Ecker's final official act is dedication of plaque for the county's mentally ill Departing executive spends a low-key last day on the job

December 08, 1998|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

Charles I. Ecker performed his last official act as Howard County executive yesterday by unveiling a bronze plaque commemorating county residents who suffer from mental illness.

Ecker was asked to dedicate a small iris garden and place the plaque at the Omar J. Jones Plaza at the Howard government office complex in Ellicott City.

NAMI-Howard County (formerly the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Howard County) provided 181 irises that were planted more than a year ago around the plaza. The group also sponsored the cast bronze plaque bearing the names of 23 famous people who have contributed to the arts, science and government while suffering from mental illness -- including Abraham Lincoln, Vincent van Gogh and Winston Churchill.

"This is very exciting for us to have the county executive come out and dedicate the plaque and the iris garden," NAMI-Howard County President Wilbur Turner said.

"The flowers are a tribute to the mentally ill of the county -- something that everyone can see. We wanted to have the dedication ceremony done before he [Ecker] was gone. He's been very helpful to NAMI, and we thought that this would be a nice tribute to him."

Yesterday's warm, sunny weather lent an air of good cheer to Ecker's last day in office.

"It's good to be here on my last day," Ecker said with a laugh. "At 7 tonight, Jim Robey gets sworn in, and I get sworn out. Tomorrow, everyone'll say: 'Chuck who?' "

Ecker noted that his itinerary for the final day was relatively calm -- a scheduled luncheon with Howard Police Chief Wayne Livesay and attending the swearing-in ceremony of Howard Sheriff Charles M. Cave in the afternoon.

NAMI-Howard County is a grass-roots advocacy organization with about 110 members. Educational seminars which are open to the public, are regularly scheduled to discuss topics such as medicine used to combat depression and other mental illnesses, and how to handle finances.

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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