Thumbs up: The Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office secured a state grant that will allow it to double the number of hours for one of its crime victim and witness advocates, from 20 to 40. The three crime victim and witness advocates in the Victim and Witness Unit, which provides outreach to victims and witnesses involved in criminal prosecutions, together served 725 victims in 519 new cases in 2018. That number doesn’t include cases that included post-conviction events in 2018 and required those services. It’s no small number. Sure, at a glance it might not seem like a big deal that one part-time position has been upgraded to full-time hours. But for those served by the Victim and Witness Unit, it could make a difference having someone available to help you for more than just half of a normal work week. And, of course, having a larger staff means that practically the office should be able to help more people. “This grant will enable the office to build on previous years’ efforts," a news release from the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office said. We’re counting on it.
Thumbs up: It’s no secret that summer can be an unproductive time for young students’ learning. Between vacations and a lack of structured instruction, the “Summer Slide” is an all too real phenomenon for many youngsters. To help lessen that effect, a partnership between Carroll County Public Schools and McDaniel College’s Graduate Program for Reading Specialists has resulted in a reading clinic that has been run for more than 40 years. Though the location has changed, the goal has remained the same: giving graduate students a practicum experience while helping prevent summer slide or even improving the reading skills of the elementary-schoolers. The four-week program is for rising second- through fifth-graders. “We try to make it extremely motivating and fun for students so they don’t even realize they’re learning so much,” Mel Rhoads, adjunct professor and facilitator of the clinic, told us. To that end, aquatic decorations and a wide selection of books about the mysteries of the sea immersed students in this year’s theme, “Under the Sea.” There’s nothing wrong with having some fun time off during the summer. But if some of that time can be spent reading, it will be for the better.
Thumbs up: On the topic of substance abuse, Carroll County’s arts community is rising to the occasion. The Carroll Anti-Stigma Resilience Effort is hosting auditions for the first This is My Brave Carroll County performance, planned for October. Auditions will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, at the Knit Building, at 535 Old Westminster Pike in Westminster, and those interested should sign up in advance online at bit.ly/CARROLLCOUNTYAUD. This program provides a chance for those with stories of recovery from substance use and mental illness to share them with the community. Although not everyone will be prepared to open up about their own struggles — and that’s OK — this could provide a form of therapy for others. And all who witness these performances stand to learn much about their fellow citizens and, most importantly, to better understand what it really is like to develop, live with and fight against a chemical dependency or a mental illness. And as local health planner Maggie Kunz told us, “by having a wide variety of people share their stories and experiences, it would kind of take some of the mystique and the stigma away.”