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Thursday, March 6, 2008 • St. Mary’s County, Maryland

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Community Leaders Participate in Seventh Annual ‘Read Across America’ Andrea Shiell Staff Writer

Seahawks NCAA Tourney-Bound When in doubt, trust each other.” “ -SMC Coach Chris Harney

Mechanicsville VFD Wants Tax Increase To Pay For Expansion The president of the Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department said that the proposed tax increase his organization has requested would help build a 16,240-square foot addition to their station on Hills Club Road. The cost of the expansion would be $2.5 million, with $905,000 coming from the organization’s reserve fund, according to MVFD president John Montgomery. The addition would include more room for firefighting apparatus, more office space for administrative tasks, training facilities as well as for physical fitness. The tax increase would also help fund gender specific bunkrooms. There are currently 17 women serving in the department, Montgomery said. The proposed tax increase would mean homeowners in the 5th Election District would pay 5.1 cents per $100 of assessed value over the current 4.4 cent tax.

Hoyer Criticizes New Medicaid Rules Congressman Steny Hoyer called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to repeal new Medicaid rules that may slash funding or eliminate programs. A report that was compiled with information from state Medicaid directors estimated that new regulations would reduce federal payments by nearly $50 billion over the next five years. Some cuts to the State’s programs are projected by Hoyer and others to include eliminating services such as a statewide hotline for patients looking for doctors, as well as cuts to outpatient hospital services, provider taxes, and rehabilitative services. “In Maryland, the changes would result in a reduction of critical services and a lower quality of care for Medicaid recipients,” said Hoyer on Tuesday. “At a time when the economy is significantly slowing down, it makes no sense to implement changes that compromise a program serving those families who are most in need.”

New Law Requires Registration of Pharmacy Technicians Legislation to require registration of pharmacy technicians is now in effect, according to the Maryland Board of Pharmacy. The Board will require pharmacy technicians to be licensed, registered or certified in order to assist pharmacists in the dispensing of prescriptions due to a new law effective January 28, 2008.The newly enacted regulations will require all pharmacy technicians currently working in Maryland pharmacies to be registered by July 28, 2008. Technicians must meet certain educational and training requirements, and pass a Board-approved examination and undergo a criminal background check to successfully comply with the new law. In addition, all registered pharmacy technicians must submit evidence of successful completion of continuing education courses in areas of pharmaceutical practice before renewing their registrations every two years.

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More than 25 dignitaries and community leaders from across St. Mary’s County stopped by Mechanicsville Elementary School Monday for the seventh annual “Read Across America” event, some bringing stacks of their favorite books to share with the students while others chose from a table of books, most written by Dr. Seuss. County Commissioner Daniel Raley read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff, enthusiastically talking to the first graders in between pages. Down the hall, Captain Glen Ives read “If You Take a Mouse to School” by the same author to some very enthusiastic kindergarteners. Ives has been a part of a countywide “Read With Me” partnership, sendSee Read page A-10

Photo by Andrea Shiell

St. Mary’s County Commissioner Daniel Raley reads to a group of first graders as part of the Read Across America event on Monday.

Murder Suspect Human Services Report Recommends Under Federal Indictment Consolidation By Guy Leonard Staff Writer An interagency task force charged with assessing the growing needs for health and human services in St. Mary’s County has come out with a report that supports placing separate departments working in the county on issues like mental health, substance abuse and job training under one coordinating office. Bennett Connelly, director of the Local Management Board and head of the task force, said the two options outlined in the report represented a chance for the county to employ a comprehensive approach to providing the best human services to residents without using additional money other than what is already provided by the state and through grant dollars. One option included creating an Office of Human Service Coordination that would be managed by a governing council of agency heads from places like Connelly’s organization, the Mental Health Authority and the Division of Community Services. That governing council would also include consumers and citizens to ensure the best services were being delivered to all residents. The office would be a county

entity staffed with county employees under the first option, according to the report, and the second option would have the agencies stay as they are with their current employees, but reporting to the new organization’s director who would be a county employee. The options in the report would help do away with what Connelly called a piecemeal approach to the way human services are managed now. “There’s no one entity that looks at what they’re doing in a comprehensive way or organizing and directing them in a comprehensive way,” Connelly said. It could be more efficient and responsive to the communities needs.” The search for the specific human service needs to be addressed started in 2006, when the Local Management Board was tasked with gathering input from community groups, providers and citizens. A report in July of 2007 showed the main human service challenges revolved around a lack of affordable housing for the needy and disabled; a lack of access to health and mental health care for both the uninsured and the insured, including dental See HHS Report page A-

