1991 fires cost millionsFires caused almost $4...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

1991 fires cost millions

Fires caused almost $4 million worth of damage in the county last year, compared with $107 million lost statewide, according to statistics from the state fire marshal's report on fire loss in 1991.

Victims lost $3,743,000 in property in Carroll County last year, up from the 1990 total of $2,568,000.

A report showing the total fire loss for the state also revealed that the number of Carroll County fires has increased. County firefighters responded to 670 fires last year, over 100 more than in 1990. The average loss per fire last year was $5,546, up from the $4,531 loss the previous year.

Injuries have generally decreased, said Bob Thomas, the deputy chief state fire marshal. In 1990, 19 civilians and 10 firefighters were injured. One civilian death was reported, he said.

Last year, 10 civilians and 11 firefighters were injured, with one civilian death reported, he said.

The data for the statewide report were compiled by 350 volunteer and career firefighters statewide who participate in the Fire Marshal's Maryland Fire Incident Reporting System.

Vote on annexation

UNION BRIDGE -- The town's 455 registered voters will decide the fate of the Phillips property tomorrow.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Town Hall on Broadway. Residents will vote for or against annexing the 110-acre property north of town.

After several public hearings, the Town Council unanimously approved the annexation in April. A petition, signed by 124 voters, called for tomorrow's referendum and put that action on hold.

If annexed and fully developed, the property could double the town's current population of 900. It also could provide the town with a much-needed second water source.

Former Mayor Richard L. Stultz urged residents to vote for the annexation, which, he said, could become the keystone of the town's revitalization.

Sample and absentee ballots are available at Town Hall.

& Information: 775-2711.

School workers hired

The Board of Education hired a school psychologist and four assistant principals Thursday.

Lillian P. Benson of Olney was hired for 10 months as a school psychologist at the Muncie Center. She has had similar positions at the Chelsea School and the National Children's Center.

The Muncie Center is on the grounds of the Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.

School psychologist Mark Resnick asked the board to delay voting on the hiring because the position, a new one this year, will be the subject of a hearing later next month.

However, Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said the board discussed the matter in a closed session and decided to go ahead with the appointment.

Also hired by unanimous votes were:

* John B. Seamon of Westminster as assistant principal at Westminster High School, replacing Walter Dyky, who transferred as assistant principal to the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. Mr. Seamon has been a math teacher since 1970 at Francis Scott Key High School.

* Jeffrey P. Rogers of Westminster as assistant principal at North Carroll High School. He has been a music teacher since 1988 at Westminster High.

* Thomas P. Eckenrode of Westminster as teaching assistant principal at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown. Mr. Eckenrode has been a guidance counselor at Francis Scott Key High School since 1990 and Sykesville Middle School before that. He began as a special education teacher at Key in 1974.

* Robert E. Mitchell of Gettysburg, Pa., as assistant principal at Freedom Elementary School in Sykesville. He has worked in special education teaching and diagnosis in the county since 1976.

AH County vetoes land buy

The county commissioners voted Thursday morning not to buy a 5-acre lot at Route 97 and Krider's Church Road for a transitional housing project because state money is not available.

That afternoon, they heard a request from the property owner to rezone the land. The county Planning Commission recommended that the land be rezoned from residential to industrial.

James Ryan Jr., owner of Rylea Homes Inc. of Westminster, started the rezoning process in November before the county was interested in the land for the housing project, planner Steven Horn said.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said the state would not guarantee that money would be available for the housing project. The county still is interested in pursuing the project, he noted.

The land would have cost about $158,000.

The county had proposed 15 transitional housing units at the site for people who have left homeless shelters and need time to organize their affairs and save enough money to find their own housing.

The commissioners will make a decision about rezoning the land within 30 days. No one voiced opposition to the change at the public hearing Thursday.

The 5 acres are adjacent to a 2-acre parcel owned by Mr. Ryan that is zoned for industrial use, said his attorney, Clark R. Shaffer of Westminster. If the 5 acres also were zoned for industrial use, it would be easier for Mr. Ryan to sell the land for development, he said.

In May, the county paid $1,500 for a half-acre easement on the parcel that gives the county the right to limit development in the air space above the land. The easement was needed for the expansion of the county airport.

Lower bills OK'd

MANCHESTER

MANCHESTER -- After considerable public outcry, the town council last week agreed to a one-time respite from the town's higher water and sewer rates, but the utility rate cut will affect only three business owners.

Meeting in an unusual Thursday session, the council voted to lower the amount charged for water and sewer usage in April, May and June for entities using more than 70,000 gallons during the period. The council declined to name the three businesses affected by the change.

People here have been shocked by dramatically higher bills for their water and sewer service.

Close to 90 town residents stormed a council meeting July 14 to protest the increase in their bills. Some homeowners and businesses reported bills that were as much as four times higher than those issued three months earlier.

The new rates were approved in May as part of the town's $1.1 million budget, and are designed to raise more money while encouraging water conservation. The rates are tiered, with the higher rates assigned to higher water usage. Sewer rates are a flat 2.6 times the water bill.

In all, the one-time rate reprieve for the three businesses will cost the town slightly more than $2,500. To arrive at the lower bills, the council doubled the bills issued to the companies for the January-through-March period.

The council is expected to continue working on a permanent rate structure for town businesses.

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