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thumbs up, thumbs down

June 30, 2007

Thumbs up to the late Dr. Harold H. Gist, who served his country and the Washington County area for many years, first as a member of the Army Medical Corps during World War II and later as an obstetrician/gynecologist in private practice locally. In addition, Dr. Gist was a member and supporter of many local civic and nonprofit groups, including the Kiwanis Club, the YMCA and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

Thumbs up to Ashley Grier, a Smithsburg High School graduate, for shooting an opening round 81 at the U.S. Women's Open on Thursday. It's not a score that will win many tournaments, but the 23-year-old deserves credit for competing at this level in a sport in which there are no teammates with whom to share the blame if things go badly. No matter how this tournament ends, she'll be back.

Thumbs down to Pittsburgh Steeler Anthony Smith, for demanding that his personal appearance fee for a Valley Mall autograph show be doubled after other teammates were unable or unwilling to attend. Today's well-paid players are in sharp contrast to Steeler vets such as Jon Kolb and Robin Cole, who did honor their commitments to come to a Cancun Cantina meet-and-greet. Goes to show you that money can't buy class.

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Thumbs up to Hagerstown Police Officers Kevin Simmers and Karen Hinchee, who were able to talk a man who was threatening to jump off a building in the downtown area not to follow through with his threat. It demonstrates again that in addition to enforcing the law, police must sometimes act as counselors to persuade those in distress not to harm themselves.

Thumbs up to Nick Smith, valedictorian of the Clear Spring High School Class of 2007, for his decision to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy and pursue an engineering degree. To agree, at age 17, to attend the academy for four years, followed by five years of active duty, shows a maturity and a sense of purpose that many young people in their 20s still lack. We wish him well in his quest to travel the skies.

Thumbs up to Hagerstown Community College, for its decision to offer classes in biotechnology, starting in the fall. According to Melanie Ulrich, who heads HCC's program, biotechnology can be used to improve the food we eat, clean up waste, produce new prescription drugs and design drought-resistant plants. Among other things, it should also produce some good-paying jobs.

Thumbs down to the Maryland Department of Public Safety officials and local elected officeholders who have failed to find a solution to the dilemma of how to get inmates at the local state prison complex to return to their home jurisdictions after their release. The Hagerstown Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness reports that 8 percent of local homeless are ex-offenders - and that not all of them are from Washington County.

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