By Guy Leonard Staff Writer The man investigators and prosecutors believe is responsible for the murder of the owner of a hair salon in Charlotte Hall about two years ago is under investigation by federal authorities for a string of bank robberies scattered throughout the country shortly after the homicide took place. William Marcus White was formally indicted in the killing of Robert Martin Phipps last year. Police and prosecutors here believe he bludgeoned the salon owner to death in his business in June of 2006. Investigators in other states say that in the See White page A-

Photo Courtesy of Barstow County Police Dept.

Surveillance photos show alleged Hairtasia murder suspect William Marcus White, of Mechanicsville, robbing banks across the United States after fleeing St. Mary’s County in the summer of 2006.

tation to the county commissioners Tuesday and said that while the program is costing the county some money in property tax revenues that the amount so far has been manageable. Committee members told commissioners that so far the tax credit program has cost the county on average about $100,000 a year in revenue. “We think that yes… it is providing relief to the average to middle class

Senior Property Tax Credit Providing Some Relief By Guy Leonard Staff Writer A tax credit passed by the St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners three years ago designed to relieve the property tax bur-

den on senior citizens aged 70 and over has done a good job in its first few years of operation, according to a committee appointed to analyze its effectiveness. The Senior Property Tax Credit Review Committee made their presen-

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The County Times

Section A - 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Woman Convicted In Violent Assault Case By Guy Leonard Staff Writer A jury of 12 residents convicted a Tall Timbers woman of taking part in the brutal assault of a man who broke into a trailer where she was residing to steal drugs and money. The two-day trial had Robin Alana Thompson facing charges of both first-degree and second-degree assault for sodomizing the victim in the case, Jason Yates, with a plunger causing serious physical damage. During the trial, it was revealed that Yates was a drug addict who entered the trailer in Clements that Thompson

and an alleged drug dealer were living in back in January of 2007 where attempted to steal crack cocaine and money from the alleged dealer. It was at this time, according to closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense, that Yates was beaten as many as 50 times with a hammer by the alleged dealer. It was after being beaten bloody that Thompson assaulted Yates further by ramming a plunger up his rectum, according to prosecutor Kevin McDevitt. “[She] committed a horribly violent crime,” McDevitt argued to the jury. “She vio-

lated him in the most disgusting way possible.” According to testimony, Yates was ejected from the trailer after being beaten and, with his pants pulled down, his testicles were squeezed with such force, McDevitt argued, that he collapsed on the trailer’s porch. It was then that the plunger assault began, he said. “He screamed stop, she didn’t stop,” McDevitt said. “She pulled the plunger out then put it in his face. “This is a chaotic situation; an extremely violent situation.” Public defender Sean Moran argued that the credibility

of the state’s witnesses, who he called “people at a crack house doing their thing,” was unreliable. He also said Yates and his companions had already been to the trailer two times before the assault had occurred, received free drugs, and had consumed so much that their recollection could not be trusted. It was the third return to the trailer and Yates’ subsequent actions that early morning that lead to the violent assault. “Who’s going to break into a trailer at 4 a.m., the home of a drug dealer, and reach over him while he’s

asleep to grab drugs and cash?” Moran asked the jury. “He started this whole night; he was the whole cause of these events.” The first and second-degree assault charges against the alleged dealer, Joseph Louis Herbert of Clements, were dropped by prosecutors before Thompson’s jury trial, according to court documents. Moran argued that Herbert had more motive to commit the crime than his client. Moran also refuted the prosecution’s argument that it was Thompson violently squeezing Yates’ testicles that caused him to collapse on the

