Yea: Who doesn’t remember a favorite teacher, that someone who not only encouraged their education but also who helped shape their lives?

Years from now, we’re betting that a lot of Walkersville Elementary School students will be recalling their studies with Jill McWilliams, Frederick County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year.

McWilliams, who teaches a combined class of kindergarteners and first-graders, received the honor on Tuesday during the school’s weekly staff meeting.

“I feel like I represent an amazing group of teachers in Frederick County,” McWilliams told our reporter Katryna Perera. “I’m one of thousands of teachers that are dedicated and committed and care about their students.”

McWilliams is right. We’re betting there are lots of dedicated teachers in the county school system. And, especially during this time of distance learning, they all deserve a big thank you. But today, we’ll focus on McWilliams for her honor. She undoubtedly deserves it.

Nay: We’d be remiss if we didn’t join the chorus of those frustrated, suddenly out-of-work people who continue to have problems filing for unemployment with Maryland’s BEACON One-Stop unemployment insurance application. Though it appears the state Department of Labor has finally worked out some of the issues to get people into the system, we’re still hearing complaints of people getting locked out of their accounts.

We certainly understand the overwhelming volume of applications the state has had to process. Nearly 500,000 Marylanders have had to file for unemployment in the last seven weeks, an unthinkable number during an unimaginable economic time. With this volume, we shouldn’t have any expectations of a perfect process, but need to do better than this.

Fortunately, signs are that access is getting better. For those increasing numbers of people who are now depending on this help, we can’t have any more glitches.

Yea: If we’re going to beat COVID-19, it’s going to take some ingenuity, the kind of ingenuity some Frederick County government employees unveiled this week.

On Wednesday, members of the county’s Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management introduced a prototype ultraviolet decontamination unit that they developed. The device sanitizes N95 masks for Frederick Health Hospital, county health care workers and first responders.

The unit was developed in three weeks, from ultraviolet bulbs, ballasts, sockets and other materials readily found in the county’s shelves. It sounds like a plot from the TV show MacGyver.

“I am so impressed with the innovation and creativity of county employees and their dedication to keeping our community safe,” County Executive Jan Gardner said in a statement.

So are we.

Nay:

Finalizing the Frederick County budget is going to be like hitting a moving target with a blindfold on. Considering the impact the coronavirus is having on society, “we’re just sort of in a fog of unknowns,” as Councilman Jerry Donald said Tuesday.

Contingency planning is going to be critical this year and we understand, even appreciate, the budget amendments that Donald, Steve McKay and Phil Dacey introduced to cut more than $13 million from the county budget. Nearly all of those cuts would eliminate raises for county employees.

While we’re not saying to take these ideas — or ideas for any cuts for that matter — completely off the table, we’d be very reluctant to eliminate promised pay raises unless it’s a last resort.

It was actually something the county’s Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum said that brought us to this thought. “It’s a really difficult conversation to say yes to the firefighters and sheriff’s deputies, but no to the 911 call-takers and that’s the dilemma we would be in,” Harcum said at a hearing, pointing out the problems that could occur if county union workers got a raise, but non-union employees didn’t.

We trust that the council will look at a lot of potential cuts to make the budget work, particularly in these economic days. But we’d caution the council to exhaust all other viable options before looking to cut or significantly delay promised pay increases.

One thing we will insist on though — don’t raise the tax rate.

Yeas and nays is a weekly feature of quick-hit opinions from The Frederick News-Post’s editorial board. Send your suggestions to letters@newspost.com.

(2) comments

FrederickFan

Great list and totally agree! Favorite story of the week was the county employee constructed UV disinfection project.

jsklinelga

What percentage of Frederick County residents will receive a pay raise this year? What percentage will suffer a drop in income? What percentage will suffer an increased drop in income if their assessment was raised (1/3 ?) or if taxes are raised? What percentage of government employees were laid off during this economic downturn?

Obviously the largest percentage of county tax money is apportioned for education? With schools closed and operational costs lowered was there even a suggestion that the MOE would be waived for a year as allowed in State Law for economic downturns that impact more than one county? What percentage of BOE employees were laid off?

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