· For those who cover and follow government, the time between Christmas and New Year's usually provides only a few scraps of news from that area.
Some key government employees are taking their last bit of annual leave so they don't lose it, while others are preparing year-end reports. In my experience, in the absence of the person in charge, no subordinate wants to be quoted, particularly if they're not sure how the boss will react to what they say.
So I'll give them a break this week and offer a few of my own thoughts about issues I feel will be important in the years to come.
Transportation is likely to need attention sooner rather than later. Some contacted me to complain about my recent suggestion that the county government purchase homes along one side of Robinwood Drive so it could eventually be widened. (One letter appears elsewhere on this page.)
I agree that there are probably better, more professionally designed solutions, but back in 2004, I wrote about the revival of a bypass proposal the county commissioners had killed back in 1998.
Three years later, it still hasn't been settled. My plan might be poor engineering, but it just might get done more quickly.
Water is an essential resource for any community and I wonder, as we're building new schools, has any thought been given to equipping them with waterless urinals?
I saw the devices installed at Interstate 95 rest stops, with signs claiming that each saved 40,000 gallons of water per year. At some point, we might just need to conserve this vital resource.
· Not long ago, someone dropped off several beautiful color pictures of Matt Johnson of Hagerstown and Chris Goetz of Greencastle, Pa., with the big whitetail bucks they bagged on a recent hunting trip to Canada.
Those pictures and their story are posted on "In The Woods," The Herald-Mail's hunting and fishing Web page.
If you haven't seen it, go to www.herald-mail.com, scroll down to the bottom of the front page and click on "In The Woods."
If hunting is not your thing, I respect that. But please consider the possibility that I am correct when I say that without hunters, the public lands now reserved for that purpose would be sold off, a few acres at a time, whenever the government got into a cash crunch. And really, isn't there always a cash crunch of one sort or another?
· The first seed catalog of the 2008 growing season came in the mail this week. Every winter, I tell myself that this will be the year that we have a great vegetable garden.
It hasn't happened recently, but as with every new year, at the beginning anything is possible, at least in my imagination. The challenge is turning imagined success into the sustained effort necessary to make it happen.
· The Associated Press reported that the recently licensed Pennsylvania slot machine parlors have now topped the $1 billion mark for gross wagering during 2007.
AP said that $100 million of that went into rent and property-tax subsidies for low-income seniors.
The law legalizing slots was passed in 2004 and it's taken three years to get to this point. Marylanders might want to think about that when deciding whether or not to approve slots.
Bob Maginnis is
editorial page editor of
The Herald-Mail newspapers.