March 22, 2009
May 11, 2009 Westminster, Carroll County Maryland municipal elections
20090322 Suzanne Albert for mayor ad
At the sixth annual Fallfest Gala, the Westminster mayor and Common Council, Westminster Fallfest, Inc., and the Westminster Recreation and Parks Advisory Board kicked off a capital campaign to replace the Westminster Municipal Playground concession stand with a new two-story multi-purpose community building.
At the event held last Saturday at Martin’s Westminster, Evelyn and Caroline Babylon represented the family of the late former Westminster Common Council president David S. Babylon, Jr., and presented the Fallfest Paving the Road to a Better Community Committee with a pledge of $50,000 in his memory, to get the capital campaign off to a good start.
The gift to the city of Westminster is in honor of Mr. Babylon who dedicated his life to public service for the community he loved.
Mr. Babylon’s daughter, Caroline announced the memorial gift on behalf of the family and turned the podium over to her Mom, Evelyn Babylon.
Mrs. Babylon, remarked: “The last night of the last family vacation in which David was able to participate, the whole family was sitting at the long dinner table – about 20 of us – and Dave nudged me with his elbow, and, gesturing with his other hand, said, ‘Look what we started!’ It was, indeed, a scene of joyful conviviality.
“The family joins me in believing that David would be proud to be here [he loved parties like this] and add his voice of approval to the kick-off of this campaign. We think he would nudge each of you to join in this endeavor so that we could soon all say, ‘Look what we started!’”
Mr. Babylon began a lifelong love affair of service to our community when he joined the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company #1 on June 1st, 1949. Serving in the fire department was another of the passions in his life. He served for many years as secretary/treasurer. He had fond memories of the Westminster Volunteer Fire Company’s annual summer carnivals which were held at the playground.
Mr. Babylon was born on September 4, 1923 in Westminster, and when he was a child, the city did not have a playground. The Westminster Municipal Playground was not inaugurated until 1936 and dedicated by the Westminster Mayor George E. Matthews, Council President Joseph L. Mathias, councilmembers Walter H. Davis, Edwin S. Gehr, Jesse C. Royer, and City Attorney D. Eugene Walsh, in 1937.
By the time the playground was in use, Mr. Babylon was attending Valley Forge Military Academy. He graduated from Valley Forge in 1941 and was one of the youngest Captains commissioned in the U. S. Army during World War II.
When Mr. Babylon was young, providing recreational opportunities was a hot-button political topic as was exemplified by an editorial in the Democratic Advocate, on April 7, 1922, “Westminster, and the Recreation Problem.”
The lack of a municipal playground while growing up in Westminster only exacerbated his understanding later, during his public career, of providing community recreation opportunities.
After Mr. Babylon served in World War II, he graduated from Gettysburg College in January 1948 with a BA degree in Economics. He continued in a business, Cunocar Bookkeeping Service, which he had begun in his college years. Many in Westminster have fond memories of Mr. Babylon’s green “office-on-wheels,” in which he would travel from business to business. He sold his business and retired in 1986.
Mr. Babylon, who passed away at age 82 at his home on August 22, 2006, served on the Westminster Common Council for 25 years, from 1964 until he retired in 1989. For 16 of those years, he served as the Common Council President as did his grandfather, F. Thomas Babylon, in 1898 and 1899.
In the mid to late 1970s, the Westminster mayor and Common Council worked hard in a major downtown revitalization effort of Westminster’s business district. To celebrate the successes of that effort, Fallfest was born in 1978.
Mr. Babylon was an enthusiastic supporter of Fallfest. In her remarks last Saturday night Mrs. Babylon noted “Dave was an enthusiastic member of the Common Council when the idea of Fallfest was introduced, and he wholeheartedly backed the idea. Indeed, even when he was not fully mobile, he acquiesced to going down to the celebration in a wheelchair – and fully enjoyed it, of course.”
