Cumberland Times-News

September 17, 2009

We’re not by ourselves in this

Jan Alderton, Managing Editor

The cities of Cumberland and Frostburg are hardly alone when it comes to municipalities battling financial problems in the aftermath of the recession. The National League of Cities reports that 89 percent of city finance officers say they doubt that their city budget will be able to meet fiscal needs in 2010. And 2011 promises to be no better, the organization said.

So how are these cities coping? The league reports:

• Forty-five percent are increasing fees.

• Twenty-seven percent are creating new fees for existing services.

• About 25 percent increased property taxes this year.

• Sixty-seven percent are making layoffs.

One of the scenarios being considered by Cumberland leaders is to scale back firefighting and EMT services. The possibility of using volunteers even has been mentioned.

News reports around the nation this month have detailed several firefighter layoffs. For example Canton, Ohio, lost 15 firefighters, East St. Louis, Mo., 13, and Lehigh Acres, Fla., 39. Andover, Mass., is temporarily closing two of its fire stations. Akron, Ohio, appears to be one of the hardest hit, laying off 201 city workers, including 96 police officers and 38 firefighters....

Allegany Magazine has a nice special edition now on newsstands. It features nine elegantly designed local homes.

Featured are the homes of Nick and Shirley Giarritta, John and Amy Shuman, Charlie and Donna Garman, George Plitnick, Elayne Warren, the Brooke Whiting House, Pam Reynolds, Paul Sullivan, the Gordon Roberts House, and Shane Riggs, Allegany Magazine’s managing editor....

Whether the Washington Redskins can keep their name may be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A group of American Indians who find the Redskins name offensive has petitioned the court to take up the issue. A lower court previously upheld use of the name, albeit on a legal technicality. There is no word on whether the high court will actually hear the issue....

CSX Corp., received some good news last week when a proposal to expand freight capacity on Maryland rails received high priority from the state.

The Maryland Department of Transportation issued a first-ever statewide freight plan. It calls for more than $35 billion in improvements that will shore up the state’s capacity for handling increasing shipping traffic to, from and through Maryland....

The Cash for Clunkers program paid off handsomely for West Virginia auto dealerships. The West Virginia Auto and Truck Dealers Association said 6,923 vehicles were purchased from state dealers. The transactions amounted to $2.7 million. Ruth Lemmon, president of the group, said most of the dealers have now received the federal funding that made the program possible.....

About 100 jobs at the NewPage paper mill in Rumford, Me., could be lost while of the the mill’s paper production machines is shut down, The Associated Press reports.

The temporary shutdown is scheduled for today. A company spokesman said the machine will be restarted once the economy rebounds....

We always appreciate readers who make us aware of possible stories. Recently, Leo Rowan of Wiley Ford, W.Va., told us about high weeds at the Evitts Creek Community Ponds — weeds high enough that they prevented his grandson, 4, from casting a bait. Congratulations and thanks to the Maryland Natural Resources Police who, after we contacted them about the matter, saw to it that the weeds were cut, almost immediately, by people doing community service in Allegany County’s alternative sentencing program.

WorkForce West Virginia recently listed the state’s top 100 private employers and, perhaps not surprisingly, Wal-Mart topped the list.

The top 25 included several names easily recognizable in our area: No. 8 CSX, No. 10 Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., No. 15. Verizon, No. 16. Pilgrim’s Pride, No. 18 Rite Aid of West Virginia, Inc., No. 19. Allegheny Energy Service Corporation, and No. 25. Aliant Techsystems, Inc.....

Seen on the Internet — Workplace one-liners:

• When an employment application asks who is to be notified in case of emergency, I write, “A very good doctor.”

• After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as a historian — until I realized there was no future in it.

• The less important you are to the corporation, the more your tardiness or absence is noticed.

• The workers at the Federal Mint went on strike today. They are demanding to make less money.

• Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?

• I earn a seven-figure salary. Unfortunately, there’s a decimal point involved.

Jan Alderton is managing editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Contact Jan Alderton at jpalderton@times-news.com.