CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — A group seeking separate statehood for western Maryland is holding its first official town hall meeting in Cumberland.

Volunteer Rich Biancone says the gathering Friday night at Allegany College of Maryland is for supporters, detractors and people who are just plain curious.

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He tells the Cumberland Times-News that the initiative is led by Carroll County resident Scott Strzelczyk.

The group aims to form a new state composed of Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

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Those counties have a majority of registered Republicans voters in a heavily Democratic state.

Biancone says people are feeling pinched by Maryland state regulations. He says the secession proponents favor self-determination and self-government.

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