Cumberland Times-News

November 8, 2012

Garrett leaders thank Allegany for storm aid

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — It’s all about neighbors helping neighbors. That’s the message Garrett County commissioners Jim Raley and Bob Gatto brought to Allegany County on Thursday evening.

The two spoke at the regular business meeting of the Allegany County commission at the county office complex on Kelly Road.

The two men thanked Allegany County for helping them with recovery from the heavy wet snow dropped on Garrett as a result of superstorm Sandy.

“We wanted to say thank you. ... It is easy to send a letter,” Raley said, but the two men wanted to offer thanks in person.

“It crippled us, we had to call on many resources,” Raley said, and he thanked Gov. Martin O’Malley along with neighboring counties.

“Neighbor helping neighbor really has no jurisdictional boundaries,” Raley said.

Just after the strom, about 85 percent of county residents were without power, Raley said, “from 3 feet of the heaviest, wettest snow you can imagine.” And 70 percent of county roads were impassable, he said. “We needed help.”

Three thousand trees were ultimately removed from roads and power lines. Many Allegany County employees and dispatchers volunteered to help in Garrett County, Raley said. The county now has power restored to 98 percent of residents, he said.

Commissioners also welcomed an expansion by Hamilton Relay, which was initially announced earlier this year.

Hamilton will take over the whole building at 1 Science Park, where its employees currently occupy the second floor, county officials said.

 The company operates in 17 states, Saipan and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The rent will be $170,000 per year for years one through three, with incremental increases of $10,000 for option years four and five, said Matthew Diaz, county economic development director.

The  company began as a farm cooperative phone company and is now specializing in call relays for the deaf and hearing impaired and plans to add 44 jobs to its Frostburg Center, with an additional 40 to 50 jobs over time. Hamilton Relay is based in Aurora, Neb.

The company has about 450 employees nationwide. The company offers traditional phone and Internet services, but the largest part of the company now focuses on relay and captioning services.

The company had already expanded centers in Nebraska and Louisiana.

In other business, Allegany commissioners recognized all veterans and in particular, county employees who served in the armed forces during a pre-Veterans Day recognition ceremony during Thursday’s commission meeting.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at