FOR years roadside signs urging "please drive gently" have greeted visitors entering Maryland. The signs now have company.
Just in time for the tourism season, the State Highway Administration has shelled out $15,000 to erect eight signs, complete with a picture of the state flower, a Black-eyed Susan. "We enjoyed your company. Please come back!" the signs declare. They are signed by "Governor William Donald Schaefer and the Citizens of Maryland."
"You have to promote the state," Carol Fox King, a state tourism official, said. "In times of economic decline it is especially important that the tourism office continues with advertising and promotion campaigns."
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YOU want to know how bad the recession has hurt local government? This bad:
At a luncheon Friday, Baltimore County honored more than 1,000 volunteers who have donated at least 100 hours of public service.
Among them were Emma Kepp of Dundalk, who put in 2,040 hours. (If you work 40 hours a week for a year with 2 weeks off, that's 2,000 hours). There was also Virginia Gallik, who put in 1,957 hours working in schools, libraries and her senior center. And in Parkville, Mr. and Mrs. Roland Rupper each gave more than 1,000 hours.
If the county paid even minimum wage to its Department of Aging volunteers, it would cost $2.5 million.
So what's the bad news?
This was the last year for the county's annual volunteer luncheon. Even though Martin's West donated the hall, the county finds it can no longer afford this luxury.
These days, there truly is no such thing as a free lunch.