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Editorial: Thumbs down to meeting procedure, thumbs up to those helping others

Westminster Common Council held a public hearing on a proposed amendment that would allow development of Wakefield Valley land.

Thumbs down: Five of the eight citizens who attended a Monday public hearing held by the Westminster Common Council with the intention of making their opinions known on an amendment that would allow a developer to build 53 houses on a portion of the land that was once the Wakefield Valley golf course in Westminster left before doing so because the meeting ran so long. The meeting became a quasi-judicial hearing that, in effect, turned into a filibuster with lengthy examinations of witnesses by attorneys making the meeting run well past five hours. The public never got a chance to comment until after midnight. "Unfortunately, that's the process," Mayor Kevin Utz said Tuesday. Considering the public comment portion of the meeting lasted only 15 minutes, it seems like there should've been a way to allow concerned citizens to make their views known long before the majority had to go home to bed.

Throughout its local history, the Westminster Shop With a Cop program has benefited 268 children from 119 families in need.

Thumbs up: Westminster police academy recruits Evan Kinsey and Joseph Tebo spent the morning of Dec. 10 helping kids shop for and later wrap and distribute presents as part of Shop With a Cop, a nationwide initiative that provides children in need an opportunity to buy gifts for their loved ones during the holidays. This is the 13th year for the program in Westminster and it has thus far benefited more than 250 children from more than 100 families in need. As part of the event, each child is given a $150 gift card that is used exclusively to purchase presents for their family members for the holidays. As a reward for their seasonal selflessness, after the shopping spree, the children are presented with presents of their own, donated by community members and wrapped by officers and volunteers. This year, the event made the holidays more special for 18 children from seven families.

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Sunday afternoon's Holiday Market and Arts Festival fundraiser at the Ag Center was one of the more than 600 events that have been held in the last four months to help Ellicott City flood victims.

Thumbs up: More than 60 vendors lined up to help Ellicott City flood victims with the Holiday Market and Arts Festival fundraiser at the Carroll County Agriculture Center on Dec. 12. The event was the brainchild of Carroll resident Laura Hewitt, a consultant for the LuLaRoe clothing line. According to Hewitt, each vendor donated an item to a gift basket that was raffled off Sunday with proceeds from the raffle tickets and additional donations going to the Ellicott City Partnership to help people affected by the July 30 flood that devastated that Howard County city. Maureen Sweeney Smith, executive director of the Ellicott City Partnership, said this fundraiser was one of more than 500 that have been held over the past four months. "Fundraisers like this make us feel great," Smith told us.

Sometimes the people that need help, such as food stamps, cash or medical assistance, or those least able to get to the people who can make that help available. That's why Kristin Hollis, of the Carroll County Department of Social Services has started bringing that help to them.

Thumbs up: Kristin Hollis, of the Carroll County Department of Social Services, brings assistance such as food stamps, cash or medical aid to those who need it most once a month. Hollis started a pop-up satellite office on Nov. 18 at On Our Own, a peer support and recovery center on Main Street Westminster meant for people with disabilities and substance use disorders. She said she'll be back Dec. 30, with dates in January and February to be announced. "I wanted to come out and be able to give them the same opportunities the people that do have transportation get," she told us. "I wanted to go there to help them apply for benefits and be approved all in one place." We're all for anything that can help those in need, particularly at this time of year.



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