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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My letter from: Barbara A. Mikulski, United States Senator Bath Salts and Legal Weed progress in Cumberland, Maryland 21502 BATH SALTS LEGAL WEED ZOMBIES CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND

This is still an open petition for others to utilize, so please share this after you sign it as well: 

 http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/819/863/025/

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RECEIVED 09-24-201211:48 a.m. (2 hours ago)
senator@mikulski.senate.gov



Dear Mr. Swygert:
 
    Thank you for your letter and the link you enclosed regarding your petition.  I appreciate hearing from you.
 
    I want you to know that your comments are extremely helpful to me.  I appreciate your taking the time to keep me informed.
 
    If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please feel free to contact me.
 

Sincerely,
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator 


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What I posted to FaceBook after receiving the above letter:

Dear Readership:

Here is a nice letter from ...well you will see...it was in response to the bath salts situation as well as the legal weed. I also know for a fact the Puff n' Stuff is still selling "legal Weed" or Potpourri (Mr. Greene's Brand Potpourri (which of course they still know is being smoked!)in a 5 gram package for $ 30)... so perhaps you may pass that word along if need be to the pr

oper authorities.

Of course we know this man is resistant to the change as well as the law and ruled by greed..however, here is what I received in an email today...quite interesting...I also wrote the F.B.I., The D.E.A., and all local and state law enforcement too...thanks again...and what follows is what I just received today...just nice to get an answer from those a little further up the line! (originally I sent this to Bill Valentine) I will send a duplicate of this to Prosecutor Twigg, and Commissioner McKay, as well as a few others...keep leading the way to our brighter future...kudos to all for efficiency and making a stand!

FROM:

senator@mikulski.senate.gov



Dear Mr. Swygert:



Thank you for your letter and the link you enclosed regarding your petition. I appreciate hearing from you.



I want you to know that your comments are extremely helpful to me. I appreciate your taking the time to keep me informed.



If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please feel free to contact me.



Sincerely,
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator




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My original e-Mail sent:

I will add it once I locate it.



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My Letter to The president of The United States:
 http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4748273228122595245#editor/target=post;postID=4655121254021330787

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/819/863/025/

This is my link to a petition I have founded that has already had signatures from many politicians on a local and state level as well as a local prosecutor.

I was published at The United States Department of Energy (google: Swygert HRDC) in October of 2010, and I am looking forward to seeing your signature and support for this petition.

I have also started a facebook group:

http://www.facebook.com/BanBathSaltsandLegalWeed

,and I would like to see your support there as well.

I am an outspoken registered Republican, however I voted for you President Obama, because I understand that you see the ways in this country needs to change and evolve, as we have stagnated for far too long.

I am tired of watching my community crumble on the backs of businesses making money and promoting addiction through the immoral sales of these drugs, bath salts and legal weed.

My petition will further explain that stance.

I am for the legalization of natural marijuana, however I am totally against these drugs and the total unpredictability they have, the addiction they stir so quick, and the amount of damage we are just starting to recognize.

This issue reminds me of the crack epidemic in the 80's, and it's continuing problem upon society, as well as the crystal meth epidemic.

Law Enforcement has it's hands full and the jails and prisons are over capacity, and this is just one more problem that will blossom into further problems, crime, and ultimately death, and all for no earthly good.

I studied Police Science at Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Campus, and studied a short time at G.M.U., however did not finish work on my B.S.

I attended your rally in Manassas, Virginia as well as your inauguration, and I was proud that you spoke at my community college recently.

I am for the most part self educated and come from a fine family with a Father and a brother who are West Pointers and a Mother who is an artist, and I, their son, a fine mix of each in this beautiful melting pot of a nation of so much culture which I wish to cherish and continue to protect.

I am a musician (MobiusTripz) as well as a self published poet and writer, and have more recently focused on these issues as I am working through the Social Security Disability process.

My spine is disintegrating.

What I do have left is a mind that is sharp and an intellect to share.

I only wish to make a lasting contribution.

Thanks, Mr. President

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Letter (email) to the Cumberland Times News:

This is a letter I hope you will consider publishing under "Reader Commentary".
 
LONG UN-REVISED VERSION
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On May 29, 2012 I published an article about bath salts (BS) and legal weed (LW) on my blog.
 
Here is a link to my well read article which shares a plethora of links, data, and related issues that anyone may use to do their own due diligence in which to draw personal conclusions from. 
 
It is quite a thorough article and it is updated often with new material.
 
Although it is rather lengthy, it is full of valuable information on this current topic being debated on a local as well as a national stage, if not international.
 
The article covers topics including, but not limited to, the science behind these chemical compounds as well as their resulting issues with legality, crime, legislation, symptoms of usage, and the possible mountain of unpredictable side effects, and ultimately death, etc.
 
It covers both the human sides of the issues as well as the scientific sides of the issue.
 
In October of 2010 I had the honor of being published at The United States Departmet of Energy.
 
 
As it is easy to track my readership statistics, amazingly the article about bath salts and legal weed has been read in three months at a ratio of 4:1 compared to the  article at The United States Department of Energy which has been pulished for nearly two entire years.
 
