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New stats give county cleaner air, less crime

July 10, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

Great news everyone, our air is now clean! No, we didn't shut down any factories or start riding bicycles, it's just that the White House Office of Management and Budget (an oxymoron if ever there was one) no longer considers Washington County as part of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Instead, for statistical purposes, Hagerstown now is linked to Martinsburg, W.Va. So in one stroke of a government pen, our crime rate plummeted, our traffic congestion cleared up and our air no longer suffers from big-city smog. Although, as a percentage of our population, trailer dwelling may have - oh, never mind.

Reader Ron Hovis immediately pointed out that since we traded Washington/Baltimore's bad air for the pure air of the wild and wonderful West Virginia hills, our vehicles no longer should be subject to emission inspections. (You don't think state emissions testing is at least partly motivated by profit? When I bought my truck, no lie, the notification for emission testing arrived in the mail before the title.)

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So Ron e-mailed the state environmental agency to tip them off that our air was now clean, so automobile exhaust is no longer an issue. And he got a response, too, which he forwarded to me.

Unfortunately, I am not permitted to tell you what it said, because at the bottom of the government e-mail was the notation:

"The information contained in this communication may be confidential, is intended only for the use of the recipient named above, and may be legally privileged.

"If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication, or any of its contents, is strictly prohibited.

"If you have received this communication in error, please re-send this communication to the sender and delete the original message and any copy of it from your computer system. Thank you."

I reprint this in full, because if you are sweet on one of your co-workers and don't want your electronic mash notes publicly broadcast around the globe, you may wish to tack this addendum on to your communiqus.

Are you listening, Bob Wise?

  • In other news, the Hagerstown Suns have garnered national attention with their latest giveaway - a free funeral. I guess the bobblehead dolls just weren't getting the job done. Giveaways don't do a lot for me as a general thing, but I'd be real excited to win this one - so long as I got to choose the corpse.

  • Speaking of death, anybody else notice that Strom Thurmond died on the same day that the Supreme Court endorsed gay sex?

  • Yes yes, I signed up to block telemarketers through the new federal Do Not Call list. But what I really wish anymore is that there were a federal Do Not Speak To list.

  • Someone circled this paragraph from a story in the June 24 Herald-Mail and left it sitting on my desk:

    "Washington County residents have been studied for more than 80 years (because) a researcher in 1921 concluded that county residents are 'in no way peculiar,' which is a scientific way of saying the population is normal."

    I hate to disappoint the anonymous contributor, but even a stinker like me wouldn't feel right taking advantage of a set-up line like that.

  • Oh all right, I know you're curious about the EPA's response to Ron Hovis, so at the risk of violating federal law, let's just say you shouldn't be canceling your VEIP appointment any time soon.





Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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