Carroll commissioners to attend conference of national counties group

Growth-control measures to be a topic in St. Louis

July 16, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Carroll County's three commissioners will fly to St. Louis today to attend a National Association of Counties conference, where they hope to learn about growth-control measures and agricultural preservation efforts in other areas.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who has attended several NACo conferences, said he was looking forward to the trip. This year, he will serve on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

"I'm going out there with the idea that I'm going to learn something," said Dell. "It's a great opportunity to associate with commissioners from all over the United States. The problems we face in Carroll are no different from the problems that other counties face."

Dell and Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Robin Bartlett Frazier will join about 5,000 other county officials from across the country for the five-day conference. More than 40 Maryland officials are expected to attend. The Carroll commissioners will return Wednesday.

The National Association of Counties was created in 1935 to give county officials a stronger voice in the nation's capital. Today, the group's membership totals more than 1,800 counties.

Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray will lead the association into the new millennium. The Morgan State University political science professor will be named president of the lobbying group during a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday, capping his rise through the organization's top ranks.

The theme of this year's inaugural gala is "Red, White & Blues 2000." Rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry is scheduled to perform at the swearing-in ceremony.

Other conference highlights include a visit to the riverfront's entertainment district and a night at Busch Stadium to see the St. Louis Cardinals play.

The conference will cost Carroll taxpayers $1,353 per commissioner.

During her visit to the Gateway to the West, Gouge said she plans to focus on issues of concern to Carroll residents. Frazier could not be reached for comment.

More than 40 classes and seminars will be held during the conference. Several will discuss topics the commissioners are grappling with, such as school budgets, waste management and growth control.

"There's a big selection of items that will be discussed," said Gouge, who has served on NACo committees that studied job training and welfare-to-work issues. "This year, I hope to look at some of the committees I didn't serve on before."

Gouge has expressed interest in learning more about transferable development rights, a program that allows builders to increase the density of homes in one area if they preserve rural land in another. Similar programs exist in Montgomery and Calvert counties, and counties in California and New Jersey.

The commissioners have asked county staff to explore establishing a similar program in Carroll.

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