We don't know whether Monroe G. Haines Sr. is serious about resigning as the unofficial guardian of the stream that runs along Railroad Avenue in Westminster and empties into the West Branch of the Patapsco River. He has submitted his resignation and announced he will engage in other volunteer efforts where he is "more appreciated." If the 70-year-old Mr. Haines does retire from his self-assigned watchdog role, all of us who live and work in this county will be worse off for it.
During the past six years, Mr. Haines has been relentless in working to protect the stream from pollution. He is a card-carrying member of the "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more" school of public protest. He believes the stream should be as pristine as when he was a boy.
Virtually every day, Mr. Haines walks the length of the stream checking its clarity and smell. The smallest amount of pollution upsets him.
When workers from Maryland Midland Railway dumped railroad ties into the stream, Mr. Haines cajoled Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown into writing the railroad a letter. The company cleaned up the mess. When businesses located along the stream dumped chemicals, waste water or sludge into its waters, Mr. Haines collected the offending liquids and shamed state and county officials into enforcing anti-pollution laws.
His vigilance is not always welcomed. Last year, a worker using a high-pressure hose drenched Mr. Haines while he was cleaning up some debris. Some county and state bureaucrats don't like him. He pushes and pushes until he gets his way.
We believe that the most fitting tribute to Mr. Haines and his zealotry on behalf of this neglected stream would be to name it after him. We think "Haines Run" has a good ring.
The U.S. Geological Survey is responsible for naming streams. People interested in having the stream named for Mr. Haines should write to: Roger Payne, Executive Secretary, Domestic Geographic Names, U.S. Board of Geographic Names, 523 National Center, Reston, VA, 22092.
Naming the stream isn't enough, however. To really show our appreciation for Mr. Haines' efforts, we ought to ensure that this stream runs just as clear and pristine as it did when Mr. Haines was a boy.