County to lend CCC $200,000 for theater College has received $236,000 in pledges


The Carroll Commissioners have agreed to lend Carroll Community College $200,000 to begin construction of its long-planned amphitheater.

The college will repay the interest-free loan in $100,000 increments between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1999.

The college successfully conducted a $300,000 fund-raising campaign for the amphitheater, but doesn't have enough money in hand to begin construction in the spring, as planned. Officials hope to have the amphitheater open in the fall.

So far, the college has received more than $236,000 in pledges and has collected $74,000 in cash through Dec. 1.

Because the pledges extend through June 1999, the only way the college could begin construction is to receive a government loan, the commissioners were told in a written briefing provided by the Carroll Community College Foundation.

"We fund the college anyway -- they convinced us of the need," Commissioner Richard T. Yates said Tuesday. The community college is an "absolute function we need in the county," Yates said. "Our public schools are the envy of the state. I would like higher education to be the best in the state and the best in the nation, if we can get it."

The amphitheater, which will be on a grassy slope against a grove of trees, is the first building project undertaken by the foundation. It will be named the Rotary Amphitheater in honor of the Westminster Rotary Club's support for the project.

Groundbreaking tentatively is scheduled for March on the amphitheater, which is expected to attract bigger musical, dance and theatrical performances that have bypassed the county for lack of adequate space.

The amphitheater project was the college's first to rely on community support. Other college buildings, such as the $11 million Learning Resource Center under construction, have been paid for with state and county money.

In unrelated action Tuesday, the commissioners appointed Thomas J. Van de Bussche, chief of the Bureau of Management Information Services, to coordinate the county's purchase of software and computers.

For the past two years, the county Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended that an expert oversee the county's purchase of computer software and hardware to save the county thousands of dollars.

The planning panel, which reviews department heads' requests for funding for building and other projects, decided this year not to recommend funding for any computer requests because no expert had been appointed to oversee them.

"Without such an individual responsible for these matters, we are not confident that tax dollars are being wisely requested or spent," the panel wrote in a letter to the commissioners.

The commissioners said Van de Bussche will work closely with the county's Technology Advisory Board in evaluating requests for "telecommunications and information technology" equipment.

"This is our acknowledgment of the planning commission's recommendation," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said. "This will satisfy them and enable us to get over that critical issue and get on with other business."

Joseph H. Mettle, vice chairman of the planning commission and chief architect of the computer expert idea, said he was ecstatic the county might save money on computer purchases.

"Wow! We made out. [The commissioners] listened to us," Mettle said. "This was a big accomplishment for us. I am very happy."

Pub Date: 12/26/96

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