New school still planned, county tells Mount Airy

Aim is to ease crowding at town's elementary

February 26, 2002|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners pledged yesterday to move forward with plans to build an elementary school to ease crowding in Mount Airy, where pupils often must wait nearly 30 minutes to get through the lunch line.

"We are trying to move as quick as we can to help you all out," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge told Mount Airy Mayor Gerald Johnson and members of the Town Council.

Mount Airy officials met yesterday morning with the commissioners and school officials to discuss crowding at the town's only elementary school.

"Kids are waiting up to half an hour to get lunch, which means they're left with just 10 minutes to eat," Councilman Dave W. Pyatt said. "Things are now at a critical point."

Commissioner Donald I. Dell reassured town officials, saying, "We have a piece of land, and we're willing to go forward with the school so long as we get state [planning] approval."

Carroll County's Board of Education has submitted paperwork to the state seeking planning approval and funding for an elementary school that would open in 2005 at Watkins Park along Route 27, said Charles I. Ecker, the county's interim superintendent of schools.

"Everything is pending on state approval," said school board President Susan W. Krebs. "We should get it by the end of the legislative session."

In other business, town officials urged the commissioners to help them obtain new outdoor playground equipment for Mount Airy Elementary School and to hold the line on development within five miles of the town until the new elementary school opens.

At a separate meeting yesterday between town officials and the commissioners of Carroll and Frederick counties, town fire officials asked leaders of the counties to resolve their differences over insurance billing for emergency ambulance service.

County officials are trying to devise an equitable way to reimburse Mount Airy for ambulance service its fire company provides to residents of Frederick County.

Also, Mount Airy Fire Chief Gene Mellin asked county leaders to consider allowing the department's volunteer firefighters to get their annual physicals through Frederick County's examination program.

The department's approximately 60 volunteers receive physicals through Carroll County's program, which requires them to see a doctor during regular business hours, when many of the volunteers work. The Frederick program would allow more scheduling flexibility.

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