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Editorial: Thumbs up to police responsiveness, ag educators, cake auction, senior 'sailors'

THUMBS UP: We’re glad the Westminster Police Department has been responsive to citizens’ concerns, and we’re encouraged that Westminster has reached out to other agencies for help after a recent spate of gun-related crimes, although the seeming increase in some dangerous behavior is troubling. A Westminster resident raised concerns about increased drug activity at the July 9 Mayor and Common Council meeting, noting that the quality of life has “gone down the drain on Pennsylvania.” Those words prompted Westminster police to act. Chief Jeff Spaulding said at the July 23 council meeting that a liaison officer had been assigned to that community. That officer has been visible and has helped in posting signs, and the department in general has “increased foot patrols and investigative initiatives in the area.”

This week, the Westminster police announced it is partnering with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police to address concerns about drug activity and related crime. The decision comes after two shootings in downtown Westminster in July, which police believe to be related to drugs. The first occurred at about 9:10 p.m. July 25, when a motorist observed several shots being fired toward an individual who was running across East Green Street near Church Street. At about 9:55 p.m. July 27, a shooting was reported in the 100 block of East Green Street. A local resident reported being robbed at gunpoint prior to the shooting. And on Thursday morning, a man robbed the Westminster Carroll Mart at gunpoint. “Additional police resources, both in uniform and plainclothes, have been assigned in an effort to reduce crime and bolster a sense of safety and security in the Westminster community,” according to a news release from the police department. Anyone with information relating to the shootings is asked to contact Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Schuster of the Criminal Investigations Bureau at 410-848-4646.

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THUMBS UP: Three Carroll County Public Schools educators recently won state-level awards for agricultural education. Angie McCauslin, supervisor of Career and Technology Education; Bridget Nicholson, an agriscience teacher at Manchester Valley High School; and Diane Safar, an agriscience teacher at Winters Mill High School, all won awards from the Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association and are now nominated for national awards. McCauslin won the Advocate Award, which recognizes “an individual for his or her outstanding contributions to agricultural education through any of the following: legislative action; local school, countywide and statewide support; and youth activities.” Nicholson won the Teacher Mentor Award. This award “recognizes experienced teachers who serve as mentors to beginning teachers.” Safar won four awards: the Outstanding Agriculture Teacher Award, the Ag Mechanics Professional Award, the Teacher of Teachers Award and the 20 Years of Service Award. Safar summed up the importance of agricultural education: “Everyone touches agriculture every day, every meal you eat has to do with ag.”

THUMBS UP: Each year we give kudos to the winner of the annual cake auction, one of the highlights of the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair. On Wednesday, the best cake happened to be a pie. Margaret Smith, 15, a Manchester Valley High School student, was named grand champion for her Apple Pi Pie. It sold for $12,000. “It’s really cool [to be grand champion] because I’ve only been baking for the past two years,” Margaret, a member of the Deep Run 4-H Club and Carroll County 4-H Hotshots, told us. “It is really cool that my hard work paid off and I did really well. I’m really proud of myself.” She should be. As should all of the participants as well as those who supported the fair by buying cakes and pies. It’s the fair’s biggest fundraiser and this year it raised more than $76,000, according to Becky Stem, 4-H & FFA Fair chairwoman.

THUMBS UP: There’s no age restriction on having some fun. We really enjoyed writing about and photographing Tuesday’s Cardboard Boat Regatta at Integrace Fairhaven in Sykesville. Seven teams between Integrace’s Fairhaven and Copper Ridge senior communities and local groups raced boats they were tasked with building out of only three materials: cardboard, duct tape and trash bags.

“We did all the painting, decorating and everything,” Judy Rhoades, 79, told us. Integrace Copper Ridge Executive Director Rusty Mitchell, who participated in the event, said: “We do this every year. It really is to bring our campuses together, [for] a little healthy competition.” The event was originally organized 14 years ago, when a previous wellness director wanted to bring the community together. “It was very enjoyable,” said Richard Zimny.

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