Carroll Digest

$2,000 reward set for information on Westminster killing

Westminster police are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Carroll County's only confirmed homicide last year.


Richard Paul Atkins Jr. was found dead in his apartment in the 100 block of E. Main St. about 12:30 p.m. Dec. 29 by a relative who had gone to check on him, police said. Capt. Randy Barnes said Atkins died from "blunt force trauma" but would not release further details about how he died.

Barnes declined to comment on whether police had identified a suspect or a motive for the killing. He said no one had been taken into custody. The department is still awaiting autopsy results from the state medical examiner's office, he said. Anyone with information about the death should call the department's tip line at 410-848-6829.


Chamber of commerce forms electricity co-op

The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce announced yesterday the formation of an electricity-buying cooperative for its members.

Chamber President Bonnie J. Grady said energy prices will skyrocket after Maryland's commercial and industrial electricity rates are fully deregulated in July. By joining the cooperative, the chamber said, county businesses may be able to lock in lower rates for up to 36 months.

The chamber will hold two informational meetings next month about the cooperative, the electricity supply market and how deregulation will affect operating costs for local businesses.

Public Safety Office plans dispatch system upgrades

In an effort to provide more accurate information for emergency responders, Carroll County's Office of Public Safety will soon improve its computer-aided dispatch system.

The improvements, which are expected to be in place by the middle of next month, would provide maps to the county's 911 center that pinpoint roads and available resources in the area, including underground water tanks, fire hydrants, ponds and streams, said Howard "Buddy" Redman, the office's administrator. Cross-referencing maps would be available to fire stations for now, Redman said, but future upgrades could allow the dispatch system to send maps and information directly to the fire stations.

The county commissioners approved the $60,750 bid for the software upgrades Tuesday. The money came from a $117,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Redman said. Maryland received almost $16 million as part of a $725 million nationwide program, the Urban Area Security Initiative, to protect the state's urban areas from terrorism.


Local NAACP-sponsored King breakfast tomorrow

The Carroll County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will hold the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow at Martin's Westminster.

The branch has taken over the event, which the Former Students and Friends of Robert Moton School Inc. organized for 15 years. Until 1964, the school was the county's only high school attended by African-Americans; former state Treasurer Richard N. Dixon is among its alumni. Dwindling numbers and illness forced the cancellation of last year's event.

The breakfast began as a tribute to the fallen civil rights leader and raised more than $65,000 for the alumni organization's scholarship fund for college-bound black students in Carroll. The NAACP branch plans to continue the scholarship tradition and has pledged at least $500 to a member of the Class of 2004.

Stan Stovall, television news anchor, will speak at the breakfast. Cheryl Hammond and Co. will provide music. Tickets are $25. Information and reservations: 410-751-7667 or 410-876- 2358.