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Residents petition against tractor pull

January 29, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

ROHRERSVILLE -- There were tears, shouting matches and a few curse words hurled Thursday night at the old Rohrersville school as a group of residents tried to stop the town's Ruritan club from adding a tractor pull to this year's strawberry festival.

More than 60 people signed a petition against the tractor pull, arguing it would bring noise, traffic and chaos to the tiny South County community.

The Rohrersville Ruritan Club, a community service organization that maintains the old school building and the Rohrersville Ruritan Park, has had trouble raising enough money through its traditional fundraisers in recent years, president Bob Tonetti said.

The club wants to partner with the Western Maryland Pullers Association to host a tractor pull in Rohrersville Ruritan Park from 3 to 8 p.m. on June 13, after the club's strawberry festival, which would be held in the park earlier the same day.

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"We've tried everything else, and this is our next chance," said member J.R. Smith. "If this doesn't work, we're done."

The strawberry festival would be free, as usual, but Western Maryland Pullers would charge $10 admission to the tractor pull, Smith said.

Smith, who is also a member of Western Maryland Pullers, said the track would be on the west side of the park, with spectators parking on the soccer field and tractors parking in a neighboring field. Organizers would remove the topsoil from the track area and put down clay dirt for the tractor pull, then, after the event, would put the topsoil back, grade it and seed it, Smith said.

There would be two youth stock classes, one lightly-modified stock class, one super stock class and one truck class, he said.

Police, a firetruck and an ambulance would be on hand, Smith said.

The club hopes to attract 500 people to the tractor pull and hopes to raise about $3,000 between the strawberry festival and the tractor pull, primarily through concessions. The Rohrersville Fire Department and the soccer club could also raise money at the event, Smith said.

Residents pointed out that the park is off of Rohrersville School Road, a narrow, dead-end road they said would be overwhelmed by hundreds of cars leaving at once.

"The center of a little community with a road that two cars can't even pass on, there's no way it should be there," said resident Jerry Row, who quit the Ruritan club when members started planning the tractor pull.

Other residents worried about the noise and the impact the event would have on the park.

Tonetti said the club would consider the residents' concerns.

"We'll talk about it as a group and we'll make a decision about what we're going to do," he said after the meeting.

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