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Thurmont passes sewer dumping ordinance

Ingrid Mezo

(9/7) People who pour fat, oil or grease down Thurmont’s drains will soon face stiffer penalties for damaging the town’s beleagured sewage system.

The Thurmont Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously passed an ordinance to increase the penalties against people who damage the town’s sewer system. The ordinance is now in effect. Commissioner Wayne Hooper was absent from the meeting.

The new ordinance holds individual users financially responsible for damage, such as ‘‘blockages caused by an accumulation of fats, oil, and/or grease," that can be attributed to them.

Any person found violating the new ordinance will be fined $250. Each day that person continues to be in violation will be considered a separate violation. The old ordinance allowed the town to impose a fine of $100 for every day someone was in violation, town manager Rick May said.

Anyone who is a repeat violator within a 12-month period will charged an administrative fee of 1 1/2 times the cost the town had to pay as a result of the violation.

The ordinance includes additional requirements for grease traps and interceptors.

The new ordinance comes while the town is in the midst of a lawsuit brought against it by residents who live mostly on Ironmaster Court. The residents filed suit against the town after sewage backed up into their homes in May 2003.

Among other claims, they say the town failed to properly maintain the sewage system, which they say it is responsible for doing.

The town says the problems were caused by a 100-year flood, which no one could have foreseen, and that the problems were inherited. Failing sewer systems are a statewide problem, town officials pointed out.

In addition, town officials have taken the initiative to conduct engineering studies to assess where the damage is in the town’s sewage system, and the system is undergoing its first phase of repairs.

Public hearing for charter code review upcoming

The town will hold a public hearing on the review of its charter at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the town’s senior center.

Mayor Martin Burns asked residents to provide the town with comments in advance, so that they could have time to come up with well-thought out answers.

‘‘It will be just like a town meeting," Commissioner Ron Terpko said, adding that people would be allowed to get up and make comments on the charter, which town officials have now finished reviewing.

Plea to remember9/11 terrorist attacks

Mayor Martin Burns asked town residents to remember Sept. 11, a day which he said he will never forget because he was in the Pentagon when a plane crashed into the building. Burns said he thinks about that day every time he walks into the building, where he works in the special ops program.

‘‘I think we’re too quick to forget," he said. ‘‘...I’ve had a son who served, and [I would just like to ask everyone] to reflect on all the things that we are thankful for."

People magazine to feature town board

Amid laughter from town officials and other members of the audience on Tuesday evening, Mayor Martin Burns said he and other town board members will likely be featured soon in an upcoming issue of People magazine.

He and other board members have held conversations for several months with a writer from the magazine who is writing a story about ‘‘biggest loser contests" throughout the country.

‘‘He’s supposed to go to his editors on Thursday, and does not know exactly when it’s going to be printed," Burns said Wednesday.

Burns said he thought it was a joke at first.

‘‘He wanted pictures of before and after, so we’ve been feeding information back and forth," he said. ‘‘It’s been really challenging to get pictures of everyone, and I guess they decided to go with it." Burns said he and other board members agreed to do the interviews with People because ‘‘it’s a success story."

This article and other articles like it in local papers brings public awareness to health issues, and shows that Thurmont is contender among other municipalities in the nation, and shows how town officials in the town have made an effort to raise money for charitable causes, he said. Burns said he was all right with the term ‘‘biggest loser" being applied to him in this case, because ‘‘that’s a positive."

Burns, who has lost 60 pounds since March, had lost more than any other board member in the contest.

In addition, Burns said that as a result of local new stories about the contest, he had been featured as ‘‘Buddy of the Month" on a Web site that provides support for people losing weight.

‘‘To embarrass myself further," he joked.

Town changestrash pickup schedule

Thurmont Commissioner Ron Terpko, who is liaison to the town’s recycling commission, told residents at the Aug. 22 meeting that the town has changed its schedule for picking up trash.

Starting Sept. 5, trash pick will occur in the western area of town, including Frederick Road and the area near Woodland Park, on Tuesdays.

On Wednesdays, trash will be picked up in the north of town, including Church Street, Pleasant Acres and Catoctin Highlands.

On Thursdays, trash will be collected in the south of town including areas of Westview Drive, and Moser Road.

On Fridays, both sides of East and West Main Street trash will get picked up, as well as trash on areas on and near Apples Church Road and Rocky Ridge Road.

Town clerk Rick May said the town would send out maps of the pick-up areas along with the electric bills on Friday.

Mayor Martin Burns said the town would work on getting residents on an e-mail list to make communication more effective.

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