A spokesman for the county's volunteer fire companies asked a House committee Wednesday to include Carroll's fire carnival grounds in a bill that would extend drug-free zones to community recreation centers.

Eugene Curfman, legislative chairman for the Carroll Volunteer Firemen's Association, requested that the amendment be added to a billsponsored by Delegate Rose Lee Blumenthal, D-Prince George's, that seeks to protect children and senior citizens from drug dealers.

Several years ago, the General Assembly passed a law imposing stiffer penalties on those convicted of drug-related offenses within 1,000 feet of public school grounds, called drug-free school zones.

Curfman said carnivals, sponsored by fire companies in the summer on property they own or lease, "obviously are activities attended by quite a few children. These are areas where drugs could actively be sold.If this would be a deterrent, we'd certainly like to see those areasincluded."

Some fire companies lease property they own for $1 peryear to municipalities to be used as athletic fields, said Curfman. Under those circumstances, he said he believed the bill would cover the facilities.

In the bill, community recreation area is defined as property owned or leased by an entity that receives state or local government money to operate an athletic, fitness or recreation activity on the grounds. For a first drug conviction within the community recreation zone, maximum penalties would be 20 years imprisonment, a $20,000 fine, or both.

Blumenthal called the bill a "logical extension of the Drug Free School Zones Act." Her proposal was killed by the House Judiciary Committee last year.

"We want mothers to feel safe and know that their children will be safe," Blumenthal told the committee. "We want seniors to be safe as well.

"Drug dealers are vicious animals. They follow kids to the centers and give drugs away toget future customers. Then those that need to buy drugs start preying on senior citizens."

Several city and state recreation department workers testified in favor of the bill.

However, some lawyers argue that restraint must be used to avoid expanding drug-free zones to cover too many areas.

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