Notes and quotes for July 2019

Things seen and overheard around the region last month, compiled by reporter Mike Lewis:

Allegany’s program is No. 1

CUMBERLAND, Md. — Allegany College of Maryland has the top ranked online LPN to RN program in the nation, according to

ACM was selected based on several factors, including student performance, tuition costs, average program list, coverage area, further educational pathways and partnerships and number of cohorts annually.

The nursing organization praised Allegany’s program for being “designed to work around the employed (professional), with lectures and coursework delivered in a fully online format with supervised clinical rotations arranged in the student’s local area.”

It also recognized the value of the college’s required nursing courses, which are designed to prepare students for higher level care.

Allegany’s 18-month LPN to RN program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the Maryland Board of Nursing and the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing. The college’s online program is authorized for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia residents. Program graduates receive an associate degree in nursing.

‘Know any jokes’

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Eric Eckenrode lost his video connection, but not his sense of humor, during a recent presentation in Hagerstown.

Eckenrode, director of business control for the Volvo Group plant just north of Hagerstown, was speaking at an Eggs and Issues breakfast sponsored by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. But his plans to show a video of the plant ran into a computer snag.

Paul Frey, the chamber president and CEO, turned to Eckenrode as others tried to fix the problem.

“Know any jokes?” Frey asked.

“I’m an accountant, so probably not,” Eckenrode replied with a grin.

The video was up in a matter of moments, so the accountant didn’t have to ad lib.

New Park and Ride site

FREDERICK, Md. — A new 400-space Park and Ride site has opened in Frederick County, Md.

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, the lot is on Monocacy Boulevard off U.S. 15 (Catoctin Mountain Highway).

The new lot is part of the $61-million U.S. 15/Monocacy Boulevard Interchange project, which is expected to be finished this summer. The project included the construction of a new four-lane bridge on Monocacy Boulevard over U.S. 15 with access ramps to allow drivers to merge.

The new park and ride lot is located in an area that connects to Interstate 270 and I-70. Each day, approximately 45,000 vehicles use this section of U.S. 15 and Monocacy Boulevard, according to the SHA.

‘It’s been a long journey’

“We’re ready to go. It’s been a long journey, but I’m glad that we’re just about across the finish line.”

— Tim Koch, director of facilities for A. Duie Pyle Inc., on construction of a 200,000-square-foot warehouse and full-service fleet-maintenance garage in Franklin County, Pa., off Interstate 81.

Southern Airways ranks at top of reliability list

Southern Airways Corp., the parent company of Southern Airways Express and Mokulele Airlines, recently announced its April performance results.

Both airlines operated by Southern have finished either first or second place in the two major statistical categories by which airlines are judged: on-time performance and controllable completion.

Southern Airways Express has service at Hagerstown Regional Airport, among other locations. It finished April with a controllable completion rate of 99.6%, which led the airline industry.

Southern Airways Express’ sister company, Mokulele Airlines, placed second in this category with 99.5%, followed by Delta (99.3%), United (97.7%), and American (97.2%) rounding out the top five.

Completion rate is the comparison of flights that were flown versus those that were scheduled. This statistic refers only to cancellations that were within the airline’s control. Cancellations for reasons such as weather or airport closures are not included in this category.

Mokulele Airlines posted the highest percentage of on-time departures in the industry during April, with 94%. Southern Airways Express placed second at 82.1%, followed by Delta (71.7%), United (69.6%), American (65.7%) and Southwest (51.0%).

Southern Airways is the Essential Air Service provider at the Hagerstown Regional Airport and has seen three consecutive months of passenger growth since the full implementation of its interline agreement with American Airlines.

“Southern’s increase in reliability combined with the interline agreement with American Airlines allows our customers to have reliable access to the world right out of our hometown airport,” Garrison Plessinger, director of Hagerstown Regional Airport, said in a news release. “Southern’s reputation for on-time performance and reliability is now unquestionable in Hagerstown, and that is proven by the April results.”

Southern entered into a ticketing and baggage agreement with American Airlines last year. This allows Hagerstown passengers to begin their trip from Hagerstown and have their bags transfer to any American Airlines final destination.

$5M coming for Cumberland airport

WASHINGTON — A chunk of federal change is winging its way to the Greater Cumberland (Md.) Airport.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both D-Md., announced that $5 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation will go to repairing and maintaining the structural integrity of the airport’s runways and helping the airport meet other operational needs.

“This federal investment in Allegany County will benefit the many businesses and residents who depend on our regional airports,” Cardin said in a news release.

“The Greater Cumberland Airport serves as an important resource to the community and is vital to maintaining a strong local economy,” Van Hollen said.

The grants are awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. The program funds various types of airport infrastructure projects across the country, including repairs and upgrades to runways, taxiways, airport signage, lighting and markings.

Wells Fargo supports Habitat

Martinsburg, W.Va., hotel earns Gold Hospitality Award

Managers of the Comfort Inn in Martinsburg, W.Va., posing with the Gold Hospitality Award. From left are Danielle Johnson, director of sales; Tyler Keesey, front office manager; Frankie Hardy, general manager; and Amanda Runner, Aikens director of housekeeping operations.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Comfort Inn hotel of Martinsburg, W.Va., recently was recognized with a 2019 Gold Award from Choice Hotels International Inc., franchisor of the Comfort Inn brand.

The Gold Award goes to only the top 10% of hotels within the brand. As one of the top-tier properties operating under the Comfort Inn flag, the hotel’s staff was recognized for demonstrating “an exceptional focus on guest satisfaction and dedication to superior service,” according to a news release from the company.

