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Carroll County To Hold Hearing On English As The Official Language

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Haven Shoemaker Jr.
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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ)—Even though only a tiny minority doesn’t speak it, Carroll County is moving to make English its official language.

Alex DeMetrick reports that has the county talking.

In the small towns and farms of Carroll County, the last census found less than 2 percent of the population was not fluent in English.

“I’ll concede that the Spanish speaking segment of our population is relatively small,” said Carroll County Commissioner Haven Shoemaker Jr.

But that hasn’t stopped Commissioner Shoemaker from introducing an ordinance, making English the official language for the county’s paperwork.

“Such communications be done in English.  It’s that simple,” Shoemaker said.

And for most, it wouldn’t change much. Businesses can speak other languages. Schools would continue teaching foreign languages.

But Shoemaker says restricting county business to English would help with “assimilation. Immigrants have come here and we’ve all come together under this one language,” Shoemaker said.

“English ought to be the language,” said Les Preble.

Most here have never thought otherwise, although some debate a need for an ordinance.

“I don’t know why you have to make it the official language,” said Cal Bloom.

“Nowadays everything’s got to be in writing, otherwise somebody’s going to twist it around to all kinds of different directions,” Preble said.

“The first language of Carroll County should be English and the second language should be Spanish,” said Cathy Brumfield, of Westminster.

If approved, the ordinance would not trump state law, and would not apply to health or emergency services.

“If somebody calls 9-1-1 and they’re speaking Spanish, we’re going to respond to that call,” Shoemaker said. ”We’re not going to leave somebody hanging because they’re not speaking the English language.”

Even as most do.

If Carroll County’s commissioners approve the ordinance, it would join Frederick and Queen Anne’s counties in declaring English the official language.

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