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Time for activists to accept change

April 01, 2007|By Lloyd "Pete"Waters

Growing up in Dargan is one of the fondest memories of my life. Our community was tied together based on people who valued and recognized our little town as a nice place to live and grow up.

Never mind the naysayer who would flinch at the name of Dargan, and tell you stories about the bootleggers who hauled their whiskey through Frog Hollow outside to those good citizens far and wide.

Never mind the chuckles and whispered comments when you announced that you live in Dargan, and that people glared at you as one of those who would rather fight than have ham and eggs for breakfast. Hey, we like ham and eggs too! From my view, it was the best of the best and even though times have changed I will always value such a place.

Speaking of changes, I also remember walking up the road from my grandmother's house to the little two-room school in the middle of our community. Grades 1 through 3 were in one room and grades 4-6 were in the other room. How neat is that? We didn't have to worry about the big town of Sharpsburg or the metropolitan Boonsboro back then. We needed a map to get to Hagerstown. It was 1956 and life was good. Good things last forever, don't they?

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As I grew up, I knew sooner or later things would change and I would move on to Boonsboro Middle school.

Eventually, that two-room school, like the other changes in our community, would be a memory of the past.

Members of our little town decried the thought of the Dargan School ever closing, but in the 1960s, a decision was made to close the school. No one was happy and the very center of our town's fabric was being torn by progress.

Jimmy Glenn, Doris Gay, and 50 other Dargan parents wailed against this action. We were appalled by the arrogance of education officials. Even today, as I pass that little two-room school, I am reminded of yesterday. Our community activists made their point. In the end, however, the school closed and the students who were sent to the Sharpsburg school made out OK, as well.

Reading the many articles and varied positions on building the new hospital, I thought about my own little story of the school house.

As I read Tim Rowland's article on the history of the new Washington County hospital and the seemingly lack of cooperation between the city, the county, the local delegates, hospital planners and community citizens, I thought about each entity's respective interest in the endeavor.

Everyone wants a little ounce of control and few, it seems, would actually encourage agreement.

When the Robinwood Medical Center was built, I wondered what the plan was then for a new hospital. We seem so content about living in the present, that we often fail to think about the future. Politicians are mostly intent on making people happy to garner their votes, and seem to stay silent on the difficult issues, hoping the topic will disappear.

The bickering caused by two separate forms of local government (city and county) does not best serve this community. Our citizens are becoming more and more aware of this dilemma and the hospital debate, or lack of it, is one seemingly divisive issue.

When you build a new hospital, prison, mall or school, it will always find a way to infringe on someone's property and some individual's way of life. Unlike uncontrolled land development and an increase in housing costs and related problems, a state-of-the-art hospital will be an asset to our community. In not only providing the very best medical care for our citizens, a new facility will also have the tendency to attract the best doctors to our area.

In talking to many nurses, practitioners, doctors and such, it seems as if the logical place for the new hospital is near those other professionals already located at the Robinwood Medical Center.

Whether or not the logical place for this entire medical complex is situated in the best place is another discussion that lives in the past. It is reasonable today that the hospital should be near the other medical professionals, regardless of zoning language. The debate could go on and on forever, but the health of our citizens deserves an end to this discussion.

Those individuals who have filed the litigation and oppose the hospital site based on previous zoning agreements have been described as community activists. I always applaud such activists, since normally an activist is defined as supporting the welfare of the community and the whole group, as opposed to individual desires and issues.

The community in this case, it would appear, might best be served if the hospital was built and its citizens began receiving the state-of-the-art medical care and patient accommodations they deserve.

The community might also benefit from a new facility that could attract more doctors to our area. Delaying the construction of the hospital does not seem in the best interest of the whole community.

To those litigants, I would say: You have voiced your issues, and registered your opposition. Changes to our way of living are inevitable.

It happened to us in Dargan and it will happen to you in Hagerstown. Now is the time to think of those who are sick, in pain or misery and would benefit from a new hospital.

If you are truly a community activist as described, I would urge you to further review your position and consider what is really and truly best for the whole community and the health of its members, including your own family's medical care.

It would be nice as well for the other members of this discussion (i.e., city, county, hospital administrator, state representatives, etc.) to also pause to reflect on how this project might have proceeded better.

I close this epistle as your friend from DarganCan we get a hospital please?

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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