Time passes too quickly and with it, opportunity

August 11, 2004|by BOB MAGINNIS

Each morning when I come downstairs, the first thing I do is nudge our old hound dog, now 13. He then takes a deep breath, twitches or in some other way demonstrates that he's still alive.

One day he won't be, of course, just as one day it will be part of someone's routine to approach me while I'm in a deep sleep, trying to see the small movement of my chest that will tell that person that I haven't "gone to glory."

I'm thinking these melancholy thoughts because time seems to be passing so quickly, too quickly for me to keep up. After a recent problem with an insurance claim, I asked someone in our human resources department if it could have been because of the change in insurers, which I thought took place last December.

No, she said, that was two years ago. I recently read that it's been five years since John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash. I'd just gotten used to him being an adult when that happened and now he's five years gone.


The seasons are changing too quickly as well. It seems like last week that part of our big maple tree fell on the roof in a thunderstorm. At the time, I was thankful that the big black walnut trees hadn't leafed out yet, which would have made them more vulnerable to the storm. Now, walnuts as big as tennis balls are falling onto the lawn.

There's a lesson here, one that I frequently shared with my children: The clock doesn't stop just because you're not ready to move. Time will go by and if you don't act, it's possible that five years from now, you'll still be in the same place, careerwise and otherwise.

I thought about that when I read about the purpose of a closed-door meeting in July between officials of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF) and the Washington County Health System, which operates the local hospital.

Apparently, the officials discussed the redevelopment of a number of properties in Hagerstown's East End, including Municipal Stadium and the present hospital site.

Bravo, I say. Anyone who passes by the empty parking lot of the Venice Inn, remembering what a vibrant place it once was, has to applaud those who want to dream about a better use for that property and other parcels nearby.

I hope, however, that officials aren't losing sight of a project that Hagerstown could accomplish much sooner for the benefit of all. I'm talking about the proposal, now more than a year old, to take some large blocs of downtown property and renovate them into market-rate housing.

My own son bought a fixer-upper on the fringe of downtown for about $65,000 just a year ago. The Realtor who helped with the deal now says it's worth $80,000-plus.

Time went by, but because my son put sweat and money into a dream, something good happened. Relatively low interest rates, at least for the moment, could make the same possible for others here.

I agree with Richard Phoebus, CEO of CHIEF, who says it's time for the community to start dreaming about big things. Let me respectfully suggest that if a few small dreams - such as a few blocks of renovated homes - come true, it would be easier to get city folks to believe that the big ones could, too.

On Thursday, Aug. 12, from 5 to 9 p.m., downtown Hagerstown will hold the latest edition of its "Thursday Night Out" series.

Merchants and restaurants will stay open late, the city will provide free parking and the Washington County Free Library will offer an outdoor showing of the movie "Funny Face" at 8:30 p.m. (Please bring your own chairs.)

For more information, call Karen Giffin, the city's public information director, at 301-739-8577, ext. 116, or e-mail her at

In an op-ed this past Sunday, Tom Firey proposed that the Hagerstown and Washington County governments be legally separated, relieving city residents of the burden of county taxes - a division he says Annapolis "likely would grant..."

It's a novel approach, although if it were a real prospect, even the city might balk at striking out like the Prodigal Son, forsaking forever a relationship - financial or otherwise - with the county.

How the two governments relate to each other is an issue that cries out for some serious study, but as long as so many business leaders are afraid to tell elected officials that their incessant feuding makes no sense, it won't happen.

If you wrote one of the "Flag for a Vet" letters, you're due an American flag from the "Healing Field" display at Antietam National Battlefield. I now have flags ready for pickup or delivery (in the local area.)

Please call me at 301-791-7622, or e-mail me at and let me know how we can accomplish this.

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