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Sheriff promises seized car to student

November 21, 1996

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

A car seized because of someone's illegal activity will become a reward for positive behavior in a new incentive program for seniors at the Washington County Career Studies Center.

"It's kind of neat," said Principal Arnold Hammann, who got permission from the county Board of Education last Tuesday to implement the program. "It takes a negative and turns it back into a positive."

Sheriff Charles Mades has promised to provide a vehicle seized in a drug arrest - either by his department or the Narcotics Task Force - to be given away to a lucky student at the end of the school year.

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But it will take more than luck to capture the car keys, said cosmetology teacher Marie Bikle, who spearheaded the program.

Students will "buy" chances for the drawing for the car by making high grades and coming to school regularly, Bikle said.

For each of the first three quarters of the school year, students can earn one chance if they achieve honor roll status, and either one chance if they're absent two days or less or two chances if they have perfect attendance.

Students can earn three extra chances if they make the honor roll for the first, second and third quarters.

Mades' promise and the school board's approval ended a two-year roller coaster ride, said Bikle, who over the past two years found many people interested in the idea of donating a car but none who could follow through.

"I think the beauty of this is that a car acquired by negative behavior on the part of an adult is used to promote positive behavior on the part of our young professionals," Bikle said.

Bikle said she got the idea of using a car giveaway as an incentive after learning of other counties' successes with the approach.

She said it seemed perfect for the Career Studies Center, because a donated car could be fixed up by qualified vocational students, then legally processed through the school's licensed Mini Dealership.

Mades said fellow members of the county's Narcotics Task Force board of directors - Hagerstown Police Chief Dale Jones and Washington County State's Attorney Ken Long - were supportive of the donation idea.

At this point, Mades said he doesn't have a car set aside. But he said he's sure an appropriate one will be available in plenty of time for the drawing.

Together, his department and the Narcotics Task Force end up with about 20 cars used in drug-related crimes each year, he said.

As long as it's a late-model car, it really doesn't matter what kind it is, Hammann said.

"All 16-, 17-year-olds want a car, and not everyone can afford it," Hammann said. "It's certainly something they can use and need."

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