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The Tentacle


December 29, 2003

Thoughts Regarding The Year 2003

John P. Snyder

Despite advancements in just about every area of endeavor, no one has ever found a way to slow down the unending march of time. And so here we are, bidding farewell to the year 2003 and welcoming the New Year of 2004. Here are some items that have crossed my mind.

....We Republicans like to refer to market forces as the great equalizer. And I am wondering if such forces might be able to attain what no-growth advocates and certain county commissioners have strived for - a slowing of growth in Frederick County. With I-270 becoming a virtual parking lot at 5:30 a.m. every work day, one wonders if those seeking a new house in Frederick will think twice about exactly what the daily commute "down the road" entails.

My work does not require a daily commute on 270 South, but when I have taken it, it has been a terrific mess. Cars and trucks lumbering down Rt. 15 meet up with those entering from Rt. 340. Another long line of commuters joins up at Rt. 85. Many trucks can't make it up The Scenic Overlook at regular speed and that slows things down.

Traffic from the Urbana interchange grows with each passing day. Everyone is occupying the same two lanes that were built in 1959. By the end of 2004, I am sure that if youíre not on the road by 5 a.m. that you'll be stuck in traffic for at least two hours. That fact would have to discourage a few people, wouldn't you think?

....Fort Detrick celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2003. Many former employees were happy to voice their observations and remembrances. Regrettably absent from the festivities was Don Falconer, who along with a handful of others, got it all going in 1943.

Still spry at 89, Don has a steel trap mind regarding all the history and details of the fort. In those early days, five local companies conspired to keep wages low. If you left one company, none of the others would hire you. Fort Detrick really upset that apple cart because they paid more than anyone else. They also hired a good many minorities.

Many still recall with bitterness President Nixonís 1971 decision to end the offensive biological warfare operations at Detrick, thereby throwing some out of work and sending others to Aberdeen. President Nixon was attempting to curry favor with the liberals who hated him. It weakened our country and liberals still hated him.

.....The death of former Urbana star Billy Gaines in Pittsburgh last July still hurts. I am sure his memory has inspired more than a few undersized athletes to compete in sports with the same fearless determination that he exhibited. Letís hope his death also has deterred more than a few young people from drinking to excess.

..... I had to think twice. Was that really a Frederick News Post on my driveway on Christmas Day? Yes, indeed. The newspapers, under the ownership of the Randall family, really spread its wings in 2003. So what if the Sunday paper was mostly wire service filler? Itís our local guys going up against the big boys. Going after the upper Montgomery County market was smart. Say what you will about the FNP, but they cover the local news like no one else.

Columnist Roy Meachum must have been pleased with himself knowing that he upset some local Democrats. A sure sign of being effective, from his perspective, is raising the ire of everyone in town.

I find his hatred of the Catholic Church and President Bush tiresome. For those seeking penance to atone for various sins, I recommend reading his column faithfully for five months.

..... Two respected nameplates disappeared from the business scene this year. Fredericktown Bank and Trust gave way to F&M Bank when Mercantile Bank Shares bought out Farmers and Mechanics Bank. Also gone is Jenkins Motors, now Frederick Nissan. Every year it seems a local respected business name ceases to exist. Wouldn't it be nice if one of these new motels being built around town was called "Billy Boots Motel"? A great way to honor a long gone former Frederick landmark.

..... Just when the enviromental Nazis were warning of a severe long term drought in our area, the heavens opened up and dumped about 59 inches of precipitation on us in 2003. More than 20 inches above normal.

That it would rain on the weekend became even money around here as baseball and soccer games were canceled with regularity. The culprit? Global warming, of course. Had we only signed the Kyoto accords, such extremes wouldn't happen.

......Has it really been four years since George Bush took on Al Gore for the presidency? According to the calendar, yes. And so, George Bush will seek re-election in 2004. The voters will weigh in next November. There are 30 congressional seats held by Democrats in states that went for George Bush in 2000. Five Democratic senators have decided to hang it up. Due to the frontloading of primaries, the Democrats seemed poised to nominate Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, as their standard bearer. By the middle of March he will be the nominee and everyone can go home.

Think Maryland is safe for the Democrats? Can Howard Dean play the race card to stir the minority vote enough to win here? Michael Dukakis couldn't. Ditto Walter Mondale. Howard Dean will surely take some notable Democrats down with him. Might Babs Mikulski be among the victims? Impossible, you say? How does one know for sure?

A happy and prosperous New Year, everyone. And may you get your unfair share of the business.



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