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Committee forms to help fund local scholarships

October 14, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

The Washington County chapter of the Maryland Municipal League is raising scholarship money on its own for local high school students this year.

Williamsport Mayor John Slayman and Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman said a scholarship committee, to consist of representatives from all of the county's incorporated municipalities, is being formed to raise money for college scholarships for local students. They said the committee will not be receiving money from the state to award the area scholars for the first time in more than a decade.

Kauffman, president of the local MML chapter, said the committee will ensure four $500 scholarships will be awarded in 2004. Among other reasons, Kauffman said he believes fund-raising efforts will go smoothly because county residents want the scholarship committee to be successful.

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"There's no doubt in my mind we'll be able to do it," Kauffman said. "It'll just take a little initiative on our part. The scholarship program originated in Washington County in the first place. We just want to keep it going."

The county began awarding top students in 1986 under the moniker of the Warren "Bus" Seymour Jr. Scholarship. Seymour died in 1985 while the active mayor of Williamsport

By 1988, the MML turned the scholarship awards into a statewide effort.

Slayman said the newly formed committee will convene on Nov. 24 to vote on two issues - whether or not to cut the criteria that any scholarship applicant must take a course in political science and whether or not to raise dues because of the absence of state funding.

Among those confirmed for the committee are Slayman, Smithsburg Councilwoman Shirley Aurand and Boonsboro Assistant Mayor Howard Long.

Slayman, who will be chairman of the new committee, said the MML has decided it will give money to council/committee members from throughout the state to attend the league's annual conference if they have not taken part in the past. As a result, less scholarship money is going to be given out, Slayman said.

"Now they're going to go invite elected officials from the whole town (to the conference) and take money away from the kids. That's just my opinion," Slayman said.

However, MML officials have said payments for elected officials to attend league conferences and a decrease in scholarship awards are not connected and that Slayman's comments are not true. In July, Scott Hancock, the league's executive director, said the money formerly given to nine local MML chapters will instead be pooled into two new, $4,500 scholarships for graduate students at the University System of Maryland's Schaefer Center for Public Policy.

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