Town Council approves more business grants, new sign contractor and raise

by Geoff Fox

Hancock officials seven grant proposals from Hancock businesses for improvements to their locations.

Those grants were looked over and approved by the grants committee before heading to the mayor and council.

Town Manager Mike Faith said there was a small issue where people were applying for two grants because “in the beginning, that’s what they were told.”

However, town officials passed a resolution limiting applications to one.

Faith said the grants committee didn’t have a problem with the two applications, but wanted town officials to look them over and tell the business they could do one and decide which grant they wanted.

Town officials approved grants to seven applicants – Jackie Flowers, Pat’s Hair Design, Susie Cora of 41 West, Jay Wentz, Sue Wrbican of S.L. Wrbican LLC, Gwen Dleuhosh of Hancock Veterinarian Clinic, and Sinclair Hamilton.

Those who submitted their application were required to have two estimates enclosed.

Hamilton was the lone exception as the grant money he was applying for was for work to be done to the brownstone on his building and since it’s a specialized type of work, it would be a challenge to get two estimates.

Faith said the Wentz approval would have to come with a condition attached. He said the grants committee was fine with having exterior work done to the former Teddy Bear Café, however they wanted town officials to set the condition that the building would have a tenant within a year’s time.

Town officials approved all seven grant applications, with each one being $10,000.

Town officials approve bid for new sign

In 2019, town officials approved the installation of a new sign along Pennsylvania Avenue with lettering that would have to be done by town staff.

Last Thursday, town officials approved a new sign to be installed along Pennsylvania Avenue and move the existing sign to Kirkwood Park.

Faith said they received three bids with most wanting to add a cellular transmitter and three years cellular service, leaving the town a cellular bill.

Instead, Faith suggested using wifi and having an antenna on the side of the community center that would relay the signal to the sign.

KC Signs from Frostburg had a bid at $31,000. Stewart Signs, which is a national company, came in with a bid of $48,000. The final bid, from Sign Here of Hagerstown, came in at $32,000.

All bids were for the exact same specs “and everything,” Faith said.

“Now, if I had to make a recommendation, I would probably go with Sign Here,” Faith said.

TMG Signs did the current sign three years ago. Faith said he reached out twice to the company for a bid, however he did not receive one.

Mayor Tim Smith said Sign Here had made a bid on the current sign and were the second lowest.

With the new electronic sign, Faith said the standard warranty is five years, but “they don’t last forever.”

He added there would be a vandal proof screen on the electronic sign as well.

Smith pointed out with Stewart’ s bid, there was a lifetime warranty on the structure and faces, including vandalism.

Faith said the positive on an electronic sign is more information can be displayed whereas the existing sign is limited a certain area.

Councilman Roland Lanehart, Jr. told officials when the current sign was bought and erected, it was to be limited to only Town of Hancock sanctioned events could be put on the sign.

Faith said the money to pay for the sign would come from the hotel/motel tax as the sign is an improved use item.

“The money will come out of the budget for now, but we’ll put it back in when we get our disbursement next year,” he said.

Councilman David Kerns did notice the bids don’t mention anything about the pixel rate of the electronic sign and didn’t say if it was similar to the sign at Hancock Middle-Senior High School. Faith said one bid said the screen is the newest screen technology.

Kerns said if they went with KC Signs, they’ d provide more pixels. However, Smith argued since the sign is in a residential area, you wouldn’t want the light from the sign shining in the windows.

Kerns made the motion to go with KC Signs’ bid of $30,995, and officials voted unanimously in favor.

Faith gets raise

After only a few months on the job, Faith is getting a wage increase.

Town officials approved a $2.40 raise on Faith’s contract that gives him an hourly rate of $26.40 an hour.

That takes effect immediately, Smith said.