Each article is independntly about important issues, but obviously what peole prefer to read is about the pressing and very threatening issue of bath salts in particular often overlooking the equal threat that legal weed (a.k.a. potpourri) carries.
 
I have also started a petition to raise awareness and help outlaw these dangerous chemical compounds.
 
I hope you will each sign the petition and please urge your friends and family to sign it as well, as you may find it at the following link..
 
 
I have also written our local, state and federal representatives about this issue as well as shared with them the contents I have writen herein, and I ask that you each take the time to do the same individually, as there is nothing quite so powerful or eloquent as our language when properly expressed and utilized as a catalyst to provoke positive action. .
 
I have also started a facebook page titled, "Ban BathSalts and Legal Weed", and hope you wil visit the page, "like" the page, and re-post it with your friends and family as well.
 
I am building a network of support to have these heinous chemical compounds outlawed, as well as raising the level of awareness for parents, spouses, or friends or family about the symptoms of use or abuse as well as plans for seeking treatment, not to mention sharing other sources of information that you, the reader, may study to form your own position upon about this garbage.
 
 
The major emphasis has been on bath salts, however please do not overlook the legal weed, as it can and often does have the exact same chemicals in the multitude of brands and blends as well.
 
These chemicals are often in the cannabinoids family tree, the Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) family tree, and the amphetamine family tree.
 
Here is perhaps another frightening facet of this muti faceted issue.
 
The raw chemicals, which are very inexpensive and, as reportded by Dateline NBC, can garner profits that are unbelievable and are easily ordered and shipped right to a manufacturers or private individuals door.
 
I think a much larger emphasis needs to be placed on shutting down these sites immediatelly and also making it illegal to purchase any of these chemicals or compounds outside of perhaps an authorized research lab.
 
Certainly no individual private citizen needs these chemicals or compounds for any useful purpose.
 
My blog goes into much greater detail about the "science" behind the chemistry that is being utilized to skirt around the laws that have been passed thus far in various localitie, states, and federal law as well, and it also covers different initiatives that are transpiring right now in different many different jurisditions.
 
I am pleased to see a lot of news coverage, and that this coverage is increasing as well makes me feel better to know that these issues are being very closely scrutinized and in the forefront of the public's and government's concerns.
 
I have researched this topic for several years now and finally decided it was high time to write about it and expose what I have learned thus far from my collective data gathering.
 
It is obvious to any rational citizen that these chemicals compounds are sold only for greed and profit.
 
It is equally obvious to the sellers that the people making these purchases of these extremely dangerous chemicals are consuming them in any number of methods, and are most certainly not using them as a "potpourri" (one false pretense in their promoton) or as actual "bath salts" we have come to know, such as epsom salts(promotional mis-leading propaganda again), but on the other hand these purchasers and users have only the intent on using them to get "high", and we have all seen in the news what the effects these chemicals have upon the users, the families and the innocent, as people are dying across the country and comittig crimes at an increasingly break neck speed, and most unfortuantely it is too often our promising curious young children and youtful adults that suffer the greatest peril.
 
It is so higly profitable that it is hard for some of our own local businesses to do what is morally right and simply stop indiscriminately dispensing this throughout our comunitty.
 
I always do my best to take action and also use words to communicate the truth of any situation at hand, and in this case what is happening now today here and abroad are true atrocities.
 
I earned a Sceince Degree with a Major in Police Science, and this epidemic that is quickly growing out of control reminds me far too much of the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980's I studied whle in college, as well as the ongoing crytal meth issues we are also in the throes of combating.
 
We also have a serious heroin problem in this community, as well as a plethora of legal pharmaceuticals that are dispensed at the many pharmacies in town to patrons, some of which finds its way into the black market as well, because whe there exists a demand, unfortunately a supply will follow, as will the criminal element and the violence that it brings along with it.
 
What ultimately concerns me more then anything it the resultant effect upon the user, and ultimately the victims to be, as the mixture of any of a number of these drugs together and their resulting exponential effects are just so unpredictable, while the quantity of all of these drugs is so readily available. 
 
Rumor has it that one shop in town distributing, at least, legal weed, if not both LW and BS, was grossing $ 28,000 per month in sales.
 
Again that is a rumor, but I do not think that is too far fetched by any stretch of the imagination.
 
$ 1000 per day selling small packaged quantities at $ 25 -$35 each would be quite an easy number to achieve in gross sales.
 
I despise these chemicals and the companies that produce them as well as the local businesses that are selling this garbage at a huge cost and ultimate burden to our local citizens.
 
I also despise what it is doing to the already delicate fabric of our community, and again equally despise when I go to some of my favorite hiking areas or overlooks and see empty packages of this garbage littered about.
 
For example, just a few short days ago while taking my dog for a ride and run up to Iron's Mountain, there were four empty packages where I usualy take breathtaking pictures of the mountains at sunrise, or butterflys and bees pollenating blossoming puprple thistle, or yellow finches perched on branches or deer running in the now defunct orchards.
 
It appears that most of the folks using these sinister heinous chemical compounds buy more then one bag at a time (because there are price breaks for purchasing quantity), and many folks become highly addicted very quickly and are often observed waiting for the store(s) to open each morning as their cravings are that strong.
 
