All WMC groups barred from community center


UNION BRIDGE -- The Town Council has yanked away the welcome mat at the Community Center for Western Maryland College students.

"We have barred anybody from Western Maryland College," said Councilman Scott Davis, who serves as the board's liaison to the center. "We'll no longer rent to them because of two different incidents that have cost us money."

The most recent incident occurred in April, when a group that identified itself as an alumni association rented the center.

"I'm telling you, they just went through that place and made a mess," Davis said. "It was awful."

Davis said he received a call at 7:30 the next morning from the janitor, who found a gallon of gray paint dumped on the floor, handprints of paint on the walls, a couple of broken antique chairs and a broken table.

Damage totaled $287. The town held stereo speakers and 16 beer kegs the group had left until the damage was paid for.

Shortly after, the Town Council voted unanimously to bar WMC groups from using the facility.

Donna Sellman, WMC's alumni affairs director, said she had no record of any college-affiliated or college-sponsored group renting the Union Bridge center.

Neither Sellman nor other WMC officials knew of the incident.

"It was not an alumni group of this college," said Chris Hart, a WMC spokesman. "It was not an alumnus who signed the contract."

He would not comment further.

About a year ago, a group of students from the college who rented the center also left their mark. Davis said students drank alcohol outside the center and urinated in public.

"We said at that time we'd never rent to college kids again," said Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. "I don't know what happened. Maybe this group rented under false pretenses."

Jones said the community center has been rented for family reunions, weddings, bridal showers and bachelor parties, all without trouble.

The center requires a $100 deposit and charges out-of-town users a $100 fee, plus a $20 cleaning charge.

"These were young adults who are supposed to be responsible," Jones said of the most recent incident. "They're old enough to be in college. If we had rented to ninth- or 10th-graders, we wouldn't have had as much damage.

"The way it's set up now, no one from Western Maryland College will get it because we don't know whether they're alumni or who they are."

Westminster Volunteer Fire Department president Floyd Freyman, who handles hall bookings, said WMC students have rented that fire hall in the past and there have been problems.

However, no one from WMC has rented the hall in recent years, he said.

"We may have some different requirements," he said. "We need liability insurance when somebody rents the hall, liability insurance to cover damage to the hall and personal [insurance] on who is using it."

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