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Carroll County Times Opinion

Editorial: Thumbs up for renovated Town Hall, new tech openings, community theater group

New Windsor's newly renovated town hall, located at 209 High Street.

Thumbs up: One of Carroll County’s towns has a brand-new feather in its cap. After months of renovations, New Windsor officials took time last week to commemorate their new meeting space. The Town Hall at 209 High St. includes new features such as a television mounted on the wall behind where the council members sit, which in the future will display budgets, agendas and more. Along with the television, displaying information for the audience, the town will also add cameras to the meeting rooms for people to be able to watch later. Members of the town staff also have their own offices in the new building, Mayor Neal Roop included. These improvements are good, worthwhile investments in town infrastructure that hopefully with pay off for decades to come. It should also be noted that the previous owners of the building offered the space to the town, making the project possible in the first place. For anyone who would like to get a good look at the facility, there will be an open house Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. There are currently no concrete plans on what will happen to the previous Town Hall offices, at 211 High St., but that could create new opportunities worth celebrating.

Thumbs up: Through the efforts of groups like Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, it’s no secret that some in Westminster fancy the city as a potential hub for tech businesses. Thursday marked a promising step in that direction. Westminster welcomed two technology-focused businesses, one focused on helping startup companies and the other on IT support and computer repair. Startup Portal and Tomlin Technologies Inc. are neighbors in the office building at 532 Baltimore Blvd. (Md. 140). Rick Leimbach, the owner and CFO advisor for Startup Portal who brings previous experience as a chief financial officer, hopes to provide startup businesses access to cloud-based tools and financial know-how. And he took particular notice of Westminster. “This is a location where people can come and really envision themselves as a startup,” he told us. That’s exact the kind of reaction that we’re sure Westminster officials are hoping for, and it must be gratifying to hear. To further that point, Zach Tomlin of Tomlin Technologies praised Westminster as a prime location for a public-facing storefront for the IT support and computer repair company. "[Hampstead] passed on fiber optics, and Westminster did not, so here’s where I am,” he told us, adding that the Westminster fiber network allows businesses to connect to clients, some of whom are on different continents. For anyone who likes the sound of Westminster as a mini Silicon Valley, that should be music to their ears.

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Thumbs up: Picture this scene: It’s a dark December night in Westminster, and Jen Shillingburg and Michael Eaton find themselves on a cliff’s edge. “Don’t lean too far forward,” Shillingburg cautions. Eaton shouts in a panicked tone, “Don’t look down!” But Shillingburg loses her balance and slips. “You’ve got the arm strength,” she groans, “Carry me up buddy.” Their arms entwined, Eaton makes to lift her up, then leans too far forward and emits a scream of fear. “Freeze!” shouts Britt Burr, the founder and creative director of the nonprofit Barrier-Free. You might not recognize that scene, but there’s a reason for that — it was part of an original theater production. Barrier-Free, launched in 2017, brings together people with autism or intellectual disabilities to produce and perform such shows. The whole process seems to be a wonderful avenue for discovering and nurturing creativity among the program’s participants. And who know what otherwise unseen talent it might expose. Lauren Burr, director of operations, told us that community theater can be rewarding for any adults, but for people on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities, it can be especially valuable as they leave the structured environment of high school and enter the adult world on their own. “We add a new role and purpose in these adults’ lives, they are now actors and Barrier-Free participants,” she said. “Coming to Barrier-Free when we are doing inclusive theater, drama therapy techniques, they are learning conversational skills, how to maintain eye contact, how to have a conversation, how to learn names.” By taking on other characters, they can practice those social skills that could be difficult for them to practices as themselves, she added, skills that can translate into the workplace and elsewhere in their lives. “This whole thing has really helped me out a lot,” Eaton told us. No further questions. If you’d like to see the group perform, they’ll put on two different shows in mid-March at McDaniel College.

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