Again, my blog goes into greater detail about these, as well as other particulars, and it is well worth reading.
 
I do hope you explore the contents there and check it often for the many updates I add each week to stay abreast of this distressing topic.
 
My objective is to get as many signatures I can on the petition, as well as many members of the page on facebook, and a lot of local support is wonderful, but, as this is a nationwide and even international issue now, I invite anyone to join in on this crusade to make these chemical compounds illegal in any and all forms at all, as well as any chemical compounds in the same or similar family tree of chemical genetics, if you will.    
 
Perhaps the most important primary objective is seeking treatment for those that are using and abusing these substances, as well as knowing how to spot the symptoms of the abuse.
 
Education in the comunitty starting with the family and then a properly coordinated effort for testing (when available) and treatment, and perhaps most especially and immediatelly, boycotting these local immoral businesses that are operating on the pretense of free enterprise is the onus upon us now, lest this problem will certainly just explode into a larger problem maybe even quite a bit more unmanageable at a later time.
 
I would like to challenge the local citizens, the local news paper, the local radio stations, and other media outlets as well as local businesses and even government to take out an advertisement, or publish website, and list and expose all the businesses in and around town or anywhere in our vicinity, that are selling any of this garbage, so we may all be aware of who it is that is preying upon our comunitty.
 
I urge any leadership as well as readership in any locations that reads this article to do the same, as being proactive, and thus preventing problems, is a much better solution then waiting for the problems already at hand to further proliferate.
 
That may sound radical at first, however, the businesses selling these drugs should certainly be made public knowledge at the very least, and should also easily be accessible in one location in a simple list form for anyone to investigate so we can further raise awareness for parents, family, friends, politicians, law enforcemnet, ad infinitum, as well as use our voice to demand these businesses to do the right thing, or we will no longer support them.
 
Just go where this garbage is sold and see who "lurks" around these places, then ask yourself is that who you would like near your childrens' bus stop or school?
 
Speaking of schools, I know for a fact that a few places that sell this are in very close proximity to schools and I state that only because I find it as just another great concern.
 
I hope that each of you will sign the petition I have started, as many have already done.
 
I have had some great feedback from some public officials, and I have heard nothing nor seen signatures from quite a few others.
 
Is there any real reason to not sign a simple petition that promotes a better comunitty by reducing the sale of such salacious substances?
 
I hope that we can stand together united as one strong comunitty that will not tolerate these businesses or substances and the dire effect that they are wreaking upon us already, and signing a petition and writing letters to your local and state, and federal officials is one way to le everyone know whwre you stand.
 
Perhaps you will personally choose to not sign the petition or participate in a meaningful way to rid our city of this problem that will only continue to grow, and to not act at all in the face of this current nightmare would be, and is certainly, shameful.
 
Please also read the blog article (link above) and it's many related links so that you may fully grasp what we are actually up against be it legally, in either a civil or criminal perspective, logistically concerning health, crisis management, treatment, symptoms, the uptick in crime, or any other of a number of factors.
 
Lastly please join the facebook page, as well and share it and invite your friends to join too, so that we may display our collective support and demand very swift and decisive legislation immediatelly.
 
If you have read this far, I appreciate your individual time and thought about this issue and I hope that you will join the rest of us and use your voice as we organize to outlaw this garbage and prevent what otherwise will happen if we choose to rest on our collective laurels.
 
John Stephen Swygert 
 
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END
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Thanks again for your consideration and I look forward to seeing this publised soon.
 
John Stephen Swygert
461 North Waverly Terrace
Cumberland, Maryland
21502
 
240-522-XXXX cell text voice mail
 
alternative email ~ rokkinroll@ahoo.com , this is the one I typically write you from but I have been transitioning more to Google recently.
 
Please call if you have any questions or need verification for anything I have written.
Cumberland Times-News
Aug 15

to me
Thank you for your letter. Please be advised it contains 2,211 words, and our limit for publication is 600 words.
The Times-News
Steve Swygert rokkinroll@gmail.com
Aug 17

to Cumberland
Here is my shorter edited version...Thanks again for your consideration and coverage on this topic.

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REVISED SHORT VERSION FOR PUBLICATION
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On May 29, 2012 I published an article about bath salts (BS) and legal weed (LW) on my blog.
 
 
In October of 2010 I had the honor of being published at The United States Departmet of Energy.
 
 
As it is easy to track my readership statistics, amazingly the article about bath salts and legal weed has been read in three months at a ratio of 4:1 in total reads thus far as compared to the  article at The United States Department of Energy website, which has been pulished for nearly two entire years.
 
I have recently, a few days ago, started a petition and a facebook page to raise awareness and help outlaw these dangerous chemical compounds.
 
This has been signed by several local politicians, state politicians, prosecutors, and many citizens, thus far, in only a few short days.

 
 
The major emphasis has been on bath salts, however please do not overlook "legal weed", as it can and often does contain the exact same chemicals or other equally dangerous and unpredictable chemical compunds, in a multitude of brands and blends as well.
 
These chemicals are often in the cannabinoid family tree, the Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) family tree, and the amphetamine family tree.
 
Rumor has it that one shop in town distributing, at least, legal weed, if not both LW and BS, was grossing $ 28,000 per month in sales.
 
