Westminster city reservoir off limits as fishing tournament fund-raiser venue

March 04, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

A county commissioner and veterans group leader won't be able to stage a fishing tournament for a scholarship fund at the Westminster city reservoir as they hoped.

Westminster City Council informally turned down the request last week from Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown and Millers resident Kenneth W. Ruby, who served as Mr. Brown's campaign treasurer in the 1994 election. The city's insurer and attorney recommended barring the tournament.

If someone tripped over erosion control stones that line the reservoir banks, the city could be liable, officials of the Local Government Insurance Trust said.

"It's a shame these days, the litigious society we live in," said Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan.

Mr. Ruby said the tournament was planned to increase the fund that provides two scholarships a year to Carroll County Career and Technology Center graduates, in memory of Army Spc. Charles A. Bowman Jr.

Specialist Bowman of Manchester was the only Carroll County resident killed in the Persian Gulf War. He attended the Career and Technology Center before joining the Army.

"We would like to raise enough for the [earned] interest to give us two $300 scholarships a year," Mr. Ruby said. He said a local banker advised the scholarship's board that it will need about $15,000 to endow the scholarships.

Mr. Ruby said he didn't have figures available on how much money still is needed to meet the goal. Representatives of veterans organizations and Mr. Brown established the scholarship in 1992 and have given $2,600 to graduates of the vocational-technical school. In 1995, the group awarded two $500 scholarships.

Mr. Ruby, commander of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 22, said his involvement with the DAV leaves him little time to work on fund raising for the scholarship. He said he doesn't have a plan to relocate the fishing tournament or schedule another fund-raising activity.

City Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard suggested having the tournament at Piney Run Park.

Westminster's reservoir is "a working facility supplying water to the city and was not designed to be a recreational type facility," officials of the Local Government Insurance Trust, which provides liability coverage for the city, said in a letter.

City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr. advised that anyone fishing with city permission would legally have the status of an "invitee," which would make the local government responsible for making the reservoir safe and warning of any dangers on the property.

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