by Christina Kauffman


June 15, 2003

Noise Free America gives Hanover, McSherrystown low marks

Jeff Hess admits some of his distaste for music these days may be a “generation thing.”

But he’s convinced he lost some hearing one day last June when a teenager’s car passed by, booming bass into his house 90 feet away from the road.

“The second hand shook on the wall clock,” he said.

Hess said loud, low tones popular in “souped up” cars are actually “weapons of mass destruction” that leave hearing-loss victims in their wake. The McSherrystown resident, known for his criticisms of local officials, nominated the Hanover and McSherrystown area for a “Noisy Dozen” award.

And while Hess may sometimes have trouble getting municipal officials to listen to his complaints, oise Free America, a national organization dedicated to fighting noise pollution, responded by awarding Hanover and McSherrystown the dubious distinction.

The towns won the “Noisy Dozen” for the month of June because the historical area has been overrun with boom cars, said the group’s communication director, Mark Huber.

To determine whether the area qualified as a major noise-maker, Huber said he contacted a list of Hanover residents who are upset by loud bass in cars. He said he also found a number of Hanover area Web sites dedicated to noisy topics such as after market stereos.

Previous winners of the “Noisy Dozen” include cities such as Rochester, N.Y., politicians including Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and even Viper Car Alarms. Nineteen Noisy Dozens are listed on the organization’s Web site,

Blast from the past: The designation of Hanover and McSherrystown may strike some as more noise than the situation warrants, but Hess says he’s serious. He plans to start a Hanover-McSherrystown affiliate of the group.

“I’m not trying to be a crank but it gets hurtful,” said Hess. “At 50, I’m too old to go back and learn sign language.”

Hess said teenagers disrespect the memory of Dwight D. Eisen- hower by drag racing down Hanover’s “Golden Mile,” officially named after the former president. He also complained about post-middle age Harley-Davidson motorcyclists with “gray ponytails” who set a bad example to youth by modifying their bikes to make them louder.

Hess said police are “deathly afraid” of the noisy motorists, so they do not respond to noise calls. But police must respond to false alarms caused by excessive vibrations from the “boom car terrorists,” which takes up time and is a threat to the area’s security, he said.

Hanover police officials are keeping quiet about their opinions on the matter but insist the department responds to all calls. People are cited or arrested for traffic or noise violations, and the department doesn’t deal with an inordinate number of false alarms, said Claire Wentz, assistant to the borough police chief. When police do respond to false alarms, Wentz said, they are usually caused by an alarm malfunction, not noise vibrations.

“We’re well aware of the problem on Eisenhower Drive,” Wentz said. “We work on those areas and do what we can.”