Again that is a rumor, but I do not think that is too far fetched by any stretch of the imagination.
 
I despise what it is doing to the already delicate fabric of our community.

It disgusts me to see these packages littered about our city, our comunitty, and our beautiful woodlands where I like to hike with my dog.
 
Education in the comunitty, starting with the family, and a properly coordinated effort for testing (when available) and treatment, and perhaps most especially and immediatelly, boycotting these local immoral businesses that are operating on the pretense of free enterprise is the onus upon us now.
 
I would like to challenge the local citizens, the local news paper, the local radio stations, and other media outlets as well as local businesses and even government to take out an advertisement, or publish a website, and list and expose all the businesses in and around town or anywhere in our vicinity, that are selling any of this garbage, so we may all be aware of who it is that is preying upon our comunitty.
 
I urge any leadership as well as readership in any locations that reads this article to do the same, as being proactive, and thus preventing problems, is a much better solution then waiting for the problems already at hand to further proliferate.
 
Just go where this garbage is sold and see who "lurks" around these places, then ask yourself is that who you would like near our childrens' bus stops or schools?
 
Speaking of schools, I know for a fact that a few places that sell this are in very close proximity to schools and I state that only because I find it as just another great concern.
 
If you have read this far, I appreciate your individual time and thought about this issue and I hope that you will join the rest of us and use your voice as we organize to outlaw this garbage and prevent what otherwise will happen if we choose to rest on our collective laurels.
 
John Stephen Swygert

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PUBLIC MEETING ON AUGUST 30, 2012 HELD BY THE ALLEGANY COUNTY (MARYLAND) COMMISSIONERS ABOUT BATH SLATS LEGAL WEED AND OTHER PERTINENT ISSUES:
 
Webcast Link:
 
 
August 30, 2012
August 30, 2012
The regular meeting of the County Commissioners of Allegany County was held in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Room 100, 701 Kelly Road, Cumberland, at 5:00 p.m. on the above date. The following were present: President Michael W. McKay; Commissioner William R. Valentine; County Attorney William M. Rudd; and County Administrator David A. Eberly.  The following business was transacted:   

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Sheriff Craig Robertson.

Commissioner McKay began the meeting with a prayer.

MOTION #1

There were no additions or deletions to the agenda.

MOTION #2

Upon motion by Commissioner Valentine, seconded by Commissioner McKay, and motion carried, the Commissioners approved the minutes of the August 23, 2012, public business meeting.


ACTION AGENDA
Item 1 – Road Opening Petition (John T. Allen and Carrie A. Allen) – Attorney Robert O. Kazary, as attorney for the Petitioners, presented a brief summary.  Upon motion of Commissioner Valentine and seconded by Commissioner McKay, the Commissioners unanimously approved the opening of a 40-foot paper street called Reed Road on Minor Subdivision Plat No. 1470, near Mr. and Mrs. Allen’s home in Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.

Item 2 – Road Opening Petition (Toby A. Miller, James R. Miller and Charles E. Miller, Sr.) – Attorney Robert O. Kazary, as attorney for the Petitioners, presented a brief summary.  Upon motion of Commissioner Valentine and  seconded by Commissioner McKay, the Commissioners unanimously approved the opening of two unnamed 15-foot Alleys on Amended Plat No. 2 of the Cumberland Valley Addition to Cumberland in Bowman’s Addition, Allegany County, Maryland.

Item 3 – Public Hearing – Code Home Rule Bill 6-12 “Synthetic Drugs” – County Attorney William M. Rudd had no additional comments, and Commissioner McKay opened the matter to public comment. 

Mr. Charles Casey, 129 Polk Street, Cumberland, identified himself as the owner of Puff & Stuff in Cumberland and LaVale.  He began by thanking the Commissioners for the opportunity to speak.  He said that he has reviewed the proposed Bill 6-12 and said that “it is completely outdated.”  He discussed that the current Federal law contains 32 banned chemicals and that only 20 are listed in the County’s Bill as banned chemicals.  He feels that this could create a “bunch of legal loopholes.”  He said that the State of Maryland also bans 32 chemicals.  He stated that his company has been compliant with Federal and State laws from “day one” and has been selling a legal product in a legal manner.  He doesn’t see the need to rush (the Bill) as an emergency act, as “there is no great emergency.”  He said that “not a single arrest has been made involving a minor in possession of these products” and that “no one has been fatally harmed”, so “where is the emergency?”  He feels that the County should take time and bring the list of banned substances current with Federal law.  He said that he agrees with law enforcement that the illegal drugs are a problem and that he too does not want them sold in our community.  He remarked that it is difficult to separate the legal ones from the illegal ones.  He proposed that “since we really cannot control the product, we should control how they are being sold” and that only stores who are willing to “card” should be allowed to sell certain items; so, “if it is misused, it is only misused by adults.”  He referenced Wal-Mart’s policy of carding for the purchase of inhalable products, for the past few years, and marking certain products as “not for human consumption.”  He stressed his view that the law should be as clear as possible, as the situation is confusing.  He offered his time to the Board if needed and also warned of a potential “black market” for banned products, such as people going to Baltimore to purchase a product and then bringing it back into our County.  Mr. Casey told the Board that all shipments he brings into his business come with a data sheet, and if no banned substance appears on that data sheet, then he has “a legal right to sell” the product and that it is not his choice what is done with it.  He said that he is “sorry if you don’t like it, but that is the reality of it.”  He said that sales at his store have tripled since recent articles about certain products have appeared in the local paper, and that he believes that the press coverage is “forcing people to go try it, do it illegally, to misuse this product.”  He stressed again that the list in the Bill needs to be complete, or “people will beat the system.” 

