Thumbs up, thumbs down

March 28, 2009

Thumbs down to the Washington County Commissioners, for approving $520,000 worth of new county personnel positions. At a time when many county residents are dealing with being laid off or having their hours reduced, government should do its part by doing more with less.

Thumbs up to the Jefferson County (W.Va.) Commission, for agreeing to hold the line on property taxes, offsetting a drop in revenues with budget cuts. When the county residents find they have less money coming in, they spend less. Taxpayer-funded agencies should do so, too.

Thumbs up to the late Marjorie Ann Jamison, for her 35 years of dedicated service teaching history at Boonsboro Middle School and her contributions as a member of the Sharpsburg Town Council since 2001. In both roles, she made a big difference.

Thumbs down to Michael Todd Cox, 41, of Germantown, Md., for causing the death of Colton Lee James, a 2-month-old infant in December 2007. The Jefferson County, W.Va. child died of blunt force trauma to the side of his head. Cox faces 10 to 40 years in prison, during which he would have plenty of time reflect on the life that child might have had.


Thumbs up to the Maryland senate subcommittee that voted in favor of full funding for the University System of Maryland's Hagerstown campus, in the face of a House panel's recommendation that would cut local campus funding by $500,000. Thanks to the senators.

Thumbs up to Chris Brechbill, a Fayetteville, Pa., dairy farmer who is proposing to harvest the methane from his 600 cows, saving an estimated $61,000 a year in power costs and leaving him with some electricity to sell. And the manure he spreads on fields wouldn't stink.

Thumbs up to U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Maryland, for his proposal to allow newspapers to run as nonprofits, to keep them in business. We're not sure many companies would go for such a proposal, but Cardin is at least thinking about ways to keep these valuable public watchdogs financially viable.

Thumbs down to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for the $250,000 earmark for Premium Standard Farms, a Smithfield, Va.-based hog-raising operation whose operators want to develop a test lagoon to dewater swine manure. Let Premium build it with its own money.

Thumbs up to the West Virginia Senate Education Committee, for its efforts to save the PROMISE scholarship program, which provides college tuition to students who achieve certain grade point averages. Times may be tough, but cutting education now isn't the answer.

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