Thumbs up: While it will be years before major improvements are made to Md. 32 in the southern end of Carroll, at least those who travel that highway can take solace in the knowledge that the first steps have been taken. Officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation met with some of Carroll's elected officials on Thursday to brief them on some of the major projects planned for the county. The Md. 32 project is moving well, SHA Administrator Gregory Johnson told the group. Johnson said a needs study on the corridor is being done now. With the study and the necessary public hearings, it could be up to two years before construction work begins on the widening of that roadway, he said. "This is a first step, but it is a big first step in laying the groundwork where you have a real project," Johnson said.
Thumbs up: Manchester is better and safer now that it has a new building housing town offices and the town police station. A ceremony, dedication and tour were held Sunday and the new facility drew rave reviews for its location, its aesthetics and, most important, the way it should help the Manchester police force. Police chief John Hess Jr. said he "loves it." "When I came here three years ago, the police department we had was not up to date," Hess said. Hess said the new building helps officers conduct private interviews and it includes video capability in key spots. "We have the best interview and interrogation rooms in the county," Hess said. During the dedication, Mayor Ryan Warner said despite the delay in construction, the facility is "a building that can be the face of the town for the next 40 to 50 years."
Thumbs up: The face lift being given to the Westminster City Park playground is nearly finished, good news for kids in the area. The new-look playground is expected to include a zip line among other state-of-the-art equipment, all funded by a grant through Maryland's Department of Natural Resources Community Parks and Playgrounds Program. The old equipment wasn't falling apart or unsafe. But it was more than 20 years old, according to Abby Gruber, director of Westminster Recreation and Parks. It's easy to make the decision to get rid of decrepit equipment or after someone is hurt because of unsafe conditions. Westminster Rec and Parks was smart to be proactive and to get the funding lined up long before the situation could get dire. It won't be long before local children are the beneficiaries of that proactivity.
Thumbs up: Brandi Jason, Liberty High School's band instructor of nearly 13 years, recently advanced to the semifinals for the Grammy Music Educator Award, which was "established to recognize current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools," according to a news release from the Carroll County Public Schools system." Ten finalists will be announced in December, and the winner will be flown to Los Angeles to be recognized during Grammy Week and attend the 59th Grammy Awards ceremony, as well as other Grammy Foundation events, according to the release. James made it to the quarterfinals last year. "Maybe the second time's the charm," Jason said.