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Tomlinson: Looking for a place to live? Carroll County leads the way in commonsense governing | COMMENTARY

Visit Carroll County’s Department of Economic Development website and you will find information providing a number of reasons why Carroll County is a great place to live or do business, including: 92.1% of its residents have a high school diploma or higher,  it’s one of the top three safest counties in Maryland, and is home to four nationally-recognized Quality of Life towns.

To entice folks who live elsewhere in Maryland to book a U-Haul, I offer the following slogans:

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“Carroll County Is Open For Business And Worship.” Recently, Gov. Hogan moved Maryland into Stage Three of his recovery plan, and Carroll was able to reopen indoor theaters and outdoor venues, and increase the capacity for retail and religious facilities from 50% to 75%, and for restaurants, from 25% to 50%. Not all counties are following the governor’s lead like Carroll, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties remain in Stage Two and will not lift any COVID-19 restrictions despite Hogan’s announcement. “It is not party time yet,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. Mayor Jack Young of Baltimore City made it clear that the City was just now moving from Stage One into Stage Two and was not ready for Stage Three.

“Law Enforcement Is Respected In Carroll.” Last month, neighbors organized a “Back the Blue” rally at the former North Carroll High School to support local police. Board of County Commissioners President Stephen Wantz spoke for most of Carroll when he told Sheriff Jim DeWees, “We’ve got your backs and we will continue to have your backs” at the Sept. 3 commissioners meeting. Some of Carroll County’s neighbors do not share that sentiment. There is a growing movement in Frederick County to remove public school resource officers. Baltimore’s City Council cut $22.4 million out of its police department’s budget while allowing “DEFUND POLICE” to be painted on the street outside of City Hall. Executive Elrich forced officers at the Montgomery’s Fifth District Police Station to take down a “Thin Blue Line” flag that was hand-crafted and donated by a young boy.

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“Play Ball this Fall.” After moving Maryland into Stage Three, Hogan said, “It is the position of the state of Maryland that our young people should have the opportunity to play sports this fall.” On Sept. 2, Carroll County announced that recreational youth tackle football, basketball, and wrestling would be permitted to resume. For other counties, recreational youth sports will remain shut down. Following the governor’s announcement, Baltimore City’s Recreation and Parks Department proclaimed that beginning Sept.16, “Youth athletic programs and permits will be suspended due to the health and safety of the participants.” In Baltimore County, youth tackle football has been replaced with flag football for the time being. Prior to Carroll County’s Sept. 2 announcement, football parents and players held a rally at the county office building which was attended by Commissioner Eric Bouchat and Del. Haven Shoemaker. Bouchat explained perfectly why athletics are so important so our youth when he told the Times, “The kids … talked about how wonderful sports are in developing their character and their competition.”

“Schools Will Be Open In the Fall.” Carroll students will be able to attend school in-person this fall, and will not have to learn virtually for the entire semester. On Aug. 26, Board of Education member Kenny Kiler made a motion, which after amended, stated that “On Oct. 19, 2020, the schools will open, hybrid as the State allows at that time.” The following day, Hogan strongly encouraged all local school boards to work on developing plans to bring students back into the classroom. It was also announced that $10 million in grants will be available to school systems, such as Carroll, that choose to bring students back to their desks in the flesh.

While several counties planning on bringing back a small group of students for limited in-person instruction, Carroll is one of the few counties that plans to shift to a full hybrid model by mid-October. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski was quick to trash Hogan for pushing to get kids back in the classroom, “Gov. Hogan has been absent for months … now, days before schools open, the governor and Superintendent Salmon have finally released their guidance, while dangling $10 million to convince historically underfunded systems to open.” Not only has the governor been extremely transparent with his response to the coronavirus and education specifically, but he has committed $32 billion toward K-12 education. No governor has ever invested more in Maryland schools in our state’s long history.

So, for those considering a move, it is not as simple as flipping a coin and calling heads Carroll County, tails elsewhere. In commonsense governing, Carroll heads the pack, and other jurisdictions tail behind in the rear.

Christopher Tomlinson, a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, writes from Melrose. Find him on Facebook at ColumnistChrisTomlinson or email him at CCTtomlinson@gmail.com.

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