Westminster Mayor Tom Ferguson has fond memories of the Westminster Playground as a kid growing up in Westminster. He remembers that “my brother and I were among the first to play Little League Baseball (there when the baseball program started) in the 1950s… Along with folks such as Bob and Jim Reck, Art Caples, Pinky Bixler, and Butch Martin.”
“This is another classic example of a successful private –public partnership to what is already a gem in Westminster. If I may say so, I am very appreciative of this generous - magnificent gift from the Babylon family - especially in light of Mr. Babylon’s years of service to the community. He was always so much involved in civic projects and improvements. This will certainly attract other donors to step up to the plate to get it done.”
Doing it right has been an overriding theme of the City. Westminster director of recreation and parks, Ron Schroers, noted that the City has been on a continuous improvement program for the Westminster Playground for the past 15 years. “By using grants and private donations we’ve built pavilions, replaced playground equipment, re-done the basketball and tennis courts…”
“It’s really great to see the community to come together to make this city project happen. This is one of the most heavily used parks in Carroll County… (One of the reasons, besides the facilities is because) it is the best-shaded park…”
Carroll County owns 24 parks in the county and the City of Westminster has eight.
Mr. Schroers noted that in addition to the Babylon family gift, $66,000 has already been obtained for the building from a combination of Carroll County’s and Westminster’s “Program Open Space” state grant.
He hopes to begin construction of the new building after the 30th Fallfest takes place this September. Cost estimates are currently being developed, however preliminary indication is that more money is needed and the City and the Fallfest Committee are currently looking for additional donors of materials, money and in-kind work donations.
The project began in the summer of 2006 according to the Program Open Space grant proposal. At that time:
“The Westminster Mayor and Common Council determined that the existing concession stand needed to be replaced. The 1 story building has a leaky roof, rotten wood siding, no environmental controls, and is a general eyesore.”
“After studying the cost of repairing the existing building, it was determined to be more cost effective to raze the current building … and build a new structure.” (Before the building falls down.)
“The expanded facility will be available for many community groups for a variety of uses. What was formerly only a concession stand and sports equipment storage, will now also have available a multi-purpose meeting facility.
The second story will be made available as offices/workspace for Westminster Fallfest … which is partnering in the building … by securing additional funding, donations of money, materials, and volunteers. This project continues the City’s investment … to make it the best and most heavily used recreation facility in Westminster…”
Andy Biller is in his 18th year serving on the Westminster Recreation and Parks Advisory Board. He currently serves as the chair.
Mr. Biller said, “I grew up in Carroll County and as a youngster I spent a lot of time in town and learned to appreciate the Westminster Playground as one of Carroll County’s true community treasures. The park has always been the shining moment in the City. I’m proud to be a part of yet another historic improvement for our community.”
Mr. Biller has been “impressed with how hard Westminster Council President Roy Chiavacci has worked on constantly improving not only the playground but all of Westminster’s recreation opportunities.”
Mr. Biller was in a meeting recently with President Chiavacci to review the capital campaign and building plans. President Chiavacci is said to have exclaimed, this is “awesome.”
Once the building is constructed the Optimist Club “is going to have our meetings there and use it to support the clubs’ youth activities in the community,” said Darlene Dorsey, the president of Optimist Club of Westminster.
The Optimist Club has “been around for about 50 years. We took over the Little League program years ago from the Civitan Club. Boy, am I excited. I saw the plans the other day when I visited with Ron Schroers… We love the playground improvements. I remember the wooden bleachers and they have been replaced with nice new metal bleachers… (The building plans have) exceeded our expectations. We’re looking forward to it; the present building is an eyesore.”
The Westminster director of public works, Jeff Glass, is also looking forward to the project. After all, it is his responsibility to keep failing buildings such as this useful and safe.
When he heard about the new playground community building, he said that he “fully understands and values the need to expand” the city’s public works and recreation infrastructure.
Mr. Glass, who “began working for the City in 1982 and worked with Mr. Babylon for a number of years when he was the Council President and I was a student of his thinking process… This is exactly the way Mr. Babylon would have wanted it done. Don’t just replace it – prepare for the future.
