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Editorial: Thumbs up to prep performers, music festival and free treats from Rec and Parks

THUMBS UP: More than 125 high school athletes, their relatives and their coaches turned out at Martin’s Westminster recently for the Carroll County Times’ sixth annual High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet, honoring the top prep performers from 2017-18. Awards were bestowed on the 21 high school athletes and coaches named Player of the Year and Coach of the Year by the Times in their respective sports, as well as 17 others who excelled as multi-sport standouts.

At the end of the evening, top honors were handed out. Mackenzie DeWees, a spring Manchester Valley High School graduate, the county’s all-time leading scorer and the first four-time Player of the Year in her sport, was awarded the Female Athlete of the Year award. Jalen Stanton, a senior at Century High School, earned the Male Athlete of the Year award after winning the Class 2A high jump state title this past winter and, in the spring, winning county and region titles in the 200-meter dash, 110 hurdles and high jump, and taking second in the state in each of those events. And Westminster boys lacrosse coach Steve DeFeo, who led the Owls to 18 straight victories as they outscored Carroll opponents 99-30 and capped the year by winning the Class 3A state championship, was named Coach of the Year. Congratulations go out to all those honored and look for a special section with coverage of the entire awards banquet inside the Times on Sunday, July 8.

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THUMBS UP: On Saturday, July 7, the second annual Addiction & Recovery Awareness MusicFest will return to the Buck Miller Arena at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, providing information and support and, most of all, a good time for anyone, particularly those in recovery. Tammy Lofink, founder of the nonprofit Rising Above Addiction, which helps people struggling with addiction get into treatment programs, told us those in recovery sometimes have a difficult time finding things to do. “A lot of the young adults when they stop using, they think what am I going to do?” Lofink said. “Will I have social life? What can I do for fun?” This all-day music festival should be fun. It is scheduled to feature music by area acts B-RAiN, Joe Nester, The Jam Alker Band, REM ONE and others; food vendors; and speakers on the topic of addiction and recovery, including Brandon Novak, from MTV’s “Jackass.” The festival runs from noon to 10 p.m., with $20 general admission tickets and $50 VIP passes. Proceeds from the event will go to benefit Rising Above Addiction, the Push HOPE Project, and the Up and Out Foundation.

THUMBS UP: What could be better on a hot summer day than an icy, refreshing snow cone? A free snow cone, of course. Children and parents flocked to Locust Lane in Westminster around midday Thursday for a refreshing treat that was on the house as the city of Westminster’s Department of Recreation and Parks offered free snowballs Thursday, giving residents respite from the heat. “We celebrate July as Recreation and Parks Month,” said Abby Gruber, Westminster parks and rec director.

As part of that celebration, Gruber and her colleagues will brave the heat every Thursday in July to prepare and distribute free snowballs. They do it for the smiles, and “to bring awareness to communities about their recreation and parks programs,” she told us. “It’s what our department is all about, immersing ourselves in the community and spreading the word.” Another way they’ll be doing that is the Kids Ninja Warrior Challenge on July 20 in city park. That figures to be as popular with the kids as the free snow cones on Thursdays. “We’re going to be coming every week,” Ashton Johnson told us as he scarfed down a Skylite snowball with his friends Makai Brown, Jaylon Snowden and Amar Lanier.

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