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Letters to the Editor 3/3 Part 2

March 04, 2002

Commissioner Snook's rose-colored glasses

To the editor:

Washington County Commissioners' President Greg Snook has certainly turned reality on its head. If Washington County is in fact in "great shape" as he proclaimed at the recent State of the County' event I hate to think of the status quo in less fortunate areas. Of course, Mr. Snook-along with his Commission colleagues-is firing the first shot of feel-good propaganda in an election year. Only an extraordinary effort at burying one's head in the sand could otherwise explain the reference to a "shrinking" water and sewer debt, among other things, as a sign of the county's good health ("Hey, look guys-we've got it whittled down to $47 million and change. Now we can afford to get that clock fixed in the city square!")

In addition to this gargantuan debt, Washington County ranks highly in other undesirable respects: far too many minimum wage or non-living wage jobs, a preponderance of renters as opposed to tax-paying homeowners, a growing inventory of shuttered businesses, and, now, an inability, or lack of resolve, to retain needed teachers in our elementary schools. Not one word of these matters was to be found in the front-page coverage of the aforementioned address.

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Snook's reference to a low unemployment rate (and frankly it's not that low) is the ultimate dodge. The issue is not simply quantity of jobs, but quality of jobs. Luring these opportunities and their employers is undoubtedly hard work with no quick solutions. But let's face up to that challenge, rather than sugarcoat our county's root problems. Our growth areas-convenience stores, delis, dollar stores, and storage sheds-may be pots of gold to their owners, but will never in a million years (or final payment on the sewer debt, whichever comes first) add up to a vibrant economy.

"Don't worry, be happy" may be Snook's chosen strategy for his re-election bid, but it's not a workable choice for dealing with the tough issues confronting Washington County. Lucky for us, the voters will have the final say on that come November.

Kurt Redenbo

Hagerstown




Redistricting trauma should be infrequent

To the editor:

Now that the school redistricting vote is complete and the Blue Ribbon Committee has gone in separate ways what happens now?

We begin with 187 students the School Board's student representative, Alaina Rowe, feels will not be scarred because she went through redistricting. That's not the proper message to send to all these kids affected. I do applaud Alaina because she has strong spirit and was able to bounce back in just a few days of attending a new school.

I'm faced with reality every day I get my child ready for school. I know from experience what comes from loss and grief after having to leave one school to go to another. My child started a school where there were no Title I accommodations but was off to a good start with the support of a teacher and administration.

Then came day care problems and my child had to be transferred to an overcrowded school that has Title I accommodations. The nightmare began when my child was not fitting into his new school. He was acting out because he was frustrated.

Not only was he frustrated but the administration and teachers were as well.

My child was so out of control they believed he was Attention Deficit and needed to be placed on an IEP (Individual Education Plan.)

This school gave my child no support but was actually making things more frustrating because they could not get him to fit in mostly because he missed the first school he ever attended.

Then there were major problems and I had to meet with the then-Superintendent Bartlett, who understood my frustrations and was able to transfer my child to yet another school. Before transferring I met with the administration and the teacher who would be involved with my child. We agreed that he would be welcomed and made to forget his first school.

He did forget his first school and now faces today frustrated because he is feeling loss and grief that his teacher has been absent for many weeks. I have spoken with his substitute teacher, his health aide, his vice principal and message alerted his counselor but still my child is slipping academically and physically.

Some of those 187 students who will be moved this fall to a (different) school will be faced with the same frustrations my child is faced with today. Academically, can we afford to redistrict every two years?

Todd M. Roberts

Hagerstown




Delegation all over the board

To the editor:

So now we see still another inconsistency in the actions of the Washington County Delegation to Annapolis. It has decided to not support a pay increase to Washington County School Board members. But the delegation, without the blink of an eye, supports a 50 percent hike for Washington County Commissioners.

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