More road funds needed, Mikulski told Officials also ask senator for help on educational, Head Start measures

March 25, 1997|By James M. Coram and Jennifer Vick

County officials told U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski during her annual visit with them yesterday that they want more federal transportation money in Carroll.

They also asked her to support two bills and sought her predictions about a third: reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.

One of the bills they want her to support would make permanent a tax exclusion for employer-provided educational assistance for graduate and undergraduate college courses. The other would add funding to the Head Start program.

Democrat Mikulski, who met with the Republican County Commissioners and other Carroll officials, said she would support both bills.

Also, the core of the Older Americans Act will be preserved, she predicted, but "with more flexibility" to allow individual counties to tailor it to their needs.

Mikulski, who attended the 90-minute meeting with four aides, asked one of them to work with the county to address its major concern: federal highway money.

"As a small county and the most rural member [of the Baltimore metropolitan area], we often are on the short end of the stick," county transportation coordinator Steve Horn told Mikulski.

Mikulski asked Horn about commuting patterns and the county's transportation priorities.

Fifty-five percent of county residents travel elsewhere to work each day, most commuting to Baltimore, but an increasing number are driving to Washington, he said.

The county's top priority for more than 20 years, Horn said, has been to build a bypass around Hampstead, but federal money isn't available. The same could be said for the county's second transportation priority, the widening of Route 32 from Interstate 70 to Route 26 in Eldersburg.

Carroll County is called a metropolitan county, but has no interstates -- except in the Mount Airy area in the extreme southwest -- or mass transit, Horn said.

"We are looking for a way to connect [Route 32] with I-70," he said.

Mikulski said she would arrange a meeting between Horn, his Howard County counterpart and a staff aide to talk further about the issue.

Earlier yesterday, Mikulski met with senior citizens at Carroll Lutheran Village to talk about a bill that would allow surviving relatives to keep half or all of the final Social Security check paid to the deceased.

Relatives now must return the checks to the Social Security Administration. Her bill, which she also proposed last year, would allow survivors to keep half of the final check if the relative died before the 15th of the month and all of it if the relative died after the 15th.

Having to return the final check creates "a great hardship on the surviving families," Mikulski said.

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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