July 20, 2008

Some solutions are just exemplary

A general rule in marketing: when you come across exceptional service, you tell five people. However, when you are unsatisfied with a product or service, you tell 20 people. I think good news deserves equal time.

This is the story of one exceptionally creative solution from The Arena Club's director of aquatics. My kids (ages 6 and almost 5) are attending the summer camp at The Arena Club in Bel Air.

Carrie Shaeffer called to let me know that Hunter (my 6-year-old) had stapled his finger (the motive can only be one that another 6-year-old boy could understand). He was quite upset by the prospect of someone removing the staple - apparently fearing that it would hurt. Carrie called to request my permission to hold Hunter to remove the staple. She then called back to let me know they had successfully taken the staple out, thanks to Josh Kenley's solution. Josh actually stapled his own finger, allowing Hunter to remove the staple from Josh's hand to show Hunter it didn't hurt. Hunter then had the audacity to ask Josh to do it again - and he DID! After seeing that it really was OK, Hunter allowed the staff to safely remove the staple.

My son is on the autism spectrum, and the staff has been wonderful and team-oriented in working with us to make some accommodations for Hunter. But, I thought this particular incident needed to be shared, as I think Josh's efforts go way above the call of duty.

Shelly McLaughlin, Bel Air

Thanks, praise for July Fourth parade

On behalf of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee Inc., I wish to thank the greater Bel Air community for its response to this year's parade. Although we were again challenged by the weather, I thought that the crowds were very large, enthusiastic and well-behaved, and the sights and sounds wonderful. The entire parade showed greater Bel Air to be the patriotic, fun and accessible family-oriented community it truly is.

I wish especially to thank the Town of Bel Air commissioners and Town Administrator Christopher Schlehr; Police Chief Leo Matrangola; Deputy Chief Armand Dupre and town public works personnel, without whom the parade never could have flourished.

Joyce Oliver and Laura Stafford from the Town of Bel Air Administration helped a great deal as well, especially with arranging for the use of the Bel Air Reckord Armory by three out-of-state bands who spent the night in Bel Air after performing at five parades on Friday, July 4.

Band directors Tony Domenico of Bel Air High School, Mary Lynn Twentey of C. Milton Wright High School, Richard Hauf of Havre de Grace High School, Andrew Griglock of North Harford High School and Daniel Briggs of John Carroll School also deserve high marks for turning their bands out in such great strength and with such great spirit.

To the many businesses, clubs, organizations and groups who participated in the parade - you truly exemplify what it means to be public-spirited, patriotic and community-minded. Your floats were wonderful and numerous - more than we have seen in years; the decorated cars and marching units were many and colorful; your patience and spirit of fun kept shining right until the end of the parade.

I also send our grateful appreciation to the residents and businesses on North Main Street, Rockspring Road, Ellendale Street and Gordon Street, who kindly allowed us to marshal the parade in front and all around them!

Particular thanks goes to Klein's Family Markets, who gave us total use of their parking lots at Klein's Main Street and the Klein's Gas-N-Go filling station from 4 p.m. until the parade was over.

We also owe a large debt of gratitude to Harford Mutual Insurance Company, which allowed us to use its parking lots to marshal marching units, notable people, beauty queens and elected officials.

Without all this support, we could not have held the parade.

It takes hours and hours of commitment and hard work from many volunteers to make a parade happen, and I need to send many, many thanks to our marvelous parade marshals Janet Leedy, Matt Heidenreich, Aaron Cahall, Mike Kelly, Jim Kelly, David Williams, Kimberly Williams, Lisa Williams, Andy Politz, Elaine Dombrowski, Megan Brown, Colin Stratford, Mariel Stratford, Rachel Eibling, Bill Smith, Mary Dean, Perry Thompson, Greg Cooper, Diana Hejduk, Ronny Hejduk, Megan Hejduk, Michelle Hejduk, Ryan Hejduk, Alex Krowzow, Liz Smith, Annette Blum, Robby Blum, Jay Merk, Wendy Merk, Chris Merk, Craig Merk, Steve Pugh, Gary Nasuta, Molly Nasuta, Dennis Nasuta, Ron Eastbridge, Penny Wagner, Cody Wagner, Garrett Wagner, John Cubbage, Chuck Christian, Jack Deal, Lindsay Leedy and Roy Clark.David Williams and his family did a wonderful job decorating the reviewing stand. Mike Freeze and Larry Leedy provided drinks and hot dogs to the marshals.

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