Citing More Pressing Needs, Calvert Sheriff Shelves Patrol-Car Makeover

By Christy Goodman, Jenna Johnson and Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Calvert County sheriff's effort to paint his patrol cars has been put on hold -- again.

Citing potential budget problems, Sheriff Mike Evans (R) said Tuesday that he would not spend the nearly $15,000 needed to paint his department's 22 Ford Crown Victorias black and white starting this summer.

In a news release, Evans said he thinks the contrasting colors would make the patrol cars more visible than the white ones they now operate and increase their effectiveness in deterring crime. But he said he wants to use the money for more pressing needs, such as new employees.

Early last year, Evans sparked a battle with Calvert commissioners when he tried to go around them after they refused to approve funding for the paint job. At the time, board President Wilson H. Parran (D-Huntingtown) and members Barbara A. Stinnett (D-At Large) and Linda L. Kelley (R-At Large) said that the expenditure, $14,960 over five years, was unnecessary in tough financial times.

Evans said the county's lawmakers had no right to tell him how to spend money they had already budgeted for his office. He took the dispute to the state attorney general, winning a ruling that seemed to favor his position. He agreed to put off the paint job until fiscal 2010, when Parran said he would support it.

Now Evans says he will not paint the cars until "the time is right."

A majority of commissioners praised Evans on Tuesday, saying he made the right decision.

"Understanding the economic situation, I can appreciate that," Parran said.

Calvert Seeks to Use Farm As Agricultural Model

Calvert County officials will begin work on a master plan to develop the Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm, with help from a $65,000 federal grant. The grant requires a match from the county, and county commissioners approved those funds Tuesday.

Calvert plans to use part of the more than 200 acres off Grays Road south of Prince Frederick for a farm where schoolchildren can be taught about sustainable living. A manager will show them how to care for animals, raise a garden and preserve food.

The farm was first owned in the 1800s by an African American family named Rice. It was acquired by the county in 1996. A 1930s frame house, known as the George Rice House, along with a chicken coop, meat house and cowshed, are still on the property, as are two tobacco barns and another 19th-century house, which are on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. Plans call for restoring many of the structures.

Plans are also in the works to add recreational opportunities, such as bird-watching and trails for walking and horseback riding.

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