I agree with Marc Fisher ["Montgomery's Past Is Nothing to Sniff At," Metro, June 21] that Montgomery County, like the rest of Maryland, has a long, eclectic and remarkable history. What I do not agree with is Fisher's criticism of the state's funding levels for the Montgomery County Certified Heritage Area in comparison to the Baltimore Certified Heritage Area. Yes, Baltimore got $157,500 through the Maryland Heritage Areas Grant Program for 2005, which is almost triple that of Montgomery County's grant of $57,997. But Charles County, where I have lived for the past 10 years, shares its heritage area with two other counties, as part of the Southern Maryland Certified Heritage Area, and splits a grant of $21,000. If Montgomery County is getting "little respect," then Southern Maryland is getting no respect at all.
But funding has nothing to do with respect or disrespect. The Maryland Heritage Areas Grant Program is a matching-fund program. The state gives the heritage areas as much money as the organizations can raise from the community, as much as $100,000. Baltimore gets more than $100,000 because it has more programs, such as the B&O Railroad restoration project and the NAACP Heritage Awareness project. Baltimore has more private donors than Montgomery County, so it gets more money.
If you really care about the heritage of your area, don't blame the state for not giving your community enough money from Maryland taxpayers, especially considering our state's budget problems. Instead, donate your own time and money to what you care about. That is what I plan to do in Charles County.
-- Robert Crow