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letters to the editor - 3/21/02

March 21, 2002

Other workers deserve raises

To the editor:

It is with great interest that I have been following the Washington County's annual budget deliberations. As always the Board of Education's request is getting the most publicity. Various groups are coming forward to decry the "need" to fund whatever BOE asks for.

As a life-long Washington county citizen and a parent who depends on the county's public schools to educate my children, I am as attuned as anyone to the desire to make our school system as good as it can be. However, the current bone of contention - where the commissioners have balked at funding approximately $4 million which is essentially the cost of the proposed employee salary increase - is sound judgment.

Yes we need to reward our valuable teachers. Yes we must guard against losing them to other districts, but as valuable as our school employees are, we also have many other valuable employees. While the Washington County teachers have received generous raises each of the past several years our other county employees have been lucky if they have kept abreast of inflation.

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These employees may not as a whole, be as well-educated as our teachers. They may not be as highly visible. They certainly are not as organized or well represented, but they perform just as valuable, in many cases even more valuable, services to the citizens of the county. We have public works employees who ensure our buildings and infrastructure are safe and adequate to meet the needs of the community.

We have water and sewer employees without whom most schools would not operate regardless of the quality of the teaching staff. We have correctional employees who deal with everyday conditions that would not be tolerated in any other profession and we have the assorted office personnel who make it all work.

All of these people and many others who make the wheels of government turn have quietly accepted their 3 percent raises while BOE gave out much more. These dedicated employees do not normally speak out at public meetings. They do not have a union and a plethora of associated organizations, including the public officials who are in charge of their agencies, publicly promoting their cause.

They simply and quietly accept that the board of commissioners does what it can for them and go about their thankless daily tasks. For several years the county commissioners have been pledging to reclassify these deserving employees to ensure they are in the pay bracket their positions deserve. I hope leaving the door open on the proposed human resources request presented on Feb. 26 is an indication the commissioners are finally planning to honor some of these pledges.

I hope their decision to stand their ground on BOE increases is designed to leave room in the budget for their "other" deserving employees. While we are sensitive to the possibility of losing good teachers to higher paying positions in neighboring communities, we must also realize that there is a parallel problem of our "other county employees" doing the same. While nobody writes about our other employees in the newspaper every weekend, we have had a steady stream of them leaving county service unseen and unheard. The hemorrhage of qualified experienced personnel from these vital agencies should be of no less concern than the loss of teachers. I sincerely hope that our teachers and their supporters will recognize that there are other equally deserving people standing in the same line for the limited funds available.

Ted Ellis

Sharpsburg




Develop slowly

To the editor:

I am writing in regard to the proposed residential development planned for north of the Centre at Hagerstown. An official in a recent article noted that it (if approved) would be an opportunity not to be missed.

Perhaps the authorities would better serve the community by trying to keep a decent quality of life in this area than by trying to compete with the nearby major cities. Doubtless many of the people who would live in this development will come from these cities, trying to escape congestion and sprawl, only to find it welcomed here.

Terry Sirk

Mercersburg, Pa.

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