IF THE Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency that is charged with disposing of assets from the country's failed savings and loans, is having trouble finding uses for the thousands of commercial buildings in its inventory, the federal paper-shufflers might take some pointers from enterprising Carroll County citizens.
The RTC owns the Westminster branch of Vermont Savings and Loan located at the intersection of Md. 140 and 97. The branch has been vacant for several years, but the parking lot has been transformed into a do-it-yourself used car lot.
On any given day there are usually a half dozen cars, pickup BTC trucks or panel trucks parked on the lot. Each of them has a sign in the window with phone number to call for more information. Some vehicles, such as the large Mack truck, sit for months, but others move pretty quickly.
The other morning, as five motorists were waiting for the light to change, a seller pulled up with his boat and trailer and parked between a 1953 gray DeSoto and a 1985 blue Ford pickup. By the evening the boat was gone, which may indicate there is a much better market for used boats than for cars.
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TURN TO THE blue pages of the latest local phone book. Look up the number for the Howard County Office of Economic Development. The number you find is 313-2027.
Dial the number and you get a recorded message: "You have reached a non-working number for the Howard County government." Then silence. Then a series of busy-signal-like beeps.
Hold the phone! Is this any way for an economic development office to do business? Put a "non-working number" in the phone book? You have to call someone at another government office to get the actual number: 313-2626.
Then again, Howard County just landed that large Coca-Cola plant, one of the state's biggest economic coups. Maybe other counties will borrow a page -- a blue page -- from Howard's book and print the wrong numbers for their economic development offices. It seems to have done wonders in Howard.
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DECADES AGO, when the State Department began issuing foreign diplomats in Washington, D.C., license plates with letter codes that denoted nationality, Soviets were given plates that started with FC.
In those now-distant Cold War days, Washington insiders made no bones about the meaning of that letter combination -- "frigging commies" (or less polite words to that effect).
Now that communism is gone, Russian diplomats have been issued new plates that start with YR. We are not sure what the letters mean.