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Our View: Thumbs up for community college looking to future, hip-hop fundraiser show, plans for old skatepark

THUMBS UP: Carroll Community College is looking to the future. College officials have studied ideas for expanded athletics facilities on the campus that could include indoor and outdoor tracks, an aquatics center, and new turf fields. Now, these ideas are just that at this point — there are no firm proposals yet, and officials are holding price tags close to their chests. But it never hurts to plan for different future possibilities, so we were glad to hear from President James Ball when he spoke at the Board of County Commissioners’ Thursday meeting, presenting details from a feasibility study. “We understand that this would be huge and a huge impact on the campus,” Ball said, noting that such proposals, if enacted, might affect spaces that could be needed for academic facilities. Ball spent part of his time speaking of ways that expanded athletics facilities at the college could benefit the county as a whole. It’s crystal clear to us that he has a point. Consider the following options being considered: a relative lack of turf fields across the county? Check. An indoor track facility far closer than Prince George’s County? Check. A centrally located swimming facility? Check. Facilities like these could change the face of local athletics for the better. We’ll stress again that none of these ideas are likely to see reality for years, and the cost could be eye-popping. But we’d say the college is right to be thinking ahead — and thinking of how it can help the larger community.

THUMBS UP: The Carroll County Agriculture Center on Friday hosted a fundraiser far outside the norm for this area. “The County Invasion” show promised a lineup of hip-hop and rap as a way to provide Carroll County teens with a fun time and to raise funds for a Westminster nonprofit. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Rise Up Community Center, a diversion program for the Carroll County Department of Juvenile Services. The program’s director, Angel Hill, told us the program is like a “second chance” for children who would otherwise be detained or put on probation. The show itself has provided a positive opportunity for kids in the program, with the young people of Rise Up involved in promoting the event, and helping sell concessions, raffle tickets and entry tickets. The lineup featured area hip-hop and rap artists such as North Carroll High School alumnus Da Kid Emm; Westminster resident Billy Dee Williams, aka Billy Lyve; Howard County’s JayMoney Hackett; Ridge Long; and Goup Jefe. Williams told us he was motivated to offer a drug-free, alcohol-free, safe space for young people to party and hear good music. Through Wisdom Court Entertainment, which organized the event, Williams hopes to reach teens through music. “There’s nothing for them that they can really relate to, so through hip-hop music we decided to come back to the area and do something for the teenagers," he told us. We’re sure he was right when he said some young people are “written off as bad kids,” and we like the sound of reaching out to kids like that who might be able to find community, purpose and joy in music.

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THUMBS UP: The old Manchester skatepark near Md. 27 was dismantled in 2015, but in its place remains an empty asphalt pad. That might not seem so bad, but it probably doesn’t do anyone any good and, more importantly, the impervious surface helps wash pollution into the area water system when it mixes with rainwater. Conservation groups are planning to combat that and also enhance the recreational value of the park through a project to remove and replace the remnants of the old place with native plants. The site is important because its headwaters lead into a tributary for Big Pipe Creek, part of a system that supports Maryland’s only native trout, the brook trout. The plan is to remove the asphalt pad, restore grade, and remove invasive species sometime this year, then shrub and tree planting is planned for next year — so keep an ear and an eye out if you’re interested in volunteering at that point. Local skaters have since moved to a new park across town, so we see only upside in updating this site to make it more friendly to families and the environment.

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