Mark Sands of Hagerstown expressed his unhappiness Monday at the way residents in rural communities in Maryland are treated by elected officials.
“Rural people get the short end of the stick throughout the state,” he said. “Even with a gasoline tax, rural people have to pay more because they have to drive further into work. Then, the money is disbursed back into the cities.”
Sands, 50, was among Hagerstown residents who said elected officials in Maryland tend to put the needs of rural areas in Maryland, particularly Western Maryland, behind the needs of the rest of the state.
Due to issues such as a gas tax, a flush tax and PlanMaryland, state legislators from rural areas in Maryland have accused Gov. Martin O’Malley of waging “war on rural Maryland,” according to a published report last week.
Sands added he also has a problem with where the state chooses to put things.
“We have two state prisons out here,” he said. “They send people from other parts of the state out here, and then when they get out of jail, the state doesn’t do anything to help them, making it our problem.”
Johnny Wolford, 50, said the state ignores the needs of rural communities because people in those areas cannot fight for what they need.
“A lot of the people out in the country don’t seem to be in a place where they can voice their opinions on things they do need,” he said. “You can voice your opinions easier in a city.”
Wolford added, however, that he felt elected officials in Washington County ignore the needs of Hagerstown as much as the state of Maryland does.
“They’re putting up a library and a new bus stop around some of the ugliest buildings in town,” he said. “Why don’t they do something with some of those buildings that are falling down?”
Larry Crawford, 40, added that it is obvious to see how rural counties in the western part of Maryland are ignored based on infrastructure.
“The roads around here are starting to deteriorate a lot more,” he said. “You go to the cities, and they’re constantly improving stuff.”
Crawford said Western Maryland is ignored based on its population.
“There’s not a big city out here,” he said. “They talk about (Western Maryland), but that’s about as far as it goes.”
Bev Snyder, 49, however, said she thought the state government did not ignore the needs of all rural communities, just the needs of those around Hagerstown.
“They don’t invest anything out here,” she said. “There’s nothing for the kids to do so they get in trouble, and they won’t touch the empty buildings downtown.”
Dorothy Trent, 69, agreed that the state of downtown Hagerstown served as proof of how it is ignored by the rest of the state.
“Baltimore and Washington have plenty of stuff, but they don’t do anything for us,” she said. “There’s nothing to do downtown, and not everybody can make it out to the malls we have out here. Those are more for visitors than residents.”