Dr. Sue Raver, of the Allegany County Health Department, spoke about the increase they have seen over the last several years in the use of synthetic drugs:  both what are called “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana’s.  She agreed that “the drug companies are getting ahead of us” in producing these substances; she said that these are not legitimate drug companies in most cases.  She stated that the Health Department does very much support the proposed legislation.  She said that the Health Department “goes on record as supporting the law as proposed.”

Dennis Stewart, of Cumberland, stated that he worked as a counselor at the Massie Unit for four years, “years back.”  He said that he founded Narcotics Anonymous in Allegany County 28 years ago, and that he still keeps up on the drug situation in the community.  He said that he does agree that something needs to be done about the synthetic drugs:  synthetic “pot”, bath salts, etc.   However, he believes that past policies of keeping marijuana illegal “has helped perpetuate this problem with synthetic drugs.”  He said he feels that instead of being able to smoke marijuana, that’s “illegal but virtually harmless, people turn to these legal drugs because of legalities, even though these drugs are harmful.”  He made reference to “prohibition of alcohol and what it caused:  underworld trafficking, gang wars, murders in the streets, people going blind and crazy from drinking bootleg alcohol”, and likened that to the synthetic drugs situation.  He mentioned studies that apparently show that marijuana does not hurt a person’s lungs, memory or “anything”, and also stated that alcohol is the “number one killer of people out there, including every drug put together”.  He went on to detail statistics to document this.  He feels that alcohol, a legal substance, is a far worse problem than synthetic drugs.

Michael Twigg, States Attorney, discussed the proposed Bill.  He agreed that Mr. Casey is correct in saying that it does not contain all of the drugs currently listed in Federal law or State law.  He went on to say, “however, that ignores a couple of things that this Bill does.”  He said he felt it is important to define the problem Allegany County has with synthetic drugs.  He mentioned that the number of cases law enforcement has seen with both children and adults being taken to the emergency room because of use of these drugs is increasing within our community.  He thinks this is due to a lack of public awareness, especially among young people, regarding the dangers associated with the drugs.  Mr. Twigg commented, “I firmly hold (responsible) the local retailers, such as Mr. Casey, who sell these products, knowing how they’re being used by those who purchase them.  Hiding behind a veil of ‘not for human consumption’ is not an acceptable, nor moral, defense.”  He said that this bill would support law enforcement because it will provide an additional tool to be used to combat the problem, and that it will also increase the public awareness and put vendors on notice that law enforcement is looking into this and, if these products are found, charges will be made accordingly.  He offered a “word of caution”:  that “this is an ever-changing problem, in that the Bill, as passed right now, will not mean that the streets of Cumberland or the streets of Allegany County will be free of this drug tomorrow.”  He said the drug manufacturers recognize that these drugs are a huge moneymaker for them, and that they continuously change the composition of the drugs to stay “one step ahead of the law.”  He mentioned that there are many challenges regarding this situation. He does feel that the Bill will help, along with continued Federal and State monitoring. He gave a “fair warning to the retailers:  there will be no free shot in this case.  There will be no warnings.  If we come and purchase them from your store, and they have items, or derivatives, of the items that are either banned federally right now, we will arrest and we will prosecute.”  Mr. Twigg touched on a few points of Mr. Casey’s testimony:  that he referred to the product as a “drug”, indicating that he knows he is selling a drug, and that he is continuing to do it;  that he offered to help the Commissioners to create the new law to help minimize the problem in the community, although if he really wanted to help the community, he would stop selling; and that he made a comparison of the product sold by his business to plumber’s glue sold by Wal-Mart, which is not marketed by Wal-Mart as anything other than plumber’s glue, and is not packaged enticingly.  Mr. Twigg asserted his support of the Bill, as well as any effort by Federal, State or Local Government to try to combat the problem. 

Sheriff Craig Robertson added to Mr. Twigg’s comments, stating that Mr. Casey, along with other people, is under the idea that selling an item marked “not for human consumption” is acceptable, even though they know exactly what the item is being used for.  Sheriff Robertson mentioned that approximately six months ago, when he began visiting stores and actually making purchases himself of the synthetic drugs, he went to Mr. Casey’s establishment on Centre Street at the request of Delegate Kelly, who had received a call from Mr. Casey.  He said that upon entering the store, he spoke with a man behind the counter, identified later as Mr. Casey’s son, The man behind the counter apparently showed him vials of the synthetic marijuana and instructed him on how to smoke it.  He provided details as to how potent a substance was, and said that he told individuals who came in to purchase one item “to only take maybe three hits off of this at one time” and for another “just one hit”.  Based on this, it appears that those selling the substances know that it is not being used as “potpourri” or other legal items.  He stated that local law enforcement all recognize the selling of synthetic drugs as a problem and that all branches support the Bill.

