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Panhandlers might be the bright spot in city's 'progress'

July 10, 2013|By TIM ROWLAND

I look at Municipal Stadium each day much as the Federals must have looked at Fort Sumter every morning — to see if the flag was still flying, or if the place had succumbed overnight to those hated Virginians. Or South Carolinians, or whoever.

How long can Col. Robert E. Bruchey II hold out against those vandals who seem to be waging a war of attrition? And will the City Hall gunboats arrive in time to save the day, or will they just keep running into each other because no one knows who’s in charge?

When you drive past during the day, the stadium seems to have one of those “Elvis has just left the building” feels to it, and despite all efforts to dress it up, it just looks shot.

Some things never look all that great in the dark, but are downright horrifying in natural light.

So as you drive past, you avert your eyes and try to focus on other things. You wonder if that public phone on the wall of the Corner Pub is the last remaining pay phone in all of Hagerstown.

And as you move along in traffic, you find yourself behind the Most Aware Driver on the entire Eastern Seaboard.

Unfortunately, he is also the stupidest driver on the entire Eastern Seaboard, the one whose thought process must go something like this: “Hmm. I see a dump truck coming down the street about six blocks away. I wonder what would happen if it were to blow a tire and swerve into the left lane sending oncoming traffic into a utility pole which, upon falling, would startle a horse, which would stampede in my direction, causing a frightened kitten to run out in front of my car? You know, I better come to a dead stop right here in the middle of the street until I’m sure that this doesn’t happen.”

And while you’re sitting there waiting for Extra Careful Guy, you glance in the rearview and see the sorry old stadium once again, and behind it the decaying MELP plant that was supposed to be coming down any time now, until it became apparent that no elected officials from city to state level could get their act together enough to proceed.

And you think back to a time (was it really only eight months ago?) when the future of the city seemed somewhat promising — and then this new council was elected, and thud.

Oh where have you gone, Ashley Haywood?

Ah well, maybe there’s good news about Hagerstown in the newspaper, so you pick up a copy and see the headline: “Panhandlers irk some downtown city residents.”

How so? Like, is there too much of it or not enough of it? I mean, you can knock panhandling if you want, but when two cigarettes exchange hands in downtown Hagerstown these days, the city’s GDP for the week goes up about 12 percent.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.

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