Search Search Google
Volume XVII, Issue 7 - February 12 - February 18, 2009
Home \\ Correspondence \\ Letter from the Editor \\ This Week's Features \\ Classifieds \\ Dining Guide \\
Home & Garden Guide \\
Archives \\ Distribution Locations

Letter From the Editor

Getting Stimulated

How Sugarplum Dreams Could Bring Christmas to Chesapeake Country

A billion here, a few billion there, and soon you’re talking real money.

The Illinois politician credited with that aphorism is not Barack Obama. It’s Everett Dirksen.

This week, the U.S. Senate — where both Obama and Dirksen worked before moving on to higher places (Dirksen no doubt to heaven; the Republican died in office in 1969) — decided to stimulate the economy with $820 billion worth of real money.

Even Maryland’s few billion would be real money, for we’re $2 ?????? short of keeping up — and at least that much short of getting stimulated.

Four billion dollars would mean Santa Claus had come to town.

So in all the nooks and crannies of the state, planners are dreaming, like good little girls and boys, about how a few million of those dollars could stimulate their economies, bring new jobs and revitalize their infrastructure.

At the local level, in Chesapeake Beach, new mayor Bruce Wahl dreams of a new water tower. Two water towers already rise above the tree line, but a third is planned and platted for the growing Calvert County town, which needs not only the water but also the pressure to satisfy fire-fighting standards.

The 350,000-gallon tower is shovel ready because Wahl paid early attention to candidate Obama’s talk of infrastructure and New Deal WPA-type projects. “We had the design done, but we didn’t have the money package. So I pushed the permitting process,” Wahl told Bay Weekly on a tour of the town’s infrastructure. Now the $1.6 million project could be under contract in 90 days.

“The goals of the stimulus package are to build infrastructure and put people to work. This is a good project for that program,” Wahl said.

In Southern Maryland, the regional planning organization Tri-County Council dreamed big at early word of the stimulus, gathering a wish list of 100 projects for Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties. That list has now been whittled down to nine.

Top ranking goes to bringing broadband Internet capacity — originating near Chincoteague at the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility and already spanning the Eastern Shore — across the Bay Bridge through Anne Arundel County south across two more bridges to St. Mary’s and Charles counties.

Since we wrote about that fiber-optic infrastructure aspiration in our January 8 story, Let’s Get Stimulated, the Maryland Broadband Cooperative has grown to 40 members, and cable has been laid under the Potomac River. Bringing the information superhighway down Route 2-4 from Parole in Anne Arundel County to St. Mary’s is budgeted at $5.6 million; moving west to cover the whole state would need $87 million.

“We’re trying to make sure projects we send up create jobs and satisfy needs at tough economic times,” says Tri-County Council director Wayne Clark.

The Senate and House now have the daunting task of reconciling different versions of this remarkable spending spree, with our own Rep. Steny Hoyer warning that negotiations could continue into next week.

After that, Maryland’s sugarplum dreams can begin coming true.

       Sandra Olivetti Martin
     editor and publisher


© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.