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Community Voices (Rothstein): Carroll County succeeding through holistic approach l COMMENTARY

President Theodore Roosevelt shared that, “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”  That sentiment can be shared today as we celebrate our Fourth of July weekend. In fact, that has true meaning for our country and for our county. 

Carroll County continues to thrive and be reputable as we focus on our neighbor-to-neighbor approach especially while in challenging times. There is no better time to prove the worth of that great reputation than today. This effort does not come easily and is dependent on all of us doing our part — government, businesses, academia, and residents. These four entities make up our community, neighborhoods, and homes. Bottom line, we cannot focus on one without understanding the secondary and tertiary affects it has on the others. The vision for a healthy Carroll County is dependent on having a holistic approach focused on goals and objectives and not just hopes and dreams. 

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For example, funding that Carroll County Government received to date from federal government is based on population and the effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our county. 

In total, Carroll County received $29.8 million. Half the funds went directly to our health department for their continuing operations, while the other half went through Carroll County Government in order to allocate funds to reimburse derogated operations, sustain operations and best practices, and to create more efficient operations all due to the effects of the pandemic. The plan is a collaborative effort of Carroll County’s essential departments, municipalities, and partner organizations, and represents a countywide comprehensive plan to aid in the county’s recovery. Together, the compilation of needs emphasizes carefully balanced funding for: constituent assistance, including our most vulnerable populations; business and nonprofit services; continuity of operations; employee safety; and efforts for long-term resiliency. All operations focused on better serving our Carroll County community. 

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I continue to give a strong shout-out to our sheriff along with all our fire, EMS, and police across our county, and the health care professionals who have been on the front lines getting through these challenging times. During tough times we often see initiatives and innovation step up. This is no exception from our local businesses creating PPE to hand sanitizer to our local service nonprofits providing pop up pantries across the county to serve.

A great example of this segues into the next entity, our business community. To date, the partnership between our county government and our business community includes no hesitation in accepting our governor’s guidelines that allowed for opening the business community, albeit not always at the effort and/or speed we would have wanted. As a result, there were follow-up requests from our county, supported by our legislators, that requested consideration for increased opening opportunities. 

In addition, before CARES Act funding was received, the county allocated nearly $900,000 to our small business community that supported 700-plus businesses. And now, with federal funding received, there is an additional $4 million available for our small business and non-profit communities in Carroll County. These are grants, not loans with amounts to businesses ranging from $2500 to $8000. Applications are being accepted now at www.carrollbiz.org.   

The best approach for all of us to take is to share the news and continue to shop local.

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Regarding our schools, I believe we all agree that we have an awesome public-school system that starts with parent engagement, teachers and coaches, our superintendent abd administration, and our Board of Education. The jury is still out on what our next steps will be. However, I am confident that we have the best communications networks that includes listening and learning through a transparent effort along with outreach, and a dedicated workforce that will find new pathways to educating our children in the best ways available. As I write this, we are still waiting to learn the type of school environment our children will face this fall semester. 

Lastly, and to wrap our arms around our community, it takes all of us to do our part pragmatically, every day.  We all have opinions, and that is important. It takes all of us to continue to adhere to our safety guidelines, be prepared for an altered school year, shop local, and continue to communicate on how we can better serve each other.  As I started, President Roosevelt shared his thoughts on how to make our community a better place, so let us all make Carroll County a good place for all of us to live in by doing our part. We will get through this together. Life is good. 

Ed Rothstein is a Carroll County commissioner representing District 5. Reach him at erothstein@carrollcountymd.gov.

For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest community voices column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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