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State denies grant request to fund extension of water lines to Maple Crest homes


The state has rejected Carroll's request for grant money to extend water lines to two streets in Maple Crest, a 30-year-old subdivision south of Westminster that has suffered water shortages for several years.

"We did not get the [state Department of Housing and Community Development] block grant ... because at the time we applied for it, there was no commitment for matching funds" from the Maryland Department of the Environment, county grants analyst Colleen Baumgardner told the commissioners yesterday.

She said the county now has a commitment from MDE and can apply for the block grant again in July. However, that would delay the project for a year. Construction would not be able to begin until spring.

The county applied in February for a block grant from DHCD and a second grant from MDE to pay hookup fees and cover construction and administrative costs of extending service to Wayne Avenue and Woodland Drive. The county secured a $139,000 commitment from MDE last month, but it was too late to be considered part of the county's application for the block grant.

Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Robin Bartlett Frazier directed staff to ask property owners on Wayne Avenue and Woodland Drive whether they would like to apply again for a community development block grant - and accept a delay in the long-awaited project - or move forward without state help. Commissioner Donald I. Dell was not at the meeting.

If the neighborhood indicates that the commissioners should apply again, the county would be required to put the project out for bid again and hold another public hearing on the grant application. If homeowners choose to move forward, the county would pay for the project, and property owners would have to reimburse the county over 20 years.

In other business yesterday:

Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning announced that as of midnight tonight his department will provide round-the-clock, seven-days-a-week policing. The sheriff's deputies patrol the county, investigate criminal cases and serve court papers.

It is a "historic milestone for our office and the county government in meeting this need," Tregoning said.

Revenue from Carroll's year-old agreement to house detainees for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service will pay for the round-the-clock coverage.

The commissioners agreed to contribute $5,000 to an initiative to curb underage drinking in Carroll.

Reducing the Availability of Alcohol to Minors (RAAM), which costs about $16,000 annually, is about $5,000 short. The county's drug task force and the state each contributed $3,000 for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, and local liquor retailers have donated $3,000. The program has about $2,000.

"This is another good example of the kind of partnerships we've been promoting - it shows what can be done when business people, law enforcement people and government come together," Frazier said.

RAAM is a collaboration of state police, the county liquor board, the county sheriff, the Board of Education, liquor retailers, the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Westminster police and Junction Inc., a substance abuse prevention and treatment center in Westminster.

Since its inception in April last year, police have made 69 arrests through the RAAM program, most of them for possession of alcohol by a person younger than age 21. State police have called the program a success, noting no fatal accidents involving intoxicated drivers younger than age 21 in the past year in Carroll County.

The commissioners decided to push for development of Gillis Falls Reservoir as a water source for South Carroll. During a meeting last week with the Army Corps of Engineers and state administrators, the commissioners received little encouragement for the project.

Despite state and federal governments' lack of enthusiasm, the commissioners will soon send a packet of information to Maryland officials about the 20-year-old proposal. The commissioners also agreed to send an analysis of alternative water sources - which include expanding the county's water treatment plant at Liberty Reservoir or tapping new wells - and an updated plan that explains the need for the reservoir. Gillis Falls would be the second reservoir for South Carroll and would be built on 1,200 hilly acres in Woodbine.

The county withdrew its application for the project 10 years ago.

The commissioners agreed to pay C. J. Miller Construction Inc. in Greenmount up to $10,000 to repair Woodbine Road in South Carroll. The construction company paved the road in August 1999. Sections of the pavement have been tearing, leaving 2-inch holes in the road, which is used by 10,000 motorists daily. C. J. Miller also has agreed to repair Houcksville and Coon Club roads at no cost to the county because the pavement the company used on those roads was defective.

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