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Thumbs up, thumbs down

December 15, 2007

Thumbs up to John Waltersdorf and his late wife, Margaret, for giving more than $150,000 over the years to the United Way of Washington County. Waltersdorf received the agency's first Humanitarian Award during an event that also honored First Data Corp., for outstanding corporate leadership and five contributors, who gave more than $10,000 apiece in 2006. They were Wesley and AnJanette Doll, Howard and Anne Kaylor, Vincent Groh, James and Georgia Piern and William and Selina Reuter.

Thumbs up to the Berkeley County (W.Va.) Commission, for the work its employees did to win the Thelma J. Stone Memorial Achievement Award for the county government's Internet Web site. Known as the virtual courthouse project, it will eventually allow residents to review records and purchase copies of them online. Plans are to have 60 years of county records scanned in by June of next year.

Thumbs up to Washington County Circuit Court Judge John H. McDowell, for stating at the trial of a former county employee who pleaded guilty to extorting a $1,400 laser survey level for the county from a contractor that "It appears this is the way things have been done for a lengthy period of time." If the judge believes that, he should seek a grand jury investigation.

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Thumbs down to the office of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, for saying that a legislative audit critical of his last 18 months as secretary of state was just routine finding by auditors trying to improve state agencies. Among the problems cited in the audit: Lack of records to support about $1.4 million in pay for 17 of 106 workers.

Thumbs up to the Washington County Commissioners, for the pledge to put one of their unfinished goals from 2007 - implementing the county's emergency medical services master plan - near the top of their 2008 list. Other proposals, including creation of council of governments and developing a countywide transportation plan, have merit, but the county board has wisely decided that the safety of the public must come first.

Thumbs up to residents of Bellevue, a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska, for trying to warn local police that 19-year-old Robert Hawkins was selling drugs, smoked marijuana with an adult and had easy access to guns. Police in Bellevue said Hawkins' house was outside their jurisdiction and that the tip should have been sent to the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department, which said it never arrived. Hawkins killed eight at a mall, then shot himself.

Thumbs down to the officials of the Antietam Moose Club on Leitersburg Pike, for proceeding with plans for a party to which the public would be admitted before getting approval from the Washington County Board of License Commissioners. A private club has certain tax advantages because its facilities are not for the public, but for members and their guests. We're sorry about the club's financial woes, but the law is the law.

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