Affordable and Workforce Housing By: Bob Schaller What is the top economic development challenge facing St. Mary’s County? Answers will certainly vary but a consensus response would be the availability and affordability of housing. Attracting and retaining skilled workers goes hand-in-hand with providing housing options that are financially within reach. Thus the phrase “Workforce Housing” captures the idea that housing must be accessible to the workforce that our economy depends upon. The school system knows this, as does NAS Patuxent River, the hospital, Sheriff’s Department, the defense contracting community, and several other local employers. Affordability of housing is not a new challenge, nor is it local. Jurisdictions everywhere are dealing with this. The hot housing market that fueled the overall economy for much of this decade has since cooled off. The impacts on local markets vary but sharp increases in median home prices and even sharper increases in land values have made the challenge even harder, especially here. Presently the housing market is soft with many more choices avail-

able. Prices have stabilized and in many cases are falling. It is a buyer’s market. Industry experts expect this trend to continue for perhaps another year but many forecasts show a turnaround in early 2009. So there is some short-term relief in sight as builders and developers adjust their plans. In fact, we’ve heard from several builders and developers, both large and small, who desire to offer more workforce housing. This is in response to market shifts but also a genuine desire to help address a community need. One targeted example is St. Mary’s Affordable Rent for Teachers (SMART) program, a partnership between a local builder and St. Mary’s County Public Schools for discounts on rentals for first-year teachers. Also, larger projects involving public investment are advancing with The Gateways on Great Mills Road, Hunting Creek on Willows Road, even the new off-base military housing communities Columbia Colony in First Colony and Challenger Estates in Wildewood taking shape. This is all good news. One area that has gotten much recent attention is Mobile Home Parks and what future role they play in affordability of housing. As

the closure of National and White Oak Parks off Rt. 235 is completed in the coming weeks there will be two fewer parks in the County. This continues a downward trend started a few decades ago when growth pressures brought offers for development projects such as WalMart for commercial and other uses for these sites. Historically, mobile and manufactured homes have offered a unique affordable and workforce housing option to this community. The construction of the base and its early growth were the reasons for the rapid influx of mobile home parks in the 1950s and 1960s. During that time the flexibility and speed of readying mobile homes resulted in a significant percentage of new housing stock coming from this sector. This continued into the 1970s and early 1980s. According to the Census Bureau, in 1990 there were 3,842 mobile homes representing 14% of all the housing stock in St. Mary’s County. At that time St. Mary’s led both the nation at 8.3% and state at 3% in terms of mobile home percentage of total housing stock. But by 2006 these rates had fallen across the board. More importantly, in St. Mary’s the

porch. “His being beaten with a hammer, and consuming crack cocaine that had nothing do with his fall, it was her?” Moran argued. But the jury took less than an hour to convict Thompson of both charges of first and second-degree assault. Judge C. Clarke Raley ordered a pre-sentencing investigation in Thompson’s case and also remanded her to the custody of sheriff’s deputies. The first-degree assault conviction could mean as many as 25 years in prison for Thompson, while the second-degree assault conviction could net her 10 years of incarceration.

rate had fallen faster than both the state and nation. In 1996 St. Mary’s at 5.2% was actually less than the nation at 6.9%. Maryland had also fallen to 1.7%. Over this 16-yr period the County had lost more than 1,700 mobile homes, almost half its inventory. Meanwhile, the total housing stock grew by some 11,000 units with median prices well over $300,000. Mobile Home Parks will continue to play an important albeit diminished role in the future of affordability of local housing. This is a component of one of the recommendations of the Community Workforce Housing Task Force: preserving and revitalizing existing neighborhoods. The added challenge we face as a peninsula and a community interested in preserving agricultural land confronted with similar development pressures is balancing these sometimes conflicting interests so that affordability of housing, present and future, can be achieved so our community can continue to prosper. What we’ve learned about affordable and workforce housing from the market, the mobile home park experience in particular, and a variety of land preservation efforts, is that it takes a collective and collaborative effort involving the private and public sectors, along with community and other nonprofit organizations, to bring this about.

