Teens to get alternative to movies Community center slated for Mount Airy


MOUNT AIRY -- Teen-agers Holly Walker and Carrie Stover may be seeing fewer movies next year. They're expecting to have somewhere better -- and closer -- to go.

The two eighth-graders said the opening of a Mount Airy Community Center will be a boon for teens' social lives.

L "There's not much to do around Mount Airy," said Carrie, 14.

Holly, 13, said, "It will give us something to do on weekends, a place to hang out."

They and others their age usually end up going to movies, which means a trip to Eldersburg, Westminster or Frederick.

By next spring, they should be able to come to a Mount Airy Community Center at Park and Ridge avenues, organizer Barbara F. Schifter said.

Members of the Frederick County Builders Association are soliciting donations of materials and labor to renovate the building, said Charles B. Hydorn, a member of the association's board of directors.

Donations mean the Mount Airy Community Center Inc. -- a group of volunteers formed about a year ago to coordinate activities -- won't have to conduct a major fund-raising drive, Schifter said.

The renovations are expected to cost between $20,000 and $50,000, she said.

"More than money right now, we're looking to get as many hard-working volunteers involved as we can," said Schifter, president of the group. The group has sponsored seven teen dances in the past year. About 265 teens attended the last one -- a Valentine's Day dance at Mount Airy Elementary School, she said.

"Our biggest goal is to have a place for children to come that's very well supervised," organizer Debbie Van Sant said. "We want them [parents] to know their children are safe there. They're going to be treated like they are our own children."

The Frederick County Sheriff's Department will help sponsor regular teen dances, Sheriff Carl R. Harbaugh said.

"We look at it as a crime-prevention effort," he said.

The center will be a drug- and alcohol-free place where teens can "feel safe and enjoy themselves," Harbaugh said.

While catering to 12- to 14-year-olds, the community center also will be a place where the town theater group and arts league can use space, Shifter said.

Groups sponsoring bingo games and exercise classes probably also will use the building, Van Sant said. It also may be rented for weddings or parties, she said.

Other community groups and town Mayor Gerald R. Johnson Jr. have supported the project, Schifter said.

The building is owned by Michael Berman of Mount Airy.

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