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Thumbs up, thumbs down

December 01, 2007

Thumbs up to Hagerstown City Council members Penny M. Nigh and Alesia Parson-McBean, for organizing a Dec. 20 Maryland Theatre concert to help people pay their utility bills this winter. One featured performer for the 7:30 p.m. event will be William Clarence Marshall III, an opera singer who performed with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra this past summer during the annual Salute to Independence. Tickets are $10. To get one, call 301-739-8577, ext. 116.

Thumbs up to Charles T. "Tom" Brown, for the 33 years he spent serving with the Hagers-town Fire Department. He rose through the ranks to become the department's Senior Fire Marshal. His accomplishments include increasing the city's arson arrest and conviction rate above the national average and overseeing the standardization of hoses to ensure compatibility of equipment at fire scenes.

Thumbs up to the police, prosecutors and expert witnesses who helped convict Floyd Bing-aman III of Hagerstown of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 4-month-old infant in January. Dr. Alan Walker, a specialist in "shaken baby syndrome" at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, called the child's injuries the worst he had seen in 30 years. Give this guy the maximum.

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Thumbs down to Washington County government department heads who, a study committee found, have rendered the county's merit-pay system useless by evaluating every employee's performance as "excellent." The study committee recommends giving all employees a step raise, with only top performers getting bonuses.

Thumbs up to the workers at the Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pa., for the hard work that they did to win two Shingo Medallions for their work on Humvees and power-generation equipment. The prize is named for Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese industrial engineer who studied and wrote about improving manufacturing processes. In 1988, the year the Shingo Prize was created, he was honored for his achievements by Utah State University.

Thumbs up to volunteers at the Antietam National Battlefield, whose many hours of hard work on a variety of tasks won them honors from Take Pride America, a federal program aimed at increasing volunteer work on public lands. Volunteers do everything from maintaining bluebird boxes to placing the luminarias - sand-filled bags with candles - to commemorate the 23,000-plus casualties of the battle.

Thumbs down to the State of Maryland, which is once again gearing up to blame the state's farmers for the lack of progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, agriculture has reached half of the goals it was supposed to achieve by 2010, despite a scarcity of funding for cover crops, which prevent runoff, but often don't yield much in the way of saleable crops or feed. Can't the state do some research on that before starting the blame game again?

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