175 interchange killed after shops OK'ed?For more than six...

LETTERS

December 08, 1996

175 interchange killed after shops OK'ed?

For more than six months, the issue of what to do to solve the traffic problems at Route 175 and Snowden River Parkway has been a favorite topic of discussion. Overlooked in all the discussion is the fact that Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker had submitted at least three capital budgets that included funds for a grade separated interchange at that location. It was not until last April that Mr. Ecker publicly changed course by deleting funding for the interchange from his 1996 capital budget.

More disturbing is the fact that Mr. Ecker had instructed his staff to find a cheaper solution in September 1995 at the very same time that his public works director, James Irvin, unequivocally advised the planning board that the interchange was the county's highest priority.

Both Messrs. Ecker and Irvin knew that the proposed interchange was critical to the approval of the Rouse Co.'s plans to construct the Columbia Crossing power center. Absent Mr. Irvin's representations of the county's continued commitment to the interchange, it is doubtful that there would have been a sufficient record to sustain the planning board's approval of the planned power center.

It is bewildering that Mr. Ecker made public the change in his position on the interchange only after the planning board approved the plans for Columbia Crossing and construction had begun. In light of these circumstances, is it any wonder that the community feels betrayed?

Cecilia Januszkiewicz

Columbia

The writer is chairwoman of the Long Reach Community Association, Inc.

Students helped Patapsco institute

On behalf of the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, I would like to publicly thank the 100-plus students from River Hill, Howard, Glenelg and Oakland Mills high schools for volunteering to be part of our second annual Ghosts of the Patapsco Female Institute.

Under the direction of Lee Preston of River Hill High School, these students wrote the scripts, dressed in costume, set up and took down the scenery each night, and came out for four nights in the cold to entertain the hundreds of families and Girl Scouts who wanted to experience Halloween in one of Ellicott City's famous historic sites.

These visitors praised the professionalism of the students and the quality of the production. I do not know of one instance where a student acted inappropriately. All too often we only hear of teens who are recognized for their bad deeds. These young adults must be recognized for their good deeds.

Thank you, students, for helping us out and making a good impression on our visitors.

ally S. Bright

Ellicott City

The writer is president of the Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute, Inc.

Extending teachers' probationary period

Susan Cook, Howard County's Board of Education chairwoman, is quoted in the Nov. 21 Howard County Times as having said that the board does not have the power to extend the length of the non-tenured probationary period for teachers. Therefore, according to Ms. Cook, the recommendation to seek the extension of the current two-year probationary period made in the citizens' middle school report cannot be given consideration.

While it is true that an individual local school board is not empowered to write regulations controlling the length of the probationary period, it is also true that the State Board of Education, which is responsible for regulatory oversight, has a procedure in place to solicit local boards' input and to respond to it.

Local school boards are members of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. MABE meets annually. Prior to the annual conference, local boards seek support from fellow boards for various resolutions, which are then addressed to the state board.

This year, the Washington County school board sought to present a resolution asking that the state board change the probationary requirement for tenure from two years to three years. The Howard County Board of Education discussed this resolution at its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 24. Those members present at this meeting (Ms. Cook was absent) did not support it.

The point is that the board is not impotent in this matter. Positive action could have been taken and serious discussion of tenure and related issues regarding staff accountability and assessment of performance could and certainly should take place.

Deb Schultz

Savage

Regulations for home builders

Regarding the Nov. 17 article entitled, "Panel studies builder license," most people assume that the state of Maryland regulates home builders as it does every other profession.

I think people should be aware that there is very little regulation of home builders and very few safeguards to protect home buyers from unethical builders. For the past 10 years, the legislature has thought it important that builders be licensed and yet every House bill recommending licensing of home builders has failed to pass.

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