Take the opportunity to stretch a dollar further and leverage the tax dollars to build what the community needs for the future while the building is being replaced…”
Mr. Glass went on to recall how “Mr. Babylon was known for being fiscally conservative when he was on the council,” and always encouraged the private sector to step up to the plate for needed infrastructure improvements before he turned to taxpayers...
Tom Beyard, the City’s director of planning agreed. He has also worked for the City long enough to have worked with Mr. Babylon. “It’s always a great idea when the public section and the philanthropists can get together for the community.”
Carroll County Commissioner Dean Minnich also knew Mr. Babylon well; they were in the Lions Club together. He recalled that in past years, “the roots of Carroll County recreation were the service clubs.”
He remembers that “it was the Civitan Club that started the Little League program at the playground back in the 1950s… Drs. Klinger Jr. and Senior… (And) the business community took care of the tasks long before government got involved… A bunch of young fathers got involved to make sure softball, soccer, and baseball (were available.) Those guys used to go out on their own time and rake, mow, lime the fields, pick up rocks…”
Westminster Councilwoman Suzanne Albert, (the granddaughter of Westminster Mayor David E. Walsh May 20, 1912 – May 15, 1916,) grew up at 134 East Main Street in Westminster.
She said that “growing up (the playground) was my backyard... Nothing like having your own playground practically in your backyard. I could walk to it. I guess I took it for granted. I just thought that every community had a playground like that. (Nevertheless) we can’t take it for granted and we need to take care of it for future generations. It’s important to sustain such an important community asset.”
Mrs. Evelyn Babylon reiterated, “It is important that we continue to build upon the work of those who went before us and maintain and improve the park for our children’s children. That’s the way Dave would have wanted it.”
Councilwoman Albert, who knew Mr. Babylon well, said the community is thankful for what Mr. and Mrs. Babylon have started – and not just the playground…
If you’d like to contribute, checks can be made out to:
Westminster Fallfest “Paving the Road,”
Westminster Fallfest, Inc.,
P.O.B. 805, Westminster, Maryland, 21158
By Robert Brodsky, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, July 14, 2005
City workers will have the opportunity to answer questions like these and others as
The survey, which will be done by a yet unselected private consulting firm specializing in human resources work, will look at how the city's 160 employees view their jobs and examine what can be done to improve worker satisfaction, said Westminster Mayor Thomas Ferguson.
"It's a physical checkup of the [city's work force] environment," he said.
The employee opinion survey was a central point in
"One of the major reasons in doing this is to send a message to employees that we will listen to what you have to say,"
The survey's success will be based on two essential elements,
"If nothing comes of it, they're going to say 'Don't ask us again,'"
The survey will not result in any hirings or firings, nor any immediate shift in how the workforce is structured,
The city has received four bids by firms interested in performing the survey,
The city's personnel committee, composed of Finance Director Joe Urban, City Councilmembers Robert Wack and Suzanne Albert and Human Resources Administrator Darlene Childs, will hear presentations from the four consultants Monday and Tuesday.
Urban anticipates the committee will make its decision based not only on cost but on the services that would be most beneficial to city employees.
"Just mailing out a questionnaire may not inspire the most amount of confidence from employees," Urban said. "We want to structure the process to create the highest level of confidence from employees."
The city plans to pay for the survey by diverting resources from a $100,000 fund set aside to cover the cost of potential salary increments that could be suggested in an upcoming salary study, Urban said.
That study, which will be conducted by a different firm, will compare the salaries of
If needed, funds for salary increases could be supplemented through the city's emergency fund or through it's unappropriated surplus, Urban said.
The personnel committee plans to make a decision on a consulting firm for the employee opinion survey next week. The proposal would then go before the Westminster City Council on July 25.
If approved, the study could start in August and take between 60 and 90 days to complete.
