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Police vow crackdown at High Rock

August 05, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

PEN MAR - The Washington County Sheriff's Department is cracking down on after-hours trespassing at High Rock in an effort to curtail drug and alcohol activity at the scenic overlook.

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In the past, deputies have advised people they saw at High Rock after dusk that they were trespassing and checked to see if they were wanted on warrants, said Deputy Kirk Noaker.

"We've been giving warnings for a number of years. At a certain point you have to back up what you say," Noaker said.

High Rock, part of Pen Mar Park west of Cascade, is closed from dusk to 8 a.m. and alcohol is banned there, according to posted signs.

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Ten people, including six juveniles, have been arrested on trespassing charges since July 28, Noaker said. Those arrested were from the Hagerstown and Waynesboro, Pa., areas, he said.

Noaker said no drug or alcohol charges were filed against any of those arrested. He said it is difficult to catch people with drugs at High Rock because they throw them over the cliff when a police cruiser pulls up.

The Sheriff's Department started the crackdown at the request of Ron Kidd, director of the Washington County Recreation and Parks Department.

Kidd said people who live in the High Rock area have complained that people trespass after dusk, drink alcoholic beverages and curse at residents.

Cindy Wiley said people used to park in front of her house about a mile south of High Rock and throw bottles from their car windows. When she asked them to move on, they cursed at her, Wiley said.

Wiley said she has seen a procession of cars go down High Rock Road after a Sheriff's Department cruiser heads up the dead-end road after dark.

"But they come back. Then he comes back and runs them out again," Wiley said.

Wiley's son, Daniel, 16, said the volume of traffic heading for High Rock after dark seems to have decreased during the last week.

Two older women who have lived in the area for at least 40 years said the area was rather peaceful until the county reopened High Rock about 20 years ago.

Since then, young people speed up the road, play music loud, drink alcohol and do drugs at High Rock, local residents said.

Beer cans, bottles and trash were evident Wednesday around High Rock, which is a popular hang-gliding spot. The rocks along the cliff have long been covered with graffiti, which also can be found on park signs.

Behind the rocks the area is littered with broken glass.

"I'm not one for the police all the time, but we have to keep people from destroying" High Rock, said Chuck Sims, 43, of South Mountain, Pa.

Sims said he visits High Rock often to take in the beautiful view and to watch the hawks that fly overhead.

Some residents suggested the county start closing and locking a gate that would deny access to High Rock.

Kidd said locking the gate isn't feasible because there are communications towers in the area to which the U.S. Army, radio and television need access.

"Every time we lock it someone shoots the lock off," Kidd said.

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