Maryland Files Suit Against Constellation Energy Constellation Energy Sues Back Andrea Shiell Staff Writer

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Maryland ratepayers, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that this cost is not passed on to consumers.” Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler In November, 2006, after SB1 provided and Governor Martin O’Malley announced credits to defer payments in the wake of the last week that the state of Maryland has filed rate increase, the State and Constellation ensuit in Baltimore City Circuit Court against tered into a standstill agreement that provided Constellation Energy Group (Constellation) that if BGE wanted to sue to challenge SB1, and its subsidiaries, Baltimore Gas and Elec- they were required first to provide the State tric (BGE) and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power 30 days notice to terminate the agreement. Plant (Calvert Cliffs). The State is asking the On January 30th of this year, after the Court to find under Maryland law that the Public Services Commission released a recredits issued to BGE customers specified in port suggesting that BGE and its parent comSenate Bill 1 (SB1) in 2006 are a constitu- pany, Constellation, had received a windfall tional and legal act of the General Assembly. under the 1999 Settlement to the detriment of The bill, passed during the General As- consumers, and at the same time Constellasembly’s special session in June 2006, was in tion reported substantial profits, BGE providresponse to the impending increase in prices ed the State of Maryland 30 days notice that for Standard Offer Service for BGE custom- it was terminating the Standstill Agreement ers, which would raise significantly once the and that it would seek to overturn the credits rate freeze previously put in place for elec- that the General Assembly had passed with tric residential customers expired. Custom- SB1. ers would bear the brunt of increased energy Specifically, BGE indicated that after costs to the added tune of nearly $750 a year the required 30 days notice to terminate the for the average residential customer, a 72 Standstill Agreement Expired, it intended to percent increase. The Senate bill limited the file a federal lawsuit within five days to “enrate increase for electric service to 15 per- force their rights under the 1999 Restructurcent, while provisions were put in place to ing Settlement Agreement and to challenge allow customers to defer their costs through the unlawful takings set forth in SB1.” a rate stabilization plan, allowing for smaller This will likely become a roaring legal payments over a period of 10 years. battle as both sides try to impose their posi“In the face of rising energy costs, SB1 tion. Constellation maintains that they are provided Maryland customers with much within their rights to file federal charges to needed relief,” said Attorney General Gansler. challenge the bill, while the State has said, “Despite receiving healthy and growing prof- “BGE’s notice of its intent to file a federal its over the last several years, Constellation lawsuit represents an attempt to circumvent wants to boost its bottom line at the expense what SB1 requires, that any lawsuit challengof hard working Marylanders. We are asking ing the law be filed in the Circuit Court of the Baltimore City Circuit Court to confirm Baltimore City.” that the protections built into SB1 are lawful “A contract is a contract,” said Mayo A. and cannot be ignored by Constellation.” Shattuck III, chairman, president, and chief Constellation has countered with their executive officer of Constellation Energy. own suit, seeking to prevent the State from “The state must abide by rule of law…the taking an estimated $386 million from Con- legality of the 1999 agreement has been restellation shareholders under the disputed viewed and upheld as part of two prior court Senate bill, citing BGE’s 1999 restructuring rulings...Additionally, we do not believe it is agreement, which was approved by the Mary- appropriate that the Maryland Legislature land Public Service Commission and subse- can limit…Constellation Energy’s ability…to quently upheld by two Maryland courts. seek Federal Court protection from legisla“In this time of economic uncertainty for tive actions that violate the U.S. Constitution. so many of our families, it is unfortunate that ” Constellation would seek to further boost its profits on the backs of the working people of our state,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The $386 million rightfully belongs to


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The County Times

Section A - 

The History of Women’s Suffrage Emily Finch Contributing Writer In the early nineteenth century, women were considered second-class citizens whose existence was limited to cleaning house and raising children. Women were considered subsets of their husbands, and after marriage they did not have the right to own property, maintain their wages, or sign a contract, much less vote. It was also considered improper for women to travel alone or to speak in public. With the belief that intense physical or intellectual activity would be injurious to the delicate female biology and reproductive system, women were taught to refrain from pursuing any serious education. Silently perched in their birdcages, women were considered merely objects of beauty, and were looked upon as being intellectually and physically inferior to men. It would take more than 100 years, but some of that would change.

The Seneca Falls Convention The Women’s suffrage movement was formally set into motion in 1848 with the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. The vehicle for this gathering was the World Anti-Slavery Convention held in 1840 in London and attended by an American delegation which included a number of women, who were forced to sit in the galleries as observers because they were women. This unequal treatment did not rest well with these women of progressive thoughts, and they decided to hold their own convention for progression of women’s rights. Using the Declaration of Independence as a guideline, Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented her Declaration of Principles in her hometown chapel, brought to light women’s subordinate status, and made recommendations for change. Resolution 9, requesting the right to vote, was perhaps the most important in that it expressed the demand for sexual equality. Subsequent to the Seneca Falls Convention, the demand for voting rights became the centerpiece of the women’s rights movement.

