Gratitude to all who helped fight fire at Gill Gym; firemen say 0) thanks too
On behalf of the Western Maryland College community, I would like to take this opportunity to praise the tremendous efforts of the men and women who responded so quickly to the Dec. 31 fire which partially destroyed our historic Gill Gym.
Although our loss was devastating, the teamwork of these diligent firefighters kept the flames from taking an even greater toll on our campus. Looking at the damage and what the fire was able to ravage in so little time, it seems it would have been easy for the whole building to have been lost.
Almost always under horrible conditions, these emergency workers risk their lives to keep others safe.
Of course, the fire at Gill Gym was no different. It was cold and the fire started in the basement, which I've heard is one of the worst possible spots and toughest to contain adequately. But these men and women were able to push back tremendous walls of flame, saving college and personal belongings in nearby faculty and staff offices.
It was hard for us to stand back and watch this tragedy rip through a building that had become such an important piece of our legacy at Western Maryland College.
But it is equally comforting to know that we have such dedicated professionals in our community willing to risk everything to help all of us when we need it most. To the firefighters who responded from all over Maryland and Pennsylvania, we offer our thanks for what you have done for us and for what you will do for others today, tomorrow and in the future.
Robert H. Chambers
The writer is president of Western Maryland College.
The Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 extends our gratitude to the Westminster business community for its support during the five-alarm fire at Western Maryland College on Dec. 31.
This was a particularly exhausting fire for the emergency personnel due to the magnitude of the inferno. The outpouring of donated food and supplies was greatly appreciated. More than 200 emergency personnel were maintained through the combined efforts of many businesses which supplemented the Westminster and Reese Ladies Auxiliaries during the 11 hours of operation while suppressing the stubborn blaze.
Several fire companies from Carroll, Baltimore, Frederick and Howard counties, and Adams County, Pa., worked cohesively with Westminster firefighters as a team to prevent further damage by the rapidly spreading smoke and fire. We are grateful everyone pulled together.
For many, no job was too small nor too difficult. Thank you to each and every firefighter and EMS crew member who assisted, even though some were only on "standby" status. It was quite unique to see Baltimore County Truck 18 (a fire truck with tiller) rolling into Westminster, right down Main Street. The brotherhood of firefighters was evident and very appreciated.
Thank you to Rev. Fred Echardt, fire and police chaplain, for his presence and encouragement, especially during the most frustrating moments. And his assistance with the families of the firefighters who were transported to Carroll County General Hospital. Both have returned to normal activities.
Thank you to the Emergency Operations Center Personnel who efficiently maintained coordination between the Incident Command Structure and the required units, including fire service personnel, multiple civilian agencies and the community support groups.
Additionally, a "thank you" is extended to the Westminster City Police, Carroll County Fire Police, the State Fire Marshals and the Maryland State Highway Administration for their cooperation and assistance.
Multiple agency and community support makes a difficult task easier.
Michael R. Rehfeld
The writer is an assistant chief with the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department. This letter was written on behalf of the officers and members of the fire department.
Your Dec. 31 edition featured an article by Elaine Tassy concerning a "school for drunken drivers." The premise of the article was that alcohol education classes (or "social drinker programs") provide an effective deterrent to recidivism for DWI offenders.
The undersigned comprise all of the judges of the Carroll County Circuit and District courts. None of us have ever been contacted by Ms. Tassy. Nevertheless, Ms. Tassy states in her article that, "Carroll County judges say they do not use (alcohol education programs)."
Drunken driving offenses constitute a significant percentage of our court caseloads. The vast majority of DWI offenders who appear in the circuit and district courts in Carroll County are ordered to complete either an alcohol education program or a more extensive alcohol treatment program.
Clearly, we believe such programs do help to deter repeat offenders. Ms. Tassy's statement to the contrary was inaccurate and irresponsible.
Marc G. Rasinsky
Luke K. Burns, Jr.
Raymond E. Beck, Sr.
Francis M. Arnold