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Defense officials' statements that they cannot quickly assign women to fly combat planes under a bill approved last year drew ire from Rep. Beverly B. Byron, a subcommittee chairwoman from Maryland.

"We're going to hold your feet to the fire on this," Byron, D-6th, warnedthem.

Byron, chairwoman of the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, was a chief author of legislation approved by Congress last yearrepealing a 1948 law against women flying planes in combat. She saidit seemed logical to begin training women to fly combat planes immediately so that a Women-in-Combat Commission that Congress also created last year could quickly evaluate their performance.

Assistant U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher Jehn denied reports that Defense Secretary Dick Cheney has decided not to assign women to combat planes until after President Bush sends the commission's recommendations to Congress in December.

But when Byron suggested with irony in her voice that it could take military services that long to recommend whether women should be assigned to combat planes, Jehn said: "I don't think that is a bad schedule at all."

"I think it is a terrible schedule," Byron replied.

Jehn and generals and an admiral from all four military services told the subcommittee that women cannot be assigned to combat planes quickly because questions must be studied and resolved first.



WASHINGTON -- Rep. Beverly B. Byron, D-6th, said she is pleased with President Bush's State of the Union speech Tuesday night on family values, "which he backed up with proposals for increased funding for Head Start, tax deductions for interest paid on student loans, and upping the personal exemptions per child."

Byron said the president "laid out many of the proposals (Congress) will be faced with, starting with cuts in defense."

"On the negative side, I was sorry that he didn't have a more definite and innovative proposal for health care," the congresswoman said. "There's no question health-care costs have gone sky high, and Congress will have some kind of package this year, but I don't think it will be in any form the president seems to be proposing.

"Finally, I am concerned about his March 20 date (for congressional approval of his short-term legislative package). I don't think it is a realistic one, but we will work toward that."

Byron also said she thought many Americans were "expecting all the answers to all theproblems in just one speech, and I think that was an unrealistic expectation."



MANCHESTER -- The Town Council last week discussed the impending retirement of its longtime clerk-treasurer, the hiring of a town manager and the probable removal of its projects administrator post.

But the effects of those moves were debated in closed session Wednesday night.

Getting together after a brief open session -- which contained routine reports from council committees -- the council began the process of figuring out the costs, logistics and timetables of shuffling its office staff.

Kathryn L. Riley, who has been the town's clerk-treasurer for more than two decades, is expected to step down from the post in July. David M. Warner, a former town councilman who has been the town's part-time projects administrator since last January, has recommended theabolition of his post in favor of a full-time manager's position. Heis not expected to apply for that job after his current post is eliminated.

The council is confronting the office staffing issue as itenters the early rounds of budget preparations.



WESTMINSTER -- The Carroll school staff will recommend a redistricting plan for the new Friendship Valley ElementarySchool to the Board of Education Wednesday.

In other matters, theboard will receive bids for the purchase of about $680,000 in equipment and supplies for renovated and expanded classrooms at Sandymount and Winfield elementary schools. Both projects are expected to be completed in the fall.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. at South CarrollHigh School.



SYKESVILLE -- The Planning Commission is expected to adopt a policy statement regarding the preparation of its Small Town Planning Guidelines at its meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Town House.

Also on the agenda is a discussion of the recent Transportation Conference, preliminary plans for Boulder Hill Estates and Shannon Run, and an update of the Conrey Property and Grubbs zoning appeals case.

The commission alsowill discuss a zoning ordinance text amendment for site plans.

Information: 795-6390.



WESTMINSTER -- About 100 parents attended a public hearing Thursday on redistricting plans for the new Friendship Valley Elementary School, slated to open in September.

The hearing at Westminster Elementary was the last of four that took place at the four elementary schools that could be affected by redrawing boundary lines to balance enrollment.

The staff will recommend one of three options, or a combination of the options, to the school board Wednesday. A final public hearing will take place in March before the board takes any action.

Parents like John Bowers of Marhill Court had more concerns than opposition to any of the plans. Bowers said he approved all of the plans if they are modified to allow children in phase one of the Furnace Hills development to attend nearby Westminster Elementary instead of the new school.

