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A tragic year on Carroll County roadsRecently,...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A tragic year on Carroll County roads

Recently, The Sun published a report from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, showing a significant reduction in deaths of teen-age automobile drivers over the last few years, but that such accidents were still the leading cause of death in the 15-19 year age group in the United States.

Your readers may be interested in the situation in Carroll County, where carnage on our roads continues unabated.

Death certificates on file with the health department over the last six years reveal 105 deaths occurring in the county among drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

This does not include those injured in the county but dying elsewhere. With the year yet to be completed, 1996 highway deaths promise to exceed the highest previous total in 1992.

The problem is particularly acute among our young people, where vehicular deaths are the leading cause of death for each of the first three decades of life.

When one adds other accidents (48), suicides (89) and homicides (12), no other cause of death comes even close to injury during the first four decades.

For example, injuries, whether accidental or intentional, accounted for 86 percent of all deaths among those in their 20s.

And, of course, our older folks were not spared, although cancer and heart disease began to take over in increasing numbers for those over 40.

This makes for pretty glum reading, but not without hope since many, if not all, such deaths can be prevented through education and by exercising greater courtesy and civility toward our neighbors and ourselves.

Dr. William E. Woodward

Westminster

Recognizing Pearl Harbor anniversary

Your Dec. 7 issue was very good and hats off to you and your staff reporting on the Pearl Harbor anniversary.

The picture you had of the destroyer USS Shaw getting badly bombed is considered one of the most memorable taken of this World War II event. It was also my duty ship for three years. I hope other readers and veterans got to read that issue of the paper.

E. R. Currens

Finksburg

Charter government would address growth

Carroll County Commissioner Richard Yates has long been concerned about the welfare of his neighbors in South Carroll. His letter of Dec. 8 reflects that concern, and asks what the advantage is to South Carroll if the county goes go to charter government. Here are the reasons we should go to charter now:

Government works best when it is most responsive to the needs and desires of people at the grassroots level. Currently, most of the legislative function for the county rests with the legislature in Annapolis. Although the Carroll County delegation has effective control over local legislation, the delegation has shown itself to be somewhat detached from the views of its constituents.

It was necessary for Gov. Parris N. Glendening to step in and veto the ill-conceived Senate Bill 649, which would have facilitated even more residential development. Controlling residential growth is the single most important issue in Carroll today. Moving the legislative power from Annapolis to the county government is a major motivation for going to charter. As a practical matter, the legislative needs of the county can be met better by a council meeting throughout the year instead of the present arrangement of a legislative session that lasts only three months.

The executive power of the county now rests with three part-time commissioners. They often disagree. The mayors in particular are frustrated by their inability to get decisive and timely action from county government when a community needs it.

It is not an accident that the Steering Committee for Carroll County Citizens for Charter Government is chaired by two mayors. They deal with the problem and knows its magnitude. A single executive, full-time and properly compensated, is a better way. With an annual budget of $150 million, Carroll County can no longer afford part-time commissioners who must negotiate with each other on every decision. No business of this size could survive with such an arrangement.

Although the exact form of a potential charter government has yet to be decided, it is reasonable to suppose that it would include a County Council, regionally elected, such as is found in charter counties such as Baltimore and Howard. Mr. Yates is concerned that South Carroll would lose some of its political clout if we go, for example, to seven regionally elected County Council members.

The concerns that motivate activism in the Sykesville-Eldersburg area are not restricted to South Carroll, however. The citizens of Westminster, Hampstead and Manchester have similar problems.

Traditionally, we have had commissioners elected with rural votes and developer money. The issues of water and sewer development in South Carroll that Mr. Yates recounts arose under the commissioner form of government. South Carroll had no effective spokesman among the County Commissioners at that time.

Should Mr. Yates choose to retire at some point the residents of South Carroll would have no guarantee of representation in the future.

In contrast, regional election of council members would allow the people of each district to elect an individual known in the district and representative of it. The residents of South Carroll are aware that they have only their proportionate share of power in the County Council. They only seek what is justly theirs.

The commissioners could facilitate the move to charter government by appointing a charter board without being petitioned to do so. This would not assure the adoption of a charter, but only speed up the process of getting the document drafted and presented to the voters.

The time and energy of our committee could then be redirected to the issues arising out of the drafting of a charter. There is a groundswell building, and the commissioners' collective reluctance to bring the issue before the voters only adds to that groundswell.

John R. Culleton Jr.

Eldersburg

The writer is information coordinator for Carroll County Citizens for Charter Government.

Driving by electricity has its costs

I have read several articles recently extolling electric cars and the manner in which they will help clean up the atmosphere. There has been no discussion of secondary effects. I would like to submit some.

Using data from the Department of Commerce, in 1991 total electrical production was 2,823,025 million kilowatt-hours. Gasoline production totaled 2,633.8 million barrels. The energy content of that gasoline production was 46,399,696 million kilowatt-hours, 16.4 times that of the total electrical production. This excludes diesel fuels.

Based on this, in order to maintain our present transportation system, electrical production would have to be substantially increased. What would support such an increase? Hydroelectric production is less than 10 percent of the total. Nuclear fuels are currently taboo. Basically this leaves fossil fuels.

Consider the effect of a better than 10 times increase in the production and burning of coal. The environmentalists already scream about the use of fossil fuels. How about the new mines needed and their effect on rivers and streams?

Also, these new electric cars will require batteries. However, batteries eventually lose their ability to accept a new charge and have to be disposed of and replaced. Most of the materials in current and projected use cannot be casually dropped in the local dump and will require special processing. More contamination?

In short, when one considers effects beyond the simplistic idea of a car running on electricity and having no toxic emissions, he or she must also explore the secondary effects.

John E. Harrington

Sykesville

Pub Date: 12/22/96

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