Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) on Monday said he would make it a “top priority” to find federal money to contribute to infrastructure needed to accommodate the expansion of Fort Meade, even as the Congress is in the midst of a tense budget battle.
Cardin told members of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce that he knew roads near Fort Meade were not equipped to handle the thousands of new workers coming to the base as a result of base realignment an closure (BRAC) activities. He said he was working with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to find money, even though a specific earmark was unlikely.
“We’ve got to do a better job when it comes to the impact of these federal facilities on our local communities, and that’s why we’ve made it our priority,” he said. “We’ll use every tool we have at our disposal.”
Specifically, Cardin said legislators would push for long-term passage of the surface transportation reauthorization bill. He said that within that bill, Congress could “give direction on priorities” to push money toward BRAC-related improvements. He also said lawmakers hope to tap a special Department of Defense program designed to fund infrastructure improvements at military facilities. Cardin said that program had been used to help fund some improvements near the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda.
“We are looking at whether we can modify that program,” he said.
Prior to Cardin’s remarks, the chamber handed out a series of awards to members for their support of its initiatives throughout the year.
Chamber leaders recognized Paul Centenari, the owner of Atlas Container Corporation in Severn, as the Chamber Business Leader of the Year. Atlas, which manufactures corrugated boxes, earned praise for practicing financial transparency with employees. Centenari, who has owned the business with his brother for 22 years, has opened its financial statements to employees and also shares its profits.
James King, the owner of Kaufmann’s Tavern in Gambrills, won the small business advocate award. Chamber leaders credited him with promoting efforts to “buy local” and for his role as an adviser to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. The chamber also thanked King for allowing Kaufmann’s to host the group’s monthly breakfast meetings.
Art Muegge, the owner of Wheels Skating Center in Odenton, received the Education/Community Outreach Award. The chamber thanked him for offering free meeting space and allowing military families to skate free on Tuesday nights.
Matt Hauser of GEICO won the Military Affairs Support of the Year award, earning praise from Col. Daniel Thomas, the installation commander at Fort Meade.
“I always wondered if this guy was a stalker,” Thomas said. “Almost everything we do on base, Matt was there, helping us out.”
Other award winners included Shaun Wilson of Capitol CREAG, named as Chamber Volunteer of the Year, and Fred Hopkins, owner of Annapolis Drywall, named as Chamber Ambassador of the Year.