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Glen Gardens block watch in conflict Board has faltered since leader's resignation


Members of a Glen Burnie neighborhood anti-crime group are fighting one another rather than crooks.

Since the September resignation of Ida Hilditch as president of the Glen Burnie Block Watch of Glen Gardens, board members and block watch officers have quarreled and resigned.

Now, Paul Heck, who took over on Hilditch's resignation, has resigned as president and board member, leaving the group without a leader and with only one of the original board members.

Dennis Cannon resigned one month ago as vice president and board member.

"I think once Ida handed in her resignation, everything started crumbling and we tried to recover but could not," said Kathy Gentry, the lone remaining member of the original board.

Gentry, the group's secretary and treasurer, has appointed two interim directors to serve until elections are held in mid-January. The 3-year-old block watch was to have six members on the board of directors, but two of those slots were never filled.

Members blame the problems on misunderstandings, hard feelings and personality conflicts.

"It's a bunch of kindergarten antics and that's what I've told them all and that's why I resigned as head of the security patrol [Monday]," said Sheree Srock. "I don't think Paul was given enough time or chance to work things out."

For example, only 10 percent of the block watch's 400 members attend meetings, but half of the members must approve bylaw changes. Heck said he wanted to amend the bylaws to accept the vote of the simple majority at the meetings, an unpopular idea.

"It seemed like I was getting a constant round of criticism from [Gentry] and I felt I was not being productive," said Heck. "I've wished her well."

But a number of members said Heck wanted block watch leaders to submit to police background checks, after he learned that a woman who had been proposed for the board of directors had been charged with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of marijuana and PCP two years ago.

Heck said he was misunderstood, and meant that only members responsible for handling money should submit to a background check.

Cannon, 51, said he quit because he "didn't like [Heck's] views on running" the block watch.

Despite the group's problems, members said they are optimistic about its future.

"I'd like to see the block watch continue and thrive and it certainly can," Gentry said. "The community is certainly more important than the personalities involved."

Pub Date: 12/11/96

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