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Headlines and progress

September 02, 2004

Washington County Commissioner Doris Nipps on Tuesday defended the secrecy surrounding the two-on-two talks that produced the blueprint for progress unveiled that night.

Often in the past, she said, bits of information were used to create headlines that tended to create mistrust between the parties trying to negotiate. That suggests that it is the media's fault that it took so long to achieve progress.

We suggest another explanation: In 2003, Judge Fred Thayer ruled that Hagerstown couldn't enforce its annexation policy in areas where it had already agreed to provide service.

But outside those areas, the city was free to do as it chose, the judge said. That meant many county economic-development projects could be subject to possible requests for annexation or annexation agreements.

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The lawsuit county officials felt would resolve the annexation dispute in their favor had in reality given the city a victory of its own. After the near-loss of the Tractor Supply distribution center, county officials knew something had to give.

In sum, as long as both governments felt they might prevail, the fight continued. When both wisely realized that a continued battle would only hurt both, they wisely decided to work together, providing a headline even Nipps should agree is a positive one.

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