Library Board's Community ViewI am writing in regard to...


February 21, 1993

Library Board's Community View

I am writing in regard to your Feb. 1 editorial in The Evening Sun concerning the Highland branch of the Harford County library.

Your editorial stressed the need for cooperation between the community association and the library board as a means of finding an alternative to closing this branch. As a suggestion, you proposed that the rent be eliminated and the branch staffed with volunteers to minimize costs. This was exactly the proposal made by the library director to the community association, and reiterated again to the public, at our Jan. 20 board meeting.

The community association flatly rejected it. In fact, the first question asked by the community association president when presented with the plan was "what about the rent?" In subsequent discussions, rent has remained a demand, albeit now at a reduced level.

With all the expressed concern for the community welfare, it seems odd that rent is such a big issue -- especially when the county owns the building and leases it to the community for $1 a year.

In addition to the above, the board has offered to continue collection rotation, to train volunteers, and to provide interface to the library system. In short, it would be a facility staffed by volunteers. Some have called this abandonment of the community and have threatened "additional budget scrutiny," even introducing legislation to prevent the board from taking action. Perhaps the additional scrutiny ought to be of those elected officials who so adamantly demand the library use public funds to pay rent to an association in their backyard. . . . As Baltimore County and Enoch Pratt have seen, in times of shrinking budgets, multiple small branches dilute the effectiveness of increasingly scarce resources within the overall system. . . . In a letter of Feb. 12, 1992 from the County Council president to the board, Jeffrey Wilson stated: "My advice and counsel to the library is that you yourselves should be evaluating what is essential within the services you offer and what is desirable. I encourage you also to make the hard decisions early." These are hard decisions, and we must make them by balancing the interests of the individual community with those of the overall community.

Bruce Berkey

Bel Air

The writer is chairman of the Harford County Board of Library Trustees.

What Are The Real Risks Of Peach Bottom Plant?

Recently, the residents of Cecil and Harford counties found a "trade" calendar in their mailboxes. Except this was no ordinary business dispensing favors to its loyal customers. This was the nuclear industry, warning what to do "in case of an incident at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station."

I began by reading this document the county governments had co-sponsored. On the last page, inside the back cover, they posed the question, "How does a nuclear plant work?" and the answer concluded: "Plants are designed to keep radiation inside."

Then I stopped, picked up the telephone and dialed the Cecil County Emergency Management and Civil Defense Agency. An underling referred me to the boss, Mrs. Cully. She said the electric company had written the whole book. When I asked what is that red and white smokestack for in the upper left-hand corner of the photo of the plant, she said she would get back to me.

The stack, of course, is for venting almost 60 radionucleides over Cecil County with the usual Northwest winds prevailing. The citizens' group, the Peach Bottom Alliance, has been promised the real-time stack emissions records that the utility has been required to keep. We have been promised by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and so far, after a year of this bureaucratic run-around, we have received absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, the stack continues to belch.

Recently, I attended a citizens' meeting at Rising Sun Middle School sponsored by state Sen. William Amoss. He told me he would be happy to see the Calvert Cliffs plant closed because of safety problems, but was non-committal on Peach Bottom.

One gentleman got up and said, "Of course, nuclear is cheaper" and sat back down. The Philadelphia Electric Company has the third highest rates in the country. An official of the Swedish government told me that the United States is the only country in the world where nuclear is more expensive than fossil fuel plants.

No one has yet figured out what to do with spent fuel from a nuclear reactor which must be guarded until its radiation levels are safe: 250,000 years, the realm of geologic time. This too will cost something.

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