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Letters to the Editor

September 19, 2010

Hagerstown officials show professionalism and integrity



To the editor:

I want to give credit where it is due. I have spent the last 15 years developing community programs, food banks, clothing centers, youth recreation programs, projects for the homeless and elderly, and other endeavors. I have developed these programs both locally and nationally and have had much interaction with local government and officials where these projects have been established.

Over the past 12 to 18 months, I have started several similar programs here in Hagerstown. One is called the Family Care Center. In just 13 months, we have been able to help more than 2.500 local people with food, clothing and other basic necessities. We have been able to help hundreds of local homeless, and are in the process of starting a child and adult literacy program.

In the process of establishing our location for these programs, I have had to interact with many of Hagerstown's local government officials. To be honest, in the past this has always been the step that I have dreaded. Even in neighboring counties, I have encountered much red tape and a general lack of professionalism while walking through the steps required.

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I was so pleasantly surprised by what I encountered in Hagerstown that I really thought it should be made known. The level of professionalism and general concern for our city and its residents was evident in each step of this process.

I would like to make special note of the professionalism, integrity and helpfulness I was shown as I interacted with Mike Heyser and the staff in the planning and zoning office, as well as Fire Marshal Douglas DeHaven. Both of these men and their offices showed an amazing amount of concern and high level of commitment to our city and its residents. These men should be commended for bringing such excellence to their roles as they serve our local community.

Pastor Damon Albert
Hagerstown




We need a new paradigm, not new politicians



To the editor:

Three hundred words are insufficient to address the worn-out arguments for revitalizing our economy. For 30 years, I have heard "it's the other party," "it's the president," "raise taxes" and "lower taxes."

Here's a thought: It's you. It's your problem and your responsibility.

To Congress: A new type of job bill is needed. All jobs that are sent abroad must be governed by the same work and environmental rules applicable here - same minimum wage, same workers' compensation, and same health and pension benefits. Failure to do so will result in a hefty per-head tax.

If you are a CEO of a major corporation sitting on billions of dollars, start investing in research and hiring people. If you are a human resources director with two applications on your desk, one from someone unemployed and one from someone employed, hire the person without a job. Remember the importance of succession planning and hire a reasonable quota of qualified entry-level people without regard to age. Definitely stop cherry picking.

If you have a job, remember that every time you demand a raise or an increase in benefits, the money has to come from somewhere - increased taxes, increased prices, your unemployed neighbor's savings or pension. Ask do I truly need this or do I feel entitled to it. The real American dream had nothing to do with living in a McMansion.

Our entire educational system has become a sinkhole for money with an obviously diminishing return. Set high standards and make people reach them. Make student loans available to everyone at low interest (3 percent). They are not a vehicle for profit, but an investment in our future. Stop the annual inflated increase in college costs. (See note about McMansions.)

I'm out of space. We need a new paradigm, not new politicians. Put on your thinking caps and get busy.

Amy Paradise
Hagerstown




Washington County teachers should get their pay raises



To the editor:

Three years ago, the Washington County Board of Education agreed to a binding contract for our Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) teachers. The contract ensured a pay increase for the 2010-11 school year.

So far, the teachers have not received their negotiated pay increase. In reality, their pay has decreased. Insurance costs have risen and their salaries have not. Teachers are working for less money than last year.

Some would argue educators should be grateful for their jobs in these economic times. Some would agree with me that their jobs are too valuable to lose. Teachers have the responsibility to educate all children regardless of their intellectual ability and their physical, mental and emotional health. They must also keep their students safe and sometimes that means sacrificing their own welfare.

There is money in the WCPS budget to fund the promised pay raise for all WCPS educators. The Board of Education needs to look at the abundance of Central Office positions and the positions of student achievement specialists. These "educational" positions could be cut from the budget because many of these people do not work with students on a day-to-day basis. Some never work with students. Classroom teachers are expected to educate all students every day with less and less "hands-on" assistance.

Rather than fund professional development training initiatives such as the Coalition of Effective Schools, the Washington County Board of Education should fully fund the negotiated contract for educators. There is no humane reason not to.

Catherine A. Grantham
Hagerstown

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