Editorial: Thankful for good living in Carroll County

Complaining is easy. Giving thanks should be, although we probably don’t do it nearly as often as we should, instead saving it up for one day in late November when we gather with our families to reflect on all the reasons we have to be grateful. There’s plenty to be thankful for in Carroll County.

Unemployment here has dipped below 3 percent for the first time since the Great Recession, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. At 2.9 percent in the month of September, the latest DLLR data available, Carroll County has one of the best unemployment rates in the state, along with Howard and Montgomery counties. Many residents still commute outside of the county for work, but a vast majority are gainfully employed, and for that, we are thankful.


In Carroll County, we have arguably the best school system in Maryland. For all the handwringing that has gone on over public schools, funding, building closures and teacher salaries the past few years, outcomes for Carroll County Public Schools students are actually quite good. Carroll’s attendance and graduation rates are the best in the state, in the 95th percentile. Conversely, dropout rates are the lowest in Maryland.

And county school students perform much better than their peers across the state on standardized tests such as the Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for Career and College, or PARCC, exam and the Maryland School Assessment, or MSA. Many teachers work long days, giving up their own time during break periods and after school hours to work with students to help them succeed. And the success of local students isn’t just a testament to the teachers, but also students’ parents, who are actively involved in their education, and for that, we are thankful.

Living in Carroll County also means living somewhere extremely safe. The crime rate of 1,358.5 incidents per 100,000 residents, according to the 2015 Maryland Uniform Crime Report, the latest available, is by far the lowest in Maryland. Only about 10 percent of crimes committed in the county are considered violent crimes, the remaining 90 percent are property crimes, typically related to theft or burglary. Give credit to law enforcement agencies across the county for proactive community policing efforts contributing to these low numbers. Outreach events like Shop with a Cop and National Night Out help improve relations among residents and police, and for that, we are thankful.

Let’s not forget our amazing volunteer fire companies. While talk has heated up recently about a future that includes a mix of paid career and volunteer firefighters, the selfless men and women who spend countless hours at the 14 stations dotting Carroll County deserve a major tip of the cap for all that they do. In addition to responding to emergencies, the folks at the various fire departments also provide numerous entertainment options while the fire halls serve as hubs of their communities. Can you imagine Carroll County without summer carnivals; Bedlam in the Boro; bingo nights; breakfast with Santa; and the delicious chicken, spaghetti, shrimp and crab dinners — all hosted by the fire companies? We certainly can’t, and for that, we are thankful.

These are only the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t mentioned the incredible work done by our nonprofit community and the generous spirit of residents who support those efforts. Or the fact that Carroll County ranks in the top three in health outcomes across the state. Or a number of other quality of life factors that make Carroll a great place to be.

Sure, there are plenty of things we can complain about. We have another 364 days a year to do that. Today, let’s celebrate and give thanks that life here in Carroll County is pretty darn good.

And for that, we are thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.