Filling a council seat and finding a better drug plan

November 30, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

I don't know all of the 16 candidates who applied to fill Kristin Aleshire's soon-to-be vacated seat on the Hagerstown City Council, but in my mind, there are two who stand out now: Walter E. "Nick" Carter and Harry R. Renner Jr.

Why? Because they wanted the job enough to run for it in the city election. In fact, Carter came within one vote of winning, but was edged out by Alesia Parson-McBean.

Carter is a former city police officer, but has also been involved in youth sports in this area for many years.


For me, candidates who've worked with volunteer organizations have an edge when it comes to politics. Volunteers are like voters; unlike employees in a private business, you can't fire or discipline them when they get on your nerves.

Instead, you have to convince them that you have the right answers. Youth sports volunteers, like City Council members, also put in more hours than they're ever paid for. Carter knows the drill and as a former police officer, he knows the city and many of its citizens.

Surprisingly, Carter's top priority during the primary was to get the city sewer plant in top shape. That's not a topic that wins many votes, but it will be one of the most important issues the city will face in the next four years.

Renner, employed until his retirement with the city engineering department, now works as a construction inspector with the Washington County government.

During the primary, he said he was running because he felt the council had wasted more than $200,000 to fight Washington County Hospital's move to Robinwood. The fact that he's asking some of those same people for a council seat shows me he's got guts.

And what about the relatives of current council members who are applying for council seats?

Gary E. Swartz is the brother of Councilwoman Penny Nigh and Steven Cromer is the husband of Councilwoman Kelly Cromer.

On Tuesday, those two were eliminated in a closed session that knocked out 10 of the 16 applicants.

The public deserved to hear from those who were eliminated last night, if only because they were interested enough in serving the city and its residents to apply.

And citizens should also be able to hear the council's final deliberation on Dec. 12.

But if the public doesn't demand that the mayor and council open that meeting, it won't happen.

Tell them what you want through their Web site at or by writing to them at City Hall at 1 E. Franklin St., Hagerstown MD 21740.

If you're in a Medicare Part D prescription drug program and you'd like to see whether there's a better plan out there for you, you're in luck.

Katrina Eversole, the Commission on Aging's Senior Health Insurance program manager, and others have set up a series of "enrollment events" in December.

At these events, seniors and/or their family members get to sit down in front of a computer, with a volunteer on a one-to-one basis and search the Medicare Web site for a new or better plan.

If a person decides to switch plans during annual open enrollment, effective coverage for the newly chosen Rx plan begins on Jan. 1, 2007.

To participate in an enrollment event, seniors should bring their Medicare cards and a list of their medicines and the dosages. If it's easier, Eversole says, just bring the pill containers.

The events will be held on the following dates and locations. Those attending may come either in the morning from 9:30 a.m. until noon, or from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Information on access and parking will appear at the end of this column.

Friday, Dec. 1, at the Washington County Commission on Aging, at 140 W. Franklin St., on the fourth floor.

· Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Washington County Free Library, 100 S. Potomac St.

· Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Commission on Aging.

· Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the library.

· Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Commission on Aging.

· Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the library.

· Thursday, Dec. 21 at the Commission on Aging.

If you are going to the library, there is free parking alongside the building. The event will be held in the second-floor computer lab. Check at the front desk for elevator access.

If you are going to the Commission on Aging, you may park in the Christ Reformed Church lot on the left side of the median in spaces 48-82. If you have a disability, you may park on the Aspiring to Serve lot against the brick wall facing Prospect Street.

Should you go? Yes. It's free and you just might find a better plan than the one you have now.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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