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Maryland City to Link Up with County-Owned High-Speed Internet Service

The Harford Metro Area Network is the county's high-speed, fiber-optic system, designed to give every school, library, law enforcement and local government agency equal access to high-speed Internet.

(TNS) — The town of Bel Air, Md., is the latest agency to reap the benefits of Harford County's HMAN Network.

The Board of Town Commissioners voted 4-0 at Monday night's town meeting to spend $24,905.20 with ePlus Technology Inc. for its new telephone voice-over Internet protocol to outfit Town Hall and other offices with 65 new phones and the software necessary for them. Commissioner Brendan Hopkins was not at the meeting.

"It's the same thing the county is doing with the fire departments and the libraries," Michael Krantz, Bel Air's Director of Administration, said. "Thanks to [county IT director] Ted Pibil and [county executive] Barry Glassman for allowing the town to be part of that agreement."

The Harford Metro Area Network is the county's high-speed, fiber-optic system, designed to give every school, library, volunteer fire company, law enforcement and local government agency equal access to high-speed Internet.

Largely funded through outside grants, Harford County government has spent more than $13 million to build the fiber optic network. The first phase went live in May 2014 and, as of last summer, more than 108 public buildings and schools had been linked to HMAN, according to Pibil.

The town government's existing phone system still functions, Krantz said, but if it goes down, the town would not be able to continue to respond to citizens needs.

"If it goes down, the town could not conduct routine business," he said, explaining they are looking to replace it "before an 'unrecoverable system failure occurs.'"

Previous cost estimates for a new system, like the one the town will contract with the county for, were more than $65,000, more than what the town budgeted.

The new system will be compatible with those used by Harford County Government and Department of Emergency Services, Krantz said, and should be connected in about 90 days.

New police cars

The Bel Air Police Department will have three new police vehicles on the streets in about three months, with the commissioners unanimous approval of the new SUVs Monday night.

The three vehicles, 2015 all-wheel drive Ford Explorers, are being bought from Hertrich Fleet Services of Denton for $79,047.

The new SUVs will replace three vehicles on the road – a 2005 Chevy Blazer with nearly 86,000 miles, a 2007 Trailblazer with 76,000 miles and a 2006 Trailblazer with 71,000 miles – that will either be transferred to the department of public works or will be sold at auction, according to Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore.

The new vehicles will be equipped for police use by Brekford Corporation of Hanover, according to a contract for $29,467 approved by the commissioners Monday.

Two of the SUVs will be regular patrol vehicles, the third will be a covert vehicle used by the criminal investigation division.

Movies coming

The next outdoor movies set for Shamrock Park are "Zootopia" on Friday and "Star Wars the Force Awakens" on Aug. 26 from 7:15 to 9:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, the movie nights include pre-movie entertainment provided by the Bel Air Cultural Arts Commission, popcorn and face-painting.

Free lunchtime concerts are scheduled through September at noon on Office Street, sponsored by the Town of Bel Air: Sept. 2, Matt Kineke; Sept. 9, Regents of Jazz; Sept. 16, The Smooth Groove; and Sept. 23, Bel Air High School Jazz Ensemble and Chorus.

"They're always fun to go to," Mayor Susan Burdette said.

Praise for BBQ Bash

The town commissioners also praised the annual Maryland State BBQ Bash held last Friday and Saturday on the District Court parking lot.

"People came in from other parts of the state," Commissioner Philip Einhorn said. "I was very pleased with our people responsible for keeping it safe and keep the areas clean."

Commissioner Robert Preston said it takes a lot of volunteers to put on event the size of the BBQ Bash, while Burdette said the entire town staff is somehow involved.

She also praised the Bel Air Downtown Alliance's Christine McPherson and Marketing Director Roman Davidyuk, who "give up their lives 24/7 for the three months before the BBQ Bash."

Despite the temperatures in the upper 90s, Burdette said she heard few complaints about the weather.

"It was a very, very good event," she said.

Commissioner Patrick Richards called the town staff and volunteers the unsung heroes of the BBQ Bash.

©2016 The Aegis (Bel Air, Md.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.