Carroll Digest

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Theft ring targeting construction trucks in Westminster, Sykesville

State police are warning residents about a theft ring operating in the Sykesville and Westminster areas. Thieves are targeting construction trucks and stealing equipment, police said.

"We know the equipment is going to Baltimore and the thefts are probably drug-related," said Lt. Dean Richardson, commander of the Westminster barracks.

About nine thefts have occurred in the last three weeks, with more than $40,000 worth of equipment stolen, police said.

Jos. A. Bank opens second warehouse in Hampstead

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. celebrated its centennial and dedicated its second distribution center Tuesday in Hampstead, showing off the facility of more than 300,000 square feet to its employees as well as town, county and state officials. The expansion is expected to bring more than 100 jobs to the area within the next year.

"This is the corporate headquarters of a nationally recognized company," said Larry Twele, county director of economic development. "It is great to have them here."

The second warehouse, renovated from a vacant building, will help the clothier supply its more than 250 retail outlets throughout the country. That number is projected to double within the next several years, Twele said.

"It really is the world's biggest walk-in closet," said Commissioner Dean L. Minnich. "And everything is computerized."

Twele, who took over the job Jan. 13, praised the expansion effort and added that business retention will be a major focus for him.

"We will formalize programs to take care of folks who are in business here," Twele said. "It is cheaper to grow those businesses than to attract new business here."

Route 97 corridor is focus of technology survey

Carroll County's Department of Economic Development has launched a broadband telecommunications survey of the Route 97 corridor near Westminster.

The effort will help determine technological needs for what will become one of the county's high-tech business areas, officials said. About 40 percent of those surveyed have responded to the questionnaire.

"We are making follow-up calls and compiling information," said Denise Beaver, Carroll's deputy director of economic development. "Then, we can move forward to address needs."

The economic development staff is also meeting with town officials and business leaders to assess technology needs.

County gets $311,000 grant for programs for homeless

Carroll County received a $311,000 federal grant, all the money it had applied for, to bolster its programs for the homeless. Its grant application received the highest possible score in the state for information compiled, said Jolene G. Sullivan, county director of citizen services.

The county also conducted its annual survey of the homeless Wednesday. The results have yet to be fully tallied, but more than 100 people are without homes, several more than last year, Sullivan said.

"A homeless man helped us pull this survey together," Sullivan said. "We were able to count those living in our shelters and some living in their cars."

Commissioner Dean L. Minnich said the harsh weather should make everyone more aware of the problems homeless people face.

"We tend to think homelessness doesn't happen in Carroll County," Minnich said. "But it does."

14 fire stations aid roads workers during snowstorm

Carroll's 14 volunteer fire companies played host to more than 100 county roads employees during the snowstorm and high winds last weekend. The workers were served meals there, and at least 50 of them spent the night at various fire stations.

"This is community at its best," said Benton Watson, director of the Carroll County Bureau of Roads Operations. "Every fire company helped us with sleeping arrangements."

Keeping snowplows at the fire stations had its advantages, he said. The trucks could go ahead of emergency vehicles responding to calls throughout the storm.

"They needed our help, and we needed their services," Watson said.

Union Bridge seeks to fill vacancy on town council

The Union Bridge town council has a seat to fill because of the resignation this month of a councilwoman with two years left in her term.

Patricia F. Stonesifer sent a letter of resignation effective Monday because she is moving to Littlestown, Pa., said Mayor Bret D. Grossnickle.

The town will advertise the position and interview interested residents, who must be at least age 18 and have lived in the town at least one year.

Stonesifer was appointed to fill Grossnickle's council seat when he became mayor, after the election of Perry L. Jones Jr. to Carroll County's board of commissioners in 2002. She was elected to a full four-year term in May 2003 and headed the water and sewer department.

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