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Thumbs up, thumbs down

September 23, 2006

Thumbs up to Anne Hinkle, who at age 89 still finds plenty of time to volunteer - three days a week at the Western Maryland Hospital Center, a day at Hagerstown Community College and a day at the Western Maryland Med Bank. For her dedication, she was named Washington County's "Most Wonderful Citizen" at the 20th annual Maryland You Are Beautiful luncheon at the Venice Inn. There's a good heart behind her beautiful smile.

Thumbs up to Kurt Landes, for the five years he spent as general manager of the Hagers-town Suns minor league baseball team, proving that with some imagination, it is possible to build a loyal fan base. His promotions included giving away a pre-planned funeral in 2003. He was named the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's "Business Person of the Year" in 2004 for good reasons.

Thumbs down to whoever designed the security arrangements for PenMar Development Corp. (PMDC), operators of the former Fort Ritchie Army base. Thieves stole $50,000 worth of copper rain gutters there, but no one is sure whether it happened in late July or early August. The theft was only noticed several weeks ago. Time to go back to the drawing board, guys.

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Thumbs up to the Washington County Health Department and the Washington County school system, for their plan to offer free influenza vaccine to elementary school students, who will be able to inhale a medical mist. Elementary students were chosen because they get many illnesses, then spread them to family members.

Thumbs up to Craig Fitzgerald and David Wilcoxen, two friends who met while serving in the U.S. Air Force, for their pledge to walk the length of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches more than 2,000 miles in order to raise awareness and collect funds for disabled veterans. The 29-year-old Fitzgerald, who left the military in 2004 after he was seriously injured, said the hike represents the start of his new life. It's also a great way to honor veterans.

Thumbs up to Lt. Robert E. "Bobby" Shirley and Chief Deputy Jesse Jones of the Jefferson County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Department for the combined 45 years of service that they have given to citizens of that Eastern Panhandle county. Both are retiring to take new jobs at the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility near Harpers Ferry, W.Va. We wish them well in their move to federal service.

Thumbs down to Pentagon officials, for continuing to defend their detention of an Iraqi photographer who works for The Associated Press. Officials assert they can detain him indefinitely because they charge the man has ties to insurgents. AP officials and the photographer, Bilal Hussein, say that if there is any evidence that he has done wrong, he should be charged so that he can defend himself. Hussein is one of 13,000 detained in Iraq, few of whom have a chance to defend themselves.

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