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Thumbs up, thumbs down

October 20, 2007

Thumbs up to Robert Petties, a retired police officer, for volunteering six to seven hours each day to keep the programs at Hagers-town's Memorial Recreation Center up and running. The center, at 109 W. North St., has been without full-time leadership since former director Kim Buchanan left to take another job in September. Petties, who joined the center's board this spring, said it was "a chance to try to make a difference." Thank you, sir.

Thumbs down to Michael Mukasey, a nominee for U.S. attorney general, for his refusal to disavow "waterboarding" and other harsh interrogation techniques. Waterboarding, for those unfamiliar with the term, involves immobilizing a person in a prone position, placing a cloth over his or her face, then pouring water on the cloth. Said to simulate the feeling of drowning, if it isn't torture, we don't know what would be.

Thumbs up to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, for his order to ban open burning in the state during the current drought throughout the state. For those who scoff at the idea, consider this: State Forestry Director Randy Dye said that nearly all forest fires in the state are caused by humans and that 26 percent of those are caused by the burning of debris. Try a compost pile, please.

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Thumbs up to Mary Fortson, an English teacher at Antietam Academy, a school for students who have discipline and learning problems in their home schools, for agreeing to be photographed as a character from "To Kill a Mockingbird." The session led her and the academy's other English teacher to assign all their students to read the classic Harper Lee novel.

Thumbs up to students at the Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, W.Va., who recently took first place in the Intercollegiate Division of the annual West Virginia EMS and Firefighter Competition in Logan, W.Va. Dr. George Perry, Blue Ridge's EMS coordinator said that "quick thinking and a high competence in the fundamentals are what made these students successful in the competition." Go, Blue Ridge!

Thumbs up to Meagan Graff, a student at North Hagerstown High School, for protesting twice-a-week sessions of 25 minutes spent with advisors. Think what you will about the merits of her action, but Graff is exercising a basic American right. One thing she's definitely right about: Holding those sessions with students sitting on a stairwell doesn't make sense, especially from a safety standpoint.

Thumbs down to the person or persons who spread rumors that a student with a gun planned to start shooting at the Musselman High School in Inwood, W.Va. To some people, such things are a prank or a joke, but to the parents of the students involved, it's a terrifying experience. Thanks to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department and principal Ron Stephens for handling the situation so professionally.

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