Letters to the editor - 2/27/03

February 27, 2003

County already has firing range at Ritchie

To the editor:

Last Oct. 22, a community meeting was held in Cascade to discuss law- enforcement issues in our community. We are pleased that Washington County Sheriff Mades, his staff and Lt. Johnston from the Hagerstown State Police barracks were active participants in the program.

I noticed with interest Sheriff Mades' comments regarding the county's former use of the firing range at Fort Ritchie.

Apparently, the county had use of the firing range in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, PMDC demanded a monthly payment of around $3,000 to cover alleged maintenance costs. According to a recent Herald-Mail article, PMDC's board chairman stated that PMDC didn't have any money in 1999 to cover the maintenance costs. I would respectfully point out that PMDC was receiving $100,000 a month in maintenance costs from the U.S Army.

In an interview with The Record Herald on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2002, Wilson stated that the firing range was not available since it would cost $18,000 to update the building for Washington County use. Regardless of which reason Wilson uses to cite why the firing range can't be used, I believe the Board of County Commissioners has an obligation to revisit this issue.


I believe that the county commissioners must pressure PMDC to give the Washington County Sheriff's department unfettered access to the firing range. By using the firing range, there will be an additional law enforcement presence in the community, and in particular at Fort Ritchie.

As the community's LRA, PMDC has the responsibility to provide buildings and services to the community. I would be more than pleased to provide documents that clearly define the role of an LRA in the community.

PMDC will cite the $18,000 figure as an obstacle to making the firing range available. First, I'm not convinced that is the correct amount nor am I convinced that the lead problem would prohibit use of the facility. I propose an independent audit by the Maryland Department of Environment.

In closing, I'm outraged at the treatment of our chief of county law enforcement. That PMDC would put questionable money issues ahead of security is an outrage. Consequently, we now have a building that is mothballed and a corresponding decline in law enforcement presence in our community.

I ask that the Board of County Commissioners rectify this wrong by pressuring PMDC to make available the firing range. In this day and age, we as a community need to do all we can to support our law enforcement officers. As a Washington County resident, I'm outraged that our law enforcement officers were treated with such disrespect by our LRA.

Karl Weissenbach

Chair, Cascade Committee


Constitution doesn't guarantee us public schools

To the editor:

A free public education is nowhere enunciated as a right in the Constitution of the United States of America.

Free public education emerged from religious communities and their desire to provide literacy to citizens, to enable access to the Scriptures.

It would appear that some of your letter writers haven't been educated in American history in today's public schools.

Jo Ann West


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