Bowers said it was difficult for him to understand sending his child across town when he can look out his bedroom window at Westminster Elementary. The new school is on Gist Road off Kate Wagner Road at the city's east end.

"Unfortunately, that happens a lot," said Vernon F. Smith Jr., director of school support facilities.But he said boundary lines have to be drawn somewhere.

The redistricting will affect 530 to 572 students.



WESTMINSTER -- Carroll County General Hospital willtrade in its older beds for new ones in the spring, as part of a hospital-wide replacement program, said spokeswoman Gill Chamblin.

The hospital is licensed for 148 beds. In May, it will replace 92 of them with newer, more sophisticated models, Chamblin said. In July 1993, another 16 beds will be replaced, she said. Beds now in use are at least 15 and sometimes 20 years old, Chamblin said.

Counting the trade-in value of the old beds, the hospital will spend $460,000 on the new frames, mattresses, night stands and over-the-bed tables, Chamblin said. The hospital will consider financing the purchase, but otherwise will pay for it from general revenue regularly set aside for new equipment purchases.

Some features of the new beds include having the radio and TV controls built into the side rails and always within reach of the patient.

"When you spend a week or five days in the hospital, your bed becomes your whole world," Chamblin said. "Thesebeds are top of the line. They're safer and more comfortable."


The new chairman of the state Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission wanted to know from officials here whether Carroll residents would be willing to spend more tax money to combat abuse.

Dr. Neil Solomon, the new chairman, visited Thursday with the county commissioners and representatives from education, social services, public health and law enforcement.

Solomon discussed state budget cuts and asked Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy whether they thought the majority of county residents would be willing to increase taxes for education.

"Today, the majority probably would not," Dell said.

"What about health care?" Solomon asked.

"That might be more popular than education, considering the cost of health insurance," Dell said. He added that he thought residents would more likely accept a new tax to fight drugs and crime.

Lippy, in contrast,said he didn't think residents would spend more for any of those causes.

"The answer to all of the above is: No, I don't think they'llgo for it," Lippy said.

cil makes case

Representatives from the Carroll County Arts Council appeared before the county commissioners Thursday to appeal that their already-slashed budget be spared further cuts in the coming fiscal year.

The arts council arranges and sponsors a variety of arts and cultural events throughout the county during the year.

"We're not here to ask for money," said Director Robert Kersey. "We're making do very well. As a matter of fact, we'rereally on the move."

For example, Kersey said, the council has finalized arrangements to relocate its headquarters to office space in the basement of the Winchester Exchange on East Main Street that meets federal requirements for public offices to be handicapped accessible.

The council's budget for the current fiscal year is $15,000, down from $29,000 the previous year.

The commissioners said they supported the council, but couldn't make any budgetary promises.

"Times will not be bad forever, and you'll have a friend here," said Commissioner Vice President Elmer Lippy.

The budget hearing for the Arts Council is set for March 19 before the commissioners.



MOUNT AIRY -- Fiscal year 1993 doesn'tbegin until July 1, but the Town Council will begin discussing the budget for the coming year at its regular monthly meeting tomorrow.

The meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Town House on Park Avenue.

The Town Council also will continue discussion of a proposed franchise agreement from Frederick Cablevision Inc., which wants to cometo Mount Airy and compete with Prestige Cable TV of Maryland Inc.

Because of some customers' dissatisfaction with Prestige's service and prices, the council asked Frederick Cablevision to submit a proposed operating agreement for offering cable service to the town of 3,993 residents.

The council received the agreement last month, and referred it to the Mount Airy Cable TV Commission.

Also tomorrow, the council will discuss -- and likely vote on -- a pair of rezoning requests, one of which includes an annexation proposal.

Last month, the council conducted a public hearing on a request from Main Street Limited Partnership Inc. for the annexation and rezoning of 4.6 acresnorth of Horpel Drive and east of North Main Street.

At the same hearing, the took comments on a request from Merridale Gardens Limited Partnership Inc. for the rezoning of 13 acres behind the Mount AiryShopping Center from a business zoning to the town's highest-densityresidential zoning.

Several residents from a neighborhood adjacent to the parcel turned out at the January hearing to express concernsabout increased traffic.

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