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Thumbs up, thumbs down

November 03, 2007

Thumbs down to Del. Shane Pendergrass, D-Howard, for her attempt to strip Maryland's four western counties of control over local tip-jar gambling. If she succeeds and the state ends up taking all or some of the money, the Washington County nonprofits and their needy clients are the ones who will be hurt. The local delegation should retaliate as soon as possible.

Thumbs up to Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the other members of the Community Lobbying Coalition, for springing into action to defeat a bill that would give control of local tip-jar gambling to the state of Maryland. It's a shame that such a fight is necessary, but nice to know that there is a group ready and willing if it's needed.

Thumbs up to Jeanne F. Singer, chairman of the board that drafted a charter for Washington County and her fellow board members, for spending months on a document designed to bring government closer to the people. The latest revision would create a seven-member county council, elected at-large and reduce the signatures needed to spur a referendum.

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Thumbs up to the Washington County Commissioners, for agreeing to recommend that the county's new excise tax rate would be $3 per square foot, instead of the $2 per square foot that an advisory panel recommended. The rate needs to be high enough to cover the cost of new roads, schools and other needed services.

Thumbs up to Spc. Erik Nowak of Bunker Hill, W.Va., for the hard work he did to merit being named the 2007 U.S. Army National Guard Soldier of the Year. A member of the 157th Military Police Company in Martinsburg, W.Va., he was selected after a competition that included, among other things, a 10-mile road march while carrying 35 pounds of gear. In January, he starts officer training at Fort Benning, Ga.

Thumbs up to Chick Meehan, for his dedication to teaching the game of football to the young men of St. James School. Meehan coached the team from 1974 to 1999, had a one-year sabbatical in 1991 - and returned in 1994. His teams won 141 games over his 28 years on the sidelines, but he said at age 60, it's time to pass the reins to a younger person. Finding someone to fill his shoes won't be easy.

Thumbs down to the members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, who protest homosexuality and the military's tolerance of it by demonstrating at the funerals of soldiers killed in the Middle East. One soldier's father sued them and came away with an $11 million judgment. If he needs any help collecting it, we're sure that there are more parents and soldiers who would be glad to assist in the effort.

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