During the Civil War During the Civil War, women’s suffrage was obscured by the war effort and movement for the abolition of slavery. There was a lot of discussion on the topic of women’s rights, but little action due to the war. Activists petitioned the government for the emancipation of slaves with the belief that, once the war was over, women and slaves alike would be granted the same rights as free white men. At the end of the war, however, the government saw the suffrage of women and that of enslaved blacks as two separate issues because the black vote was thought to have more immediate effects than the female’s.

Uniting with NAWSA The American Equal Rights Association was established by Stanton and her colleagues in 1866 to fight for women’s rights. Just two years later, the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment proved an insult to the women’s movement, as it defined “citizenship” and “voters” as “male”, and raised the question as to whether women were considered citizens of the United States at all. The exclusion of women was further reinforced with the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, which enfranchised black men. In a disagreement over these Amendments, the women’s movement split into two factions. In New York, Stanton and Susan B. Anthony established the radical National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Henry Blackwell organized the more conservative American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) in Boston. These two groups later merged in 1890 to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) under the leadership of Stanton.

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WINNING THE VOTE In 1878, a Woman’s Suffrage Amendment was introduced to U.S. Congress. With the formation of numerous groups, the women’s movement gained a full head of steam during the turn of the century. But, the U.S. involvement in World War I in 1918 slowed the suffrage campaign as women pitched in for the war effort. However, in 1919, after years of petitioning, picketing, and protest parades, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed by both houses of Congress. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment declaring that the right to vote cannot be denied on account of sex was ratified under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.

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The Fight Continues Upon this victory of the vote, the NAWSA disbanded as an organization, giving birth to the League of Women Voters. The right to vote, however, was not enough to secure women’s equal rights according to Alice Paul, founder of the National Woman’s Party, who moved to take women’s rights one-step further by proposing the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) to Congress in 1923. This demand to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender failed to pass though. The push for the E.R.A. continued on a state-by-state basis, until the newly formed National Organization for Women launched a national campaign during the 1960’s. Despite many heated debates and protests, the E.R.A., although passed by Congress in 1972, has never been ratified.

Did You Know? Susan B. Anthony was arrested for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant in the 1872 presidential election. The first public high schools for girls opened in New York and Boston in 1826. Female doctors were not legally permitted to practice medicine until 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Women were not permitted to practice law until 1868. It wasn’t until 1971 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to end sex discrimination in hiring with Reed v. Reed.

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The County Times

Section A - 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Editorial & Opinion Fate of Gambling Machines: Much To Do About Politics, Little To Do With Legalities The recent emergence of gambling machines in several St. Mary’s County businesses caused Senator Roy Dyson to ask Senate President Mike Miller and Charles County Senator Mac Middleton to help him rid our county of these devises. Both are more than happy to carry the ball on behalf of Dyson. These machines are actually nothing new to the State of Maryland. For many years these kinds of machines have been operating in many parts of Maryland. In fact, across the bridge in Calvert County these types of machines have been in the Rod-N-Reel Restaurant for as long as many people can remember. The provision of the law that allows these machines to operate in Maryland provides that the proceeds must

benefit a non-profit organization or charity. A more common form of gambling, which operates under the same provisions of the law, is Bingo. Many organizations, most notably many fire departments, churches, and private/parochial schools have for years held regular bingo nights to raise funds for their organization. Unfortunately these organizations have seen revenues fall over the past years due to several factors. Finding volunteers to work bingo night every week is a tall order. Additionally, larger bingo parlors offering updated environments, and larger prizes due to a larger customer base have become more popular. These bingo parlors are commercially run establishments, which donate their proceeds to local charities as well.