Kenneth Wilmot, 513 Fort Avenue, Cumberland, stated as usual that he spent 20 years in the military and went on to say further to say that he has lived in “just about every hellhole that you can imagine”, and that during his “tour of life” he has never smoked a cigarette and never drunk a beer, and that he doesn’t intend to start.  He said that he has watched many people ruin their lives, and that it has cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars; now it is costing the taxpayers more millions of dollars because people like Mr. Casey love money.  He feels that it is the only reason he is selling “the stuff” and that he (Mr. Wilmot) is 100 percent against any store selling it.  He also disagreed with a previous speaker’s claim that marijuana is not addictive and said that according to every medical report he has read that it will ruin your lungs and ruin your brain, and that it’s terrible.  He mentioned that Mafia runs the Country of Italy and convinced the government to legalize drugs, and now they have “the biggest problem in the world in Italy.”  Mr. Wilmot mentioned that he lived in Germany for 25 years and that he knows all about drugs.  He feels that what is sold “over the counter is only a pittance to what is sold under the counter.”  Mr. Wilmot said that he has witnessed drug transactions recently, and turned the information in to police, and that there is a big drug problem in Cumberland and in Allegany County.  He stated that he is in favor of a strict law, to include as many substances as needed.

Mayor Flanigan of Frostburg let the Board know that Chief Douty and the Frostburg Police Department need all the help that they can render to curb the synthetic drug problem before it gets out of hand in the college community. 

John Davis, of Cumberland, identified himself as someone who has run for office in both Allegany County and in the City of Cumberland.  He said that a lot of the people to whom he has spoken said that “it’s a good thing you guys are doing.”  He commented that “in some countries in the world, they would hang somebody like the guy on Puff n Stuff” and that drug laws are stricter overseas.  He thanked the Commissioners very much.

John Steven Swygert, of Cumberland, identified himself as a citizen of Cumberland for 11 years, thanked the Commissioners and the citizens for his moment.  He said that it is a pleasure to see an emergency measure taking place for a “serious problem that is hurting our community.”  He said that he has seen it first-hand, that he has had friends tell him about families that are hurt by it, he has gone into the store and been told how to use the products, he has written letters and studied the issue.  He said that he grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, and watched the crack epidemic of the 1980s wipe out a lot of his friends while he was studying police science in college.  He said that this situation is “like an instant replay”, and that he is emotional about it because he is a passionate person, who wants to live in a community where “this stuff” doesn’t exist.  He said that he understands when you look at the chemical, molecular structures of cannabanoids or compounds that are amphetimines and cocaine, narcotic-based derivatives, what is happening is that for some of these substances that so far are outlawed by federal law, the chemist just manipulates the molecule so it doesn’t fit the same fingerprint that is already outlawed, and of course then there is a new compound that is still in the same family tree, probably more unpredictable. He feels that the problem is devastating the community, when the CEO of Western Maryland Health System has a blog on Blogger that says that on average, the hospital is getting over two overdose cases per day, and that obviously an emergency measure is needed.  He said that he appreciates a community that takes action and also appreciates the opportunity to be a “mere citizen” and have a voice here.  He voiced his concern that even if the products are taken out of the stores, they are still a huge moneymaker in mail order; there is always a “veil to hide behind”.  He feels that law enforcement is going to be a good step ahead, and he is glad that a good eye is being kept on things.  Mr. Swygert said that in light of what some of his personal friends have told him these synthetic drugs are doing to some of their family members, it infuriates him that “anybody could stand up here and morally feel like they have the fiber to even address everybody here when they are hurting the community and they should stop it, but their love for greed and money is better.”  He thanked the Commissioner again “for the moment”.

Linda Burgess told of a recent experience when she went for a body massage, and the employees there were giving the substances to her and her daughter to take home.  It apparently had quite an effect on her when she used it in the bath. 

Commissioner Valentine then spoke and voiced his surprise at some of Mr. Casey’s statements, such as that his sales have only risen since the article about the Bill was in the paper.  He said that would hope that Mr. Casey remembers visiting him in his office here several months ago, when he asked Mr. Valentine to try to stop Mr. Kelly’s attempts to have synthetic drugs made illegal in the State of Maryland.  He told Commissioner Valentine at the time that it would put him out of business because it accounted for about 60 percent of his annual sales.  He said that tells him that sales didn’t just go up after the newspaper article, and he went on to say that he finds a lot of irony in the statements that this substances are being produced by pharmaceutical companies, yet it is not for human consumption, and in pharmaceutical companies producing potpourri.  He feels that anyone in their right mind should know that it is just a cover for an illegal product that is causing tremendous harm to our community.  He said that he would rather hurt one business than hurt one youth in this County. 

