Worcester County News Briefs

SNOW HILL — This week’s Worcester County Commissioners meeting included the awarding of a contract for “Play It Safe” booklet production, the next step being taken in the county’s solar energy evolution, and a request for an increase to the minimum age for pumpers by the Chartered Volunteer Fire Companies in Worcester County.

Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon came before the commission with a request asking that the minimum age of pumper trucks be increased from 15 years to 20.

The petition included signatures from nine of the 10 county volunteer fire departments. McMahon explained that the 10th department had contacted him after the retrieval of the petition but before the meeting of the commissioners and that now all 10 departments were on board.

Current regulations require that all fire departments have at least one pumper that is less than 15 years old and no qualifying pumpers that are over 30. Because of the sluggish economy, McMahon explained that it was becoming more and more difficult to keep up with the code, as replacing pumper trucks is a drastic financial undertaking. He expressed the opinion that relaxing the minimum age from 15 years to 20 would make it easier for departments to manage their budgets..

The commission agreed that a more forgiving minimum age would be beneficial and voted unanimously to approve the petition.

Worcester is once again planning on producing the popular Play It Safe booklets, which include coupons, advertisements, tips and other pertinent information targeted at the recently graduated high school seniors that flood Ocean City every June.

During the last commission meeting, the assembly was informed that the county’s health department was about to begin the bidding process. At Tuesday’s meeting, Agency Procurement Specialist George King came forward with the results of the bidding and a recommendation.

All in all, five different companies applied for the job, with the Nittany Valley Office of State College, Pennsylvania offering the low bid of $10,711 to print the booklets and $293 to create 500 related posters.

However, King recommended that the commission choose the second lowest bid, the one received from Delmarva Printing. At $10,900 to print the booklets and $240 to craft the posters, the total difference between the two lowest bidders was only $136. Because Delmarva Printing is a local company located in Salisbury and because the Health Department had previous experience with them, King advised granting Delmarva the contract. The commissioners took the advice.

One of the final items reviewed was the newly drafted Solar Energy Facilities Bill. After months of discussion with the Planning Commission, a document was finally produced and sent to the commissioners for further evaluation.

The current draft proposes that solar energy panels be classified into three different categories: small, medium and large. In the bill, any grouping of panels classified as medium or greater would have to be screened from view by either vegetation or other partitions.

Because it has already been approved by the planning commission, the next step is to secure the county’s support. After that, a public hearing will be held to find resident’s opinions on the matter.

“I think we need a map of where substations are and the zoning around them,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley.

Ed Tudor, director of Development Review and Permitting, informed the commission the county did not have such a map, but that he could ask local, private power companies for one.