Thumbs up: Westminster High School won its second consecutive Carroll County Winter Varsity Cheerleading championship on Thursday, finishing just ahead of Manchester Valley. The victory earns the Owls an automatic bid into the state semifinals at Harford Community College on Feb. 11. The members of the team talked afterward about their hard work paying off and mentioned the chemistry they seem to have. "It's been really rewarding," senior Amy Jarvis told us. "Honestly, these girls are like my sisters and I love them and I wouldn't want to do this with anyone else." Westminster finished with 114.5 points, narrowly topping the Mavericks (111.65). The Owls also captured the fall county championship, edging Liberty in that competition. And, in what seems to bode well for the Owls' future, Westminster also won the junior varsity competition on Thursday.
Thumbs up: Shiloh Middle School held its first Makerspace Monday after school on Jan. 23 in its media center, giving students the opportunity to engage in interactive stations related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Conducted in partnership with the Carroll County Public Library, Shiloh's Makerspace included technology materials such as Ozobots (code drawing), 3-D printing, Cubelets (modular robots), Strawbees (straw construction kit) and Zoob (building sets). "We're bringing technology to them and letting them experiment with things they don't see during their normal school day," public library circulation clerk Amanda Krumrine told us. That's important considering so many jobs in the future will come from these fields. Additional dates for Shiloh's Makerspace Monday are Feb. 27, March 20 and April 24.
Thumbs up: Home sales in Carroll County increased by 15.4 percent in 2016, according to the Maryland Association of Realtors, the fifth-largest one-year increase among the 24 jurisdictions in the state. In Carroll, 2,510 units were sold in 2016 compared to 2,175 sold in 2015. That's good news not only for Realtors, but for everyone in a county that has seen steady declines in school enrollment for years, signaling that fewer young families had been moving into the area. Steve Meszaros, past president of the Maryland Association for Realtors, said many of Carroll County's distressed properties have been absorbed over the last few years and properties are now selling closer to their market value. Carroll's average price on the homes sold increased by 5.5 percent, from $289,419 to $305,394, according to the MAR report.
Thumbs down: Too many people are still not getting the message about the dangers of drugs. At least seven drug overdoses occurred in Carroll County between 10 a.m. and noon Friday, likely indicating especially potent illegal drugs in the area that are more likely to cause an overdose. This caused the Carroll County Health Department to issue an unprecedented "Community Overdose Alert" around 1:30 p.m. Friday to warn the public, saying in part, "these extra potent drugs may lead to an overdose, even when used in small amounts." County Health Officer Ed Singer said it was "the first time I remember us having seven people show at the hospital in such a short period of time." There were 192 nonfatal overdoses in Carroll due to heroin in 2016 and 16 fatal heroin overdoses. For overdoses, call 911. Administer naloxone if trained. And for help with drug treatment, call 410-876-4800.