Letters to the editor

April 30, 2005

Teacher of Year Paula R. Moore offers thanks

To the editor:

I would like to thank the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Education for hosting and sponsoring the Educators of the Year Awards banquet and ceremony on April 21.

It was a spectacular event that honored teachers of all grade levels in private and public schools. It was an evening that put teachers in the spotlight, but I would like to thank all of the people behind the scenes who made such a special night possible.

I would like to thank all of the sponsors, committee members, and businesses that donated their time, talent and money to such a worthy cause.


I would like to extend special thanks to the Chamber of Commerce and Board of Education for their generous gifts to me as Washington County's Teacher of the Year.

In addition, I am very grateful to Hagerstown Honda for awarding me the use of a 2005 Honda Accord for the next year. Washington County's children, schools and teachers are flourishing because of the great support we receive from this wonderful community. Thank you for supporting teachers and valuing our importance.

Furthermore, the first week in May is Teacher Appreciation Week. As a result, I would like to thank all of the outstanding teachers in this community who work so hard in and out of the classroom to make a difference in their students' lives.

Teachers' passion, dedication, and caring are the essential components to a great educational system. I believe that teaching is one of the most noble and wonderful professions in the world. It is an honor to be your colleague.

Paula R. Moore
Washington County's Public Schools
2005 Teacher of the Year
Williamsport High School

Let's stop the downzoning

To the editor:

For many farmers and landowners, the value of their property is a substantial part of their retirements. Smart growth, open space, historic character, quality of life, rural heritage, etc., all will be paid for out of the retirement of farmers and rural landowners if the Washington County Commissioners try to accomplish it by downzoning. The cost is staggering!

There are 250,000 acres at risk. The difference between selling farmland, versus building sites, is about $20,000 per acre after perk tests and other costs. That is $5 billion! Well you say, only half of the county is fit for development. OK, then lost equity is only $2.5 billion.

You may argue a $20,000 per acre difference is too much - then show me a building lot in the county under $30,000 per acre and farmland at more than $10,000 per acre. Even if the difference is only the $5,000 per acre the county now pays for easements, the aggregate amount out of the rural retirement is still $625 million.

If the County Commissioners are not in agreement with this analysis, then they are obligated to tell us what their estimate is. Surely they have an estimate, because to vote on an issue affecting as many as 20,000 county residents without considering the financial damage to their retirements would be irresponsible.

Nearly 100 people spoke against property devaluation at the downzoning forums, and almost 2,500 petitioned against it. In the next 30 days we must speak louder. Please call me at 301-432-8128 if you want to be heard.

Tom Berry

Gift of time

To the editor:

I want to express thanks to local author Mary Ellen Roelkey for helping Smithsburg High School celebrate National Library Week. She spent all of Wednesday, March 13, speaking to students who are interested in reading and in creative writing.

Students were moved by her presentation and her honesty. She generously did all of this for no fee. Although Roelkey visited to talk with students about the writing process and the way to publish one's work, she also shared inspirational details from her personal life. In 2004 under the penname ME Taylor, Roelkey wrote and published "May's Rainbow," a novel exploring the complexities of domestic violence as they affect a young female protagonist.

I am able to offer fun, extra activities in our school library because people like Roelkey donate their time and expertise. Hats off to all people like her who give of their time to make the schools more effective and the world a better place.

Linda Caudell
Library Media Specialist
Smithsburg High School

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