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La Plata High School Student Government Association officers and their principal asked La Plata Town Council members last week to allow electronic signs to change more frequently in the town in order to inform students and the community more effectively.

The proposed change would allow electronic signs to change every five minutes instead of once every 24 hours, which is the current rule.

La Plata High School Principal Evelyn Arnold, who also lives in the town, told the council at its meeting Feb. 28 that she and student government officers are asking for the sign change to better inform the school body and parents about games, events and PTO meetings.

“Our community relies on the sign to get a lot of information out,” she said, adding that the change would be beneficial to the school community.

Arnold said that the school installed the electronic sign in 2007 under a previous principal, and had more frequently displayed information until the town asked the school to comply with the town rules in 2011.

Chelsea Ream, a senior at La Plata High School and the school’s SGA secretary, said that the sign helps to inform parents and students about events.

Grant Homan, the junior class treasurer, said the school has many more events and extracurricular activities that the sign could post with the rule change.

“Through the sign, we get to advertise to the community as a whole. I feel that, like [Ream] said, parents come by all the time, and that’s a big source of communication for them as well,” Homan said.

The town council will receive a recommendation from the town planning commission before it votes on the rule change, likely at its March 27 business meeting.

Referendum questions arise

During the council meeting’s public forum, La Plata town resident Michael Runfola raised several questions about the town’s actions surrounding the annexation to build a Walmart Supercenter in the town and the subsequent referendum petition.

Runfola asked about whether a previous referendum involving the unbuilt Heritage Green’s land set the legal precedent for referendums, who pays for the legal and staff time used during the process and how the town would ensure that citizens participate in the ballot-writing process so that town residents would understand what they vote for.

Runfola asked for the town to respond to the questions so that they could be published in the Independent.

Town Manager Daniel Mears wrote in a follow-up email that Mayor Roy Hale is currently drafting a response to Runfola’s questions and will send the response to Runfola when it is complete.

La Plata town resident Lynn Marlin spoke after Runfola, and said she was “very perplexed” how a state referendum on in-state tuition for illiegal immigrants got on the ballot so quickly, but the town’s referendum is being dragged out.

“I wish and hope we have a word so we know what to do,” Marlin added.

The town released results to the public the day after the town council meeting that there will be a referendum after Mears verified 1,323 signatures from the town’s registered voters, more than 20 percent, or 1,194 signatures, of the voters required under state law.

Mears wrote in an email Monday that no date for the referendum has been set yet, but that he expects a date to be set by next week.

The town council agreed to get rid of several surplus vehicles and equipment the town no longer needs to use.

The items include two 2007 Chevrolet Impalas, one 2006 Chevrolet Impala, a 1993 International 8200 truck, a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria, a 2001 Landa Ehsar pressure washer and a 1980 trailer-mounted CCTV pipe inspection system.

The town council also adopted changes to its ethics ordinance that the state requested in response to changes originally approved in September.

The changes reduce the maximum value of gifts that council members can accept from $25 to $20 and make minor wording changes.

pwarner@somdnews.com