CUMBERLAND -- Can a governor from Baltimore who may be feeling unappreciated find love and happiness on the campaign trail in the mountains of Western Maryland?
Based on Gov. William Donald Schaefer's trip Friday an yesterday through Allegany and Garrett counties, the answer is yes.
At nearly every stop, Governor Schaefer was met with banners bands and people who believed that the governor's coming to town was an important event, worthy of the homespun pomp and circumstance that was mobilized by community leaders.
"I think it's wonderful that he's come out here," said Lula B Brown, 78, of Grantsville, who heard him speak at a senior citizens luncheon Friday at the Northern Garrett Community Center in Accident.
"He's the first governor that I remember to spend so much time in Western Maryland. I think he's done very well by us out here."
For Mr. Schaefer, who has found pockets of apathy an indifference in other parts of the state, the trip was a morale-booster. "It's been a fantastic reception," he said. "The community has seen the accomplishments that we've made out here."
In case they hadn't, the governor brought some trinkets alon with him, including state grants for $27,000 for Frostburg's downtown improvement program and $25,000 to help finance an operator for the Cumberland Airport. He also announced that a developer had been found for the section of Lonaconing destroyed by fire.
"I think he's helped the area a lot," said Ben J. Connor, 68, o Midland, during festivities yesterday morning on a vacant lot in Lonaconing, where fire destroyed four downtown businesses May 8. "I think he's done a wonderful job."
On Friday, after his senior citizens luncheon, Governor Schaefe toured Phenix Technologies, a high-voltage testing-equipment manufacturer that expanded with the help of a state loan.
He told the workers that when he hears businessmen talk abou Western Maryland, they often talk about the work force. "They say it's the very best," he said.
One of those workers, Larry W. Wakefield, 42, of Friendsville was one of the few who uttered discouraging words about the governor during the trip -- and he kept those comments quiet. "I don't like his stand on gun control, and I don't think many people around here do," he said. Mr. Schaefer was a strong supporter of gun control legislation passed in 1988.
The only evidence of Governor Schaefer's opponent, Republica William S. Shepard, was sporadic campaign signs and a group of students from the Republican Club at Frostburg State University. They greeted the governor with Shepard campaign signs at the Old Depot Restaurant in Frostburg at a rally yesterday morning.
"We can't get the things we need and want at Frostburg, but ye 16 percent of the state's money for colleges goes to private schools," said Kirk Murray, one of the Shepard supporters.
But those ill-feelings failed to surface elsewhere. While Mr Schaefer sometimes would recite a litany of road and water projects his administration has funded in this part of the state, most were just impressed with the fact that he was here.
"This isn't a big place, and I think it shows how much he care about us out here when he comes out here," said Susan R. Tichinel, 18, of Swanton, a worker at the Bausch and Lomb plant outside Oakland.
He even was able to capitalize on an issue on which, unti recently, his administration was on the wrong side for many Allegany County residents. That issue is a proposed landfill on a coal mining site in Vale Summit, which has drawn opposition.
The project has been approved in the first two phases of th permit process by the state Department of the Environment, but Governor Schaefer recently asked the agency to hold off action on the final phase.
Yesterday, after a quick tour of the site, he stopped at the hom of Daryl Fazenbaker, who lives across from it. The governor told about 50 people who were there to greet him that he would seek to have an independent consultant decide if the site is suitable and if better locations are available.
"We're tickled to death that he's involved now," said Mr Fazenbaker.