The latest sign of Westminster's growth, and the further integration of Carroll County into the Baltimore metropolitan area, is on the line. The telephone line, that is.
Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. has added another exchange for Westminster dialers who want toll-free access to the Baltimore metropolitan area, with the prefix number 840. The demand for such service has almost exceeded the currently available exchanges of 876 and 239, even though possible four-digit combinations remain unused but reserved for certain purposes.
It's no secret that Carroll's population growth spurt has been led by the bedroom commuters, the refugees from more central, more congested, more urbanized parts of greater Baltimore. There are also newcomers who have found they could transfer their occupations to Carroll, while retaining daily ties to other parts of the metro region.
It's another story of the global village, which needs to be connected to the greater world through telecommunications. The Westminster part of Carroll County, at least, is not satisfied with staying inside county lines. Its ties with greater Baltimore are expanding, reflecting a spreading regionalism that is less driven by political philosophy than by the needs and desires of daily living.
As population increases, and telecommunication demands grow, the phone company is pressed to add more lines, more exchanges, more area codes. A couple of years ago, the nation's area codes changed in a number of places, including Maryland, to accommodate the burgeoning demand for new lines.
New technologies promise to carry more messages through smaller and smaller physical lines. Yet each individual consumer still needs a separate phone number to join the network, which means the addition of more exchanges.
If the eastern part of Carroll is becoming more closely tied to Baltimore, there's the reminder that other parts retain different regional orientations. Mount Airy, for example, remains a toll call for many subscribers in eastern Carroll County, its phone exchange oriented toward the Washington region.
But the separate regions are growing together, as the new world community is more arranged by telephone lines than by county lines.