Letters to the editor


December 18, 2005

Great athletics, great community

It is with a great deal of pride that I take the time to thank so many people associated with the State Championship Football Game between Westminster High School and Gwynn Park High School of Prince George's County. It has been well documented that Gwynn Park prevailed by a score of 20-14 in double overtime.

The athletic accomplishments of the players have also been highly publicized and were evident to all present at M&T Bank Stadium. What I am not sure is clear, is the effect the success of this team has had on the school and the entire Westminster community.

When Coach Brad Wilson was hired in the late summer of 2004, he asked me to describe the school and the community where he would be coaching. My response was that Westminster is "The First Small Town" that you come to in America; you're going to love it here, we have a family tradition. There are other schools and other communities that may possess better athletes and facilities, but nowhere was he likely to find a better atmosphere in which to coach.

The players accept coaching - indeed, they seek it. The parents appreciate the efforts of the coaches whether their sons are stars or have a role of practice player to prepare others for the glory of Friday nights. The students attend the games and cheer for their friends on the team. Friday nights in Westminster are special.

Earlier today (Dec. 12), I read the following announcement to the student body: "I would like to take a minute or two to thank a variety of people for the excitement of the football season that ended Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium in a 20-14 double overtime loss to Gwynn Park High School.

"First, thanks to all of you, students and faculty, that braved the cold the past several weeks and provided an atmosphere of excitement. Thanks to the school band for your performance and energetic music that lifted the spirits of all present. Thanks to the cheerleaders for your enthusiasm and support. Thanks to the coaches, your instruction provided an opportunity for the success that we have all enjoyed. Finally, thank you to all of the players.

"August 15 seems distant, and yet as years pass and stories of this record-breaking season are told and retold, the time will get shorter and shorter. I want you, the players of the 2005 Westminster High School Football Team, to know how much we appreciated your efforts, your accomplishments, and your sportsmanship. Congratulations!"

Now, I would like to congratulate Winters Mill High School for making the playoffs in just their third year of varsity sports. I would like to congratulate Francis Scott Key High School for what is becoming an expectation - making the playoffs again. And, I would especially like to congratulate South Carroll High School for making it all the way to the 2A State Championship game also played at M&T Bank Stadium.

We are fortunate to live in a community where kids are given an opportunity and encouraged to be kids. Thank you for your sons and daughters and permitting us to educate them. In closing, I would like to leave you with our school motto that makes us proud.

We Are Westminster!

John B. Seaman

The writer is principal of Westminster High School

Officials' arrogance on vote shameful

The public supported an open process to draw the five commissioner districts. After long and careful deliberation, the Redistricting Committee recommended Option 2 - the district map that kept traditional communities like North Carroll intact. The eight incorporated municipalities voted unanimously in favor of Option 2. Public comment during the redistricting process was three to one in favor of Option 2. So naturally, five of our seven state officials voted for Option 1.

These officials showed us that the public involvement process was really just a dog-and-pony show. The scant four minutes taken to vote down Option 2 and approve Option 1 proves what many of us suspected all along - the fix was in. It does not take long to have a meeting and take two votes when the matter has already been decided in private. This begs some simple questions. Why bother with the committee, the public hearings and a public vote?

To me, this is outrageous. The decision on an important matter like drawing commissioner districts should be reached through open deliberation in a public forum. The citizens of Carroll County deserve more than ex post facto explanations in the local paper after a quick "vote and run." We deserve more than lame reasons like "growth in Hampstead."

(I guess Delegate Shewell does not realize we have not approved a new residential subdivision in Hampstead for over a decade.) We deserve representatives who act in the public interest and in a public forum. What we have are five state officials who reached a decision in private to thwart the will of the majority. Two of these officials even voted to completely subvert the results of the election.

The voters knew exactly what they wanted when they cast ballots for five county commissioners by district. They favored the same type of representation by area that has served our nation since the days of our founding fathers. To suggest the voters were not smart enough to understand this is arrogance unworthy of any elected official. To actually vote to replace what the people decided by ballot with a half-baked political scheme is downright shameful.

The five elected officials who voted for Option 1 expect a free pass. They also expect the public will quickly forget the sham of a public involvement process and the seedy back room decision. They think by the next election, this issue will be long forgotten.

They will be proven wrong.

Haven N. Shoemaker Jr.

The writer is mayor of Hampstead

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