“Without the continuing support of our wonderful owners, management team and dedicated employees, this level of greatness would not be easily obtained,” Frankie Hardy, general manager of the hotel, said in a news release. “We are all very proud, dedicated and steadfast in our efforts to provide every one of our guests with personalized service. This degree of excellence and quality of service is consistent with the overall mission of our ownership team.”

“As a leading hotel franchisor, we count on our owners to make sure each guest that stays at every one of our hotels feels welcome, wanted and respected,” Tim Tobin, vice president of franchisee onboarding and learning of Choice Hotels, said in the release. “Award-winning hotels like the Comfort Inn have demonstrated their commitment to delivering on this brand promise and more.”

The Comfort Inn is owned and managed by Aikens Group, based in Winchester, Va. Aikens Group has a primary focus and goal to be within the top 30% for all its hotel brands. The Comfort Inn went above and beyond that goal by landing within the top 7% of all Comfort Inns nationwide and is the No. 1 Comfort Inn in West Virginia.

“This achievement is made through the outstanding employees at the hotel that strive for amazing experiences for all their guests,” Jason Aikens, vice president of Aikens Group, said in the release. “Our people and our product are what we are most proud of.”

Donation to Renfrew Institute

3 Roads Communications wins Telly awards

FREDERICK, Md. — The 40th annual Telly Awards have announced this year’s recipients, with three Tellys going to 3 Roads Communications Inc. of Frederick, Md.

The Telly Awards honor outstanding international video and film productions.

“We are honored to receive prestigious Telly Awards for these great projects,” Russ Hodge, president of 3 Roads Communications Inc., said in a news release. “We have the privilege to work with distinguished clients who trust us to deliver their message and story. These awards are not only a testament to the hard work of our creative team, but to the merit of our clients as well.”

Awards going to 3 Roads include:

• 2019 Bronze Award: “Ric Edelman’s Mind Over Money,” television education.

• 2019 Bronze Award: “Library of Congress Veteran’s History Project,” promotional video public service/PSA

• 2019 Bronze Award: “Mental Health Association,” social video, nonprofit

3 Roads is an Emmy Award-winning company with a long history of supplying programming to public television and Amazon. 3 Roads has created and produced hundreds of hours of award-winning programming for public television.

Health auxiliary pledges $1M toward recovery center

CUMBERLAND, Md. — For the second time in recent history, the Western Maryland Health System Auxiliary’s leadership team has pledged $1 million in support of new advances at WMHS.

Sacred Heart and Memorial Auxiliaries combined to form the WMHS Auxiliary in 2005, and since, then the organization has given more than
$2.75 million to the health system, through multiyear pledges and cash donations.

This year’s commitment, signed in May at the spring membership dinner, was unanimously approved by the 200-member organization, according to a news release.

The funds are earmarked to support construction and operation of the new yet-to-be-named WMHS recovery center for individuals battling opioid addiction or other substance abuse and behavioral health issues.

A $400,000 gift was the first payment of a total $1 million pledge that will help fund the residential step-down facility, which will provide resources to patients reintegrating into the community and will enhance the Allegany County continuum of care for mental health and substance abuse patients.

Though the auxiliary’s initial intent was to dedicate proceeds from this year’s Snow Ball — $100,000 — toward the center, the size of the gift grew in proportion to the amount needed for construction and operation. After consulting their treasurer, Sharon Livengood, the board was able to allocate funds from their investments and other fundraisers toward this year’s gift of $400,000, the first installment in the $1 million pledge. The commitment also gives the Auxiliary naming rights over the new facility.

Incoming Auxiliary President Julie Davis, fire administration officer for the city of Cumberland Fire Department, agreed.

The pledge will also fall under the direction of President-elect Kim Kremer, who will succeed Davis.

Allegiant now flying between Hagerstown, Myrtle Beach

Allegiant has started service from Hagerstown Regional Airport to Myrtle Beach (S.C.) International Airport.

“We’re ready to kick off the summer travel season for Hagerstown-area residents with this brand-new service to a highly sought-after destination,” Drew Wells, Allegiant vice president of planning and revenue, said in a news release.

The new seasonal route will operate twice weekly. Flight days, times and prices can be found at

“We are beyond excited to start (Myrtle Beach) service; nothing beats the convenience of being able to fly right out of your hometown airport,” Garrison Plessinger, Hagerstown airport director, said in the release. “We are looking forward to this growth to be able to better provide travel opportunities to our community.”

With the addition of flights to Myrtle Beach International Airport, Allegiant will now serve three cities from the Washington County-owned airport known locally as “HGR.” It also provides nonstop flights to Orlando-Sanford and St. Petersburg-Clearwater international airports in central Florida.

Bulldog credit union grants scholarships

Two Bulldog Federal Credit Union members, Hope Elizabeth Kemmerer of Smithsburg High School and Brett Tyler Guessford of Williamsport High School, have been awarded $1,000 scholarships.

The announcement was made by David Barrett, Credit Union president and chairman of the scholarship selection committee.

An avid reader, Link Crew leader and National Honor Society member, Kemmerer will attend Frostburg State University and plans to major in elementary education. Thanks to an influential second-grade teacher, she dreams of pursuing a career as an elementary school teacher. Graduating 12th in her class with a 4.19 GPA, Hope was active in Drama Club, Latin Club and Red Cross Club, and was vice president of Ruri‐Teen in her senior year.

With a passion to connect constituents to government, Guessford plans to major in political science/government at Georgetown University. A four-time Distinguished Honor Roll recipient, he graduated fourth in his class with a 4.21 GPA. He was an activist and organizer with Political Revolution PAC, and he served as an intern for the congressional office of John Delaney. His interests include coin and flag collecting, creating music and drawing.

Bulldog Federal Credit Union awards the scholarships each year to a male and female member who display high scholastic achievement and character, involvement in extracurricular and community activities and financial need.