thumb”¢nail (thum’nail’)

        …2. anything quite small or brief,

        as a small drawing or short essay

Thumbs up to Austin Marhak and Judy French, who are to be recognized by the American Red Cross of Southern Maine as “Real Heroes.” Marhak rescued two fellow swimmers last summer when he was 14, while French, an EMT, responded to a 911 call and saved a man’s life ”“ even though she was off duty. Both of them took quick action when an emergency arose, and because of their efforts, tragedy was avoided in both cases. These two, and countless others like them who don’t hesitate to step up when needed, are the everyday heroes that give us all a bit of hope for humankind.

Thumbs up to Barb Wentworth, who has officially been named the new president of the United Way of York County. Wentworth has been working with the United Way, in a variety of positions, for 20 years, and certainly seems like a good fit for the organization, which helps to connect social service agencies, businesses, nonprofits and private donors to ultimately help those in need in the community. Wentworth has already been in the position as an interim and will now be able to move forward with addressing the organization’s financial stability and future plans. The United Way plays an important role in supporting nonprofit work throughout the county, and we wish Wentworth the best as she begins to officially lead this organization forward.

Thumbs up to the decision by the executive committee of the University of Maine System trustees, who gave final approval this past Friday to charging in-state tuition rates to all current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were honorably discharged. This policy change will undoubtedly attract veterans to Maine for their education, where their military training will be combined with higher education. Hopefully they will remain in the state to contribute to our economy with their discipline, experience and expertise. Maine has a reputation of being a welcoming place for veterans, for generations now, and this is an important way for the state to show its appreciation for their service. The new tuition rate goes into effect in time for the May term, and with it, Maine will be one of 20 other states with similar policies.

Thumbs down to the situation at the York County Jail, where only five people have been hired to fill 14 vacant positions. Employees are working up to 57 hours per week ”“ and sometimes more ”“ and being called in during scheduled time off. It’s gotten to the point, according to Chief Deputy Bill King, that the jail is in a staffing emergency and workers are becoming increasingly stressed out due to the overwork. This is not how a jail should operate, as worn-out, short-fused corrections officers are not going to be able to perform the job as well as those who are working in proper conditions. The county commissioners should be commended for filling these five posts to alleviate some of the overtime build up, and for being prudent with spending, but a bigger picture solution is needed. We understand their concern that the fourth-quarter payments might not come through from the state, making it impossible to pay more than five additional employees, and indeed the onus is really on the state to provide the exepcted funding. Turnover is extremely high at the jail, due to the working conditions and the nature of the work, so staffing is an ongoing concern. Our legislators must be made aware of how important this funding is, to avoid abusing employees and to keep our jails operating safely.