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Editorial: Thumbs down for tragic plane crash, Treat Shop closing; thumbs up for fall festivities, volunteers

Thumbs down: Another fixture of the mall packed it up recently. The Treat Shop, a fixture of Westminster’s Main Street for decades and the mall since it opened in 1987, closed for good, adding to a, sadly, growing list of longtime tenants making the determination that they couldn’t keep it going. It’s a massive understatement that the retail landscape is vastly different now compared to when that shop opened in the mall over three decades ago. It’s a shame to see a business like this go under after proving it could stand the test of time for so long. Trevis Alban owned and operated The Treat Shop for 24 years, but its roots in the community go back much further, to at least 1950. It’s clearly important that TownMall find new ways to draw businesses and visitors, especially as consumers’ shopping tastes change. After all, a closed store, while disappointing, does open new opportunities. We’ve seen the mall take steps in that direction by adding businesses like BattleGround Lounge, a draw for fans of competitive video games, both kids and adults, and the now-open Hackney Haunts. The spooky attraction might be seasonal and thus temporary, but it does still represent an effort at trying new things. It’s sure to attract some interest. That said, it’s still a shame to lose The Treat Shop, and we wish all involved with it the best moving forward.

Thumbs down: An even greater shame rippled from hundreds of miles away to touch Westminster this week. At least seven people died and seven others were injured when an antique B-17 bomber crashed shortly after taking off in Connecticut on Wednesday. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend looking at too many photos of the wreckage, but know that it was devastating. The human toll, with more than a dozen people either hurt or worse, is devastating. The tragedy reached Carroll County because the very same World War II-era plane that is now destroyed was scheduled to arrive at Carroll County Regional Airport as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour. That tour stop is now canceled and will not be rescheduled. That program, which we’ve covered regularly in the past, offered real-life experiences with a collection of vintage aircraft. This B-17 bomber had visited Westminster multiple times in the past, Mark Myers, manager of the Carroll airport, told us. “It’s a flying museum, it’s something that’s irreplaceable,” he said. Indeed, the B-17, which was built in 1944, was one of about 10 in the country considered to be airworthy. That loss of a relic of history adds another tragedy on top of an even larger one. We’re heartbroken for the crash victims and all their loved ones. They are in our thoughts.

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Thumbs up: Volunteers recently helped respond to a far different but no less difficult tragedy. A Maryland-based relief organization recently conducted two deployments to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian. Disaster Aid USA, based out of Lanham and composed of Rotary Club members, sent workers to Ocracoke, North Carolina, and Nassau, Bahamas. Paul Mahata of the Mount Airy Rotary Club is the communication coordinator for the North Carolina deployment. He said that deployment will help those with damaged homes. “We take out all the dirt from the house and try to clear out some of that drywall, which is wet or which is about to be going under mold and then dry the house with dryers,” he told us. “We go there, we see what the situation is, we help as many people as we can and we get them from hurting.” We salute them for their work.

Thumbs up: It took a while, on account of abnormally hot temperatures, but it’s finally starting to feel like fall has arrived. And with it comes plenty of seasonal traditions worth celebrating. No autumn is complete without some bulbous, bright orange gourds, and we’re told that this season is relatively favorable for them. Farmers in Carroll County and the surrounding region say recent dry heat is mostly a benefit to their pumpkin crops. Lisa Showvaker of Showvaker’s Quality Evergreens in Manchester told us, “If there’s too much rain, they grow too fast and they split.” That hasn’t been a problem this year. That said, there is concern that the recent heat is having a negative effect on pumpkin patch visitors and market customers. “People don’t like to pick pumpkins when it’s 90 degrees out,” as Churchville farmer Brad Milton said. But with temperatures already dipping to more hoodie-friendly levels, we’re hopeful that pumpkin patch business will soon pick up. Ditto for another fall tradition: corn mazes. There are at least five set up this year at farms throughout the county, and they’re more than deserving of community support. A decent sense of direction is not required but encouraged. But for those easily turned around, there will be various other activities available at some of the mazes. On top of all that, Oktoberfests and spooky attractions are sprouting up as well. Autumn’s in the air.

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