One parent's gratitude to MedEvac system
Your article about the State Police MedEvac program Sept. 11 came out the day after my 6-year-old son was flown in one of its helicopters to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center for possible back/neck/brain injury.
Patrick fell six to seven feet off the top of an inflatable moon walk apparatus our neighbors had rented for their son's birthday party.
I was the first adult to reach Patrick; he was unconscious. . . . Perhaps all the advanced First Aid I took way back in college took over. I began to examine my son, beginning with his head. His one eye was fixed but the other was off to the right. He soon came around but was very groggy, yet wanting to get up. We kept him still until the paramedics arrived from the Westminster station. While they were immobilizing his neck and back, he complained about his right eye feeling weird. That was when the paramedic made the decision to have Patrick transported by air to Johns Hopkins Children's Center. I rode with Patrick in the ambulance to the waiting aircraft a few minutes away. . . . The flight paramedic, TFC Dan Cornwall, . . . was given the rundown on Patrick's condition in the back of the ambulance with my husband and I there. Because our son was stable, I was allowed to ride with him. . . .
Once inside the aircraft, Dan hooked Patrick up to oxygen and made sure he remained in stable condition. I was given a headset to protect my ears from the roar of the blades and to enable me to hear any instructions or to speak to Dan. He told me Patrick could come see the helicopter at their base after he got out of the hospital. I vowed to myself he would.
I held my son's hand throughout the 10-minute flight to the hospital, while I thought about how just a few short hours before we were helping in our church soup kitchen. . . .
Thankfully, our story has a happy ending. All Patrick's tests came out normal and he spent only one night in the hospital for observation. He has to take it easy for a week, but that's nothing compared to what could have happened. . . .
It is a comfort to know that the State Police MedEvac program is there to save those precious moments that could mean the difference between life and death for your child. And that there is a competent and experienced staff at Johns Hopkins Children's Center to complete your child's care.
As a parent of a child who has had to use the system, I thank all of you for being there, including the local paramedic who was first on the scene.
$ Patricia Holbert Westminster
Fallfest unfriendly to homebrewers
Your editorial of Aug. 25 ("The Boutique Beer Boom") was of particular interest to me not only as an enthusiastic beer consumer reveling in the current "boutique," brewpub and microbrewery surge, but also as a homebrewer and organizer of the Midnight Homebrewers League, a homebrew club.
It was also with a lot of irony that your paper editorialized in favor of the craft-brewing phenomenon (which . . . I believe must include the popular and growing craft of homebrewing) after my recent experience with the city's Department of Recreation regarding Fallfest.
Our homebrew club, located in Westminster, has been organized for about a year. We currently have 32 members in and around Carroll County who pay the whopping sum of $5 per year for a newsletter and a few other small benefits. The Midnight Homebrewers League, one of no less than 10 such clubs organized in the state, is Carroll County's only homebrew club and is registered with and recognized by the American Homebrewers Association. We view our club's mission as primarily one of education -- educating each other in better brewing techniques to make better beers; promoting and expanding homebrewing as a hobby by informing the public about the craft and science of homebrewing; and, as importantly, promoting the responsible consumption of beer as an alcoholic beverage. I am our club's newsletter editor, and, by default, keeper of the club's membership records.
. . . Some of us naively thought it would be a great club event to get a booth at Westminster's Fallfest (held this weekend) to promote the existence of our club and educate people in the craft of homebrewing. No beer, just displays of equipment and ingredients, education about the brewing process and some homebrewing literature including magazines and our own newsletter to give away. And since the cooler fall temperatures generally represent the beginning of the brewing "season," we thought our club would have been an all-the-more appropriate addition to Fallfest.
So, in response to several notices in The Sun soliciting vendors and non-profit groups to participate in Fallfest, I called the Department of Recreation to inquire about a non-profit booth. Our group is almost non-income, let alone non-profit, but we do not have any formal status as a non-profit organization.
While our club meets the qualifications of the Internal Revenue Code for tax-exempt organizations, we simply don't have even the modest amount of money it takes to apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS or incorporate as a non-profit Maryland corporation. Some day, we hope.
