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Thumbs up: Four Carroll County celebrities saddled up on the mechanical bull ride at Westminster Fallfest last weekend to raise money for local charities. Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz, Carroll Hospice nurse Lucinda Puterbaugh, County Commissioner Richard Weaver and Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding faced off to raise money for the Westminster Lions Club, Carroll Hospice, Kiwanis Aktion Club and Carroll County Special Olympics.

Thumbs up: Two Carroll County Public Schools' students have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program, which honors students who exhibit exceptional academic ability. Amy Donna Bittler, a senior at South Carroll High School, and Ben Stringer from Westminster High School, were among approximately 16,000 semifinalists chosen. They will have the opportunity to continue in a competition for about 7,400 National Merit Scholarships totaling more than $32 million that will be awarded in the coming spring. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest scoring test takers in each state.

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Thumbs up: Mark Roeder, a Westminster resident, has been named the new executive director for Komen Maryland, the local affiliate of the national Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization. Roeder, who had been the president of the Maryland Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society since 2008, will officially start in his new job Thursday, just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure on Oct. 25 in Hunt Valley.

Thumbs up: Freedom Elementary School celebrated its students' super commitment to reading over the summer were rewarded earlier this week by having opportunity to dress as their favorite superhero, eat ice pops and get their photo taken by teachers inside a cutout of Superman or Wonder Woman during a school assembly. More than 120 students read between 800 and 1,000 minutes during the summer break through the National Collaborative Summer Reading Program.

Thumbs down: Hampstead lost an institution of more than 50 years last weekend when Dean's Restaurant served its last meal Sept. 26. Dean's was founded in 1962 by Glenn and Dorothy Dean Ross, according to the final menu the establishment had available for its customers on Saturday. The restaurant was taken over at some point by their daughter, Mary Jo Malone, who operated the establishment until it closed. Residents and patrons spoke fondly of the family atmosphere of the community cornerstone and, of course, it's locally famous broasted chicken. Owners of the Old Town Grill, which opened in Dean's place on Friday, hope that, over time, their restaurant can become weaved into the fabric of the community in the same way.

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