Carroll Digest


April 23, 2004|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Police identify body of man found in car near Eldersburg

Maryland State Police have identified a body found Wednesday evening in a car off Route 32 near Eldersburg as that of Michael Vahaly, 43, of Bollinger Mill Road.

Capt. Scott Yinger, commander of the Westminster barracks, said yesterday that police believe Vahaly left his home about noon and was going to work in Eldersburg when the accident occurred.

Police speculate that Vahaly's car failed to negotiate a curve, left the road, struck a guardrail, overturned and hit a tree on the driver's side. A pedestrian spotted the car and called police.

Vahaly's body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy.

Commissioners deny development exemption

Carroll County commissioners denied yesterday a request for an exemption to the county's yearlong freeze on development.

The growth freeze allows exemptions for severe economic hardship; assisted-living, senior and disabled housing projects; and properties that might be annexed by the county's towns.

Last week, Ronald and Laura Abbott of Finksburg told the commissioners that the inability to move forward on their housing project has put a strain on their finances.

They want to subdivide their 65-acre property into 10 lots and distribute four lots to Ronald Abbott's siblings as part of his late mother's will. Because three homes exist on the property, they want to sell the remaining three lots to pay for costs associated with the subdivision process.

The commissioners have granted at least four such requests out of 11 petitions filed since the freeze interrupted progress on about 1,700 residential lots that had passed early stages of the county's review process.

Eight companies respond to fire that destroyed barn

A fire destroyed a two-story wooden barn near the Pennsylvania line yesterday afternoon, igniting nearby brush and trees and drawing firefighters from eight companies and the state Department of Natural Resources, fire officials said.

The 1 p.m. blaze in the 4200 block of Back Woods Road near Deep Run Road caused an estimated $100,000 in damage to the building and its contents, which included an off-road vehicle, a lawnmower and equipment for an alarm-system business, said Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Allen Gosnell, who was at the scene northwest of Manchester. A boat stored outside was also damaged by the fire, he said.

"They saw it from miles around," Gosnell said of the firefighters who converged on the property of Albert Slinkman Jr. after his wife called for help at 1:07 p.m. The fire was under control within about 15 minutes, but firefighters remained at the scene until about 4:15 p.m., applying foam to the demolished structure.

No injuries were reported, Gosnell said.

Water tanker trucks were called to the scene, and the Natural Resources Police officers took a brush truck, he said. About 50 firefighters responded from companies from Manchester, Pleasant Valley, Lineboro and Hampstead in Carroll County; Arcadia in Baltimore County; and Pleasant Hill, Littlestown and Pennville from Pennsylvania.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, Gosnell said. "This may be one of those that we never really know." But he said that the fire occurred in daylight, unlike most arson cases, and that the barn contained hay and vehicles and had electricity.

Bids for dispatch system, utility tractor approved

Carroll County commissioners approved bids yesterday for support services for the county law enforcement's dispatch system and a new utility tractor.

The county's emergency center will renew its annual agreement with Public Safety Systems Inc. in Lanham for support and maintenance of the company's computer-aided dispatch software program. The annual cost is $50,500.

A utility tractor with a mower, costing $33,563.55, will replace a 1984 two-wheel-drive tractor used by the county's facilities department. The county bought the equipment through a state contract with Finch Services in Westminster, said Richard Shelton, chief of the Bureau of Purchasing.

Agriculture, child support grant applications OK'd

Carroll County commissioners yesterday approved two grant applications for the county's agricultural preservation program and for child support enforcement.

The county Department of Planning will submit an application to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farmland Preservation Program. The federal program provides money for cost-sharing with state and local governments to acquire land easements.

The county's three law enforcement agencies are requesting grants from the Maryland Department of Human Resources, which administers federal grants, for the 2005 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The state's attorney's office is asking for $388,992 in salaries, benefits and expenses related to its child support division, with the county chipping in $179,249.

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