Councilman Dave Glenn said he can not imagine the pain Newtown is suffering and heard the community took its lights down for Christmas because it "just wasn't a celebration anymore."

Councilman Bill Martin, who is also a middle school teacher, said the Newtown incident was too emotional but did not want anyone to think he does not care.

"I just can't bring myself to talk about it so I'll skip Newtown comments this evening," he said.

Councilman Randy Craig agreed.

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"I, along with Mr. [Councilman Bill] Martin, we have two young kids that share a kindergarten and second-grade class, so if I think about it for more than a moment, I won't be able to finish the rest of the meeting," Craig said, but wished everyone "the best of a holiday season" and that they may be able to spend time with their loved ones.

Police are prepared

Walter said the city's police are well-prepared to handle a similar tragedy.

She said the department conducts "active shooter" training each year, and if residents see police officers running in and out of buildings, that is what they are training for.

They also work closely with county schools to understand the layout of the schools, not only in Havre de Grace but around the county.

Walter was emotional as she talked about the teachers in Newtown not being trained to go toward gunfire, as police officers are.

"Their heroism is unbelievable. I have a lot of sympathy for them and their families and I commend them," she said through tears.

Walter said one does not have to be a parent to feel "overwhelming grief" for the situation.

"It's very difficult to try to make sense of why a 20-year-old man would shoot innocent children," she said, adding it is even more difficult during the holiday season.

"On behalf of all the men and women of the Havre de Grace Police Department, we grieve so much and our hearts go out to all the folks in Newtown, Conn.," she said.

The council opened its meeting with a moment of silence for Newtown, and Pastor Ellen Witko of Webster Congregation Christian Church asked for prayers for the town's residents "as they struggle through darkness in what should be a season of happiness."

Clovis Bolen, annexation, Frederick

Also at Monday's meeting, the council mourned the recent death of longtime city employee Clovis Bolen, who Dougherty said worked from 1976 until his retirement in 1992 as a building inspector and code enforcement officer.

"I assure you, it was a rough job back in 1976 because there was little to really work with," Dougherty said with a laugh, pointing out zoning never really latched on until 1982.

"Mr. Bolen in his travels worked hard and was good with the people and never, ever shirked his duty or turned his back on people that had questions," the mayor continued, calling him "a very compassionate individual and he will be missed severely."

The council introduced a resolution that would allow the city to annex the onetime Kiwi Shoe Polish can factory property on Post Road into city limits.

The members also discussed a program in Frederick about identifying vacant and blighted properties that several council members applauded and said they hope to copy.

The council heard a presentation from Fred Cullum on the water and sewer commission. Cullum said revenue has declined by more than $1 million even though expenses were reduced. He said the fund has failed to meet revenue projections, reflecting 17 fewer building permits than were budgeted for in the fiscal year.

Cullum added, however, that "it is almost certain that as new construction again increases that the total number of connections will be reached and all the money [will be received]."