Mr. Casey spoke again from the audience, over objection of Commissioner McKay that “this is not a rebuttal”.  He said “I will pull it off my shelves; I have no problem with that.”  He said that, to be perfectly honest, the biggest problem he has is that his “customers know it’s their legal right.”  He said that whether anyone in this room likes it or not, that is what he has to deal with.  He said that if they tell him, right now, that they are going to put the same 30 chemicals in the Bill that the Federal government has put on, then he won’t have a problem with it.  He said that he can’t help that the companies are staying ahead.  He feels that everyone should come together as a group and be specific, extremely specific.  He said that he “will stop selling it tomorrow” if the Bill is specific enough that he won’t get complaints from his customers saying “it’s legal” – and it is.

Commissioner McKay commented that he appreciates Mr. Casey’s point, but that it “is a moral choice”, to which Mr. Casey responded “but it’s also a legal choice.”  Commissioner McKay told him that whether legal or not, Mr. Casey is choosing to hurt our community.  He told Mr. Casey that he has the right to disagree with him and the right to be heard, but he does not have the right to be correct.

Mr. Wilmot asked to add one more thing, and he addressed Mr. Casey, telling him that in his family, he has lost two close relatives in the past year to illegal drugs.  He said that these family members started when they were quite young, and they started on the substances that Mr. Casey is selling. 

After the above public comments, Commissioner McKay asked County Attorney Rudd what the schedule is for the Bill.  County Attorney Rudd informed him that the Bill can be passed at the next Legislative Day, which is September 13, 2012, or at any Legislative Day thereafter.  He confirmed that this was just the hearing today, and that the Commissioners can leave it open for anyone who wishes to submit comments in writing to the Commissioners between now and the time that action is taken. Commissioner McKay asked if comments could also be made on the day action is taken, and County Attorney Rudd replied that is up to the Commissioners. Commissioner McKay stated that the Commissioners plan to take action at the September 13th public business meeting, which is being held in Frostburg,  and that comments either for or against the Bill are welcomed and can be made either prior to or at the meeting.  

Commissioner McKay then closed the public hearing on Code Home Rule Bill 6-12.

Item 4 – Resolution No. 12-21 – Allegany County – Resolution Granting Consent to the Transfer of Control of Cable Television Franchise – Attorney William M. Rudd discussed this Consent, which is for Atlantic Broadband.  They have been purchased by Cogeco Cable II, and the new operator has requested that the current franchise be assigned/transferred.  Attorney Rudd explained that none of the terms have changed, other than the entity who is selling the County its cable services.  Upon motion by Commissioner McKay, seconded by Commissioner Valentine, the Commissioners unanimously adopted Resolution 12-21.

Item 5 – Resolution No. 12-22 –The “Bedford Road Sanitary District Sewer Rehabilitation Project Bond of 2012, Series B” – Jason M. Bennett, CPA, Director of Finance, asked for authorization to close on a $510,000 USDA loan for the Bedford Sanitary District Sewer and explained that this would be the second USDA loan the County has closed on in this District.  He provided a background of Code Home Rule Bill 1-12 and gave details of the loan, which would be a 40-year loan at 2 percent interest, to be paid with ad valorem.  He said that approval this evening, the loan should be closed by the end of September.   Upon motion of Commissioner Valentine, seconded by Commissioner McKay, the Commissioners unanimously adopted Resolution 12-22.

Department of Economic & Community Development
Item 6 – Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development-   Community Development Block Grant Application for Rawlings Water Project Phase 1 – Authorize the President of the Board of County Commissioners to sign a Grant Agreement with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for Community Development Block Grant funding in the amount of $800,000 for construction of Phase 1 of the Rawlings Water System – David K. Nedved, Economic & Community Development Representative, provided background on this grant, which is needed to proceed with construction of a waterline in Rawlings.  The current waterline ends at American Woodmark on Route 220 in the Barton Business Park.  This first phase of the Rawlings Water Project would extend the waterline further south on Route 220 as far as Lilac Court and would include side streets up to Miller Avenue, including First Street, Byer Lane, Emily Street, Hawk Street, Merrill Lane, Skipton Lane, Summerfield Lane and Wilmar Lane.  Approximately 8,000 linear feet of waterline would be constructed using 8-inch pipe.   Mr. Nedved mentioned that he was told by Maryland DHCD that this was one of the better projects submitted and that it is very likely that DHCD will provide Allegany County with additional funding down the road to complete another phase for the project, possibly by just amending this present grant agreement.  Mr. Nedved asked the Commissioners to approve the Grant Agreement and to authorize to sign the Grant Agreement.  Upon motion of Commissioner McKay, and second by Commissioner Valentine, the Commissioners unanimously approved the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development – Community Development Block Grant for Rawlings Water Project Phase 1 and authorized the President to sign the Grant Agreement.
Planning Services
Item 7 – Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Plan for Program Open Space – Approve and authorize the Division of Planning Services to forward the Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Plan for Program Open Space to the Maryland Department of Planning and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources - David A. Dorsey, Acting Planning Coordinator referred to the Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Plan for Program Open Space that he presented at the August 23, 2012, public business meeting.  He requested approval of the Board to forward the Plan to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  Upon motion of Commissioner McKay, seconded by Commissioner Valentine, the Commissioners unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Plan for Program Open Space and authorized the County’s Division of Planning Services to forward the Plan to the Maryland Department of Planning and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
 CONSENT AGENDA

As recommended by the County Administrator

Upon motion by Commissioner Valentine, seconded by Commissioner McKay, and unanimously carried, the Consent Agenda as recommended by the County Administrator is adopted.

