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& MixedMESSAGE The Gazette Artist explores issues by combining diverse media. B-1 SERVING NORTHERN AND CENTRAL PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COMMUNITIES DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Thursday, September 12, 2013 25 cents Ethics chief hire to help build agency The last dog days of summer n Former lawyer says employee education is essential in addressing complaints BY SOPHIE PETIT AND CHASE COOK STAFF WRITERS Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) announced his choice Tuesday for the head of a newly formed accountability office that will investigate ethics complaints against county officials and employees. Robin Barnes-Shell, a former lawyer within the Prince George’s County Public Schools system, will serve as acting executive director of the county’s Office of Ethics and Accountability, an independent agency that will investigate accusations of unethical conduct and refer cases to the county Office of the State’s Attorney as needed. Barnes-Shell, 51, of Glenn Dale now awaits confirmation of her selection by the County Council, said Baker spokesman Scott Peterson. Barnes-Shell will essentially be laying the foundation for the office, which Baker established in See ETHICS, Page A-8 GREG DOHLER/THE GAZETTE Amanda and Jacob King of Laurel play with their dog, Sandy, on Saturday during Doggie Dip Day at the Laurel Municipal Pool. Longtime Laurel celebration sees return of traditions n Church ministry brings back parade, vendors to re-energize Emancipation Day event BY JAMIE Candidates clash on progress in Bladensburg n ANFENSON-COMEAU Three of four seats to go uncontested in upcoming Oct. 7 election STAFF WRITER BY See TRADITIONS, Page A-8 ERIC GOLDWEIN STAFF WRITER Bernice Brooks, 92, remembers when the Laurel Emancipation Day celebration drew crowds from throughout the region and lasted all weekend. “People would come in from all over, in their horse and buggies, on Friday. They had a ball game, live music all day in the park [and] the parade,” Brooks said. “Everyone looked forward to this special time of year.” Laurel Emancipation Day, held annually the first weekend in September, commemorates Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, and the abolishment of slavery in Maryland on Nov. 1, 1864. Originally, the event was put on by AfricanAmerican fraternal orders of the community, but Tyll Jones, 16, of Laurel dances at the Laurel Emancipation Day celebration Saturday. TOM FEDOR/THE GAZETTE Selwyn “Donnie” Bridgeman said crime and taxes are scaring people away from Bladensburg, and the three-year resident wants to address those issues as mayor. “We should be growing, we should be prospering,” Bridgeman said. Bridgeman, a mortgage banker, is running against four-term incumbent Mayor Walter Lee James Jr. in the Oct. 7 election. Bladensburg’s crime declined from 2003 to 2009 and has remained at around 600. In 2012, Bladensburg had the fourth most reported offenses — 562 — in Prince George’s County, according to Maryland’s Uniform Crime Report. See CANDIDATE, Page A-8 Parents group pushes for Spanish immersion program in schools Supporters say there’s interest, need for option n BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU STAFF WRITER A new parents group is hoping Prince George’s County Public Schools will say “si” to creating a Spanish immersion program. Gina Bowler of Upper Marlboro and Delores Millhouse of Bowie met while taking a weekend Spanish class for preschoolers and parents offered by a private company in Prince George’s County. The two decided to advocate for more Spanish-speaking options in the school system. “We discovered we had a very common interest in having our children learn Spanish as a second language, and we were hungry for resources to help us accomplish that,” Bowler said. SPORTS THE TROUBLE WITH TRANSFERS Changing schools can sometimes be a difficult process for student-athletes. A-10 Language immersion is a style of education in which students, beginning in kindergarten, are taught their core subjects by teachers speaking a foreign language. Millhouse and Bowler have created a website,, along with a Twitter account and a Facebook page, for parents to learn more about Spanish immersion and language options in the area. They also have begun a survey on Automotive their website to gauge interest in Spanish immersion. So far, 70 surveys have been completed, and more than 95 percent of the respondents have been in favor of Spanish immersion, Bowler said. Currently, the group consists of just Bowler and Millhouse, but they hope the My Bilingual Child website will help inform and recruit other parents who have an interest in bilingual education. Students who begin to learn a new language between birth and pre-ado- lescence are more likely to develop native-like pronunciation and more likely to be fluent in the language if they continue their studies through high school or beyond, according to the Washington, D.C., nonprofit Center for Applied Linguistics. Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., public schools both offer Spanish immersion programs; French See SPANISH, Page A-8 B-10 Calendar A-2 Classified B-8 Community News A-4 Entertainment B-1 Opinion A-9 Sports B-1 Please RECYCLE MUNICIPAL SCENE Advertising Supplement Check out our Services Directory ADVERTISING INSIDE B SECTION 1906618

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