If you noticed more traffic on the highways lately, you’re right. As the effects of the pandemic are subsiding, many of us are getting back on the road for our daily commutes.

So after months of those cozy trips to the dining room table to turn on the laptop, it’s now mornings and evenings of highway congestion and long rides home for so many of us. This past week, Gov. Hogan’s office confirmed on Monday what most of us have been seeing. In the week prior to July 4, highway traffic exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic began.

Statewide, highway traffic fell by as much as 50 percent during the pandemic.

We know complaining about traffic is about as useful as whining about the weather. And truth be told, unless we’re the only car on the road, we doubt we’d ever be fully satisfied. But we will point out that as development increases, the vehicle traffic is only going to get worse unless we come up with a better commuting option.

Maybe the solution was staring us in the face this past year. Working from home made traffic better and, even better, surveys of both employers and employees indicate that it should continue. We know we’d support the idea, even for just a few days a month. It’s got to be better than sitting in traffic.

It’s always nice to shop at a local store. It’s even better when that local store funnels its profits to help others.

That’s the premise behind Partners in Care, a store that quietly opened during the pandemic on the corner of Willow Tree Plaza on Frederick’s Golden Mile.

This unique, boutique-style shop has shelves filled with clothes, jewelry and nice things to have around the house. And since the items are donated, you can get them at great prices.

But as reporter Angela Roberts pointed out earlier this week, it’s more than just being about finding a bargain. The proceeds support Partners’ mission of helping seniors stay in the community while maintaining their independence by providing transportation, small home repairs and a social network for county residents over the age of 60. Sales from the store cover about 40 percent of the cost of the nonprofit’s programs.

“It’s a tremendous mission,” said Bud Otis, the former County Council president who is now business development director for Partners in Care’s Frederick location. “We need to honor the seniors who led the way before us.”

We agree. If you’re in the neighborhood shopping one day or if you’re just looking for a deal, you should stop by.

Frederick County’s trail system got a big boost this week when officials opened up the long-awaited Ballenger Creek Trail.

The new trail runs for more than 4 miles, starting at Ballenger Creek Park and eventually winding its way to the intersection of Executive Way and Buckeystown Pike. This new addition to the county’s more than 26 miles of trails connects neighborhoods, schools, business districts and parks.

“A kid in Kingsbrook can get on his bike and ride to this park and use this park without having to ask mom or dad to get him here,” Councilman Jerry Donald (D) said during a dedication ceremony on Monday.

This trail has actually been in the works since 1998, but plans were slowed down by development in the area. The $2.3 million project was paid for with a combination of state and federal dollars. One neat feature of the trail are the QR Codes posted along the way that provide information about nature and activities nearby.

We’re glad to see the county’s commitment to the pathway system here in Frederick.

What’s a school system to do with nearly $38 million? We have a few ideas. We expect a lot of you do.

Frederick County Public Schools is receiving that amount through the American Rescue Plan, with plans to target that money into five main areas: learning loss, student health, staff retention, technology upgrades and community engagement.

But to be certain that the school system’s goals line up with the rest of us, it is inviting the community to share ideas on the school system’s website.

“We’re just looking for the public to please review these items and let us know if you think they’re properly prioritized,” Leslie Pellegrino, the system’s chief financial officer, told our reporter. “And let us know if there’s any additional areas that they might want to suggest that we look into.”

The federal plan does come with some pre-set guidelines, including that at least 20 percent of the funds go toward learning loss and unfinished instruction brought about by the pandemic. The plan also encourages schools to specifically create programming to help underserved groups.

We agree with the five critical areas FCPS has laid out. In particular, we’re hoping significant money is set aside for helping students catch up for time lost and that some of the technical funds can be used to help students who are limited in broadband access.

We hope many of you — parents and students in particular — take the time to tell FCPS what you think.

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

Greg F

One big change is the weekend volume. Every single weekend, 270 north is a jam-fest and 270 south isn't terrible. Get past 2pm, and 270 North is better while 270 South usually has an accident around the weigh station and it's a crawl event. The speeds have not come down since open-road days, an the a-hole drivers out there tailgating and weaving in and out and cutting people off and driving aggressively are more than ever before. I'm still right behind you when you get to the stop light...yay...you saved a second by endangering everyone.

Dwasserba

My suggestion is: don’t do this. So many words. Yet so boring. Who agrees? Hello? Anyone?

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