Schools, Sewage, Safety Priorities For Harford Executive

Harford County Executive David Craig held a press conference Tuesday.

Harford County Executive David Craig announced Tuesday his priorities for the final two years of his term, which include building four new schools, updating athletic fields, finding a solution for county waste disposal and creating a public safety department.

While Craig has previously announced he will run for another office in 2014, he emphasized Tuesday that Harford County is the main concern now.

"I’m more concerned with what I’lll be doing for the next 24 months than what I’ll be doing after those 24 months are over," Craig said.

» See the slideshow Craig presented during his address Tuesday.

Education is among Craig's top priorities and he hopes to replace four county schools—Havre de Grace and Joppatowne high schools and Youth's Benefit and William Paca/Old Post Road elementary schools.

"We need to get rid of our multiple building schools," Craig said, later adding, "These are all old schools they don’t provide the best educational background."

Joppatowne is also on the list of schools in need of athletic field improvements, along with Patterson Mill, Aberdeen and Fallston high schools, according to Craig.

Improvements to Harford Community College, including building a dedicated nursing building and a west campus to allow for a "two-plus-two" program with Towson University are also in Craig's sights. The program would help students pursuing a four-year degree to transfer credits to Towson.

"I may be there for the groundbreaking but maybe not for the ribbon cutting," Craig said of the projects at the community college.

Waste disposal and water and sewer issues are also important to Craig and the county.

"Everybody has a lot of trash, they put it out in the morning and expect it to go away," Craig said.

He pointed out that the solution is not necessarily a solid waste transfer station. Instead, the department of public works is doing a study on long term options that is expected to be completed this month. The results of this analysis likely will be presented to council in January.

“We are working to see what we can do, which is the most cost effective way to handle it," Craig said.

In order to do that, Craig is asking the U.S. Army to give the county a two-year extension on using their facility.

Craig also hopes to create a comprehensive water and sewer plan to cover the entire county, including municipalities.

Creating a public safety department is something that Craig is already approaching, after issuing an executive order.

"We are the only county that does not have a department of public safety," Craig said. "It needs to be a separate agency."

The development of a public safety department has been a contentious issue between county fire companies and the executive this year.

"We’re going to continue to work hard on these issues," Craig said. "This is not about bigger government it’s about better government."

Find the full slide show presentation here on Patch.

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