Commissioners unveil goals, promise unity; Enhancing education, alleviating traffic among priorities; 'Many positive comments'; Board also requests feedback during State of County address


The new Board of Carroll County Commissioners outlined goals for the first time yesterday, addressing an audience of business leaders and government workers during a State of the County address.

The three Republican commissioners presented a unified front at the annual luncheon, which was sponsored by Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Robin Bartlett Frazier braved icy conditions to address about 180 chamber members from business and government at Martin's Caterers in Westminster. Commissioner Donald I. Dell had recorded a videotaped address so he could attend the American Farm Bureau's convention in New Mexico.

The messages from each echoed promises they made during the campaign. They touched on several common issues, including enhancing education, building roads and alleviating traffic congestion; preserving agricultural land and the county's rural atmosphere; spending wisely; not raising taxes while expanding the tax base; and managed growth. They also made pledges to cooperate to achieve common goals.

"It was good to hear so many positive comments from the commissioners," said Scott Reinhart, assistant director of Carroll County public library.

Board President Gouge of Hampstead began the post-luncheon addresses, noting that when goals and strategies might clash, the 56th board of commissioners had agreed to remain open-minded and respectful in the spirit of cooperation.

Cooperative plans can go astray, Gouge said, if the commissioners: Disagree strongly.

Have egos that get in the way of progress.

Want to do things their way -- or no way.

Allow one or two to decide to run county business without a full consensus or vote of the three-member board.

Permit friends and associates to be promoted to positions in government when they lack qualifications.

'Our own ideas'

"We are three individuals with our own ideas," said Gouge, who vowed that the commissioners would work together to ensure that government staff won't take orders from one commissioner.

Gouge also devoted time to her priority, protecting water supplies.

"There is no plan in Carroll County to protect wells," she warned.

Plans for well protection were written, but have not been adopted, she said.

She called for regulations "with teeth" to make people think before polluting water.

Dell covered many of the same issues, speaking of the challenges of improving roads and traffic congestion while remaining fiscally responsible.

The Westminster farmer also renewed his support for the state police Resident Trooper Program and vowed to support Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning's efforts to improve cooperation with state and local police.

Dell praised the cooperation of educational leaders for improving scholastic achievement "at the least cost per student."

Though Carroll is 12th in the state in wealth, the county is ninth in educational cost per pupil, Dell noted. "Some might consider that miserly, but it's sound fiscal management," he said.

Hampstead bypass

Dell scoffed at those who believe that bog turtles, protected by federal regulations, are more important than allowing construction of a bypass around Hampstead to move forward.

"If we continue to let a small interest group hold up the Hampstead bypass, we deserve what we get and shame on us," Dell said.

Frazier of Manchester praised the business owners who hire county residents and supported the goals of her colleagues, enumerating 10 issues that they agree were common to their campaigns.

Chief among those goals is attracting business and industry, she said. Business provides about 12 percent of the county tax base -- the lowest business-to-residential ratio in the region.

Frazier said she was encouraged by the commissioners' progress on a plan to achieve their common goals. The strategic plan is expected to be adopted this spring.

The former planning commissioner joined Dell in pledging to continue work to simplify the county's 160 ordinances.

On the budget, Frazier repeated her campaign pledge, saying the key to responsible spending is "living within our means."

Frazier also said government workers would be encouraged to provide "friendly, respectful, courteous service."

She asked that business leaders and county residents provide the commissioners with feedback.

"Help us measure how we are doing," she said. "Tell us what is right and what is wrong."

Pub Date: 1/15/99

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