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Thumbs up, thumbs down

August 02, 2008

Thumbs up to Hagerstown's Concordia Lutheran Church, for bringing Angel Food Ministries to town, to help those struggling with high food costs make a monthly purchase of a package of food worth $60 for only $30. Although orders must be placed in advance, there are no income guidelines for the program, which Pastor Jim Murr says is designed to "make the love of Jesus real."

Thumbs up to the Federal Little League 11-12 All Stars, for the inspired play and hard work that won Washington County's first Maryland State Tournament title in 18 years. According to Ed Schreiber, the father of one of the players, the core of the team has been playing together since they were 6 and 7 years old. You've got to love the game to stay at it that long.

Thumbs down to U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, for refusing to release his income tax returns to show whether he reported any income from the sale of properties to the Internal Revenue Service. It was recently reported that Bartlett failed to report about $1 million in such sales on his financial disclosure forms since 2004. He says the release is not required by law, but it would be wise.

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Thumbs down to the Jefferson County (W.Va.) 911 Center, for its director's decision to stop checking warrants for police officers who call in. That means that some people who have outstanding warrants might not be apprehended. Jeff Polcyzynski, 911 director, said dispatchers must check through six or seven lists. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone who felt their job was too tough could just decide not to do it?

Thumbs up to Hagerstown's Memorial Recreation Center, for hosting the classes of the Blossom School of Etiqeutte, which teaches young women manners, creative writing, cooking and crafts. Praise is also due to Ladetra Robinson, the school's founder, instructors Randy Robinson, Mary Jane Koontz and Tiffany Arnold and the most recent graduates, including Alexis Stoner, honored as this year's "Miss Blossom."

Thumbs up to Richard Mertz, retiring chief probation officer of the Franklin County (Pa.) Probation Department, for his many years of service. Mertz joined the department in 1973 and became its chief officer in 1995. Mertz said the biggest change in the profession are the updates in technology, such as electric monitoring bracelets and Global Positioning System units.

Thumbs up to Otho Kretzer, a driver for Con-Way Freight in Greencastle, Pa., for the hard work, dedication and skill he used to win the Maryland State Truck Driving Championship. Kretzer, who also won the honor in 2005, 2007 and 2008, is now eligible for the National Truck Driving Championships in Houston in August. Among his other accomplishments, Kretzer had driven more than 1 million miles without an accident.

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