Item 8 – Department of Public Works – Request for Travel – Natural Gas Utilization Conference – Authorized the County Commissioners to approve Paul F. Kahl, P.E., Christine A. Howard, and Brian C. McCormick, P.E. to travel outside Allegany County on September 6 and 7 to attend a Natural Gas Utilization Conference in State College, Pennsylvania at an estimated cost of $1,500.00.

Item 9 – Appointment to the Allegany County Human Resources Development Board – Authorized the County Commissioners to appoint Sarah Bennett to fill the vacant position as a result of the resignation of Trudy Whitacre.  This term expire will expire January 2017.

County Administrator – County Administrator David Eberly reminded everyone that the next public business meeting will be on Thursday, September 13th, 2012, at the Frostburg Community Center, 27 South Water Street, in Frostburg. 
County Attorney

Commissioners’ statements, comments, recognition –

Commissioner Valentine, in place of Commissioner Brodie, reviewed the recent Commissioners’ calendar:
Friday, August 24, 2012
  • Meeting with John Taube and Thomas Finan regarding needs of the Library System
Sunday, August 26, 2012
  • Allegany-Garrett County Crimesolvers Picnic
Monday, August 27, 2012
  • Town of Luke
  • Constituents Meeting
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
  • Chamber of Commerce Crab Feast Meeting
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
  • Commissioner McKay’s meeting with Ingrid Turner, President of MACo, regarding the continual growth of the Rural Counties Coalition
  • Meeting with Representatives of Potomac Edison/First Energy
Thursday, August 30, 2012
  • Economic Development Meeting, Chamber of Commerce
  • Commissioners Public Business Meeting

Commissioner McKay announced some good news, that the Rural Counties Coalition has a new member, Somerset County.  They voted last evening to join, and they now make a total of seven Counties in the Coalition.  He said that he will update everyone in the future about the Coalition’s plans.
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Constituents   - In order of sign-up sheet –
Mr. Burgess read a letter on behalf of the Cumberland Historical Cemetery Organization voicing its support of Commissioner McKay in his prayers before the County meetings.  The letter he read described the founding fathers of our nation as “Godly men” and said that “we want to be also.”  The Organization’s letter went on to ask the Commissioner to “please don’t let one or two people to take away your and my freedom”, stated that “Christian and Jewish faiths are the backbone of the American nation and our culture”, and asked the Commissioners to “stand against the ongoing war against the Jewish and Christian faith.”  Those signing the letter included Edward W. Taylor, Jr., President of the Cumberland Historical Cemetery Organization, and its executive board members, Mr. and Mrs. Burgess.

Mr. Kenneth Wilmot, 513 Fort Avenue, Cumberland, spoke about a report he heard on the radio this morning, that some people stated that the City Council had no right to start their meeting with a prayer, and that the Supreme Court said that it is perfectly okay.  Mr. Wilmot then asked his usual questions about the Animal Shelter, regarding the pit bull bite issue.  Commissioner McKay told him that the taxpayers are not paying the cost of the incident.  Mr. Wilmot then asked who is paying for it, and Commissioner answered that the victim’s parents are taking care of it.  He went on to ask about the dog that bit the victim.  He said that he feels that any animal who bites should be “put down and checked for rabies – that’s the law – every animal bite in Allegany County is required to be reported to the Health Department.”  Commissioner McKay told Mr. Wilmot that Mr. Devore has that under control.  As Mr. Wilmot went on asking questions, Commissioner McKay reminded him that Mr. Devore tried to talk to him today about his questions, and that Mr. Wilmot was not interested in talking to him.  Mr. Wilmot asked if Commissioner McKay wanted to hear what he told Mr. Devore, and he went on to make negative comments about Mr. Devore.  He said that he did not want to have any dealings with him, except in a Court of law. Commissioner McKay told Mr. Wilmot that Mr. Devore is the gentleman that this Board of County Commissioners has determined will be in charge of Animal Control and the Animal Shelter, and that if Mr. Wilmot feels he is not getting a proper response from him or from the Commissioners, then it is his option to take legal action.  Mr. Wilmot discussed a conversation he had with a person last week; this person apparently called 911 during the night to ask for help regarding a neighbor’s pit bull barking, and he was told that there was nothing they could do for him.  The neighbor told him that he had called a few times previously about the same issue.  Mr. Wilmot wondered, “what we are paying taxes for?”  He then said that a few days later, the situation resulted in an altercation between the owner of the pit bull and the person who called; when another neighbor had called about the same animal, the next day that person’s tires were slashed.  He feels that there is a definite problem with this pit bull, and he would Animal Control to be told that when someone calls about a problem, someone needs to respond. Commissioner McKay discussed with him the procedure that has to be followed to complain about a barking dog.  He also discussed two options available to Mr. Wilmot:  either to run for County Commissioner himself, or to hire legal counsel and file suit against the County.

Reminders/Upcoming Meetings
Next Public Business Meeting – September 13, 2012, 5 p.m., in Frostburg
Announcement – County Labor Day Schedule (see News Release)

ADJOURNMENT:
            There being no further business to come to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.