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Thumbs up, thumbs down

May 17, 2008

Thumbs up to Charles Sekula, owner of downtown Hagerstown's Schmankerl Stube Bavarian Restaurant, now celebrating its 20th year in business. Not only has Sekula been a successful businessman, but he has also been a tireless promoter of downtown improvement, acting as the moving force on many committees and helping to run Augustoberfest, which celebrates the city's German heritage. Congratulations on the first 20 years; we know there'll be (at least) 20 more.

Thumbs up to Karen Giffin, for her 15 years of service as the City of Hagerstown's Community Affairs director. Giffin, who is one of the area's best public relations directors, either in government or private business, also raised money for many events, such at the Western Maryland Blues Fest. She was also on the scene during those events, making certain that everything went according to plan. She'll be missed.

Thumbs down to Leland Lemley, a member of the Waynesboro (Pa.) Area School Board, for calling Stanley Barkdoll, the board's president, "an (expletive) and an idiot." Barkdoll challenged Lemley to find the $1.4 million in "fat" he alleges is hidden in the budget. We'd like to see Lemley take that challenge, although doing research is tougher than spouting off and cursing.

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Thumbs down to the Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School students expelled for letting the air out of more than 100 school bus tires on April 30, causing school to be cancelled the following day. Trying to explain it away as a "senior prank" ignores the cost of paying teachers for a day when no teaching was done. Again, we ask school officials: Why was it so easy for students to do this?

Thumbs up to the Hagerstown Fire Department paid personnel, Antietam Fire Co. volunteers and six employees from Lowe's, for spending last Wednesday evening checking and, in some cases, replacing smoke detectors in Hagerstown's South End. According to Mike Weller, the city's fire educator, since May 1, more than 600 homes have been surveyed and 325 detectors installed.

Thumbs down to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, for its failure to discover that a McKeesport, Pa., woman was receiving death benefits for 28 years, even though she remarried five years after her husband's death in 1972. At this point, she owes $109,000. Something like this makes you wonder how many other incidents such as this are going undetected.

Thumbs up to Hagerstown Police Department Lt. Mike King and HPD Sgt. James Robison, for their actions in apprehending Douglas Pryor, a suspect in the death of his girlfriend and Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson. Both received the Combat Cross for their actions on Dec. 19, 2007. Citizens must never forget that every day police face life-threatening risks.

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