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Neighborhood Watch growing in Thurmont

Jeremy Hauck

Thurmont got its third Neighborhood Watch program in October, according to Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler.

Residents of JerMae Estates started the latest program.

Eyler encourages such programs, and said they are ‘‘a big help" in policing Thurmont.

‘‘They don’t have to, but they should have the police involved in it," he said, adding that ‘‘it’s a two-way communication" between the police department and residents.

Paul Cannada, 64, of Sylvia Circle, started the program in JerMae Estates, an age-restricted community. He said his neighbors discussed the idea during an ice cream social.

Three-quarters of the community’s more than 100 households have joined the program by submitting ‘‘data sheets" to Cannada or the nine block captains he coordinates, he said.

Residents who join the program can list what medical conditions or disabilities they have, and whether they use alarm systems in their houses.

Residents can give their emergency contact information to their block captains if they plan on traveling, Cannada said.

Cannada said block captains walked door to door to hand out the sheets and completed sheets went to the police department.

The police will pass on relevant information to him, Cannada said.

‘‘If we get any info from the Thurmont Police Department, I pass it to the block captains and they in turn notify everyone in their block," he said.

The coordinator and block captains meet quarterly with the police department, Cannada said.

Attorney rules on ethics question

An attorney representing the Town of Thurmont has written an opinion stating that officials who make decisions in zoning matters can be disqualified from participating if they disclose their opinions outside of public meetings.

According to N. Lynn Board, of the Frederick firm Board and Borden, Thurmont Mayor Burns requested the opinion.

In the letter, dated Jan. 24, Board argues that ‘‘the Maryland Courts have characterized decisions regarding zoning matters as quasi-judicial in nature," and that ‘‘the line is crossed when the individual ... announces his or her judgment prior to the hearing process."

The board on which the official sits can disqualify him, according to the letter.

Commissioner Ron Terpko read the letter aloud at the Jan. 25 planning and zoning meeting.

There was no comment on the letter.

Burns could not be reached for comment on the letter before The Gazette’s press time.

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