Letters to the editor

October 30, 2003

Why CSL needed Fort Ritchie's gym

To the editor:

Recently the Washington County Commissioners approved the use of the Fort Ritchie gymnasium by the CSL youth athletics programs. The Fort Ritchie gym is a wonderful facility which is currently unused. It only makes sense that a community organization like CSL would be interested in taking advantage of such an opportunity.

For many years, CSL has donated money for the use of middle and high school athletic facilities. It has placed a new scoreboard and wall mats in Smithsburg Middle School.

At Smithsburg High School, soccer goals were donated and placed on the practice field. This field has been cut and lined by CSL volunteers and nets are replaced every other year. Soccer fields have also been maintained at Smithsburg Elementary school and Lions Club park.


CSL funds were donated to help recondition wrestling mats at SHS. This year alone, it will cost several thousand dollars to use the facilities needed to accommodate our soccer, flag football, wrestling and basketball programs. For the last couple of years, the available facilities have been barely adequate.

The opportunity to have the use, and control of Fort Ritchie's gym helps alleviate this problem.

The CSL agreement for the use of the gym is $1 a year for a maximum of five years. During this time, any upgrades to the facility are at the expense of CSL. It has been inspected by an outside agency and several upgrade issues have been identified and will be addressed by CSL. The CSL board and PenMar Development Corp, personnel have attended several meetings to work out the details of this agreement.

The new facility requirements established by the Washington County School Board require all outside groups to carry insurance on the young participants in their programs. CSl has maintained such coverage on both the young people, as well as CSL assets, for the past 12 years.

The CSL board's decision to pursue this agreement was a sound decision on a number of levels. A facility, currently not being used, is being put to good use. Young athletes have an opportunity to develop their skills through the continued support of the CSL volunteers. CSL has an opportunity to have some control over a much-needed facility, as opposed to having to share middle and high school facilities with school programs.

Finally, the PMDC board gains some financial assistance in maintaining the Fort Ritchie facility. Hopefully, it will be a win-win for all involved.

Carrie Gouff, president
Paul Mackrell Jr., vice president
Jill Connelly, treasurer
Colette Rupert, secretary
Board of Directors CSL

Slow down the board's spending

To the editor:

Recently the Washington County Commissioners made a decision to not support the bonding of the school system. Good! Maybe finally we parents who have been saying "if there is money for more supervisor positions, raises, private restrooms, etc., there has to be money somewhere!"

We the taxpayers and parents who give time and money to the school system want the money managed better. The superintendent should not be getting raises and bonus and hiring her friends for jobs, (the system ran fine without them for many years). So my hat is off to the County Commissioners with the exception of James Kercheval, who doesn't really have any clue what goes on in the schools.

This is poor management! One of the board employees tried to say just a few years ago there was no growth. Was he blind? Why hasn't the board been up keeping the buildings we have? Everyone who owns a home knows you must always keep after things or they will cost major bucks later!

However, the school system did away years ago with maintenance crews and subbed out things that they used to do in-house, which costs more money. Oh, and they are now charging for use of facilities to organizations and groups who have put money back into the system already. Where is all the money they do get?

We sure do not see it in the schools. We just keep hearing there is none! As far as the heating and air goes, the school system needs someone to teach them how to regulate the ones they do have to save money. And when adding on or building new schools, there should be windows that open. This saves a a lot! Congratulations commissioners, you may have just made them think before they spend!

Let the board figure their mess out that they have created at their own cost! Not ours or the taxpayers!

Mattie Johnson

Wivell's numbers may not add up

To the editor:

Washington County Commissioner William Wivell developed a number of $11,975 per residential housing unit by dividing budget estimates by new house building permits. Do the numbers in the budget reflect fees/taxes on new construction only?

If they do, he did not make that clear. If they do not, he is dividing apples by oranges. My estimate of 853 new houses at an average price of $160,000 would be a recordation tax of just over $1 million, not the $4.5 million figure Wivell used. Including recordation taxes, etc., collected on existing home transfers would skew the resulting figures much higher. A clarification is needed.

On a different point, front-loading property taxes on new construction could be a compromise. Collect a lump sum on initial settlement, and have that amount deducted over time from the homeowners' property tax bill. This would make funds available to construct the schools and roads needed and not penalize the new homeowners. New homes add tax income for all county residents.

Will Durham

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