Government gets closer to people -- at the mall

April 18, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

David Nard came to The Mall in Columbia yesterday to shop, but when he saw that Howard's county government had set up shop on the first floor, he decided to stop by for a visit.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker, County Council members and representatives of most county departments spent yesterday at the mall for the third "Discover County Government Expo."

County employees manned 29 booths and answered all sorts of questions about services and programs.

The Department of Fire and Rescue Services had tips on how to maintain smoke detectors. Public Works officials told how and where to recycle in the county. Planners even accepted applications for building permits.

"The purpose is to show the people of Howard County what their government does and give them an opportunity to ask questions," Mr. Ecker said. "If people have a problem, we want to help them through the process."

The sign outside Mr. Ecker's makeshift mall office read: "No appointment necessary. Come right in. County executive here today."

Mr. Nard asked Mr. Ecker how he could find out when a developer has applied for a waiver to build on environmentally sensitive land.

The county executive told Mr. Nard he could get on a mailing list to receive that information.

"It's great for the public," Mr. Nard said of the expo. "Rarely do you get into the car and drive over to the county executive's office."

The first county government expo in 1990 took place in thGeorge Howard county building in Ellicott City, but attracted few citizens. The next year, Sgt. Dennis Beard of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services suggested having the event at The Mall in Columbia, where the crowds were ready-made.

At the Howard Soil Conservation District, Judy Haarer of Columbia picked up a brochure on how to plant a tree. She said it'll come in handy when her family moves to a new home.

And her two children walked away from the expo with trees to plant -- white pines distributed by the soil-conservation district.

"We try to keep informed, but it's nice when the county does this to let you know about all the different services," she said.

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