To The Editor: Want Gas With Your Corn Dear Editor, With crude oil topping $100 per barrel, gas now costs Americans above $3.00 per gallon. Save the very wealthy, our people are frustrated, angered and hurting in their struggle to make ends meet as their former disposable income is deprived. Therefore, it’s needful to identify those whose obstinacies and lethargy promote the current misery and in doing so, the unadvised and unsuspect-

ing public can appropriately react. In affixing blame, it’s convenient to finger OPEC, terrorist, escalating American and worldwide demands, and the stock market, et al. However, let’s also identify our very own home perpetrators, ConRepresentatives, gressional overwhelmingly those comprising the Democrat Party. Oil addicted, yes, along with every other nation. Regardless, America needs oil today, and at reasonable prices to keep businesses afloat and people working. Let’s drill now let’s erect sufficient refineries here at home, now, while simultaneously promoting R

Businesses which have recently installed gambling machines that look and work similar to slot machines have done so for two reasons: to provide additional revenues to local non-profits and charities, and to increase customers into their own establishment in difficult economic times. With additional customers in their establishments, these businesses are able to provide better jobs and employees benefits that otherwise suffer greatly during times of economic slowdowns. Many local Catholic schools have signed on as the beneficiary of some of these machines. These schools continue to provide quality education for many of our children as well as providing parents with school choices. Unfortunately, the cost of running these schools continues to rise

and many parents are finding it impossible to keep up with rising tuition costs. Senators Dyson, Miller, and Middleton have long histories of being the friends of organized labor. Labor unions have financed the political careers of all three; in return the three have provided support to union issues. One of the more powerful unions in Maryland is the Teachers union. As with most unions, the leadership does not believe in the existence of non-union operators and fights to have all workers in their respective industries as dues paying members of their union. Non-union shops, as in this case, nonunion schools are considered a threat to union leadership. Dyson, Miller, and Middleton have done what they can over the years to

advance their cause. In fact, when Governor Ehrlich advanced the legislation to allow Charter Schools in Maryland, the three senators worked hard to change the legislation so to only allow Charter Schools provided they operate within the local public school system. Ehrlich had wanted the Charters Schools to have the choice of operating within the local school system or not. In order to provide more funding for public schools as well as other state spending projects, these three have voted to put the question of state run slot machines to the voters this November. The existence of these non-state run gambling machines threatens the success of state run machines and more important provide benefits to non-union schools when they want the proceeds

& D efforts at obtaining sufficient amounts of alternative energy sources yet some years away. Reportedly, Anwar, Alaska encases an estimated 35 years worth of America’s own oil requirements. It’s ours for the taking but we are forced to let our resource lie dormant while others explore as usual. Radical environmentalist lobbyists (special interest) occupy high rent offices in Washington, D.C. permeate the halls of Congress touting their unimpeded access to our representatives. These well positioned, well financed, and media ballyhooed pseudo saviors wield powerful influences as they maintain a death-grip on the throats and purses of

these, their entrenched minions. Hollywood too, with its aggrandized elitists routinely animate members with their special appearance and genius approach at minimizing carbon footprints and greenhouse gases, gag me. It matters not that these people are but actors no smarter and certainly no better than anyone else, but, as they are beautiful people, they’re only too deserving of furthering their radical leftists agenda (special interest) at our expense. They’ll make up to a $260 mil a year, so what’s $10.00 per gal gas to them. American commerce is hurting; the auto industry sustained head trauma and the housing trade has succumbed to a coma. And while predatory lending and insufficient planning on the part of some homeowners are mitigating factors, the fundamental stimulus for this mess is the continuously escalating price of gas. How many new cars do you notice on the street and for how long have those weathered For Sale signs been standing? The 2008 autos are beautiful and safer than they’ve ever been and there couldn’t possibly be a better time to buy a house. Many of you want to purchase the new car or home but you just can’t do so in good conscience for fear of next weeks possible $4.00 per gallon gas. You’re already aware that

the soon switch to gasoline’s Spring/ Summer blend with itself drive up cost another $.20 per gallon, apart form any other possible factors, i.e., mid East saber rattling or storms. Therefore, you’ll continue holding off on you’re wanted major purchase and hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Meanwhile, myriad American employees and businesses comprising the automobile and housing industry are in a peril. And soon, you’ll see the increasing sad effects of soaring gas prices on everything all across our nation. Thanks to Democrats we haven’t had a refinery erected in almost 40 years and we can’t get congressional approval for American oil industries to drill for this exclusive resource within American parameters. Readers, God Almighty, by design, placed oil beneath the earth’s surface and it’s there for our use as are forests, oceans and outer space. If we don’t punch holes in the earth to extract this natural resource what becomes of it? It remains there, untapped, unexploited and of no good to mankind, just as outer space once was. We all want to wean ourselves off foreign oil, the sooner the better, but at the expense of gobbling up American farmland? Don’t you care that utilizing corn and wheat to fuel your auto is raising the price of

