Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

December 22, 2004

Student charged with arson in fire at Westminster High

A 15-year-old Westminster High School student was arrested yesterday after authorities said a small bathroom fire at the school forced the evacuation of all students and caused a girl to suffer an asthma attack.

Carroll County Sheriff's Office spokesman Maj. Thomas Long said the male student, who was not identified, was taken to the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County after fire marshals arrested him. Charged with arson, he is accused of starting a fire in a bathroom trash can filled with paper towels about 11 a.m. yesterday, authorities said.

Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Allen Gosnell said a hearing is scheduled for the teen this morning.

Gosnell said there was no damage to the building but that smoke from the second-floor boys bathroom got into the kitchen area nearby, disrupting lunch and possibly contaminating food.

Larry Faries, Carroll schools' security coordinator, said a female student walking by the bathroom noticed the smoke and alerted administrators, who put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

A girl suffered an asthma attack because of the smoke, Faries said. She was treated at the school by paramedics and the school nurse. The school was temporarily evacuated, but students returned to class shortly after the incident.

Panel approves field house for Montessori School

The Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission approved yesterday the construction of a $300,000 field house at the Montessori School in Westminster.

The 30-year-old school, which opened at its new Hughes Shop Road site in 2001, plans a 3,600- square-foot building "to enhance programs it offers students," said Stephanie Brewster, chief financial officer for the school.

The school enrolls about 170 students in kindergarten through ninth grade. Inclement weather often keeps the students indoors with no recreational outlets, Brewster said. The field house will offer opportunities for play but not for spectator sports, she said.

The commission also approved plans for a 12,500- square-foot addition to Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Eldersburg. The building would house classrooms and a multipurpose area for the congregation.

Thrift shop plans prompt concerns about traffic

After reviewing a proposal for a thrift shop near Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster yesterday, the county planning commission urged hospital officials to work with the community to allay concerns about traffic.

Plans call for converting a nearby residence, which the hospital owns, into the shop, with no changes planned to the home's exterior. Volunteers would staff the shop and sell donated items.

"This will be a great opportunity for the hospital auxiliary to raise money for the hospital," said Dorothy Cole, auxiliary president. "We will keep it looking like a home, intact as much as possible.

The commission will not take action on the proposal for several months, but Chairman David L. Brauning said the hospital must consider neighbors' concerns in the final plan.

Ken Shook, whose home is near the proposed shop, said neighbors are delighted with the concept. But, he added, "There is no worse location for this building, considering the traffic."

Planning board to consider proposal for paintball field

A developer has proposed a 12-acre paintball recreation field on the site of a former farm on the outskirts of Hampstead.

The proposal won approval from the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals last year but now must go through the development review process with the county planning commission.

The property on Houck Road near Carrollton Road would have no structures or lighting.

Developer Wayne Columbia estimates that about 75 players would use the fields on weekends. Weekday activity would be by reservation. Players would use biodegradable materials, and netting would screen the fields from surrounding residential areas, Columbia told the planning commission.

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