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Thumbs up, thumbs down

January 13, 2007

Thumbs up to Spc. Corey J. O'Connor, a 2004 graduate of Waynesboro (Pa.) Area High School, for his willingness to serve his country by enlisting in the U.S. Army in July 2004. O'Connor was injured in Iraq on Jan. 5, when an IED (improvised explosive device) blew up near the Humvee he was riding in. He was almost certainly saved by a medic's quick action and now faces months of recovery. Get well soon, please.

Thumbs up to former Baltimore Orioles' star Cal Ripken Jr., for the humble, workmanlike way he played the game for 21 years. In contrast to some of the egocentric players in today's game, Ripken was a role model for many youngsters and often stayed after games to provide free autographs, both in Baltmore and on the road. He richly deserved election to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.

Thumbs down to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, for his failure to include funds to keep teachers in border areas such as the Eastern Panhandle from being lured away by higher salaries in other states. Manchin said his goal is to see that no teacher in the state makes less than $30,000. In this area, where property prices have soared, that's just not enough.

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Thumbs up to Vernard Brintzenhofe, for his service in World War II and with the Bulldog Deatchment of the Marine Corps League that won him honors as the 2006 Marine of the Year. Brintzenhofe, who enlisted in 1942 at age 17, saw action at Guadalcanal, Saipan and Iwo Jima. He now serves with the Bulldog Detachment and was very active in the 2006 Toys for Tots drive.

Thumbs up to Matthew Amalfitano, a 16-year-old student at North Hagerstown High School, for his impressive record of public service for one so young. He has already lobbied the Maryland General Assembly, set up a youth fundraising arm of the United Way of Washington County and organized a youth group that advises the county's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition. In his spare time, he tutors elementary school students!

Thumbs down to the parents of nine Washington County Public School students who as of Thursday had not gotten their children the required vaccinations, or made arrangements to do so. As a result, they've been held out of school for a week. Health officials will probably make some extraordinary arrangements to get these pupils their shots, but that shouldn't be necessary.

Thumbs up to David W. Brining and Douglas M. Pittinger, for their combined 51 years of service to the Martinsburg (W.Va.) Fire Department. Both men are retiring. During his career, Brining attained the rank of captain and eventually became a county medical examiner for Berkeley County. Pittinger, who served 20 years as a firefighter/EMT Paramedic, became a medical examiner in Jefferson County.

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