Thumbs up, thumbs down

April 15, 2006

Thumbs up to Ron and Vicki Vitkun, owners of Washington County's Jellystone Park & Resort, for providing free or low-cost accommodations to more than 100 firefighters, emergency medical workers, nurses and police officers during a special recognition event held last weekend. Now that's what we call giving back.

Thumbs up to the Student Government Association of South Hagerstown High School, for the hard work its members did to earn the Maryland Association of Student Councils' Felix Simon Award for Leadership and Service. Among other things, South's SGA held two blood drives, raised $1,500 for Hurricane Katrina relief and even lobbied in Annapolis for more funding.

Thumbs down to the Nebraska State Legislature, for its vote to divide the Omaha school system into three districts -one black, one white and one Hispanic. Sponsors say it would give minorities more control over their own schools, but it would create an unreal atmosphere for students, who will someday live in a society with people of many races and cultures.


Thumbs up to Dana D. Brooks, dean of West Virginia University's School of Physical Education, for returning to Hagerstown this week and giving credit to the teachers and mentors who helped him when he was growing up here. Sometimes teachers don't know how much good they've done, so thanks for telling them.

Thumbs down to the person or persons who burglarized Joyce Rhodes' Hagerstown residence and stole, among other things, the urn in which her late daughter's ashes were kept. Of what possible use can this be to anyone but Mrs. Rhodes, who said it comforted her to have it nearby.

If you have any compassion, return what you have taken and give this grieving mother some comfort.

Thumbs up to the Washington Township, Pa., Supervisors, for the work they have done to protect the Antietam Watershed and enhance the quality of the east Branch of the Antietam Creek, winning praise from the nonprofit Center for Watershed Protection. Township Manager Mike Christopher said that township rules actually limit the amount of runoff from new homes and businesses

Thumbs up to the friends and family of the late Ryan Markle, a Washington County 17-year-old killed in a car crash 16 months ago, for working to honor his memory by creating the Ryan Markle Memorial Education Fund. His mother, Diana Markle, said the fund will provide one, maybe two, scholarships to Smithburg High School seniors.

Thumbs up to Sharan Carbaugh of Chambersburg, Pa., and Chip Uncapher of St. Thomas, Pa., for the years they have spent taking their dogs, Gus and Parnell, to Chambersburg Hospital to comfort patients there.

Gus, a brindled Great Dane and Parnell, a golden retriever, are both certified as therapy dogs with Therapy Dogs International in Flanders, N.J. Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows what a comfort they can be when you're not feeling well.

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