South Carroll Coalition seeks to be area's voice Group's success spurs members

February 12, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The South Carroll Coalition would like to become the voice of the community, said members who met with about 50 residents last night at the Eldersburg Library to explain the group's purpose and enlist new members.

"There are problems in South Carroll and we don't have much representation here from officials," said Phil Deitchman. "It wasn't until we got together and said there was danger here that they listened."

Kathy Horneman, who was instrumental in forming the group, said South Carroll cast 34 percent of the county's votes in the last election and is a force with which officials must reckon.

"We have made an impression in the last few months and we have been heard," said Ms. Horneman, whose Carrolltowne home borders Springfield Hospital Center. "We need more members who are willing to help."

The group was formed several months ago to protest state proposals to house violent patients and juvenile delinquents at Springfield, in Sykesville. Members collected nearly 1,000 signatures on petitions opposing the transfers.

"Your signatures slowed the state down and took officials off the track," said Mr. Deitchman.

Both proposals are now on hold.

Coalition member Vicky Lowe said she is not satisfied that the state has looked into other sites.

"Keep writing your concerns to the state," she said. "They listen and they answer. Carroll County, with the least police force [in the metropolitan area], is not the optimal site to house these people."

Mark Wilson said no one thinks the juvenile services plan is a poor one, but allowing it "would open the door to future expansion" of the detention system in South Carroll.

Mary Ann Saar, state secretary of Juvenile Services, told the coalition recently that because of the community's concerns her department is looking for alternative sites for the detention facility to service Area II, which includes Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties. Copies of the proposed center and Ms. Saar's letter were available last night for residents to see.

"We will continue to oppose the proposals no matter how the state sugar coats them," Ms. Horneman said. "We already have three juvenile facilities in this county. We don't need a fourth."

Chris Fritz said the coalition should try to find alternatives that require minimum security and maintenance for Springfield.

"We can keep fighting but sooner or later the state is going to use that area for something," said Ms. Fritz.

When the county commissioners release the adequate facilities survey, she said, she is certain it will show that the area doesn't have what it needs.

"We are different from the northern end of this county," she said. "We expect more services than this county is providing us."

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