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Letters to the Editor

June 19, 2009

Cronyism remains a small-town tradition



To the editor:

On Sunday, June 7, Tim Rowland wrestled with the "Picnicgate" dilemma. He doesn't understand or he underestimates the importance of tradition. Washington County's townspeople maintain many great traditions. Every community has a special play list for its "Fiddler on the Roof."

One of the oldest small town traditions is cronyism, dangerous in this litigious and hungry time. Last year Keedysville's mayor and town council unapologetically split town hall renovations into three separate jobs, avoiding the bidding process. All were awarded to the same Keedysville contractor.

But towns should support local businesses. Still, bidding provides a gauge protecting taxpayers and town officials. Preferential categories can be codified much like veterans' preference. Maybe local businesses could have a preference if within 10 percent of the low bid.

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The Maryland State Ethics Commission guards against improper influence on public officials or appearance of conflict of interest and requires local governments to enact laws toward that goal. It also assists local law development and provides ethics law complaint investigations.

Today, I talked with Jason Simmons, husband of Keedysville's town clerk, as he was restoring antique doors on the new town hall. The cost of the job fell below bid limit requirements. Jason said he requested a bidding process to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.

Jason's grandparents lived in Keedysville as did his wife's. Jason and Amy are building new traditions here. Maybe one of their four children will someday write of their father's wisdom in the tradition of Tim Rowland. I hope so.

Shannon French
Keedysville




Quality parenting involves many factors



To the editor:

Since 1978, I have had the opportunity to observe from many perspectives quality parenting many times over.

From my perspective, the factor above all else that is a measure of good parenting is a deep love. When love occurs, usually all other factors of quality parenting (discipline, proper nutrition, proper hygiene - the list goes on) fall into place.

In my opinion, the raising of a child from birth to age 18 and beyond is the most difficult task on the face of the earth. Done correctly, I also believe it can be the most rewarding.

Today's society contains many negative influences for children. It also contains many positive influences among them - Scouts, sports, music, the list goes on. I have believed for a long time, children will become involved in activities and it is the responsibility of parents to encourage them to be involved in the positive ones as opposed to the negative ones.

There are many parenting magazines, books and videos that I feel can be helpful to parents. The library is an excellent resource

It is my belief few passages through parenting will be without problems. Luckily, most will only be stumbles. I do not claim to be an expert, just a parent sharing information in hopes some might benefit other parents.

Meredith Fouche
Sharpsburg

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