Racially troubled Denton gets help Schaefer pledges aid for housing, jobs CAROLINE COUNTY

July 02, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

DENTON -- By the time Gov. William Donald Schaefer rode out of this Caroline County town yesterday, he had left behind so many gifts that one would think his bus was pulled by reindeer.

The governor pledged last Friday to return with state aid after touring an apartment complex where an angry crowd clashed with white police officers over the arrest of a 17-year-old black youth late Thursday.

Last week's violence, in which three officers were hurt and a small building was set ablaze, was the second outbreak of racial unrest in this rural Eastern Shore town in five months. In January, residents said police used excessive force against blacks when they tried to control a crowd of youths at a teen dance.

Residents in the mostly black neighborhood where last week's incident occurred said they had trouble finding work and were plagued by drugs and too few recreational activities for children.

Blacks, who make up a third of the town's 3,000 residents, also charged that the all-white police force was insensitive to them.

Yesterday, Mr. Schaefer described Denton as "a good town" but one in need of help with its housing, unemployment and drug problems.

Accompanied by an entourage of Cabinet secretaries and staff aides, the governor spoke privately with local officials and met with residents in a Union Bethel AME Church hall. There, the governor and his Cabinet pledged:

* A $300,000 Community Development Block Grant to help homeowners and landlords make repairs.

* $40,000 for summer youth jobs in recreation and cleanup activities.

* A $10,000 grant for a summer camp program for youths.

* A teen program to develop student leaders in high school.

* An unspecified amount of aid to schools for career education and minority achievement.

* Help in ensuring that preschool children receive vaccinations.

* Assurance that a state human relations worker will be in town every two weeks to take complaints about housing and job discrimination.

Bishop L. Robinson, secretary of public safety and correctional services, said he will consider funding three additional positions for the town's nine-member police force. He also said that Denton Police Chief William C. Davis had promised to recruit blacks to fill two current vacancies.

Mr. Schaefer named George W. Fisher of Denton, president of the Caroline school board, to a five-year-term on the state board of education. Mr. Fisher, who is black, has been involved in a community relations task force since the teen dance incident.

The governor said he might not have been aware of the town's needs if officials hadn't asked.

"I'm not a miracle man," he said. "I can't guess. You got to let us know what the problems are."

Despite what town officials called a generous offer of support, the governor was unable to help Diane Thomas, a 36-year-old Denton resident.

Ms. Thomas said she spent her first year at Chesapeake College, in neighboring Queen Anne's County, hitchhiking to her classes every evening. She wants to earn a degree but needs transportation, she said.

"Why can't Caroline County help people like me?" she asked.

"I don't know the answer to that," Governor Schaefer replied.

Denton Mayor Randolph P. Moore, in his first term, said yesterday that he is eager to work with state officials to implement the promised programs. "It makes you feel really good that your state government will come to meet with you," he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.