So what did you do with your property tax refund?

July 06, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

We haven't had a letter-writing contest in a while, so try this one if you'd like to do so.

The Washington County government recently issued $150 property tax rebate checks to many local citizens.

Tell me, in about 100 words, what you did with your rebate and I'll give the one who writes the best letter a $25 gasoline card from the retailer of my choice.

Because of some "creative" entries in our last contest, to win you must agree to allow me to check to see whether you did in fact, receive a rebate. And if you tell me that you used the money to take the Dalai Lama to lunch, I might need some convincing that you actually dined with the well-known spiritual leader.

Please reply by 5 p.m. on Monday, July 17. Send regular mail to Refund Contest c/o Editorial Editor, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741. Or send e-mail to Please put "Refund Contest" in the subject line. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 19.


And, speaking of reader feedback, our Monday feature "Herald-Mail Forums" will return on Monday, July 10, in its original form.

Until we ran into some software problems, it worked like this - and will again:

Every Monday, we'll ask a question based on a recent local news topic. Readers will post replies by going to and clicking on "opinion."

There you will find a "current opinion poll." You will not have to register to comment and you will be able to view others' comments.

The replies will be collected the following Friday at about 10 a.m., then placed on the following Monday's page, along with another poll question.

Not long ago, I wrote a column seeking new members for The Herald-Mail's Editorial Advisory Committee.

The group has met monthly since 1997 to give me feedback on editorial positions, policies such as length of letters and topics for my own personal columns.

As with any group, some members have moved away or taken new jobs that prevent them from attending. We have previously had high school and college students, working mothers and people of color.

We're down to one working mom now and one of our African-American members went away to college, while another took a new job.

It's important for me to get community feedback because, like anyone who has been in a job for a long time, I could start to begin believing that I know what's best for the community.

That's a dangerous attitude. I'm a lot of things, but I'm not not a working mother or a person of color. If The Herald-Mail doesn't seek out the views of everyone, we're not doing a good job.

If you would like to join, or at least attend a meeting and see if it is for you, please e-mail me at, or write to Editorial Page Editor, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21740 by July 15. Thank you.

The City of Hagerstown put on a great July 4 celebration at Fairgrounds Park. The Shades cranked out the oldies, followed by the most elaborate fireworks show I've ever seen. The smallest children, who had been playing on the grassy fields for hours, climbed up in their parents' laps to ooh and ahh.

Yes, there were a few cell-phoners in evidence, but most seemed to be searching for someone in the crowd of thousands or taking pictures. In this case, I forgive you.

Monday was the deadline to file for most elected offices in Washington County. More than 20 candidates have filed for the five seats on the Washington County Board of Commissioners, so it will take some work to sort through the candidates this time.

I urge you to do it. Every election is pivotal in one way or another, but this one has the potential to determine whether Washington County makes the same mistakes as counties to the east.

In some of those counties, development proceeded even though the infrastructure - schools and municipal utilities - weren't adequate. Taxpayers then had to endure constly delays twice - once for the development and once for the upgrades of roads, water and sewer lines. We can do better, if citizens pay attention to who they're giving the reins to.

Bob Maginnis is Opinion Page editor of The Herald-Mail.

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