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to benefit union schools. There is much at stake here. If the nearly 2,000 children in St. Mary’s County that currently are educated outside the public school system were forced to attend public schools it would cost taxpayers nearly $40 million more tax dollars each year. That’s $20 million more in State tax dollars and $20 million more in County government tax dollars that would be needed for public schools. That does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars that would be needed to provide facilities for another 2,000 students. It could mean hundreds of new dues paying teachers and classified employees working in the union shop. The three Senators are on a mission to rid St. Mary’s County of these devises, not because they are illegal, but because they go against their politics.

your dinner, i.e., chicken, pork and beef as well as the vegetables. So, while continuously paying more at the pump for foreign oil, you’re paying more for your daily bread along with it. Comfortable leading Democrat candidate for President consistently echoes disdain for Capitol Hill lobbyists (special interest) are shunned while others are embraced. Oh the power of that oozes from green fingered deep pocketed environmentalist lobbyists (special interests) that are so well financed, well positioned and afforded maximum positive exposure via liberal media. What we have here is not only a failure to communicate, but also, a failure to care. Voting Republican this fall won’t affect a cure-all for the diverse needs of 300 million Americans. It will, however, provide American ingenuity the opportunity to safely and conscientiously erect refineries and extract oil in our own backyard to help meet our own energy needs in the most timely manner possible. Virtually every Republican favors increasing our own supply of oil and virtually every Democrat rejects it. Fellow Americans, it’s your oil and your money – don’t you care? Chester M. Seaborn, Jr. Mechanicsville, MD

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James Manning McKay - Publisher Tobie Pulliam - Office Manager............................tobiepulliam@countytimes.net Andrea Shiell - Government Correspondent......andreashiell@countytimes.net Chris Stevens - Sports Correspondent............... ........chrisstevens@countytimes.net Guy Leonard - Community Correspondent................guyleonard@countytimes.net Kara Fernald - Advertising Rep...........................karafernald@countytimes.net Barbara Spray - Advertising Rep......................barbaraspray@countytimes.net


The County Times

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ramblings of a Country Girl

Travel Observations Terri Bartz Bowles So I’ve just returned from a week of travel and various thoughts are skimming through my mind and I thought I would share. I enjoy traveling and even if it’s on business, I can generally find something fun or pleasant to do no matter where I’m going. Of course, there are also always annoying little things that happen when you’re traveling but then we have some-

thing to laugh about later. I always take a book and a magazine with me when I travel. I generally sleep on the plane for some amount of time (moving object plus Terri in a seated position equals naptime) but I also spend a good deal of the time reading. But when I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight, I never read. There is just too much to see. I think everyone enjoys some amount of people-watching and an

airport has such an interesting cross-section of society, I don’t know how people stay glued to their computers or newspapers. I have to look and watch people, I basically can’t help myself. I’m amazed by the way people dress to travel, the amount and type of stuff they’ll carry onboard, the variety of food they eat while they’re sitting there bored, the interactions between couples and families. Since we all have to take

Section A - 

our shoes off to go through security, I cannot understand wearing knee-high boots. Don’t you hate getting behind that person in the security line as they struggle to pull their skinny boots off and get all their stuff in the bins? Usually, this is the type of person who has the maximum carryon, also. Haven’t we all had to run to catch a flight after a late connecting flight or gate change? How does the chick in the high heel boots run through an airport? Yes, all women can run in heels for a finite distance. But it’s sort of like a gazelle, it’s a short burst of speed for a very limited amount of time, that’s why tigers periodically have gazelle for luncheon. I had to stop myself from gaping at the guy with tattoos completely covering both arms and several earrings in both ears who was carrying a set of Louis Vuitton luggage. He had the rolling carry-on and a satchel that was so absolutely feminine I kept waiting for the girl to show up. Two hours later, she never had so I can only assume the luggage was all his. Who would have guessed? And there was the husband and wife with two sons and a baby in the stroller. I don’t know what happened before they got to the gate, but she

