From: James P. Nolan
President, Anne Arundel Bar Association
Now that the office of county executive has officially changed hands, residents of Anne Arundel County are anxious to see what leadership Bob Neall will bring as county executive. As president of the Anne Arundel Bar Association, there is a major project which I hope will come to fruition --the construction of the new Calvert Street Courthouse.
In October, the board of trustees of the Bar Association was presented with theconcept of the Calvert Street Courthouse by County Attorney Stephen Beard. After the presentation by Mr. Beard, it was clear to all of usthat a great deal of careful and precise planning has gone into thisproject under the guiding hands of former County Executive O. James Lighthizer, Mr. Beard, and many other individuals who have played contributing roles.
We see the proposed Calvert Street Courthouse as the solution to many of the problems that now plague the current Circuit Courthouse on Church Circle. The proposed building would be constructed on Calvert Street at the Whitmore Parking Garage, totaling 66,400 square feet, housing 12 larger, "state-of-the-art" courtrooms. The courthouse would be much more accessible to the public because it would be connected to the parking garage. According to the plan, the clerk's office and all court services would be located in the current Arundel Center. The two buildings would be connected by an underground pedestrian tunnel.
The bottom line of this exciting project is taxpayer savings. The former plan called for the renovation of the current Circuit Courthouse on Church Circle with an addition, costing approximately $32.1 million. The new plan for Calvert Street is estimated at $23.3 million, saving taxpayers $8.8 million.
Any citizen who has had reason to visit the current courthouse knows that the facility, though it served us well, is now extremely outdated. From an efficiency point of view, the building simply does not have enough space or facilities to permit the performance of court duties adequately.The public and courthouse employees need and deserve updated and efficient facilities.
At the October meeting of the board of trusteesof the Anne Arundel Bar Association, a resolution was unanimously passed supporting the proposed Calvert Street Courthouse project. Previously, by a unanimous vote, the judges of the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County took the same action. Our association of 650 attorneys from throughout Anne Arundel County applaud the efforts of former County Executive O. James Lighthizer, County Attorney Stephen Beard and the many other individuals who have come together to develop this innovative concept for a new courthouse. We feel that this necessary project will greatly benefit the citizens of Anne Arundel County by enhancing the legal system as a whole. It will also provide a point of pride for all Anne Arundel County residents. We urge Mr. Neall and the Anne Arundel County Council to make it a reality without further delay.
IN SCHOOLS, NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL
From: Lewis F. Holmes
The question of paying custodians for community programs has highlighted the problems we have with a school administration gone astray. I have been dedicated to youth programs in this county. I know in order to do good things you have to be fiscally responsible. For the schools to saddle community recreation programswith paying custodians $30 an hour to maintain their programs for the children borders on ridiculous. If school administrators are on site, nobody from custodial services is needed. This alone states the need for local communities to wrest control of our schools away from a cockeyed administration on Riva Road.
There should be a network ofcommunity people given the latchkey responsibility for securing the schools. Also, the volunteers running the youth programs should cleanup after themselves, and when a group of kids are running up and down a basketball floor they don't need a lot of heat. They generate their own. I know if you ask the average taxpayer whether they agree with paying a custodian $30 (an hour), I know what they would tell you.
The people of Anne Arundel County should wake up and appeal to their elected leaders to change our way of doing business in Anne Arundel County. Test scores of our students proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have a problem. We don't have enough community input for our schools to be successful. I believe that fiscally responsible regional smaller school boards would be the answer.
SPAN SEES THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS FULFILLED
From: Barbara Bikenheuer
Director, Severna Park Assistance Network
On behalf of the Severna Park Assistance Network, its board, its volunteers and its clients, I wouldlike to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those people who so generously supported SPAN this past year and particularly during this holiday season.