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Our View: Thumbs up for school bus safety proposal, CCPL honor, City Hall upgrades, coffee shop philanthropy

THUMBS UP: The problem of drivers zipping past stopped school buses is a very old one, but it’s still cause for plenty concern. Drivers illegally blow past stopped school buses with lights flashing something like 125 times per day, according to a nine-year average of survey day counts by bus drivers. Any one of these instances could result in the severe injuring or even death of a child. And for what? Even with flashing lights and clearly visible stop signs, the problem persists. But we were glad to report this week that the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Carroll County Public Schools are pursuing a measure that could help reduce these dangerous occurrences. Officials came before the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday to propose adding more cameras to school buses in the hopes of catching more drivers who violate those laws. This is known as a “stop-arm violation.” The Sheriff’s Office and CCPS would partner on the program and contract with a third-party vendor for the camera equipment and some of the responsibility of monitoring for violations. Sheriff Jim DeWees said fines from violators would pay for the equipment and it would add no costs to the county, CCPS or the Sheriff’s Office. If approved, the program could begin as soon as the 2020-21 school year. Simply put, we see no reason for this to not approved and put in place on that timetable.

THUMBS UP: In an age of prolific smartphones, tablet devices and fast-speed internet, it might be easy to overlook our local library system. But that would be a mistake. A national publication that reviews library services recently named Carroll County Public Library as among the best in the nation. CCPL has been named a four-star library for the second year in a row, a rating that only 31 other library systems in the country received in consecutive years. Only 261 merited a star rating of three, four or five stars. Andrea Berstler, executive director of CCPL, provided several reasons she sees for such an honor: “We have found a really good balance between these very strong literacy and education programs that people expect from the library, and some of these newer tech education and tech integration programs that people go, ‘Oh, I didn’t know the library did that.’ And it keeps it exciting.” She also noted that CCPL tops the state in circulation per capita, and she described the staff as “one of the most dedicated passionate staff across the state." What’s not to love? Go visit — or rediscover — your local library branch next chance you get. Not all are so lucky as to have a library system like we do.

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THUMBS UP: It’s been nearly six months since Taneytown’s City Hall suffered extensive damage when a man allegedly rammed his truck into it, and it hasn’t been the same since. The building, one side of which is still boarded up, is a troubling scar reminding passersby of a frightening event. Officials tell us that the lobby, second floor and other areas were damaged, and city employees have been working out of other facilities for months. This can’t be good for productivity or morale. All that said, we support the city’s approach moving forward. The municipality is in the process of rebuilding, but the revitalized City Hall should be a safer and generally better facility. Concrete bollards have already been added to the front of the building, but that’s just the start. Acting City Manager James Wieprecht told us officials aim “to make make some safety and operational improvements to better reflect how we work today than when the building was designed 20 years ago or so.” That’s the right approach, and we hope the city is able to execute that vision to bounce back strong after last year’s attack.

THUMBS UP: Furnace Hills Coffee in Westminster is far from the only local business that helps local causes raise money. But it goes well beyond the norm. The coffee shop, at 71 W. Main St., recently unveiled a fundraising program in which it will donate one-third of bagged coffee sales to a cause or organization. Anyone interested is invited to fill out a form on the shop’s website with their organization’s name, and then a representative of Furnace Hills will be in touch to build an online store for them through the Furnace Hills website. Through that website, an organization can sell bags of coffee and receive one-third of the profit, according to owner Dave Baldwin. The shop will even rebrand one of its existing blends with a new label that speaks to the cause the coffee will benefit. The shop’s employees want to raise funds for causes important to others, not just to themselves. All this is in addition to the shop’s ongoing and well-documented efforts to advance the intellectually disabled community through fundraising and its hiring practices. Bottom line: This is exemplary community engagement from a local business that deserves to be celebrated and even copied.

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