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Thumbs up, thumbs down

May 31, 2008

Thumbs up to Charles Smith, an eighth-grader from Hancock Middle-Senior High School, for his performance as Washington County's representative to the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Smith was tripped up by the word "onomasticon," which sounds like a villain from the "Transformers" movie, but is actually "a list of proper nouns or names and terms." Congratulations also to Jessica Shakespeare, an 11-year-old Harpers Ferry, W.Va., student who also made it into the preliminary round.

Thumbs up to all of the towns, organizations and individuals who put together the many Memorial Day celebrations around the Tri-State area. Every time we begin to believe that the meaning of this day is being lost, many patriotic citizens demonstrate that, for them, the sacrifices of U.S. veterans are appreciated. All that those who serve ask, as one Hagerstown veteran said, is that they not be forgotten.

Thumsb down to all of the lending institutions that have allowed the yards of Washington County homes they've foreclosed on to become overgrown and weed-filled, forcing local governments to have their own crews tidy them up. You own these places now, and it will be a whole lot easier to sell them if they don't look as if they're just abandoned hulks.

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Thumbs up to the Hagerstown City Council, for approving, on a 3-2 vote, a one-cent decrease in the property tax rate. Of course, it's mostly a symbolic gesture, but it shows that a majority of the council realizes that the city cannot raise taxes every year and expect that people won't depart at their earliest possible opportunity.

Thumbs up to the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, for sponsoring a two-day dental clinic in Hedgesville, W.Va., at the high school there. According to Lisa Dunn, dental health programs director for West Virginia University Health Sciences Center Eastern Division, the goal is to see 1,000 people on June 27 and 28, for cleaning, filling cavities and extracting teeth.

Thumsb down to the Antrim Township, Pa., Supervisors, for their reluctance to pass an ordinance that would ban or even limit open burning. Their hesitation comes despite one couple's complaint that a neighbor burns waste weekly, including such things as furniture and even railroad ties. Would it be such a burden on residents to limit burning to twice a month? We say "no."

Thumbs up to Jefferson County (W.Va.) Commissioner Dale Manuel, for wisely questioning how it would be possible to enforce a rule preventing children under 18 in a subdivision whose developer seeks an exemption from the school impact fee. Officials said that if anyone violates the rule, all homeowners would have to pay and so they would monitor each other. A law that makes spies of neighbors can't be good one.

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