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Our View: Thumbs up to early voters, inspiring artwork, the return of sports, and timely chimes | COMMENTARY

THUMBS UP: It wasn’t always the best conditions last week to stand in long lines, waiting to participate in early voting, but that’s exactly what Carroll countians did ― in record numbers, no less. Early voting reached its halfway mark Thursday, and county residents continued to turn out in large numbers ahead of the 2020 general election. Katherine Berry, elections director for the Carroll County Board of Elections, shared information from the first three days of early voting that showed more than 13,500 people cast a ballot. More than 4,700 came out Thursday, braving dreary weather and chilly temperatures to do so, meaning Carroll was well on its way to setting a record for the eight-day process. In 2016, Carroll used only the Westminster Senior and Community Center for early voting purposes. This year there are two sites, the senior center and South Carroll Swim Club. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Carroll will be using 13 different sites across the county for in-person voting. Until then, early voting continues from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Nov. 2, and we’re inspired to see the number of people exercising their right to vote. “I am impressed with the way people are handling it,” Carroll County Commissioner Richard Weaver said during Thursday’s weekly meeting. “They are distancing, they are tolerating lines, they’re doing everything they should be doing.”

THUMBS UP: We’ve reached the end of October, which means Breast Cancer Awareness month comes to a close. But we have enjoyed seeing so many businesses and storefronts painted pink across the county in show of support. And the woman behind the artwork, Taneytown resident Lisa Walters, should get a lot of the credit. Walters is the face behind many colorful storefronts throughout Carroll County that were emblazoned with detailed messages to support Carroll Hospital’s Pink Fling in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Walters painted 27 different businesses this year, starting in late September, and painted her final window on Oct. 14. “It’s really been neat,” Walters told us. “Most of the windows I’ve done have been outside so whether it’s people passing by or cars and stuff like that, it’s been nice to have small interactions with the community while I paint.”

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THUMBS UP: We’ll be glad to see high school sports back on the Carroll County Public Schools calendar, and even more pleased to see the Maryland State Board of Education approve a new timeline that will allow for athletics to begin Dec. 7. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletics Association’s original proposal had sports returning Feb. 1, 2021, which would have created three shortened seasons that overlapped and likely would have forced athletes to choose between playing certain sports. Now, winter sports practices can begin Dec. 7, followed by fall sports Feb. 13, and spring sports April 17. “I’m so excited. I want our kids back,” Marsha Herbert, Board of Education vice president, told us Monday. “They need athletics so bad. ... I will be so glad that we can get moving on Dec. 7. That makes me happy, it really does.”

THUMBS UP: We think the collaboration created by the Westminster Ministerium to help celebrate All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1 was timely and poignant amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministerium, which serves faith communities in Westminster and northern Carroll, is asking for participating churches around the county to ring their bells at noon. There is a 10-minute period planned for the chimes, which are meant for people to pause for reflection and remembrance for those who have died within the past year. “Our hope is that people will hear the bells, pause for a minute in unity with one another, just to acknowledge that, we’re in this and we’ll get through this all together,” Rev. Malcolm Stranathan, lead pastor at Westminster United Methodist Church, told us. The Sunday event, “Saints Remembered, Community Renewed,” is being celebrated by churches from Eldersburg, Finksburg, Manchester, and Silver Run, as well as Carroll Hospital Center, McDaniel College, and Westminster Volunteer Fire Company.

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