By Ken Rossignol
LEXINGTON PARK (Sept. 6, 2013) — He could have been camping out in one of the Hobo Camps near the Lexington Park library or on the site of the now-razed Flat Tops housing community, but Thomas Oakley Burch III was arrested by St. Mary’s Sheriff’s deputies when he was discovered on the premises of the homeless shelter in Lexington Park.
According to police, on September 4, 2013, members of the Lexington Park COPS Unit were patrolling the area of Lei Drive and came in contact with Thomas Oakley Burch III 49 years old who was on the property of the Three Oaks Shelter. Burch was previously issued a notice not to Trespass for the property. He was arrested by Deputy Krum and transported to the St. Mary’s County Detention Center.
Burch has had a series of minor run-ins with the law, being convicted of theft, found not guilty of assault, cited for trespassing and driving while revoked.
The homeless shelter has rules about not bringing booze or drugs into the facility, not that those rules are always followed and that everyone must clear out during the daytime hours.
The liberal do-gooders of St. Mary’s County decided to build the homeless shelter because they wanted to shift the cost of paying for those in need from private charity, where local churches were paying the cost for housing men in cheap hotels. The Three Oaks Shelter was conceived with a $150,000 state grant guided by then-Delegate John Slade, on property given for the effort by the Board of County Commissioners. The promise from the organizers of the shelter was that private groups would support it and there would be no burden on the taxpayers. The reality is that for the past ten years, the taxpayers have been paying for the CEO of the shelter, an annual salary of $85,000.
The only problem was that there were too few homeless men to fill the center and for most of the month after it opened, it was closed with the front door locked. The supporters of the group did have a cocktail party there just before Christmas in 1996 but on Christmas Eve, deputies who tried to drop off a homeless guy they found sleeping in an alley, couldn’t get anyone to accept him at the shelter due to it being shut tight.
After embarrassing publicity of the affair the do-gooders then decided to import bums from Baltimore and soon van-loads of bums not wanted by the City of Baltimore began appearing in Lexington Park.
Since the shelter has their no-drugs and booze rules, Hobo Camps have sprung up and the panhandlers ply their craft on the streets and store parking lots of Lexington Park.
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