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Our View: Thumbs up for Ellsworth Cemetery funds, internet access study, standout student, ambitious runner

THUMBS UP: Ellsworth Cemetery in Westminster has lasted through the decades, but it hasn’t done so without picking up scars. But the historical landmark should be getting some needed attention thanks to $65,000 in state funds that are being awarded. Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the cemetery would be one of 12 Maryland sites to receive funding to repair and restore cultural and historic sites. The grants awarded ranged from $12,250 to $100,000, so the cemetery got a not-insignificant slice of the pie. There’s no question it’s a deserving historical site. Ellsworth Cemetery, which is next to the Wawa at 805 Leidy Road, was established in 1876 by six black Union Army veterans. The cemetery has seen much wear and tear, along with vandalism, through the decades since its establishment. Some of the plots are unmarked and headstones have eroded or even been shattered. About 50 headstones have been destroyed or taken through the years. And we understand that it was created because black individuals weren’t allowed to be buried within Westminster city limits. Now, restoration work has been ongoing thanks to volunteers, and they are’t even certain yet what practical effects the funding will have. But it can only be a benefit. And for that we’re appreciative.

THUMBS UP: Reliable internet access is not quite as important as access to electricity or running water, but in 2020 it’s not far off. Unfortunately, parts of our area do not have access to reliable internet. With that in mind, we’re pleased that Carroll County has taken a step extending access to rural areas through the Board of County Commissioners’ approval of a broadband feasibility study. Carroll, along with six other Maryland counties, sought a contractor to conduct a study that would help counties assess their broadband needs and obtain grant funding for broadband projects, according to Mark Ripper, director of technology services. We suspect it’s easier to take this issue on through partnership with other counties, so this approach appears sound. The study, which has a $60,000 price tag, will assess the gaps in the county’s broadband service, develop designs and estimate costs to bridge those gaps, prepare documentation to use for potential funding, identify Carroll’s assets and future demand, evaluate funding options, and more. Commissioner Stephen Wantz told us, "It remains unacceptable to me that in 2020 there are many who still are in the dark.” We agree. We eagerly await the study’s findings, which are anticipated to be available in late April or early May.

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THUMBS UP: A Manchester resident and Carroll Community College student had an opportunity to speak in our state’s capital this week, and it sure seems she took full advantage of the opportunity. Morgan Barton, 31, of Manchester, represented about 500,000 community college students across the state at the Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC) Student Advocacy Day before the Maryland General Assembly. It’s the second time in three years Carroll Community has been tapped from among the state’s 16 community colleges to provide the student speaker on Advocacy Day — a distinction to be proud of. Barton’s educational path was not a simple or typical journey, but that’s something to value in the context of what community colleges offer. In 2017, her son told her it wasn’t fair that he had to do homework when she didn’t, so she decided to take him up on the challenge and enrolled for the second time at Carroll Community. The first time she enrolled there was in 2008, but that didn’t last long. But since she returned, it’s clear that she’s made a strong, positive impression on her mentors. That’s the beauty of it — no two students’ stories are the same, and a solid community college — like the one we have here — can be a real door opener for just about anyone. Barton told us, “Being here, it’s not like going to a large university. It’s like coming home."

THUMBS UP: Ever gone for a cross country run? How about a run literally across the country? Brianna Komiske, a 2017 Century High School graduate, is part of a team that will do just that, running from coast to coast to raise money for those affected by cancer. The Sykesville native and 21-year-old student at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania applied to run in the Ulman Foundation’s 4K For Cancer, a journey that starts in Baltimore on June 21 and ends in San Francisco on Aug. 8. The runners are raising funds, and she needs to reach her $5,000 goal by May 1. The funds will benefit the Baltimore-based Ulman Foundation, which provides direct patient services to young people with cancer. She won’t be running the whole way herself, but as part of a relay team she’ll be completing 6 to 16 miles per day (and, again, that’s for over a month). An impressive endeavor for a worthy cause. If you’d like to donate, go online to https://give.ulmanfoundation.org/4k-2020/briannakomiske.

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