When I called, I was treated very politely by the gentleman who fielded my call, but he did not know how to handle my organization and had to seek the guidance of his boss. He and I spoke again several days later, and I was told that non-profit booths (and the cheaper, fully refundable fee) were for "real" non-profit and community service organizations, and that (paraphrasing), "We really don't want to be promoting anything having to do with beer at Fallfest, anyway." As a gesture, he offered me the opportunity to apply for a commercial booth.
Even if our members were interested in digging into our pockets to scrape together the high, non-refundable fee, I question whether we would have been approved or welcomed to participate anyway. . . .
It's a shame, too. Craft and homebrewing is taking off like a rocket in Maryland and in Carroll County, seemingly in spite of the frowns on the faces of the bureaucrats in Westminster. The state is host to many successful (and critically acclaimed) brewpubs and microbreweries. One of the owners of the Mt. Airy Brewing Company is a founding member of the Midnight Homebrewers League and, as a local proprietor of homebrewing supplies, has been a mentor to many of our members.
We also understand that plans are under way for yet another local Westminster establishment that already serves -- are you ready for this? -- alcohol, to begin a brewpub operation. The American Homebrewers Association picked Baltimore for its annual conference this past June. Also in June, the Rockville-based American Type Culture Collection, home of North America's largest collection of microorganisms, hosted a Yeast Propagation Workshop for homebrewers. It was attended by several of our members. . . .
Yet, there's no room, it seems, for a beer-related educational booth at Westminster's Fallfest. So, for anyone wanting more information about the Midnight Homebrewers League and homebrewing in general, or perhaps attending one of our tastings, you will miss us at Fallfest because we will unfortunately not be there. However, our club can be reached through me at 840-9244.
$ Stephen M. Kranz Westminster
Yates to Sullam: Get head out of stratosphere
It's good to know that your editorial writer, Brian Sullam, watches the TV program called "The X-Files." I'm a bit surprised that he is such an avid believer in things like flying saucers. But then, when one ascends to heights as lofty as the perceptions he has of his own importance in this world, that person would surely have suffered the effects of hypoxia, that condition pilots experience when they fly too high without enough oxygen. They will get very giddy and they get spaced out with a wonderful feeling of euphoria and then unconsciousness if they don't descend quickly. So, Mr. Sullam, join the flying saucer pilots of this world or any other world you may represent.
In the columns Mr. Sullam had on Sept. 3 and 10, he refers to the undersigned as being "lost and confused and doesn't relate at all to his two colleagues" and "from his comments, it appears he has only the vaguest notion of what is at issue and what is at stake."
What Mr. Sullam doesn't tell his readers is that his animosity began in the 1994 campaign when Mr. Sullam asked the then-commissioner candidate, Richard Yates, to come to Baltimore where a group of editorial staff from his paper, The Sun, would consider the candidates for possible endorsement by that paper. Mr. Sullam had not considered Mr. Yates as inept as he is trying to portray him now until Mr. Yates replied "thanks, but no thanks, I won the primary without your endorsement, and I'll win the general without it by going directly to the voters as I had done in the primary." I can imagine that dislike can be quite intense since candidate Yates won the general election with more votes than either of his colleagues; now, Mr. Sullam can only bushwhack the former candidate because he didn't knuckle under.
Let's face it. Commissioner Yates is not going to do things to satisfy Mr. Sullam. He didn't during the election and he won't be doing so now. Commissioner Yates . . . did not vote to raise the piggyback tax like his colleagues did! He does weigh his decisions as to how he thinks the majority of the voters want him to vote.
If these things don't please Mr. Sullam, so be it. Mr. Yates will do as the majority of the voters want. By the way, Mr. Sullam, I understand that you live in Baltimore City; therefore, you're not a voter in nor do you pay taxes in Carroll County. So, how about cleaning up your act. We haven't had any carpetbaggers in Carroll County since the Civil War.
$ Richard T. Yates Westminster The writer is president of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners.