But she introduced some initiatives.
Frederick, Md (KM) The state of the county is “fabulous” and its “best days are ahead.” That’s was the message delivered Friday morning by Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner in the State of the County address.
She touted her efforts to increase operational and capital funding of the local public school system, and help alleviate overcrowding. But she more needs to be done. “Making life better means making sure we provide high quality education and insure equal access and opportunity for all of our children to be successful,” she said. “We have to do better to end achievement gaps and relieve overcrowding. And that’s my goal over the next few years.”
When it comes to alleviating overcrowding, Gardner pointed to two new schools which opened this year: Butterfly Ridge Elementary School in Frederick, and Sugarloaf Elementary School in Urbana. Sugarloaf Elementary will serve as the temporary home of Urbana Elementary while that school is demolished and replaced with a new building. “Last week, I announced a plan to fast track the design of two needed schools in the Oakdale-Linganore area,” she said.
Gardner said she also supports the continued implementation of a new salary scale for teachers and other employees.
During her State of the County address, Gardner said she will be submitting a supplement budget to the Council to provide additional funding for emergency services. “We’re looking to implement next generation 911 which is the best available technology which will help us to locate callers to 911 almost immediately instead of in 45 to 60-seconds,” she says.
Funds from this supplemental budget will also be used to upgrade emergency communications in the Brunswick area. “There are currently places in and around Brunswick where emergency responders cannot get radio broadcast so that they can communicate well during an emergency,” she says. “So these funds will connect the Brunswick transmitter to our wireless microwave network which services most of the rest of the county.”
There will also be another fire fighter recruit class next year. “We did not want to wait until another budget to add another recruit class. So this supplemental budget includes a recruit class that would begin in March of 2016 for 28 recruits,” says County Executive Gardner. “This will mean that we have added over this administration well over 100 new positions in fire and medics to help to meet the growing call volume in our county.”
And the County Executive announced that Frederick County is going green to save green. “We’ll be installing the county’s first solar array at our Ballenger-McKinney Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project is scheduled to be approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works next month. If approved, the solar project will generate renewable energy to help power our wastewater treatment plant which within county government is our highest user of energy,” says Gardner.
During the State of the County address, County Executive Gardner talked about the “Livable Frederick” plan which she describes as a master plan for a prosperous future that puts citizens in charge of shaping the future. “Our next step is adopt Livable Frederick and begin to implement it. We must stay the course and manage our growth better,” she said. “Right now, we need more jobs, not more housing because we have a very large pipeline of approved housing that we will need to manage for a number of years to make sure we can support with infrastructure and services.”
Gardner pointed to the local economy which has the fastest rate of business growth in Maryland. She said some of this success is receiving some national attention. “We have been approached recently by a producer from a national television production company. I’m excited to share that they are coming to Frederick County later this month to profile our community as a great place to live, work and raise a family,” she said. “The short documentary will air on Public Television and PBS member stations across the country as well as some national networks.”
By Kevin McManus