Reach staff writer Robert Brodsky at 410-857-7865 or Rbrodsky@lcniofmd.com.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005 THE ADVOCATE OF WESTMINSTER AND FINKSBURG
Budget to give police a raise Council to hold a public hearing May 3 on proposed Budget
BY JAMIE KELLY, ADVOCATE STAFF WRITER
In Westminster’s proposed budget, introduced at Monday’s Council Meeting, the police are slated to get a large raise as a way to keep more officers and better recruit highly-qualified officers to join the force.
During a budget workshop April 28, the council agreed to change the proposed budget to give the officers a three-step pay raise, two steps more than the other employees will receive. In the original proposal, all employees would have gotten a one-step raise, like they do each year, with more money possible after a planned salary study.
The proposal came from Council Member Thomas Ferguson, who asked Joseph Urban, city finance director, to determine how much it would cost to increase police salaries by two extra steps. That would cost $125,686.
Council Member Roy Chiavacci strongly supported that measure. When his turn came to ask questions about the budget, nearly all were concerned with the police department.
Police Chief Jeff Spaulding sent out a survey to other departments that
Westminster competes with for recruits. He said that new police officers in Westminster make around 20 percent less than those in other jurisdictions.
That, he said, will keep people from applying. Chiavacci said that the police need more help than other departments, because they have seven vacancies out of a staff of a little more than 40, while other departments have only a few with staff size of about 100.
Spaulding asked the council for the pay increase, because while the council has already done some to help with recruitment, pay is a major issue. He said he didn’t expect the problem to be solved overnight, or even in one fiscal year, but that the raise would be a big step.
But both Mayor Kevin Dayhoff and Council President Damian Halstad opposed the raise.
Dayhoff said that since the budget already includes money for a salary study, it wouldn’t be fair to other employees to raise police salaries before everyone’s salary has been looked at.
Rather, he said, the council should approve the budget, which already gave every employee a one-step increase.
The other employees have seen the council repeatedly favor the police department, he said, and if that continues to happen, it could hurt morale.
He said the other employees of the city also have an effect on public safety, and that should be recognized.
Halstad said his major problem was that Westminster’s salary was being compared to those in Baltimore, Baltimore County and other, larger jurisdictions.
While Westminster might compete with those places for officers, he said, the city can’t afford to pay as much as they can, and the salaries don’t necessarily need to be as high, because there’s less danger.
But four council members voted to change the budget to include the raises for the police.
“It’s a leap of faith, but it’s a good leap,” said Council Member Suzanne Albert.
20050427 Budget to give police a raise The Advocate by Jamie Kelly
20031209 Maria Tsigas: Westminster police chief Jeff Spaulding approved
Westminster police chief approved
by Maria Tsigas for the Carroll County Times
December 9, 2003
The Westminster City Council unanimously approved the confirmation of William J. "Jeff" Spaulding Monday as Westminster's new police chief.
Spaulding, a 30-year veteran of the Howard County Police Department, will be officially sworn in on Jan. 2. Maj. Dean Brewer, who has been acting chief for the past five months, will remain acting chief until then.
Spaulding was chosen from among nearly 70 applicants from all over the United States, according to the city.
The selection committee included Mayor Kevin Dayhoff, Council President Damian Halstad and council members Roy Chiavacci and Suzanne Albert, and several county law enforcement officials.
Chiavacci said during Monday evening's meeting that Spaulding's name just surfaced to the top from the beginning.
He was the right person at the right time for the city of Westminster, Chiavacci said.
Spaulding said he looked forward to coming to Westminster and working with the citizens, council, mayor and police department.
Spaulding has served as deputy chief in Howard County for the last six years. A Mount Airy resident, Spaulding is slated to replace Chief Roger Joneckis, who retired at the end of July.
Maria Tsigas for the Carroll County Times
May 14, 2001
The 2001 Municipal Election was held on Monday, May 14, 2001 in the City of
NAME: NUMBER OF VOTES:
SUZANNE P. ALBERT 372 or 46% of the vote
KEVIN E. DAYHOFF 423 or 52% of the vote
Margin of Victory is [423 – 372] divided by [372 + 423] or 51 / 795 = 6%.
