Book lets towns, cities show off

Municipal League publication designed to entertain and teach

May 07, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Municipal League, which represents the state's municipalities, unveiled in Annapolis on Friday "Maryland's 157: The Incorporated Cities and Towns," a new publication that celebrates the millennium by showcasing all 157 member towns and cities and serves as a resource for students of government.

With a 12-foot-tall replica of the book in the background, league President Jack A. Gullo Jr. presented Gov. Parris N. Glendening with the official first copy.

"It is a millennium gift from the cities and towns," said Linda M. Burrell, editor and league manager of education and member relations. "The whole reason for it is education about a level of government that is closest to the people."

The book is more than a pictorial review or tourism guide, said Gullo, New Windsor's mayor. It was written as a civics lesson and learning tool for Maryland students, he said. It may be of particular interest to readers in Carroll, which has eight municipalities.

"This book illustrates examples of Maryland government," said Gullo. "It is an easy-to-read synopsis of municipal government in Maryland." The league will donate nearly 3,000 copies to schools and libraries in the state and hopes the book will become a well-used resource.

"The text portion discusses the nature and role of municipal government," said Burrell. "It is the only book available that contains this breadth of information under one cover."

Archive photos

Municipalities submitted sepia-toned photos from their archives along with glossy color pictures. Many selected aerial shots, depicting an entire vista, or a map that shows readers how to get to the town or city.

"For all of us in municipal government, this book gives us a look at what everyone else says is special about where they live," said Gullo. "It can be an educational platform or a weekend planning guide."

Westminster chose a picture of Main Street buried by a mid-century blizzard and another of Belle Grove Square festively lighted with a towering Christmas tree and luminarias.

Rock Hall shows off its steamed crabs; Laytonsville features its shopping center; and Manchester displays its water tower and elementary school. New Windsor exhibits its new park and several of its graceful Victorian mansions, including the mayor's residence.

Union Bridge printed a verse by its resident poet laureate and a picture of its historic train station. Somerset went for whimsy: a family pet romping in the municipal swimming pool.

Filling a gap

Burrell said the book is meant to fill a gap not addressed by civics books. Readers of "Maryland's 157" will find information on creating a municipality, a description of local powers and information about taxes. Color-coded graphs describe the budget process, which every town must undergo annually.

"There is very little taught about municipal government in our schools and most of it is generic," Burrell said. "The text portion is all about municipal government, its nature and role."

More than two years in the making, the book offers images of every city and town throughout the state, with photographs and text submitted by local officials. Each municipality designed its page and provided details of its government.

`Focus on what's important'

"Every town was encouraged to focus on what was important to it," said Gullo. "It truly highlights cities and towns."

The league paid the nearly $100,000 in publishing costs, Gullo said. About 5,000 copies were printed; the book will be available at the league's convention in Ocean City next month.

"This is an educational product that will endure for a long time," Gullo said.

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