A Rivulet Runs Through It CARROLL COUNTY

November 02, 1993

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. It's the difference between instant gratification and sustained long-term results. That's the conflict of philosophies over a $28,500 federal grant to clean up a tributary of the Patapsco River's West Branch that trickles through central Westminster.

Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, adopting the budget-watchdog stance of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett visa vis snow-plowing funds, says he won't support Carroll County's application for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant. His reason is that the money will be used to hire another employee to develop environmental education plans, rather than cleaning up the stream.

Since it was Mr. Brown who promoted the campaign to expose the polluted plight of the unnamed rivulet, supporting the initial efforts of environmentalist Monroe Haines, the mayor has a right to be miffed. He wanted money for a simple clean-up of the garbage and refuse dumped into the waterway by unscrupulous businesses and individuals.

Instead, the county saw the opportunity to increase its staff with an environmental educator, to develop an education plan to prevent illegal dumping and pollution in Carroll streams. "What you're getting from me is the frustration with the way government bureaucracies work," the mayor told the Westminster City Council.

Mr. Haines has made it his avocation to haul out the debris from the stream that flows along Railroad Avenue, a single-handed task that merits civic acclaim. City trucks have also helped out, but there is much to be done.

The dumping continues, despite the widespread public knowledge that such destructive acts are illegal. It's hard to believe that further education and preaching will turn the hearts of these environmental sinners. They need to be fined and assessed for full clean-up costs, instead of dumping the expense on taxpayers.

At the same time, Mr. Brown should take a broader view of the county's environmental needs. More community efforts to clean up and maintain waterways is something an effective ecology educator could organize. We appreciate his frustration at finding a simple solution, but suggest that such one-time remedies do not have lasting effect.

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