Measure barring athletic equipment in streets introduced

The Sykesville Town Council introduced legislation last night that would ban athletic equipment, including portable basketball hoops and hockey nets, from municipal streets.

Violators would face fines up to $250 for failure to remove the equipment from public roads or sidewalks.

About 100 portable hoops line Sykesville streets. Town officials consider the hoops a safety hazard for players and motorists. The council is considering plans to build half-courts in several town parks to encourage safer play.

About 50 people attended last night's meeting, although no testimony on the issue was taken. A public hearing was scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 14, and because the council expects a large crowd, members are trying to arrange for the session to be held at Sykesville Middle School.

Hearing rescheduled for day care center's fate

A hearing has been rescheduled for Monday to determine whether a Westminster child day care center that police say has been linked to a sexual child abuse investigation will continue to operate, state officials said.

The hearing had been scheduled for Friday, but was postponed because of Tropical Storm Isabel.

A man who state police say worked as a part-time computer technician at Rainbows and Reasons child care center in the 2100 block of Sykesville Road was arrested Aug. 19 during an investigation into the apparent sexual abuse of a 1-year-old boy. No charges have been filed, but the man, identified as James A. Gregory, 58, of Baltimore, is a convicted child molester who is wanted by Washington state authorities on a parole violation. He was sentenced in October 1990 to 3 1/2 years in prison for child molestation, authorities said.

The Department of Human Resources, which licenses day care facilities, issued a suspension on Rainbows and Reasons' license Sept. 11, department spokesman Norris West said. But the center appealed the decision the next day, allowing it to stay open pending the hearing.

FEMA offers grants, loans for damage from Isabel

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering cash grants and low-interest loans for individuals and business owners with storm-related damages, Carroll officials said yesterday.

Under FEMA's Assistance for Individuals and Households program, cash grants of up to $25,000 are available for housing assistance, reimbursement of lodging expenses and, in some cases, permanent housing construction, county officials said. Grants also are offered for home repairs with a $5,000 limit; home replacement with a $10,000 maximum; and for medical, dental or funeral costs and transportation expenses.

Low-interest loans are available for expenses not covered by private insurance or state or local programs. Also, the Farm Service Agency and Small Business Administration offer low-interest loans to eligible individuals, farmers and businesses to repair or replace damaged property and personal belongings not covered by insurance.

To register for assistance, residents and business owners in Maryland with storm-related damages should call 800-621-FEMA between 7 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week until further notice; TTY: 800-642-7585; or visit www. fema.gov.

Power outages to curtail services at social agencies

The county Department of Citizen Services' and the Department of Social Services' offices in the Distillery Building in Westminster will be open today, but for walk-in emergencies only, officials said.

The building, at 10 Distillery Drive, was closed yesterday because power and phone service were out. It also houses Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., Carroll Food Sunday, and the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Unit.

Today, a partial staff will be in the Citizen Services and Social Services departments during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. But services will be limited if computers are inoperable.

Emergencies: Citizen Services, 410-596-7092; Social Services, 410-871-1309 or 410-871-1314.

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