Anything but a miracle on Main StreetLate last December...


January 28, 1996

Anything but a miracle on Main Street

Late last December, as every year, I planned to do some Christmas shopping on Westminster's Main Street. There are a number of little specialty shops there, and I just like it there a lot. I used to go there nearly every Christmas season with my parents, and as an adult, I always try to work in at least one visit during the Christmas season.

But, this year, for the first time ever, I could not find a parking space. Evidently, the spaces in the large metered lots behind Main have been reconfigured, and the number of metered spaces available to the general public has been greatly reduced. At the same time, many of the restricted, non-metered, "permit only" lots -- set aside for city workers, or business owners, or perhaps the homeless folks who now seem to be Main Street's principal denizens, or whoever -- were empty.

Twice in the week before Christmas I tried to find a parking space, to no avail. I even asked a meter maid, who was busy writing tickets, and she was absolutely no help. Finally, I just gave up and went shopping in the malls, which is perhaps the city fathers' intent in making this change. There is an annex public lot, up near the old middle school. But that's about a quarter-mile walk from downtown, which, at my age, I was unwilling to undertake -- particularly carrying packages.

If downtown Westminster is trying to send a message to shoppers like me (and I saw a lot of other people searching in vain for parking spaces), we sure got it, loud and clear: Your business isn't wanted here; go to the malls.

Everyone knows that downtown Westminster has taken a financial beating in recent years, mainly due to the mall along Route 140, which has siphoned off much retail activity. Considering this, one would think that Westminster's government would do everything in its power to make its downtown more, instead of less, accessible.

Yet, this reduction in public parking, along with any number of other wrong-headed moves Westminster city government has recently made, led me to the unlikely conclusion that it is doing everything it can to hasten downtown's demise.

Bob Allen


Hospital volunteers did yeoman work

The generous response of volunteer drivers at Carroll County General Hospital during the recent snow emergency reflects their remarkable commitment to the well-being of others.

At the first hint of heavy snow, a corps of dedicated drivers contacted us at the hospital to volunteer their time and vehicles. They understood our need and were ready to go. As hours turned into days until the roads were passable, more volunteers called to see if we needed additional transport help.

Acts of selfessness and courage abounded. In the height of the storm, one volunteer drove to the University of Maryland Medical Center to pick up a rare drug for a patient in the Critical Care Unit.

Others ricked their lives on narrow, unplowed roads to pick up essential personnel from areas as far away as Hanover, Lineboro, New Market, Reisterstown and Ellicott City. As president of Carroll County General, and on behalf of our trustees and associates, I want to express our appreciation to these volunteers. We also want to add our thanks to the associates who worked round-the-clock until blizzard conditions were over. We in Carroll County are indeed blessed by the loyalty and commitment of our neighbors and friends.

John M. Sernulka


The writer is president of Carroll County General Hospital.

Bringing peace to Carroll County? I think I'd better not quit my day job

I don't ordinarily remember the dreams I have. And contrary to what Sigmund Freud said -- that "the dream is a disguised fulfillment of a suppressed wish" -- mine tend to be more nightmarish than satisfying. The one I had during the holidays was a good example of that. It started out on a high note. I was cast in -- are you ready for this? -- the role of peacemaker. Even more puzzling is where I was assigned to carry out my ill-suited role. It wasn't in any of the world's trouble spots, but right here in Carroll County.

Surely, that can't be right. Somebody made a colossal mistake, for one would have to look long and hard to find a more peaceful setting, where being a good neighbor and living in harmony with nature is a way of life.

There aren't any warning factions here for me to bring to the peace table, no guns going off all over the place (except in deer season, of course), no radical groups advocating the overthrow of the county government (although the idea has probably flashed through a few minds) and no racial or religions strife to speak of.

Come to think of it, there is quite a bit of animosity between the opposing sides on such contentious issues as the county's growth, its master plan, land preservation, etc. Maybe that's where I could employ my peace-making skills. Heaven knows, they are constantly at each other's throats, stepping just short of throwing real, rather than verbal, brickbats during their debates.

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