband topics.
“We were able to have productive discussions with our counterparts across the state, but more importantly, with those people in positions that can make things happen here,” Edwards said.
MACo will hold its 2017 Winter Conference in December at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Dorchester County.