CUMBERLAND — There is no investigation into the nonprofit organization related to the DelFest bluegrass music festival and whether it complied with state law, according to a news release from the Allegany County commissioners.
The High Sierra Foundation of Allegany County, headed by Allegany County Tourism Director Barbara Buehl, Susan Stewart and Doug Schwab, was alleged by the Allegany County liquor board to have violated state law. The allegation, made June 1 by liquor board members Gerald Delaney, Frederick Hill and Mike Griffith during a public meeting, was never acted upon in the form of a citation or complaint to any state agency.
“It is unfortunate that issues were raised concerning the liquor license issued to the High Sierra Foundation for this event,” read a news release distributed by the county late Thursday afternoon. “Allegations were made that were never formalized by the liquor board in a complaint. There is no ongoing investigation related to the allegations or pending charges. ... We are hopeful that the air has now been cleared and that Del McCoury and High Sierra Music will soon be announcing their plans to return for 2011 and hopefully for many years thereafter.”
Delaney resigned July 9 from his position on the board. He had been chair, and his six-year term of the board was set to expire next year.
Delaney had been accused by DelFest co-founder Stan Strickland of extortion. Strickland and others alleged that Delaney had used the power of his office in an attempt to benefit Western Maryland Distributing. Delaney retired as vice president from the company and has denied receiving compensation or benefits of any kind from his former employer.
The Allegany County Republican Central Committee announced Thursday that it is accepting letters of interest to replace Delaney.
“We are confident that the Allegany County liquor board will fairly consider the 2011 license application and will appropriately apply Maryland law in making their decision,” the county’s news release said. “We are confident that the foundation will submit an application in the near future which will be readily approved.”
The foundation had retained Cumberland attorney George McKinley to represent local interests and work to keep DelFest in Allegany County.
Although Del McCoury issued a letter this week to thank supporters and indicated there would be a fourth DelFest in Allegany County in 2011, the controversy has allowed other jurisdictions, including McCoury’s hometown of York, Pa., the opening to recruit the popular bluegrass music festival.
McKinley did not immediately return a call to his Greene Street office for comment. Strickland indicated by e-mail only that a news release from county government on Kelly Road is “forthcoming.”
Those interested in applying for the position of liquor board member should send one copy each of a letter of interest to:
• Allegany County Republican Central Committee, 302 Schley St., Cumberland, MD 21502.
• Sen. George Edwards, 113 Baltimore St., Suite 201, Cumberland, MD 21502.
• Jeanne Hitchcock, Secretary of Appointments, Jeffrey Building, 5th Floor, 16 Francis St., Annapolis, MD 21401-1925.
Kevin Spradlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.