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Thumbs up for Parr's Ridge read-a-thon

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Students at Parr's Ridge Elementary School spent most of Wednesday morning reading books in their pajamas to help raise funds and show support for two classmates. Second-grader Casey Reno has cystic fibrosis, a type of lung disease, and second-grader Julian Lewis suffers from spinal muscular atrophy. The read-a-thon featured sing- and dance-along stories as well as self-reading time. Students read the books of their choice, and "Chicken Soup with Rice," "Where the Wild Things Are," and "The Giving Tree" were read as students acted out the motions to key parts of the books. The event raised almost $5,480 for local chapters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation.

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Turning off idling vehicles is the message Sykesville Middle School's Green Team is trying to get out this month. The team, made of eight seventh- and eighth-grade girls, designated the month "Idle-Free February" and along with other students and advisers are urging people to turn off their engines when waiting in their vehicles for more than 10 seconds. The club researched the issue and found that the carbon dioxide released from idle vehicles contributes to global warming. They also learned that chemicals released in the exhaust have been linked to serious health concerns such as asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and cancer.

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It also wastes fuel. Idling your vehicle for just 10 minutes can use as much as it takes to travel five miles.
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Francis Scott Key junior Emily Brown is using her artistic skills to earn community service hours, as well as to leave her mark in her community. Brown is painting several sports figure portraits for a mural that will be displayed at the West Carroll Recreation Council's playing fields in New Windsor. Brown has been working closely with art teacher Mickey Brilhart to perfect her skills - especially with painting faces - for the project.

Brown said after realizing the satisfaction doing her art can bring, she's now looking into art schools.
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After 93 years in business, the Stewart N. Dutterer Flower Shop closed its doors on 114 Pennsylvania Ave. earlier this week. Long a staple in the downtown Westminster business community, owners said the decision to close was a difficult one, but changes in the retail floral market and the state of the economy led to the shop's closing. Long-time customers and employees of the florist were sad to see it go.

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Free tax assistance for qualifying individuals is available from many sources in the county. McDaniel and Carroll Community colleges, local senior centers, Human Services Program of Carroll County and the Mount Airy Public Library will offer free tax preparation services by appointment. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs are sponsored by the IRS, which provides software, training, materials and support to ensure the taxes are done correctly. Contact these organizations to

make appointments and to

see if you qualify.

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