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Will parents' emergency-room agony translate into votes?

May 04, 2005|by BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

Unless you've been very, very lucky, most parents in the local area have been to the emergency room of Washington County Hospital - and have an awful story to tell about it.

The story almost never involves the quality of care, but waiting for hours with a sobbing child whose deep cut or broken nose doesn't merit pushing the small patient ahead of the victims of a car wreck.

The team being led by Hagerstown mayoral candidate Richard "Dick" Trump is betting that voters will remember those awful times and vote for a group that supports the construction of a new hospital next to the Robinwood Medical Center.

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One of the team's new radio commercials features Dr. Allan Ditto, whose family has provided medical care here for generations.

In the spot, Ditto argues that the hospital has served the area well for many years, but that now it's time to retire the facility and build something new.

The commercial doesn't address questions of road access, zoning or the hospital administration's attempt to link the project with a 1,400-unit housing development.

Those are complicated questions, to be sure, which require negotiation with a city government whose attitude toward the project has, for the most part, been downright hostile.

That's not to say that the incumbents haven't raised some legitimate questions. But, given that these issues are complicated, Trump's team may find their appeal to emotion wins more votes than a discussion of traffic loads at the intersection of Dual Highway and Edgewood Drive.

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The City of Hagerstown will sponsor a free preview of the 10th annual Blues Fest as part of the May 12 "Thursday Night Out On The Town" event.

The events, held on the second Thursday of each month, run from 5 to 9 p.m. On those evenings, restaurants and retailers stay open and offer special deals to patrons who drop by.

According to Karen Giffin, the city's Community Relations Director, free music will be provided by Ronnie Ray and the Coolers, KoKo Blue and Pete Lancaster.

Selected merchants also will be participating in a contest that will enable someone to win combination Friday-Saturday tickets to the Blue Fest scheduled for June 3 and 4.

For more information, call 301-739-8577, ext. 116.

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On Saturday a reader called to say that the "blitz build" put on by Habitat for Humanity of Washington County involved construction of two houses, not one as noted on the "Thumbs up, thumbs down" column of April 30.

The item praised the all-female group who built one of the homes, but there was no intent to slight the other group. Everyone who lifts a hammer on such a project deserves the community's praise and thanks.

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The best way to prevent the ill effects of cigarette smoking is not to start. To keep children way from the noxious weed, Memorial Recreation Center, the Washington County Health Department and Brothers United Who Dare to Care will hold a "No Smoking Youth Rally" on Saturday, May 21 at the Martin Luther King Community Center on North Street in Hagerstown.

The organizers of the events are looking for youth groups to provide skits, musical presentations, speeches and written essays on the stop-smoking theme.

There is no cost, but registration is required. For more information, please call 301-393-9290.

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This past Sunday, John Colson, one of The Herald-Mail's community columnists, wrote an op-ed in which he argued that Washington County's problem isn't a lack of affordable housing, but the slow growth of wages and/or the lack of development of new, higher-paying positions.

Space limitations prevented us from publishing his long list of footnotes, but we should have said those would be available to anyone who is interested.

If you'd like a set of these notes, please send your request to Bob Maginnis, The Herald-Mail, 100 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21740, or e-mail me at

bobm@herald-mail.com.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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