Trees honor former chief

Plantings in memory of Sam Leppo, who died in '99 accident

Led police for 23 years

Officials will add two blue spruces to City Hall grounds


April 10, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

When Sam R. Leppo, Westminster police chief for 23 years, was killed in a car accident in August 1999, 1,000 people went to the funeral to honor the man they knew as a policeman, friend and neighbor who cared deeply about his fellow officers and his community.

Last night, Westminster's Common Council ensured that Leppo will not be forgotten. The council agreed to plant two Colorado blue spruce trees - Leppo's favorite - on City Hall grounds.

One tree, purchased with money raised by the Westminster Police Department, will be planted near the flagpole on the east lawn of Emerald Hill, the 19th-century farmhouse that has served as Westminster's City Hall for more than 60 years. A second tree, donated by Maj. Melvin Austin, Leppo's second-in-command, will be planted on the west lawn.

"I know the chief would have loved to have done it at the police department," said city arborist Brian Adams. "It wasn't feasible."

The plantings are the latest of more than $50,000 in improvements to City Hall, also known as Longwell Mansion, in the past decade. In 1999, the mansion was repainted and repaired, and its deteriorated pillars and porch were replaced. More recently, the memorial garden in front of the building - where the city holds its Veterans Day activities - has been landscaped and a walkway has been added.

Also at last night's meeting, the council:

Introduced two ordinances that are technical amendments to the city's historic tax credit and assessment freeze programs approved in April last year. The two programs provide financial incentives to owners of historic properties to restore their buildings. Under the historic tax credit program, homeowners are eligible to receive a credit on their property taxes for 10 percent of qualified expenses for the restoration and preservation of eligible historic property.

Introduced an ordinance that would rewrite the sewer ordinance to comply with federal and state statutes.

Accepted deeds for water and sewer infrastructure in Squire Village, a new development on county land that will be served by city water and sewer.

In addition, Lt. Col. Todd Ostheller of the Maryland Army National Guard presented the city with an award recognizing personnel policies that support municipal employees who serve in the Guard and Army Reserve.

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