CUMBERLAND — A representative
of many local correctional officers
asked members of the District 1
legislative delegation for help with
staffing and other issues during the
delegation’s presession meeting
Low staffing levels have created “a
dangerous situation,” said Jeff
Grabenstein, American Federation of
State, County and Municipal Employees
Local 898 president. AFSCME
represents correctional officers at
Western Correctional Institution and
North Branch Correctional Institution,
both in Cresaptown. The institutions
are both involved in an accreditation
process with the American
Correctional Association that puts
strains on resources.
“It means more we have to do and
we have fewer officers to do it with,”
said Grabenstein, a Cumberland resident.
Legislators offered some comfort,
saying that it looked like next year’s
budget would be adding correctional
officers to the prisons. Grabenstein
said his organization also opposes
increasing the time allowed from 90
days to one year for investigation of
correctional officers accused of
wrongdoing or breaking rules andregulations inside the prison.
An officer should not be held
dangling for a year, Grabenstein
Correctional officers everywhere
in the state should have
the same disability rights granted
to firefighters and police officers
based on heart disease
and high blood pressure,
Grabenstein said. Delegate
Kevin Kelly said it makes no
sense that correctional officers
in some counties are covered
for such illnesses, while state
correctional officers are not.
The District 1 legislative delegation
is made up of Sen.
George Edwards and Delegates
Wendell Beitzel, Kelly and
LeRoy Myers Jr.
Other groups and individuals
also asked for the legislators’
help or simply let the political
leaders hear their points of
Robert Godfrey of Friends
Aware asked for support on a
bond bill request for the organization’s
building project. The
bond bill would have to be
approved during the legislature’s
budget process. Godfrey
did not request a specific
amount. Work has already
begun on the building and renovation
plan. The plan is to
expand and renovate the
22,000-square-foot facility on
Friends Aware currently
serves around 140 individuals
with developmental disabilities
who live in Allegany County.
Last year, the organization was
awarded $100,000 by the state.
Godfrey also thanked the delegation
for its past efforts.
Ed Evans of Cumberland
said he is opposed to plans to
increase the percentage of
ethanol in gasoline. “It’s killing
weed whackers and lawn mowers,”
Evan West of the Allegany
and Garrett County teachers
associations thanked legislators
for helping limit losses in
state aid during the 2013 legislative
session. West also said
that contractual issues would
not affect efforts to look at
school opening dates being
moved to after Labor Day. A
state commission is currently
reviewing the idea. Myers is a
member of that committee.
West also asked legislators to
support extending the Fairness
in Negotiations Act, which created
an impartial arbitration
body to examine disputes
between local school administrations
and teachers and other
Jackie Sams of Cumberland
asked delegation members to
be aware of some of the issues
on natural gas development
affecting Maryland. She particularly
mentioned the planned
Cove Point exporting facility in
Calvert County and expansion
of pipeline and compressor status.
Veterans continue to hope for
slot machine style gaming at
local veterans clubs, said Don
Nixon, the commander of the
Oldtown Veterans of Foreign
Wars Post and the District 3
representative for the state
VFW, representing Washington,
Allegany and Garrett County
Nixon is not happy with the
pull tab machines the state has
approved but still not distributed.
“They are not slots. ... They
don’t have the appeal slots
have,” said Nixon. Kelly and
Edwards said that they would
do what they could but that
there is little chance of getting a
slots bill for veterans organizations
through the General
“Until we can change the
thought process of the hierarchy,
it’s not going anywhere,”
The meeting took place at the
Allegany College of Maryland
auditorium with about 30 citizens
Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at
Groups ask for lawmakers’ support at Monday meeting
CUMBERLAND — A representative
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