The continuing saga of 'Bucky' and other items of local interest

February 25, 2004|by BOB MAGINNIS

Elsewhere in this edition is a letter from Kevin and Starla Hall, the Hagerstown couple who rescued a dazed deer named "Bucky" from traffic near Eastern Boulevard.

I talked to the Halls when they brought in their letter. Their chief complaint is that there was no consistent response from Department of Natural Resources officials.

One day, the Halls said, DNR was talking about taking Bucky out to far Western Maryland, where he would be given "aversion therapy" to keep him from approaching humans.

The next day, the Halls said, DNR was telling them that no, that wasn't possible, and that the animal would have to be killed and tested for disease.


The story overshadowed a lot of other important news, because, as any parent knows, animals are lovable in part because they depend on humans for their care. And unlike children, they do not argue about what you're trying to do to help them.

Tim Rowland had a great column on the subject this past Sunday, lamenting the fact that too often we sympathize with the plight of animals while ignoring the needs of children.

That's true, but as I've learned in more than 10 years of raising funds for the Parent-Child Center, a United Way agency working to combat child abuse, abused and neglected children seldom wander up to you on the street, as Bucky did.

While I was off last week, a majority of the Washington County Commissioners decided to do the right thing and kick in $600,000 toward construction of a second parking deck for downtown Hagerstown.

The $2.4 million, five-level deck will serve the city's Arts & Entertainment district on South Potomac Street, not to mention providing parking for the University System of Maryland's Hagerstown Education Center and the county school system's magnet schools for the arts.

In addition, the decision to fund the deck will enable developer Don Bowman to build a new structure to replace the now-demolished Double T Tavern.

Is it a risk? No doubt, but contributing cash up front to make the debt service affordable is a good idea. The commissioners - three of them, anyway - deserve a lot of credit for doing the right thing.

During the recent "State of the County" meeting, the commissioners were asked about Commissioners' President Greg Snook's recent comment about wanting more "cooperation" from the City of Hagerstown.

But what does cooperation mean? Listening with an open mind, or agreeing meekly to every county proposal?

Commissioners' Vice President Bill Wivell didn't offer much detail, but said that "behind the scenes" talks are under way on a variety of issues.

Let me suggest that until citizens know what the county is seeking and what the city is offering as counter-proposals, it will be impossible to determine which side is being reasonable.

Hagerstown Councilman Kristin Aleshire ruffled Del. John Donoghue's feathers last week when he said the state lawmaker has been a no-show at too many public events, including a fund-raiser for the REACH cold-weather homeless shelter and a December meeting between the delegation and the mayor and council.

My apologies to Aleshire, but I'm much less concerned about Donoghue's appearance at public events than I am with his lack of leadership on issues like last year's dispute between the city and the county governments.

The intergovernmental battle is ongoing and as the city's representative, Donoghue has some obligation to help find a solution.

Nobody ever minded when former Del. Cas Taylor didn't attend some chicken-dinner fund-raiser, because they knew he was working for them. I'll give Donoghue a pass on all these events if he can spend the time elsewhere, advocating on the city's behalf.

On Sunday, Feb. 1, I wrote about Angela and Jimmy Koontz, a Washington County couple whose child will soon be born with a serious heart defect.

Both work, but it's unclear whether their insurance will cover all costs, like helicoptering the child to Delaware for special surgery.

To help, Kevin Shorb has organized an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner on Sunday, March 14, from noon until 5 p.m. at Elias Lutheran Church, 100 W. North Ave., in Emmitsburg, Md. Tickets are $8 at the door and there will be no advance sales.

For additional information, call Shorb at 410-259-4873.

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