Westminster's quiet hero should get loud applause


BEHIND EVERY feel-good moment, there is often a quiet hero -- that one person who helped out in a last-minute, unexpected pinch and then slipped back into life's daily activities without giving the kind deed a second thought.

While I watched the Westminster Fallfest parade last week, I thought of a quiet hero who made it possible for the Westminster Business Association to ride in the parade and advertise activities for Midnight Madness, late-night shopping, music and dancing in downtown Westminster.

Hours before the parade began, the business association (and Western Maryland College) learned that the vehicles that they were to use would not be available.

"We were frantically searching for someone to take our president, Sandy Scott, down the parade route but it seemed like no one could help out," said Jo Fleck, secretary for WBA and owner of Inspirations on Liberty Street.

Then they found Steve Hull, who owns Manchester Services Inc. on Airport Drive. Hull offered to drive his 1915 Ford Woody along the route for the business association.

He had only minutes to dash home, hook up the battery charger, and tell his wife, Ann, that he had unexpected plans for the evening.

"I was glad that it was dark," said Hull. "At one point, I looked across the windshield and thought, 'This car is dirty.' "

When word crept out that I planned to thank Hull in this column, it didn't take long for folks to reveal perhaps the best way to show appreciation.

It seems that Hull's helping hands reach far beyond Carroll County. He's working on a problem near the seaport of Barahona in the Dominican Republic. It's a problem that will take lots of money to fix.

For four years, the Hulls have journeyed to a village near Barahona. With the prayers and support of their church, Westminster United Methodist, they have helped villagers build a church and a six-room school.

Under the auspices of an organization called Volunteers in Mission, the Hulls have also helped villagers rebuild their lives and buildings after hurricane winds wiped everything away.

One constant source of frustration has been the village's well. Ingenious rigging had kept it working until last spring. But since then, villagers have had to either pay high prices for water that has to be boiled before use, or cart water from a convent at the bottom of a nearby mountain.

A new well is desperately needed. Villagers and volunteers are helping with much of the labor, but material costs and the money needed to drill the well will be about $7,900.

Hull doesn't know it yet, but the Westminster Business Association is sending a donation to the well fund this week. I'm sending one, too. I like giving to people, especially quiet heroes, who constantly give to their community and to others.

Information: 410-848-4703. Donations may be sent to: Westminster United Methodist Church/DR Well, 162 E. Main St., Westminster 21157.

Tax dollars stop here

With $25 and a sense of humor, Westminster resident David Grand has planted a sign near his home to let everyone know he wants more bang for his tax buck.

For about five years, Grand has been needling county officials to continue the pavement on Pinch Valley Road instead of stopping two-tenths of a mile from his home.

"I'm in a pinch on Pinch Valley Road, and I wanted to get some attention," said Grand.

So he planted a "Your Tax Dollars Stop Working Here" sign where the pavement stops.

"It's paved for about eight-tenths of a mile -- new, beautiful pavement with a new yellow line -- but everything just stops abruptly," Grand said. "I joke with county officials that I must live on the poor, Democrat portion of the road."

"Of the 943 miles of county roadways that the county maintains, unfortunately there are 90 miles of unpaved gravel roads. David Grand has lived on one of those gravel roads for five years," said Jay Nave, administrative supervisor of roads.

"The decision to pave a portion of Pinch Valley Road was made probably 30 years ago. I didn't make the decision to have it paved or where paving stopped," Nave added. "If we had our druthers, every road would be paved, and every road would be 20 feet wide. But there are fiscal constraints."

Nave estimates it costs between $700,000 and $1 million per mile to pave a road. He is happy to tell Grand and others that "the commissioners have made a commitment to explore plans and address the unpaved roads."

For a quick fix and to avoid the cost of sending maintenance crews to plow the road and rebuild ditches after every storm, Grand is lobbying for a squash pipe.

"If the county could send out a back hoe, dig deep and put in a pipe, that would keep my driveway from becoming the Panama Canal every time it rains," Grand said. Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 9/27/99

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