Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville

CENTRAL COUNTY --

February 02, 1993

Preservationists vigilant on Generals Highway

Members of the Generals Highway Council of Civic Associations say they are concerned for the fate of their namesake and are devising ways to protect the future of the historic roadway.

GCCA members such as Lucille Pomraning have "worked like dogs for years to keep zoning changes off Generals Highway. Otherwise, it would be another Ritchie Highway," said Holly Bevan, a spokeswoman for the association.

The group, meeting Thursday in the state Housing and Community Development Building on Fairfield Loop in Crownsville, discussed how any changes to the road might affect its historic nature.

Revolutionary War and Civil War generals followed the route, feeding their horses with the Scotch Broom that grew along the road.

The plant still grows along the unchanged portion of Generals Highway, but was uprooted when the road was straightened from near the Interstate 97 interchange to Annapolis.

The GCCA has planted more Scotch Broom along the rerouted road, but the changed road is no longer historical.

"We hope we can preserve the [historic nature] of the rest as long as possible," Ms. Bevan said.

The group is also convinced the state has plans to expand the historic portion of the road to a dual-lane highway.

Representatives of the State Highway Administration (SHA) say no such plans exist. But the organization of 23 civic groups is skeptical.

"We feel in our bones that's what the SHA has planned. We just can't get them to admit it," Ms. Bevan said.

Blaze takes hold under firefighters' noses

The firefighters at the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company had just returned from a call Sunday and were either watching television or in bed when a police officer bounded up the stairs and said their house was ablaze.

"At first I thought, 'This house is on fire?' " said firefighter Kevin Williams. "Then we walked downstairs and out the door, and our house out back was fully involved."

It took only a few minutes for the rest of the station to clear out, but help didn't come fast enough yesterday morning to save the two-story vacant, boarded-up home in the 100 block of Ritchie Highway, located next door to the fire station.

By that time, a motorist had called 911 and reported the fire, which began about 12:30 a.m. It took firefighters, responding to the call from a nearby station, 2 1/2 hours to bring the blaze under control.

Capt. Gary Sheckells, a county Fire Department spokesman, said no damage estimate was available because the home already was condemned. He said the roof had caved in some time ago and signs were posted warning of a potential collapse.

No one was injured fighting the fire. The cause is listed as suspicious. "They don't use the house for anything," Captain Sheckells said.

Mr. Williams said the volunteers had just returned from fighting a brush fire and many either were in bed or preparing to go home. No one in the station noticed the fire. The alarm sounded just as the police officer arrived.

Mr. Williams said the volunteer company bought the adjacent land that contained the rundown house in 1956 for investment purposes.

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