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Tell us how city could cut costs

April 17, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

I don't agree with James Grinder's language, but I sympathize with his frustration. For those who missed last Saturday's story, Grinder is the Washington Avenue man who put up a sign in his yard protesting - with some rough language - the Hagerstown City Council's proposed tax hike.

Why is he frustrated? Possibly because after getting a city staff report last fall that predicted a need for five straight years of tax hikes to keep the budget in balance, council members have offered little in the way of cost-cutting or revenue-producing measures. And so, dear readers, let's give them a little help.

In exchange for a prize that will be described at the end of this column, tell us, in 50 words of less, what the city should do to cut its costs or raise revenues. Drop some services? Charge admission to City Park? I'm open to anything.

Send your ideas to City Tax Contest, c/o Editorial Page Editor, The Herald-Mail Company, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md., 21741, or e-mail them to opinion@herald-mail.com. The deadline is Monday, April 22.

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A little bit of Pen Mar Park's Sunday afternoon musical magic will come to downtown Hagerstown on Sunday, April 28, from 2 to 5 p.m.

The $5 per-person event will be held at the Masonic Temple, near the intersection of South Potomac and Antietam streets. The band will be The Headliners, familiar to Pen Mar regulars. The Police Athletic League will make available what's being described as "soda fountain fare" featuring soft drinks, ice cream and the like.

The event was the brainchild of Councilman Linn Hendershot, who wanted to create something to draw people downtown during the winter months when it's too cold to play outdoors.

"We can accommodate about 400, so get there early," Hendershot said, adding that there will be a jitterbug contest and a waltz contest. City officials are still working on getting discount coupons from local restaurants so that you can eat before you arrive, or after the music is over.

Among others, Hendershot credits Jim Powers, who coordinates the Pen Mar events, with helping get this project off the ground.

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If you attended the interfaith event at Hagerstown Community College on April 11, you know that there were many audience questions that weren't answered that night because of time constraints.

The organizers promised to answer all questions in a column to be run in The Herald-Mail as soon as possible. If you'd like to continue the dialogue, there will be another meeting held at the Frostburg State University Community Room Thursday, May 2 from 7 to 9 p.m.

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If you watched the April 13 telethon for the Parent-Child Center on WHAG-TV 25, you know that the event raised more than $125,000 for this local United Way agency that works to prevent child abuse.

Since 1995, reports of child abuse in Washington County have increased by 34 percent and in 2000, the Department of Social Services investigated 10 reports of child abuse every day.

Child abuse is learned behavior; if your daddy beat you with a belt, chances are good you'll do the same thing to your children. The Parent-Child Center teaches parents how to raise children without resorting to mental or physical abuse. One of its newer programs teaches teen mothers proper child-rearing methods.

Some of those young moms also speak at school assemblies, telling other teens what a mistake it is to get pregnant while you're still growing up. If you'd like more information on the program, please contact the center at 301-791-2224.

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More than $1,800 has been raised to aid the family of Tiffani Burnett, the Hagerstown child I recently wrote about whose mother gave her a kidney, only to see the transplant fail. The fund, designed to help the family with its bills while Tiffani waits for another kidney is being administered by Shiloh United Methodist Church, whose members are working to find some long-term solutions to keep the family solvent. I'll have more as the story develops. If you'd like to help, go to any Hagerstown Trust branch and make a donation to the Tiffani Burnett fund, Account No. 163-465.

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The prize for this letter-writing contest is a $35 ticket for two to Hagerstown Exchange Club's Louisiana Pig Roast & Bonanza on Saturday, May 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Potomac Fish and Game Club.

If you don't like pork, there will hamburgers and a variety of side dishes prepared by the staff of the Cajun Cookin' restaurant in downtown Hagerstown.

The event benefits the Hagerstown Exchange Club Foundation, which supports a variety of good causes, from youth baseball to college scholarships to the Parent-Child Center.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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