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Thumbs up, thumbs down

April 29, 2006

Thumbs up to Roger Ramey, a Charles Town, W.Va., native who spent decades as a firefighter, a fire company fundraiser and as a volunteer with many nonprofits, including the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. For all that, the Shenandoah Area Council of the Boy Scouts presented him with its 2006 Distinguished Citizen Award.

Thumbs up to Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich and the Maryland General Assembly, for enacting a law to improve the pensions of teachers in the state. As a result, teachers hired after 1998 will be eligible to retire with 54 percent of their pre-retirement income, up from the 42 percent they get now. If only these elected officials could get together on issues such as malpractice reform.

Thumbs down to officials of the Pennsylvania state government, who have taken way too much time to hammer out a plan to provide citizens with property tax relief. If the legislators had taken this much time to debate their own pay raises, the taxpayers might not need as much relief as they do now.

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Thumbs up to 23 volunteers from Faith in Action, a program of REACH Caregivers Inc., who went to the Potomac Towers and Walnut Towers elderly housing complexes to do spring cleaning for the residents there. For some residents, flipping mattresses and scrubbing floors are things they can no longer do.

Thumbs down to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which, despite repeated warnings about a possible bird flu pandemic, hasn't given its airport inspectors much training on what to do with live birds shipped here from other countries. One senior Homeland Security official, who spoke on condition his name not be revealed, said more training would come when an outbreak is imminent. So much for planning ahead.

Thumbs up to the Chambersburg (Pa.) Borough Council, for adopting a noise ordinance that will prevent those with car stereos from playing them so loudly that it disturbs other residents' peace. The vote is welcome, but it is sad that local government must get involved in regulating behavior that wouldn't occur if people had some courtesy for others.

Thumbs up to the team of students from Washington County Technical High School who won a "We the People" American History and Cultural Award at the Maryland History Day contest. Their prize came for a documentary they did on John Brown, who in 1859 raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., in hopes of triggering an uprising against slavery.

Thumbs up to Sgt. Dennis Mummert, a Washington County Sheriff's Deputy, for the special attention and compassion he shows to children who have been victims of a crime or a witness to one who must testify in court. The State's Attorney's Victim Witness Unit recognized him for going "beyond the call of duty" in an award that was part of national Crime Victims' Rights Week. We're glad that the most helpless victims have a caring person in their corner.

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