EDWARD S. CALWELL, SR. 265
ROY L. CHIAVACCI 487
DAMIAN L. HALSTAD 572
FRANK E. WAGNER, JR. 152
Being the candidates who received the highest number of votes cast, Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff & Council Members Damian L. Halstad and Roy L. Chiavacci will be sworn into office at the Biennial Reorganization Meeting to be held on Monday, May 21, 2001 at 7:00 p.m.
19990413 More candidates file for May elections By KEVIN GRIFFIS, Times Staff Writer
First published in the Carroll County Times Tuesday, April 13, 1999
More candidates file for May elections
Chapin won't seek re-election in Westminster
By KEVIN GRIFFIS, Times Staff Writer
There were only a few last-second filings Monday for Carroll's May municipal elections.
Most of the action took place in Hampstead and Taneytown, while in Westminster a city councilman who had waffled about whether he would run again decided to forgo another race.
In a town that has what could become the most interesting mayoral race this year, county political newcomers Keith A. Heindel and Denise Justus both filed to run for Hampstead city council seats the last day they could, said town clerk Pat Warner.
That brings the total candidates for the two open seats to five. Incumbents Lawrence H. Hentz Jr. and Stephen A. Holland and challenger Steven Balaz have also declared for the race. Balaz ran and lost in 1997.
Mayor Chris Nevin filed for re-election April 8, Warner said. He will battle councilman Wayne H. Thomas for Hampstead's top spot.
Nevin ousted incumbent C. Clinton Becker by running on a slow-growth platform in 1995. The mayor, though, has taken heat recently for approving a 66-condominium development in the Roberts Field housing development.
Thomas has served on the city council since 1991 and was re-elected in 1997.
In Taneytown, Henry C. Heine Jr. is running unopposed for mayor, while at the last moment Bobby Wales joined Daryl Hale and incumbent Brian Long in the race for two city council seats.
Westminster incumbent councilman Stephen R. Chapin had said he would play it down to the wire before making a decision on whether or not he would run for re-election. He said he was waiting to find out whether another fiscal conservative would file. That didn't happen, but Chapin still decided not to run again.
Chapin said he's become an advocate for term limits. It's time for some new blood, he said. Chapin, a self-described fiscal conservative and eight-year council veteran, said he hopes someone else steps forward on the council to watch the town's pennies.
There are only four candidates running for three open seats in Westminster.
In 1995, five people ran for three council seats and the city experienced the lowest election-day turnout of any municipality in the county.
City officials attributed the low turnout and dearth of election day choices in 1995 to a lack of hot-button issues and have said the same about this year's race.
Incumbents Suzanne Albert and Gregory Pecoraro are running with challengers Kevin Dayhoff and Frank Wagner.
New Windsor has three open seats and five candidates have filed to run. Councilmen Paul Garvey, Ronnie Blacksten and Terry Petry are running against last-minute filers Samuel Pierce and Kevin Null.
Potential candidates in Union Bridge, a town that passed a water rate hike in January, have until 4 p.m. today to declare their candidacy. As of Monday afternoon, only incumbents Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. and Councilmen Bret D. Grossnickle and Donald Wilson had filed.
At the Sykesville Town Council meeting held Monday night, town council members William R. Hall, Michael Kasnia, Jeannie Nichols and Michael H. Burgoyne announced they will seek re-election. They will, however, by challenged by five other candidates. Three full-term seats [four years] and one partial-term seat [two-years] will be up for grabs. Each candidate must have been nominated in person at the meeting in order to be declared as an offical candidate.
The other candiates nominated are Charles B. Mullins, Scott Hollenbeck, Constance Lee Higgins, Cynthia DeBari Campbell and Garth Adams.
Three council members
May 8th, 1995
There were a total of 598 votes cast.
Top vote getters were:
Stephan Chapin – 454 votes
Gregory Pecoraro – 381 votes.
Suzanne Albert – 337 votes.
Rebecca Orenstein – 322 votes
Robert Ballenger - 137 votes