Letters to the Editor

December 31, 2008

Limit pardons

To the editor:

Pardons for crimes committed against the U.S. Constitution should never be issued by those committing them! We the People must send a message to the incoming administration that this kind of illegal action will not be tolerated if they engage in them.

Dean McClain
Mercersburg, Pa.

Mercersburg's arts council has much to be proud of

To the editor:

One year ago, three Mercersburg, Pa., residents met in a living room and began to plant the seeds of what seemed at the time to be a tremendous undertaking. Mercersburg Council for the Arts (MCFA) was created that evening, and has been developing and growing through the support of a new board and community members ever since.

This is the time of year when we look back and assess where we have come and what we are grateful for. For MCFA, there is much to be proud of and excited about.


We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from our community this year, which ultimately has been the greatest boon to our organization.

The huge response to our May 2008 Mix It Up event at Flannery's Tavern on the Square really put the wind in our sails, giving us hope that this is the kind of town where hard work and big ideas can come to fruition.

To the many supporters who have donated their time and money to our efforts, we thank you. Volunteers have helped us by painting faces at the Lion's Club Fair, and assembling our art show at Mercersburg Area Chamber of Commerce's Townfest. Rockwell Construction even built and donated beautiful easels for this event.

A big thank-you also goes out to the Mercersburg Area Chamber of Commerce for its continued support; its members have been a major steppingstone for us. We cannot thank everyone enough for what they have contributed in this important first year of our naissance.

We also look ahead, during this time, to plans and goals for the upcoming year. Our biggest goal is to finish our application for nonprofit status, therein opening up opportunities to apply for grants. A year-long event calendar is in the works, as is another mixer and art auction. Most importantly, our main mission as facilitators of the needs of local artists and event organizers will continue to be developed and strengthened.

We look forward to serving the Mercersburg area, its artists and supporters in 2009 and the years to come. We wish you all a blessed holiday season and New Year!

The Mercersburg Council for the Arts is made up of: Larissa Chace Smith, Allison Zeger, Ryan Smith, Kelly Schoenberger, Jenn Flanagan, Ozzie Weller and Matthew Kearney. More information can be found at

Mary Anne Gordon
Chambersburg, Pa.

Shouldn't we save the old alms house?

To the editor:

Entering the catacombs of Hagerstown, Maryland's Alms House, the dark narrow hallways lead to many rooms. Each of the rooms is unique, with different colors of garishly painted walls.

Many rooms contain a fireplace, reminding you that this was once the only source of heat. Some mantles are gone either by theft or were removed as a result of one of the continuous changes that have occurred from the building's beginnings in its 1790 circa origination to the last normal inhabitants of the 1980s.

During the trek among the various rooms and several floors, care is acutely necessary to preclude stepping into, or tripping over mounds of debris and bird droppings. Nowhere is anything that would lead one to believe there were once "better times."

And yet, there is a solidness about this building that suggests it had once served as a haven for the community's downtrodden, or even a shelter for those American soldiers physically maimed and soaked in misery.

Where then does it imply that if physically removed and replaced by modern architecture, its story could be conveniently forgotten? Would its destruction be an appropriate sign of progress?

We, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, are a true heritage society. History, regardless of its take by modern society, is an account of the price we've paid to get to today. Memories and human endeavors are indeed the story of historical renderings.

We believe the Alms House should be preserved. This ancient house that once concerned itself with the pain and suffering of poor fellow citizens and unsound deceased or wounded soldiers, now needs to be "saved."

In circa 1870-1875, many bodies that were at rest for 10 or more years from our country's great Civil War were exhumed from the Alms House property and sent to more appropriate grounds and applicable surroundings.

The names of many of these warriors have been saved through the determined research of Virginia Magruder of Hagerstown. Her successful mining of the records of Hagerstown's newspaper, The Herald-Mail, has revealed that soldiers from all over America, from Alabama to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York to Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas once lay beneath the grounds of the Alms House.

The Union soldiers were sent to Antietam's National Cemetery in the quiet town of Sharpsburg. Here they now lie in silent rest in perfect rows of white marble stones. Their Confederate adversaries, the Southern soldiers, would be identified if possible, and reinterred in a separate section of Hagers-town's Rose Hill Cemetery. They are still here today, resting in perpetual repose.

So now, what of Hagerstown's Alms House? Has it outlived its use and served its purpose? Should it be flattened in the interest of progress? Better yet, why shouldn't it be preserved as a testament to its more useful days and serve as a statement to future generations?

A present City Council member, Penny May Nigh, is avidly attempting to get other elected officials working to save the Alms House, so it may once again serve its community for future generations.

Gerald J. Bayer
Past Division Commander
State of Maryland
Sons of Confederate Veterans

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