Greetings, Glen Burnie!
For today and next Wednesday, I will be your guest columnist. Some of you may know me: I'm Kathy DeGrange, a Glen Burnie resident for the past 24 years (that must qualify me for something). It is with great pleasure -- and fear -- that I will 'N engage you in one-dimensional conversation. I write, you read. Oh, and please, the information in the middle of the column will be just as good as the beginning and the end. (I read the papers, too.)
Bonnie Formwalt is going home! Since last November, she and her family have been displaced because of a house fire. She has taken some time off to return to housekeeping, which, for Bonnie, was not a condition she would have desired in times past. Seriously, Bonnie, we all wish you and your family the spirit of rebirth that comes from new beginnings.
Now what -- Oh, yes, something intelligent and newsworthy.
The Fourth of July is just around the corner. The climax of community July 4 celebrations is the fireworks display. But not in Glen Burnie this year. The fireworks, sponsored by the Glen Burnie Improvement Association for the past 20 years at Third Avenue Park, will be missed. New fire-safety regulations
mandate increased space requirements beginning July 1. Many community organizations have been "grandfathered" in and will not be required to comply with the new codes.
"The law is saying it's unsafe," says GBIA President Muriel
Her fellow officers and board members agree. Over the years, the popularity of the annual fireworks display has increased. Many from other communities flock to the tiny park, causing traffic problems and tight quarters.
"This is not to say that the GBIA will never have fireworks again," Carter says.
They just need to find a place within the community that will not endanger anyone.
The Maryland Safe Kids Coalition has been meeting in Glen Burnie's backyard for more than a year. Its mission is to reduce the number and severity of childhood disabilities and deaths from unintentional injuries. Its six major areas of concern include poisoning, choking, drowning, traffic injuries (bicycle, pedestrian and passenger-related accidents), fire and burns, falls, and firearm injuries.
Did you know that preventable injuries are the No. 1 national killer of children age 14 and under? As a parent of two children and an active promoter of school safety, I find this information frightening.
The coalition, which is tied to a national effort, is a nonprofit, umbrella organization that seeks to coordinate the safety efforts of a multitude of organizations, agencies and individuals. I've been to several meetings at the Glen Burnie state police barracks, where representatives of county and state fire, police and health departments pool their talents and time.
Barbara Beckett is the group's state coordinator. There are 128 state and local coalitions in 43 states and Washington. You can obtain a speaker's list or safety information by calling the Maryland Safe Kids Coalition, 544-3603.
Speaking of safety, are you wondering what happened to School Zone Legislation?
For the past two years, legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly to reduce speed limits in school zones. The legislation was precipitated by an accident on Ritchie Highway in November 1988 that killed a student from Corkran Middle School. The whole character of the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Ritchie Highway was changed and Glen Burnie High School went to a closed-campus lunch to keep hundreds of students off the busy highway.
Even though the bills were not passed, I am here to tell you that persistence and patience pays off. An undaunted group has been meeting with the State Highway Administration and organizing workshops on the Three E's of traffic safety: engineering, enforcement and education.
The group includes state Del. Joan Cadden, D-District 31 (Brooklyn Park); Carolyn Roeding, president of the Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs; Barbara Turner, CAC chairwoman of Glen Burnie High School; and your's truly. State and local agencies and citizens groups also have been brainstorming about school-safety issues.
The result has been the formation of a new statewide Task Force on School Safety, which has an impressive list of participants, a vision of safety for the future, and the beginning of an action agenda. I am pleased to announce that on July 16, we will meet for the first time. Immediate goals call for several activities from Montgomery County's successful safety program, including:
* Encouraging schools to create safety committees supported by local and regional agencies.
* Designating September as the state's "School Safety Month."
* Conducting workshops for PTAs and community groups to promote school safety.
L * Developing guidelines to address problems when they occur.