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Southern Maryland News: Comptroller Peter Franchot tours Waldorf businesses

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) toured a Waldorf distillery, sports complex and health clinic Friday afternoon in the company of state and county elected officials. Franchot and Del. Edith Patterson (D) presented each of them with citations and proclamations commemorating their accomplishments.

The first stop was BlueDyer Distilling Co. on Industrial Park Drive. Co-founder Ryan Vierheller was on hand to describe the history of the company, which is named after an ancestor of his who was a grain farmer, miller and distiller in Southern Pennsylvania in the 1720s.

Franchot presented Vierheller with a proclamation in recognition of its first national award, which it received this year from the American Distilling Institute for its aged rum. The distillery had been in business for less than a year when it received the award. Franchot also praised the economic benefits that the distillery will bring to the area.

“We have manufacturing here in Southern Maryland,” Franchot said of the distillery. “This sector is going to be a huge manufacturing hub in the state of Maryland.”

Franchot also presented Vierheller with one of his “much-coveted” Comptroller medallions, in recognition of Vierheller’s service as a Bladensburg police officer prior to becoming a master distiller. Franchot said that he gives the coins to veterans, first responders and Marylanders who make a difference. “I think you fill all three,” he said.

Del. Edith Patterson (D) was also on hand to present Vierheller with an official citation from the Maryland General Assembly. Charles County Register of Wills Loraine D. Hennessy, Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D), and Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) were also in attendance at the ceremony and offered their complements and gratitude for locating in Charles County.

“We’re so fortunate that Charles County has so much diversity in terms of manufacturing,” Patterson said. “And you’re right, this will be a destination.”

Following the presentations, Franchot purchased a bottle of BlueDyer rum for Patterson to give to her son, who had recently traveled to Cuba and had praised the rum he tasted there.

“We can defend ourselves against the Cubans,” Vierheller assured her.

Hennessy and Patterson joined Franchot on a tour of Capital Clubhouse, Waldorf’s 90,000-square-foot indoor sports complex. The center, which opened in 2005, is owned by Charles County and managed by Rink Management Services Corp. Tom Hillgrove, president, and Jim Littlejohn, director of marketing and transitions, joined Sam Drury, chief of the Recreation Division of the Charles County Department of Recreation, on a tour of the facility.

The complex is designed around an ice rink and a matching multi-sport court, and features a rock-climbing wall, party rooms and several other businesses including a gym.

“For me, this is a personal success story because in 2008, I was on the Board of County Commissioners that made the wise decision to purchase this facility,” Patterson said as she presented Drury, Hillgrove and Littlejohn with a citation from the Maryland General Assembly. “It has been a jewel for this county.”

Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D) joined Franchot, Patterson and Hennessy on a tour of Health Partners Inc. on Crain Highway later in the afternoon. There, Franchot presented a proclamation to Executive Director Christine Mulcahey in recognition of the facility’s 25th anniversary.

Health Partners was founded by Sisters Michaeleen and Gladys Marie of the Sisters of Holy Cross as a charitable clinic providing a full range of medical and dental care for families in and around Charles County.

The sisters will be traveling to the facility from Indiana in September to take part in the organization’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

Currently, the clinic refers mental health care to outside facilities. Franchot suggested that he and Murphy discuss how the state and county might be able to provide funding to the facility to provide mental health services, perhaps in the form of a pilot program.

Franchot presented a comptroller coin to Mulcahey and another coin collectively to the Health Partners board, which was represented at the ceremony by director William Berry and treasurer Dan Sansbury.

“What a great thing to tout that Charles County has this, that it’s supported by board members and that it’s filling a gap,” Franchot said to Murphy during the presentation ceremony.

“We appreciate the support from all of you,” Mulcahey said to the elected officials who had gathered in the facility’s waiting room for the presentation. “Because we can’t do it without you.”

“I emphasize to my elected official colleagues that we need to show up in order to do our jobs,” said Franchot after his tour. “Part of that is getting in front of people here and learning what is good for the health clinic and what we can do to be supportive and helpful.”

“I think adding a mental health component, even if it’s rudimentary, would be very beneficial.” Franchot added. “I think mental health is one of the areas that’s most neglected in the health care field.”

During his trip, Franchot also visited the state comptroller’s Waldorf branch office, which serves St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties. There, he met with employees and expressed his gratitude for their hard work on behalf of Maryland taxpayers.

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