WEST COUNTY--Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills


Fort Meade wins Army award as most improved military base

Fort Meade has won $125,000 from the Department of the Army for being named the most improved military base in the continental United States in the Community of Excellence Program.

Fort Meade also was awarded $25,000 last year when it won a similar regional competition.

Don McClow, a spokesman for Fort Meade, said the money from both awards would be spent as follows: $50,000 for playgrounds, $50,000 to help establish Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers to improve recreation programs, and the last $50,000 to support other leisure-time activities at the Odenton installation.

The award comes as the base is making the transition from a warfare training facility to peacetime functions.

Col. Kent D. Menser, the outgoing garrison commander, has embarked on an aggressive campaign to turn Fort Meade into a federal office park. He has ordered asbestos-filled barracks torn down and has approved the redesign of many areas of the base to make it more attractive.

"Our vision is to become a federal university campus which is a model of careful yet innovative planning, and this award shows we are on the right track," Colonel Menser said in a statement.

Base officials said their involvement with area schools, called Meade Schools 2000, helped tipped the scales in their favor.

Civilian and military personnel volunteer time each week in several schools, serving as mentors or assisting with homework.

The base also has forged a relationship with Baltimore and JTC Prince George's County, providing more than 300 summer jobs for teen-agers who do general maintenance, clerical duties or computer work.

Gas line leak delays school dismissal

Construction workers drilling a hole for a new traffic signal in Crofton ruptured a natural gas line yesterday morning, releasing fumes into the air and delaying some school children from going home for about an hour.

Fire officials said there were no injuries and no one had to be evacuated following the 11:20 a.m. accident on Riedel Road at Pearl Avenue, near the new community of Chapman Farms.

Capt. Gary Sheckells, a Fire Department spokesman, said workers from Duncan Construction Co. struck a 4-inch pipe with an auger.

Firefighters and members of the department's hazardous materials unit responded and cut off traffic.

Students at nearby Crofton Meadows Elementary School were advised to remain in their building until about 1 p.m., about an hour after the morning kindergarten session leaves for the day, Captain Sheckells said.

Workers for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. clamped the pipe shut about 12:45 p.m., and traffic was allowed to resume shortly past 1 p.m.

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