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Midsummer musings

August 17, 2010

Some midsummer musings:

o A nice windfall for Hagerstown Community College: U.S. Sen Ben Cardin, D-Md., was in Hagerstown recently to present a $1.8 million check to Hagerstown Community College for an alternative energy job training program, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor. This is great news for Washington County. With the jobless rate here hovering around 10 percent, our community needs all of the help we can get.

o A kinder, gentler crowd: Cardin noted in his HCC appearance Aug. 2 that his reception in 2010 was better than the last time he appeared at the college. A year ago, Cardin hosted a public forum on health care reform, which played to a full house, and was a raucous, sometimes unwieldy affair. For Cardin's detractors, however, handing over $1.8 million in federal funds -- regardless of the reason -- will only serve to confirm their belief, we suspect, that government spending is out of control.

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o A sign of the times: The current foreclosure mess has claimed yet another victim -- Washington County's Highway Department. When property owners don't cut their grass and weeds, the complaints pour in, and the county highway department stepped in to do the work. In all of 2008, the county received about 25 complaints. Since April 2010, the county has received 179 complaints, and can no longer keep up with the demand to cut the overgrown grass and weeds on foreclosed properties. The Washington County Commissioners may be forced to hire a contractor just to tackle the problem.

o Plugging that leak: When news first broke of the BP-Gulf of Mexico oil spill, many of us thought the oil-spewing well would be capped in a matter of days. In fact, it took more than three months, and our fingers remain crossed that current efforts will permanently kill the well. Americans have grown accustomed to relatively rapid, successful responses to most disasters of this ilk. The fact that neither the world's smartest people nor its latest, greatest technology could quickly cut the flow of oil should be a lesson to all of us who think technology can solve all of our problems.

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