Editor's note: Red and white lanterns will brighten many Main Streetin many Carroll County communities this holiday season. And most of the time, taxpayers are footing the bill. In Union Bridge, for example, the Town Council -- meeting in an illegally closed session -- voted to spend $7,857 to purchase and install lights; officials had budgeted $20,000. Other examples include Westminster spending $3,200 and Taneytown, $2,899. Electricity costs are additional. The American Civil Liberties Union says towns should not spend money celebrating a religious holiday. We have been asking readers whether they want their tax dollars spent on Christmas lights and, if tax dollars are spent for Christmas lights, whether towns should put up decorations for Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year, and so on. Here are some of the replies wereceived:
From: Peggy Hopkins
I would prefer to see money used on decorations to be spent on education and job skills for low-income persons.
If merchants want decorations, they should hang them and pay for them by charging more for merchandise.
Customers can afford it or they wouldn't shop.
From: Charles E. Schwatka
From: S. Williams
Yes, tax dollars in Carroll County should be used for "holiday/seasonal decorations."
I do not consider candy canes, snowmen, bells or green wreaths to be religiousin nature.
This country was founded on the basis of "freedom of choice" and "religious freedom." This country is a democracy; majorityrules.
Anyone who drives through Carroll County can quickly detect that it is primarily a Christian community (more churches than synagogues, mosques, etc.)
Since this is a democracy where the majority would rule and we have the freedom of choice, those who do not agree with the majority have the freedom of choice to move.
If Westminster is planning to spend $3,000 on holiday decorations, the cost pertaxpayer can only be pennies. Is all this rigmarole worth it for a few pennies?
DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE
From: Shirley Hampt
Carroll County MADD
The Carroll County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving would like to remind everyone that if you are goingto drink -- don't drive.
We would like to remind everyone also to"Tie One on for Safety" -- take a red ribbon and tie it to a visiblelocation on your vehicle to remind yourself and all the other motorists out there not to drink and drive.
Becker's Service Center in Westminster will be providing a way home, free of charge, from Dec. 8,1991, through Jan. 1, 1992, for anyone who is out drinking and drovethemselves. They will tow your vehicle and drive you home free of charge.
The Carroll County chapter of MADD is very proud that we have citizens of our county who are taking and making an extra effort toget you home safe.
So, please, if you have gone out and you have been drinking, use this service that has been offered.
Thank you, happy holidays, merry Christmas and happy New Year.
We want to seeyou safe, sober and alive for 1992.
SUPPORT OUR FIREFIGHTERS
From: W. Benjamin Brown
Mayor of Westminster
During my lifetime, I've often thought myself to be grateful for one thing or another.
At no time, however, have I felt as grateful as I did on the evening of Nov. 17.
Standing on Westminster's Main Street, while watching some 150 volunteer firefighters fight tooth and nail to save a block of our historic downtown, left me with a compelling need to say "Thankyou" and "God bless you" to all who responded when our need was so great and oh, so very urgent.
I understand that 11 of Carroll's 14 fire companies were on site, with the other three being in station and covering the rest of the county. Units also responded from both Baltimore and Frederickcounties, as well as Pennsylvania.
In short, when we needed help, we got it without hesitation.
I speak for all Westminster area residents when I thank our volunteer firefighters for containing the blaze with the loss of just one building. I also thank them for the reminder they've given to everyone in our community: When neighbors are in need, we respond.
It was a timely reminder, indeed, for recent mail brought our volunteer fire company's annual fund-raising appeal. In it, we were reminded that a $30 contribution amounts to just 8 cents a day.
After witnessing their firefighting efforts on the 17th and recalling how frequently the sirens sound year-round, I can only say that it is the best bargain any of us could receive for our 8 cents per day.
Therefore, I urge every homeowner and business person in Carroll County to answer the appeal of their volunteer fire company -- giving at least the $30 minimum.
And while we're at it, I trust that we are all thankful that volunteerism remains a feature of life within our communities and pray that we never take the gift for granted.