Carroll County commissioner joins national group's board of directors

July 25, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Carroll County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge now holds a national office.

She was appointed to the board of directors for the National Association of Counties last Tuesday, at the lobbying group's annual conference in St. Louis. Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell also attended the five-day event. They returned to Carroll County Wednesday.

"It was a surprise and an honor," said Gouge, who was the only elected official from Maryland to be appointed to the board by NACo president C. Vernon Gray. About 70 elected officials from across the country serve on the board, which has 115 members.

"I've known Julia for many years and thought she would be a good addition to the board. I find that she listens intently, and I'm very impressed with her experience and knowledge," said Gray, a Howard County councilman.

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

The board of directors acts as the policy-making arm of the organization. Board members serve on NACo's various committees and are often called on to testify before Congress.

In previous years, Gouge served on committees that studied job training, welfare-to-work and law enforcement issues. This year, she hopes to examine environmental issues, such as watershed protection and air quality, and would like to serve on the Environment, Energy and Land Use Committee.

"Some of the committees tackle topics that are more geared toward the western United States, like the issue of Indian reservations," said Gouge. "The environment is a universal issue. I feel I'd learn a lot on that committee."

Frazier said she would also like to explore environmental issues. While in St. Louis, she focused on innovative ways to use water resources.

"Other counties have found ways to use recycled wastewater," Frazier said. "In Florida, they use it for farm irrigation. I don't think we'd do that here, but perhaps we could use it on our golf courses."

Dell said he plans to take time over the next few months to examine the information he gathered in St. Louis, in preparation for NACo's legislative meeting in Washington. The meeting is expected to take place in February or March. As a member of NACo's Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Dell said he plans to focus on agricultural preservation.

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