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Groups have promoted literacy in Washington County

To the editor:

In response to the recent article by Dave McMillion highlighting the Washington County Literacy Chapter (“New Washington County Literacy Chapter lays out plans,” Jan. 28), a quote by Ms. Anders was used referring to the lack of literacy organizations in the county, “As a result, Washington County was one of the few counties in the state that did not have a literacy organization … .” That notion is not quite accurate.

Washington County has a number of organizations that are focused on and support literacy at all levels in the county. The Literacy Council of Washington County has served thousands of county citizens over the past 25 years, reducing adult illiteracy in the county and enabling individuals to get jobs, read to their children and grandchildren, and pass their citizenship tests. The Rotary organizations in Washington County have been heavily involved in childhood literacy for a number of years helping to make sure children are prepared to enter school and establish a lifelong love of reading. Organizations such as OnTrack Washington County, Hagerstown Community College, and others have supported and promoted the eradication of illiteracy in our county for many years.

It is wonderful to see another organization in Washington County focused on literacy and we welcome the chapter to the community.

Newspapers, small dairy farms face similar challenges

To the editor:

Reading the columns by Andy Bruns and Todd Schurz in Tuesday’s paper (“Somebody bought The Herald-Mail. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?,” “A letter to our readers from Schurz Communications Inc. President Todd Schurz”) made me think of the dairy industry’s present situation.

Mr. Schurz stated, “The business model that has sustained community newspapers for literally generations is under severe stress.”

The small dairy farm has been under severe stress for 10 of the last 12 years. He also said, “There are times when you know in your head what the right decision is, but your heart finds it almost too difficult to imagine.” That really hits home to dairy farmers. Farming is not just a job that we do to earn money to pay our families’ bills. It is a way of life, a part of our being that we have done since we were able to walk. It’s very hard to walk away from that, even when the bank account says you should.

Mr. Bruns said the Schurz family realized it “needed to be a ‘big player’ with ability to scale resources … to survive.” The 20,000-cow dairies have many advantages of scale that have put the small family farm at a disadvantage.

Our family decided to do on-farm processing as a means to keep the farm viable. I would like to sincerely thank our loyal customers who have and are supporting us — you are keeping us going. Our products are more expensive than what’s found in big box stores, so it does take a commitment on your part to support us. We find it interesting when we go to D.C. farmers markets, that people down there are very grateful to be able to get our products and care about keeping small farms viable in the region.

Mr. Bruns’ column’s title read “Somebody bought The Herald-Mail. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” His answer was, “it’s more of a ‘nothing.’” Well, I think 30 years from now, when Washington County looks like Fairfax County, Va., our grandchildren will look back and think it was more than a nothing to have lost our farms.

David Herbst

Misty Meadow Farm Creamery

Smithsburg

Another solution to the W.Va. 9 traffic congestion

To the editor:

If you’re going to study upgrading W.Va. 9 (“Resolution requesting W.Va. 9 work advances,” Jan. 29), why not give thought to extending Interstate 68 from its end at Hancock, into West Virginia, bypass Berkeley Springs, bypass Hedgesville, and connect with Interstate 81 in an area north of exit 16, such as exit 17 or 18. Two traffic-mess towns bypassed, W.Va. 9 replaced, and I-68 terminates at 81. There is an unused railroad grade from Cumbo Road to I-81 already graded that could speed the construction at that end.

Jeff Hollis

Martinsburg, W.Va.