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Thumbs up, thumbs down

August 26, 2006

Thumbs up to the League of Women Voters, Antietam Cable, Hagerstown Community College and The Herald-Mail for the historic partnership that will allow citizens to see forums featuring candidates for sheriff, state's attorney, school board, county commissioner and Maryland state delegate in the comfort of their own homes. You can't say this partnership didn't do all it could to inform the public.

Thumbs up to the City of Hagerstown, for agreeing to retain ownership of the former Henry's Theater on South Potomac Street, to make it easier for state bond money to be used to create the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. The school, named for developer Vincent Groh's late wife, was made possible when he donated the building. Expected to open in 2008, it could enroll as many as 300 students.

Thumbs down to the Maryland Republican Party, for initially denying, then finally admitting, that it contributed $20,000 to help Maryland Public Service Commission Chairman Kenneth Schisler keep his job. Schisler and the PSC have been criticized as being too close to Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich. This is not the kind of thing that will help.

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Thumbs up to developer Greenvest L.C., for agreeing to donate 30 acres along U.S. 340 for a new Jefferson Memorial Hospital. Greenvest, which is developing the Huntfield community near Charles Town, W.Va., was encouraged to make the donation by Peggy Smith, the town's mayor. Thanks to both for doing a very good thing.

Thumbs down to Judge Gary McGinley of Kenton, Ohio, for his decision to allow two students convicted of stealing a deer decoy and placing it on a country road so they could watch motorists swerve to avoid it, to serve their 60-day terms after football season. Two teens were injured, one with brain damage, after hitting the decoy and rolling their car into a ditch. No wonder so many pros behave badly; they've been allowed to do it since they were children.

Thumbs up to Hagerstown Elks Lodge No. 378, for its donation of eight $500 scholarships to Hagerstown Community College, worth a total of $4,000. The cash comes from a bonanza held each year to raise money for that purpose. Elks Exalted Ruler Joe Barresi says that the lodge budgets $100,000 annually for its charitable contributions. Thanks to Joe and the Elks for their generosity.

Thumbs up to the King Magic Ring, a local magicians' group and manager Brian Sullivan of the Maryland Theatre, for bringing the Festival of Magic back to downtown Hagerstown. The family-friendly event, last held there in 1994, drew more than 200 people this time. This is the kind of "magic" that downtown needs.

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