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Thumbs up, thumbs down

August 19, 2006

Thumbs up to B. Marie Byers, for her fine performance as moderator of two Washington County candidate forums this past week. For two hours each night, she kept the proceedings running smoothly and professionally, enforcing the rules in a way that gave all candidates an equal chance to be heard. Byers also spent months helping to plan the events.

Thumbs up to the late W.E.B. DuBois and the late J.R. Clifford, among others, who in 1905 founded the Niagara Movement, which held its first meeting in 1906 at the campus of Storer College, now a part of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia. The Niagara Movement set the stage for the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the civil rights movement.

Thumbs down to executives of The Legal Services Corp., a federal agency that provides legal help to the poor, for using agency funds for lavish dinners, chauffeured drives and fancy offices. The Associated Press learned that board members of the agency, which turns away half who seek its help, rewrote policy to double the amount they could claim for meals.

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Thumbs up to Michael Pond of Bakerton, W.Va., for the two years he has spent forming a volunteer fire department for that town. Not only did the veteran firefighter get all the necessary regulatory approvals, but he also worked to raise funds and buy used equipment to get started. To top it off, he'll be the new department's chief.

Thumb down to whoever allowed an 8-year-old girl in Marion County, W.Va., to ride an all-terrain vehicle. The child was killed when it crashed, making her one of 41 to die in ATV-related deaths this year. That's a record for West Virginia. Mark Holmes, manager of the Department of Motor Vehicles' ATV program, says more fatalities now involve one ATV crashing into another. There's got to be a way to make these things safer.

Thumbs up to Terry Miskovsky, town recorder for Hedgesville, W.Va., for assuming the duties of the mayor after incumbent Charles E. Mason resigned to take a new job. She will serve until a replacement is found. Mason has generously recommended that his term be filled by Dennis Donaldson, a former councilman he beat by just two votes in the 2005 election.

Thumbs down to the U.S. State Department and the Agency for International Development, for allowing contractors in Iraq to waste millions on projects that were never completed. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Office of Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, found that one-third of planned electricity projects were paid for, but never started!

Thumbs up to Bethany Windle, a 2001 graduate of Boonsboro High School, for her decision to join the AmeriCorps service program. Instead of the law career she once envisioned, she's now helping to gut houses in storm-ravaged New Orleans so that they can be rebuilt. She could have chosen to become an attorney, but instead she decided to serve those who have lost a great deal. No matter what else she does, this experience will shape the rest of her life - and for the better.

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