FREDERICK — Frederick fair officials spurn the Ku Klux Klan
FREDERICK -- Great Frederick Fair officials denounced Monday night any affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, nearly two weeks after allowing a KKK car bearing racist slogans and symbols to participate in a demolition derby.
"The board of directors . . . denounces its affiliation with any organization that expresses any principle that offends or [is repulsive] where an individual's race, color or creed are involved or affected," the board's attorney, W. Jerome Offutt, said in a statement.
Fair officials promised to issue such a statement after their decision allowing the car -- also decorated with a white-painted traffic cone on the roof -- to take part in the event, prompting an uproar from local civil rights groups.
About 40 representatives from state and local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People boycotted and picketed the fair Sept. 24, three days after the demolition derby. The controversial car owned by Donald Toms, a Thurmont mechanic who said he was a KKK member, was among the top finishers in one of the heats.
The board was meeting Monday night with Frederick County NAACP members to draft language that would prohibit a recurrence in the fair's future contracts with vendors, said James S. Grimes, a Frederick mayoral candidate and president of the Frederick County Agricultural Society, which runs the annual fair. The 131-year-old fair attracts about 200,000 people each year.
Woman surrenders on theft charges
McHENRY -- An Oakland woman has turned herself in to state police in connection with the alleged embezzlement of more than $26,000 from Garrett Community College.
Donna Louise Schrier, 43, a college employee for 14 years, was charged Monday with one count of felony theft and a related theft charge, according to Trooper Robert M. Hershberger.
Ms. Schrier has been released on $20,000 bond.
Trooper Hershberger said Ms. Schrier was in charge of making the college's bank deposits and reconciling monthly bank records. An independent audit of the college's financial records conducted in July turned up a loss of about $26,661 in cash that Ms. Schrier was supposed to have deposited.
College President Stephen J. Herman suspended her without pay July 20 after an initial audit revealed irregularities. She later resigned.
Mr. Herman said the theft may have begun during a time of transition within the college's business office in December 1992.
PSC grants rate hike to Columbia Gas
HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland Public Service Commission has granted a 4 percent rate increase for Columbia Gas of Maryland, which serves customers in the western three counties of the state.
The increase, which took effect Monday, will generate about $1.1 million in revenue for the company.
Under the new base rates, the average monthly bill for the typical residential customer using 9,000 cubic feet of gas a month will increase from $62.37 to $64.86.
Columbia Gas serves more than 30,000 customers in Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties. The change will be reflected on customers' bills from December through April.
Columbia Gas of Maryland President Gary J. Robinson said the increase was needed to cover higher operating costs and to respond to an increased demand for natural gas. Columbia Gas also received tentative approval to recover operating costs for a $3.3 million propane plant under construction in Hagerstown.
The increase for the propane plant will be effective when the plant goes on line this winter.
Man due in court today in girlfriend's abduction
HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown man was held without bond yesterday in the alleged kidnapping of his girlfriend, who was found unharmed in West Virginia, authorities said.
Pamela Lynn Wollard, 22, was with William E. Spessard Jr., 25, when he surrendered to police at a friend's house in Marlowe about 8:45 p.m. Monday, said Barry O'Neill, an FBI agent here.
Mr. Spessard is scheduled to appear in Washington County Circuit Court today on charges of kidnapping and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Mr. Spessard and Ms. Wollard, who was missing for four days, had dated on and off for about four years, authorities said.
Ms. Wollard was last seen Thursday when she and her father went to remove her belongings from a home near Chewsville that she shared with Mr. Spessard, police said.
Police said that Mr. Spessard was waiting for her and forced his way into her car after smashing a window with a pipe. He fled with her; her father gave chase but lost sight of the car, police said.
Hagerstown company to remove tire pile
INWOOD, W.Va. -- Browning-Ferris Inc. has been hired to remove about 250,000 tires that burned at a Berkeley County dump last month, officials say.
The company's Hagerstown, Md., branch received a $371,560 Division of Environmental Protection contract to remove the tires from the former Associated Tire Distributors Inc. dump in Inwood.
The Sept. 14 fire burned about 2 1/2 -acres of the 10-acre tire pile. An Inwood volunteer firefighter has been charged with setting the blaze.
Proposals to remove the remaining tires from the Inwood site and a second tire pile in Grant County will be opened Nov. 18 in Charleston.