Citing irreconcilable differences, COPT leaves Fort Ritchie on Washington County’s doorstep, rings the doorbell and then goes fishtailing out of the driveway to the relative safety of the Greater Metropolitan Area. The news is no better out of southern Washington County, when the commissioners get an angry letter from the Fairplay Fire Co. saying, in part, “We already run tip jars and hold spaghetti suppers and you want us to fight fires, too?”
In a major entertainment coup, The Maryland Theatre books Engelbert Humperdinck, after being turned down by Ethel Waters and Frankie “Half Pint” Jackson.
Politics and a donor
The local economy continues to brighten as Volvo, formerly Mack Trucks, announces the hiring of 50 more people and a possible $100 million investment in the local plant. As a reward, stock options are issued to the EDC Consultant Study.
As fall approaches, thoughts necessarily turn to the November elections, and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett begins the season on the defensive after comparing student-loan debt to the Holocaust. Bartlett quickly apologizes for the gaffe, and says he also didn’t mean to compare Volkswagen’s sign-and-drive financing promotion to Hiroshima.
Politics continue to rise to a fever pitch, as hundreds of Washington County residents demonstrate their thoughts on gay marriage by taking the difficult and unfamiliar step of eating fast food. But a welcome break in a political campaign season ensues as the nation pauses to remember the comparatively mellow Battle of Antietam.
A hush then falls over the community when a mysterious donor pledges $15 million toward the construction of the ewnay adiumstay. Details of the agreement are hashed out by marathon meetings between Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis Metzner and Harvey the Rabbit.
Another wildlife drama is playing out at the Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack after the annual woolly bear contest is canceled due to a lack of interest and then reinstated after the almanac’s office is stormed by 50 gun-wielding caterpillars predicting a Permanent Winter of Doom for anyone who pulls the plug on their weather gig.
In other weather news, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett surveys the damage left behind by Superstorm Sandy, and later issues an apology for comparing the historic hurricane to an episode of “The View.”
Concerned over increasing costs at the planned Washington County senior center, the commissioners agree on a new architectural design that eliminates the first floor, but includes “a surprisingly spacious root cellar.” Meanwhile, while waiting for a new facility, seniors are moved from a temporary center on West Washington Street to a more temporary, temporary location at Western Maryland Hospital Center.
After a horrifically long campaign, the general election finally arrives and proves to be a Very Bad Day for Maryland GOP Man of the Year Neil Parrott after state voters endorse gay-marriage rights, undocumented immigrants’ rights to go to college for a little bit less money and state lawmakers’ rights to draw up congressional districts while under the influence of mind-altering substances. It is also a bad day for the ewnay adiumstay, and for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who spends the day touring the wreckage of his campaign. In other retiree news, Washington County seniors are moved to a mini-storage unit in Smithsburg.
With all of the county projects going down the drain, the EDC Consultant Study and the Regional Airport Consultant Study get into a drunken brawl in a Hagerstown alley, which the City Council immediately names after Engelbert Humperdinck.
More excitement rages outside of Sharpsburg, as the FBI and Maryland State Police in helicopters and armored anti-terrorism vehicles storm a private residence after receiving a tip from a concerned neighbor. After discovering an underground bunker, a cache of weapons, stores of food and numerous anti-Obama slogans, police call off the siege on the grounds that “it’s really not that much different from any other Washington County home.”
Back at the mall, another angry mob forms until store managers are able to convince Hagerstonians that Black Friday is named after post-Thanksgiving sales and not after the death of Twinkies.
Back at the drawing board
And speaking of death, in an ominous sign for the ewnay adiumstay, city officials erase all traces of the project from Hagerstown’s website. The Hagerstown Suns baseball team responds by unfriending the city on its Facebook page. In another uncomfortable development, Hagerstown seniors are moved into an underground bunker in Sharpsburg.
It’s not the way anyone wanted the year to end, with all of the hopes and dreams of 2012 ending in ashes, and going back to the drawing board over the same issues that we have been trying to solve for years and years. But it is always darkest before the dawn, and green shoots can be seen for those who are willing to look.
In the gutter outside a bar, the EDC Consultant Study can be heard saying to the Regional Airport Consultant Study, “This guy here, he’s the guy.” Hagerstown has set a municipal record for alley renaming.
County elites secretly toast the New Year at Fountain Head Country Club. And there is a strange, but certain, comfort in knowing that in Washington County, we celebrate each new year the same as we celebrated the last: By re-living 1997 all over again.
Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.