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Thumbs up to horse rescue, departing HSP director; down to felled Civil War witness tree

Thumbs up: Christine Hajek’s desire to rescue draft horses from slaughter more than a decade ago went from a hobby to her forming the Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Mount Airy in 2005, where today the organization had 119 horses — among some other farm animals — on the 135 acres of land as of mid-July. Draft horses are large horses bred to work on farms doing tasks such as plowing and other labor. When their time as a plow horse is up, though, they are sold at auction, some to slaughterhouses that butcher them for meat, which is a delicacy in certain countries. The rescue also takes in horses that have suffered abuse and neglect. Most of the horses retrained to be riding horses, and the rescue helps find an adopter. Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue is 100 percent donation based, and has 13 full-time barn staff and 175 active volunteers. Call 443-285-3835 if you’re interested in volunteering or visit www.gentlegiantsdrafthorserescue.org to learn more about the organization.

Thumbs down: A historic, 66-foot ash tree at the corner of Md. 97 and Old Hanover Road was felled earlier this week, after officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the State Highway Administration determined that the dying tree was at risk of falling on its own and damaging the roadway and nearby World War I and II memorials. The tree, which DNR officials said was about 97 percent dead, was likely compromised by a combination of overpruning, blight and the invasive beetle, the emerald ash borer. The tree is believed to be old enough to have been a Civil War witness tree. Pieces of the tree are being examined to determine a more precise age and once the salvageable wood has been assessed, folks at the nearby Union Mills Homestead will determine how they are going to memorialize the historic tree.

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Thumbs up: While we’re saddened by the departure of Angela Gustus, the executive director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County, at the end of this month, this thumbs up is for the work she has done for the nonprofit in that capacity over the past two-and-a-half years. She was able to grow the organization, revamping its accounting practices and strategies to help HSP run more like a business in an effort to make it more flexible and able to better reach the needs of its clients. She leaves behind a more efficient agency than the one she took over in 2015. According to the Maryland Community Action Partnership, an organization of agencies similar to HSP, Gustus was able to share her methods to assist other agencies in the state and nationwide to help them do the same. Her leadership will be missed here in Carroll.

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