Thumbs up, thumbs down

January 21, 2006

Thumbs up to the volunteers and staff of the United Way of Washington County, who raised $1,649,569 in a 2005 campaign that topped the previous year's total by $18,700, despite all the money that was sent out of the area for Hurricane Katrina relief. Special credit goes to Volvo Powertrain Locals 171 and 1247, which increased their contributions by $20,318.

Thumbs up to officials in Berkeley County, W.Va., for working out a deal with Capitol Cement Corp. to enable the firm to do a $320 million expansion project that will allow the county government access to 2 million gallons of water per day, retain 150 existing jobs and create 250 jobs during construction. The expression "win-win" is overused, but it applies perfectly in this case.

Thumbs down to those members of the Washington County Commissioners who talk as if there are no easy solutions to the problem of soaring property-tax assessments. The first is to enact the "constant yield" tax rate. The second is to change the assessment cap on percentage increases in any one year. This county's cap is 10 percent; other counties' caps are lower.


Thumbs up to the eight young adult members of Hagerstown's Tri-State Fellowship, who traveled to the Gulf Coast in January and worked from sunrise to sunset to help residents there clean up the mess left by Hurricane Katrina. According to Julie Horst, one member of the group, they can't wait to go back again.

Thumbs down to Daniel R. Vovak, a Rockville, Md., man who is running for the U.S. Senate wearing a cheesy-looking powdered wig. His latest run for office - he's run for a variety of posts in other states - appears to be either a prank or a misreading of Marylanders, who are unlikely to elect someone with no experience in state or local office.

His candidacy encourages people to think of running for office as a joke, which it isn't. Don't waste a vote on him.

To the late J. William Stover, who served citizens of Chambersburg, Pa., as a member of the borough's civil service commission, as a member of the borough council, as its mayor and as a local district justice. That service spanned the years from 1960 to the 1990s. He also was a member of the business community as the one-time owner of the Chambersburg Laundry.

Thumbs up to the boosters of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., who spent nine months overseeing the refurbishment of the historic Capitol Theatre, closed since last April, when part of the ceiling collapsed, injuring several members of the audience. The group and its supporters didn't give up and were rewarded with a sellout performance on Jan. 13.

Thumbs up to Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, for introducing a bill to legalize slot machines for the fourth straight year.

In the unlikely event it passes, the proceeds would go to a trust fund to pay for the educational spending mandated in the law based on the findings of the Thornton Commission and to finance school construction and renovation.

The bill would also help Maryland horse racing, which preserves open space and supports many Maryland businesses. So what's not to like?

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