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Around Hancock

December 29, 2005

A hand at Christmas

No "Grinches" here! I had a great day last week, just one day before Christmas, doing some last-minute errands around the town of Hancock.

The postal clerk cheerfully helped me mail some packages, the teller at the bank cashed a check with a "Merry Christmas!" and the folks at the local grocery were busy bagging and smiling.

There was nary a "bah humbug" and nothing but smiles and waves along the way. Despite the last-minute rush, despite the feeling that nothing would ever be done in time, despite the clerks who probably had lots of unfinished shopping themselves, everybody was ready to help and filled with the spirit of the season! One more time, Merry Christmas to all!

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Small-town rivalry

Long legs and longer arms flashing, the young men and women of four local schools have taken to the courts in the annual Tri-State Shoot-Out Basketball Tournament.

The boys finished last night in Berkeley Springs, and the ladies take the court this evening in Hancock.

This is the 20th year for the shoot-out sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Hancock and nearby Berkeley Springs. The Southern Fulton High School "Warriors" defeated the Hancock High School "Panthers," and the Clear Spring "Blazers" bounced the Berkeley Springs "Indians" in the first round on Monday. The "Panthers" met the "Indians" and were defeated on Tuesday, and the "Blazers" lost to the "Warriors," making the team from Pennsylvania the winners this year. The gym, capacity 1,000, was full of supportive parents and friends, cheering their favorite teams and supporting all the young student-athletes who gave up trips to Disney, or anywhere for that matter, to play for the pride of their teams. This is small-town rivalry at its best and most healthy. Keep up the good work, students and Rotarians!

About snow removal

Snow removal is always a challenge when more than two or three inches of the white stuff falls on your property.

Hancock citizens are required to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm. For those of us with yards, we have a place to shovel our snow, but others along the street have more difficulty finding a place to PUT the snow (before it melts, that is). If you cannot remove the snow because of disability or because you are physically unable, please contact the Town Office at 301-678-5622. Town Manager David Smith has information about those who might be able to help! Oh, and keep one of those small containers of ice melt handy, for porch steps and sidewalks that don't get much sun!

Police coverage

Hancock may begin sharing some police coverage with other small towns in Washington County. The Town Council recently approved a plan proposed by Police Chief Steven McCarty that would allow Hancock to borrow and loan officers and equipment with Smithsburg and Boonsboro. This would take place in the event of special circumstances such as large gatherings, rallies, parades and hazardous waste spills or other large emergencies. The visiting officer would be under local command. This is similar to an existing agreement with the Washington County Sheriff's Department. Boonsboro has a chief, and another full-time officer and Smtihsburg has three full-time personnel - two officers and a chief. The chiefs of police all happen to be retired Maryland State Police t roopers and have worked together before, making this arrangement mutually agreeable for all.

Town unity

And this wraps up another year in Hancock, one of many small towns in America and around the world where people are mostly honest and mostly hard-working, where gossip usually means we just want to know what is going on because we care, and where memories can be long for slights, but forgiving in a crisis. This is a community where the word "common" means more than ordinary and the word "unity" is reflected more in our attitude toward the outside world than our actions inside. Our town boasts its own share of "characters" who both annoy us and make us proud. Hancock is usually a great place to raise kids, as long as we help them realize that there is more to the world than the blocks between the school and I-70. There are few superlatives in small towns - except maybe the God-given scenery. And there are also few condemnations - except maybe the limitations. Both are tempered by humans who make creative choices to shape their surroundings - and their community - to reflect more than selfish desires.

For the New Year, I wish more of the same, plus the added challenge of always seeking excellence where mediocrity is easier, and always making peace where bitterness breeds.

One would hope that if a disaster the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina ever struck Hancock, we, too, would rise up and rebuild for the sake of all that is good, true, and healthy about our town! See you in the New Year!

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