Letters to the Editor - Jan. 30

January 29, 2012

Human element added to Hancock commemoration

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Art Callaham’s column (Jan. 15) that focused on the Hancock Commemoration of the 1862 Battle of Hancock. As with most families (Art is my husband of 40 years), we do not agree on some issues.

In writing about Hancock’s events, he missed one very important aspect. Surely, kudos go to Hancock for a lot of very hard work to create a meaningful representation of the Civil War’s encroachment upon their town. What Art missed telling were the small priceless moments of kindness and community precipitated by the commemorative events.

On Friday evening, Art spoke to a near standing-room-only crowd about events surrounding the bombardment, which were recounted in his Jan. 15 column. The column cites the written account of James Ripley Smith but fails to mention that Smith’s great-grandson and great-great-grandson attended the event and spoke with us. What an awesome link to history.

Art’s chair was vacant during his speech and, after a short time, a lady standing in the back was invited to sit. At the conclusion, she gave us an attractive purse key clip. It was truly a gift of random kindness. At the Saturday band concert, a gentleman noted he brought his children because “there just are not enough cultural events” in the area. The concluding piece by the band was “My Country ’tis of Thee.” Imagine the heartfelt impact on folks of all ages when, spontaneously, folks began to stand, one by one, to sing and honor our country.

Small happenings not planned or staged bringing strangers together as community. That is the true and fitting legacy of the people of Hancock and Washington County.

Ruth Anne Callaham
Washington County Commissioner

Is reorganization needed for state’s prisons?

To the editor:

I recently read The Herald-Mail story about Maryland’s prison officials reorganizing the state prison system into three districts with each having a “director” in charge.

Has Maryland’s Division of Corrections really become so overrun with inmates and disorganized that it needs three directors to run its prisons?

I have been incarcerated in Maryland’s prisons for 39 years, and I have personally witnessed the massive expansion of its prison industrial complex.

I could write letter after letter about Maryland’s DOC. For example, I had a cellmate who was scared about his upcoming mandatory release because he had no place to live, no job lined up and would only have 50 prison dollars in his pocket.

Within three months on the street, he was shot and bled to death. I believe the system really failed him, as it has many others. Hence, the high recidivism rate.

Prison is prison, no matter where it is. And when inmates get out of prison, they better have loyal friends and/or family members willing to help them adjust back into society.

Or it really is three strikes and you’re out. Strike one is committing a crime. Strike two is being sentenced to prison. And upon release, strike three is immediate rejection from society. 

It does not take a doctor of logic to figure out that the third strike helps preserve that “swinging door” monopoly. And I don’t expect much change from either strike in the near future.

Ralph M. Ruark, No. 125977
Western Correctional Institution
Cumberland, Md.

Western Maryland should secede from liberal state

To the editor:

I have lived in the state of Maryland since 1960 and from then until now, I believe Maryland has had only two Republican governors, only two Republican U.S. senators and very few Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives. As a state, Maryland is more liberal than most and as a result is among the most highly taxed states in the union.

However, Western Maryland is a conservative region and, therefore, is extremely underserved by our state government and our state’s national representatives. The population centers, and therefore the votes in Maryland, are in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, and Baltimore City. The people from these counties have little in common with rural Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties, and we have little in common with them. 

Year after year, Western Maryland votes for conservative Republican candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and president. And, year after year, our votes are futile because of the balance of population within the state. Residents of Western Maryland are doomed so long as we remain a part of the State of Maryland. We will never get a fair shake from the Maryland Democrat machine.

Therefore, it is my proposal that the three western counties in Maryland look into the possibility of legally severing ties with the state and try to join the State of Virginia.  Virginia is a much more diverse state, and if Western Maryland were able to become a part of Virginia, the votes of Western Marylanders would actually count for something.

We would have the chance to vote for candidates who represent our views and who might actually be able to win statewide office. We would have the opportunity for the representation, fair treatment and economic growth that we have been denied for so many years.

Rodney Pearson Sr.

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