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letters to the editor 3/4/01 - F6

March 02, 2001

Letters to the Editor 3/4



City council must help enrich the lives of seniors and youth



Over the years, I've had the opportunity to live in a number of cities, large and small, work with their governments and observe the successes and failures of the various administrations as they negotiated the daily "twists and turns."

Born in Hagerstown and raised in nearby Warfordsburg, Pa., my family has always been involved with Washington County.

When I returned to Hagerstown in 1997, after years of traveling with involvements in sports marketing and public relations in professional football and motorsports, I realized just how outstanding our city and its people are.

Since that time, I've become very much involved with a number of non-profit organizations and special projects for Washington County government and have learned first-hand about many of the needs of our citizens, young and old.

In the last few weeks, I've been interviewed by the media and participated in a forum, but to date, all the questions have dealt with bricks and mortar issues ... the Arts & Entertainment program, the new stadium proposal, the Civil War museum, the downtown campus of the University of Maryland project, parking garages and on and on.

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These are important for the long-range goals of our city, but what about our children and our seniors? What about the attitude of our citizens? What about 40 percent of our citizens not having health insurance? What do we do about the public apathy?

Our Hagerstown city government has a solemn responsibility to help meet the needs of our distressed neighborhoods, but we can't do it alone. We're blessed in Washington County and Hagerstown with a diversity of neighborhood healers: civic, social, charitable and religious groups.

Recently, President Bush noted that the "indispensable and transforming work of faith-based and other charitable service groups must be encouraged."

I agree. It's imperative that we address as many social issues as possible in our Washington County community, by partnering whenever possible. In the past two years, MIHI - Many Individuals Helping Individuals - a non-profit that I'm proud to chair, has worked with Washington County government on two occasions to increase the accessibility of two of the County's parks ... fishing piers for use by those of all abilities at Devil's Backbone and currently, "The Rainbow Connection" is in the hands of the design team for a totally accessible boundless playground at the Martin L. Snook Park in Halfway.

When elected to the Hagerstown City Council, one of my first priorities will be to work hand-in-hand with Hagerstown City Chief of Police Arthur Smith and his officers to do everything possible to bolster the programs of the Police Athletic League (PAL).

The Hagerstown PAL, now in its fourth year, is currently developing a facility at the Fairgrouds. Considering the limited financial support received to date, the officers involved, Brett McCoy of the Hagerstown City, Guy McCartney of the Department of Natural Resources, and their small Army of volunteers have done an incredible job. Now Williamsport has launched a PAL effort.

This is great, but wouldn't it be great if we could work with the County Commissioners and Sheriff Mades to develop a Washington County PAL organization with charters in each of our eight municipalities. With the proper support, this organization has the potential of developing into an incredible mentoring program that could be a model for the country.

There is another possible piece to the PAL project. Currently, the Washington County Health Department is struggling to develop a program utilizing the funds from the "tobacco settlement" to impact positively on our community.

PAL should be right in the middle of this planning developing a program that would genuinely impact on the overall future of our children. All the so-called 'non-smoking' programs have failed miserably. PAL would be a positive influence in putting some teeth into the health department's program.

I will also propose support of a Seniors Enriched Living (SEL) project that will offer a lunch-and-learn program throughout the year with the help of our neighborhood churches.

The Boys & Girls Club, along with Girls, Inc., will also be priorities in future planning for our community.

A review of our public transportation situation, alternative methods of paying for and repairing our sidewalks, and funding the Community Rescue Service are all things that will be near the top of the priority list in the months to come.

If elected, our new Hagerstown City Council will be much more aggressive in seeking alternative sources of revenue through the grant process and by lobbying with vigor in Annapolis 24-7-365. The days of sitting back and waiting to be taken care of are over.

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