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Bradley improves, a sewer update and Gerber's PR woes

December 04, 1997

Bob Maginnis Bradley improves, a sewer update and Gerber's PR woes

Remember Bradley Palmer, the Bester Elementary School student who was stricken with leukemia in December of 1996? After I wrote a column about the Hagerstown boy's struggle this past April, hundreds of Herald-Mail readers sent him get-well cards and some have recently asked what's been happening to the little guy.

The short answer is that he's doing better, according to his dad, Rodney Palmer.

"He's still in remission," Palmer said, but added that, "he's still got a long road ahead of him."

The 10-year-old, who had been unable to eat without becoming nauseated due to his treatments, is past that stage, and is off steroids and all "the other bad nasty drugs he was taking," Palmer said.

He's back at Bester now, where this week they're holding a "hat day" contest to benefit the family. On Tuesday, all the children wore the most unusual hats they could find, and Bradley went from classroom to classroom picking his favorite.

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Then the winners in each class were photographed, and kids had to pay a nickel to vote for the one they liked best. The winner will be announced Friday, and I hope to get a picture for publication sometime in the next week or so.

But even though Bradley's back in school, he still has to be careful of classmates with the sniffles, and his dad told me he recently had to send home one neighbor child who was showing signs of the chicken pox.

People have been very generous, Palmer said, and the Dream Come True organization put up a 15-by-30 foot above-ground pool for him this summer.

But Palmer said that so many sent donations with no names attached that the family is trying to figure out a way of saying thank you to all of them. Consider the message delivered, along with my thanks to all the people who sent cards and donations to help this family in their fight against cancer. If you'd like to send Bradley a holiday card, mail it to him in care of the Editorial Page, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md., 21741.

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I hate voicemail, because I never know whether the person I'm leaving a message for will ever get it. So I understand when people hang up or groan when mine is turned on. The other day, however, someone called, whistled one chorus of the hymn, "Faith of Our Fathers" and hung up. Does this mean I need faith, that someone has lost faith in me, or that there's now an ecclesiastical version of "Name The Tune"? I'm curious, so call me back.

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Gary Rohrer, Washington County's director of public works, called last week to clarify some points made in a recent editorial about a sewer system proposed for Holiday Acres, near Smithsburg.

The hook-up charge will be $2,750, not $6,000 as stated.

"That's the county-wide price. That's the benefit of having one service area," he said.

That charge gets sewer to your property line. From there it may cost $1,000 to $1,500 to have a plumber bring it into the house, Rohrer said.

Installing the system is not something that will happen overnight, Rohrer said.

"We don't even have the system designed," he said, adding that it could be two years before anyone has to hook up.

The editorial's original point - that it should be possible to treat the hook-up charge and related costs as a lien against the property for people on fixed incomes - still seems sound.

As someone who's spent $5,000 to have a septic field redone, I know that paying a hook-up charge on top of that wouldn't be something I'd welcome. But then the guy who did our renovation told me that next time my system fails, he'll have to move the field to the back of our property, at a cost of $7,500. Sewer, unforntunately, is a long way from my property line.

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A couple of years ago, someone started the (false) rumor that Madalyn Murray O'Hair had prevailed on the Federal Communications Commission to remove religious programming from the airwaves. A call to the FCC found the beleaguered agency buried in angry letters from fans of various electronic evangelists.

Now it's the Gerber baby food company's turn in the barrel. Someone has started a rumor which says that to settle a class-action suit, the company has agreed to give a $500 savings bond to every child born between 1985 and 1997. Just send in the kid's birth certificate, said the flyer I received, and the bond is yours.

Not true, Gerber says. A suit involving infant formula was settled in 1996, Gerber officials say, but their firm wasn't involved. I can just picture the clerk in charge of handling this groaning when another batch of mailed misinformation arrives. Anyone who wants a copy of Gerber's letter debunking this rumor can write me at the above address.

Bob Maginnis is Opinion Page editor of The Herald-Mail.

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