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Thumbs up, Thumbs down

March 24, 2007

Thumbs up to U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, for his introduction of a bill that would extend a subsidy to keep commercial air service operating at Hagerstown Regional Airport through 2012. The subsidy will allow US Airways Express to continue to provide two daily flights to Pittsburgh International Airport. Without the passage of Sen. Cardin's bill, that service would end on Sept. 30.

Thumbs up to the Washington County Board of Education and the Maryland Economic Development Corp., for their creation of a partnership that will allow the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts to open within two years. Not only will it provide students with special abilities the chance to develop them, but it will also help revitalize downtown Hagerstown and make the Arts & Entrainment District come alive.

Thumbs down to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which an internal report says allowed its 1,400 health clinics and hospitals to develop a variety of maintenance problems, including mold, leaky roofs and in one case, a colony of bats in White City, Ore. VA officials can't decide whether to eradicate the bats, because while they may be messy, they eat lots of bugs.

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Thumbs up to U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz, for rejecting a defense request for "time served" in the conviction of Jeffrey Scott Shifler, convicted of carrying on a two-year wave of hate letters, phone calls and threats - many racially insulting - against a number of Hagerstown residents. Shifler is lucky he didn't get anything more than 51 months.

Thumbs up to all of the volunteers, performers and young scholars who participated in the 21st annual Martin Luther King Scholarship Banquet, held March 18 at Hagerstown's Memorial Recreation Center. The event not only underscores the important of college, but it reminds citizens that higher education is a gift the community gives to itself when it supports scholarships for its young people.

Thumbs up to Betty Lou Harmison of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., for the many years of hard work she did to win honors as a 2007 History Hero by the West Virginia Archives and History Commission. Harmison was instrumental in the founding of the Museum of the Berkeley Springs in 1984 and served on its board of directors. She also wrote the original Town of Bath Walking Tour.

Thumbs down to the Maryland General Assembly, which, according to The Associated Press, is still clueless about what to do about increasing electric power rates. Democratic leaders backed deregulation in 1999, complete with rate caps, then tried to blame Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich when the caps came off and power prices went up. If voters let them get away with this performance, shame on them.

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