County Revenue Projections Down By Guy Leonard Staff Writer At a budget work session of the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday it was revealed that tax revenues are expected to be lower by about $325,000 as compared to estimates from December, prompting commissioners to contemplate hard choices about funding budget requests for new employees. Requests for new fulltime employees in the Department of Economic and Community Development met the ax as did requests from the Department of Aging and the Department of Public Works and Transportation for several vehicle operators. Robert Schaller, director of economic and community development, lobbied hard to keep requests in for coordinators for workforce housing and tourism but eventually

lost out. “I don’t see how we can afford this,” said Commissioner President Francis “Jack” Russell (D-St. George’s Island) of the coordinator requests, which would cost about $130,000 in combined salaries and benefits each year. “We’re missing a large opportunity to address this [issue of workforce housing],” Schaller pleaded. “It needs a lot of coordination.” Russell said he did not believe that filling the positions would be fiscally achievable, especially since the county was making strides in workforce housing as well as attracting tourists. Elaine Kramer, chief financial officer for county government, reported that tax revenues were down this year and that the county could be in much the same situation next year. Property taxes increased

HHS Report Continued from page A- work; a lack of coordination of public transportation and job skills training. The report recommends using current state and grant monies to fund the administrative cost of the transition. Those funds include $275,000 for the Local Management Board, $245,000 for the Mental Health Authority, $434,190 for the Division of Community Services, and about $120,000 for the county Health Department for handling substance abuse, according to the report. This money would only

come from operating expenses, Connelly told The County Times. “None of these are direct service dollars,” Connelly said. “We’ve found that most communities we researched have a coordination and we don’t have that right now. “We think there’s an opportunity for that to happen now.” Not everyone who was on the task force is happy with the final report. Tina St. Clair, director of the county’s Mental Health Authority, said there

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from about $82.6 million to $85.3 in the projections but income taxes fell from $65.4 million to $63.7 million as did other local revenues like recordation taxes from $13.5 million to $12.2 million. Total tax revenues dropped from $169,509,804 to $169,179,984, Kramer reported. Kramer also said that there was a lesser growth rate in net taxable income as well. “I think that’s a true indication we’re seeing a slowing in our growth,” Kramer said. The county will also have to be fiscally cautious in spending allocations since they plan to go to the bond market in 2009 to ask for $35 million in bonds to fund various building projects. The county commissioners approved unanimously the capital improvement, or county construction budget, for public hearing Tuesday as

was no clear consensus as to which of the two alternatives offered would be better. She also said the report lacked critical details of how the transition would occur without hindering the mission of the organizations affected. “We haven’t discussed how this office would be funded in detail,” St. Clair told The County Times. “I’m not enthusiastic about this. “They need more work on details so there’s no disruption in service.” Another possible shake up to the system could come in the form of competing for newly formed county jobs if the first option is adopted by the Board of County Commissioners.

Connelly said people who are currently in human services positions, including himself, would likely have to reapply to get their jobs back. It’s all part of the county’s competitive job process, he said. “If it becomes [a unit staffed with] county positions we’d have to follow county employment guidelines.” The county commissioners are scheduled to see the report at their March 11 meeting.

tomers is not necessarily the goal of all businesses. Goodness knows the airlines say they want us to be happy travelers but they don’t mean it. If they did, they wouldn’t squash us in so tightly, try to charge us three times the price for the same candy bar we could have gotten at the newsstand and tell us not to head towards the bathroom until the aisles are clear. How do they think the folks at the front of coach are ever going to get to the bathrooms at the back of coach? Every time somebody in Row 10 starts to stand up, somebody from Row 21 on darts to the bathroom and foils them. There’s just no choice, at some point, there has to be one or two people standing there waiting for the lavatory. I know all about security and not having people congregating but let’s mix some common sense in there. The upside is, I got warm last week because I went to the west coast and I had some great ice cream made on site at a dairy store that’s been in the same place since the 20’s, observed some interesting people and my luggage didn’t get lost. All in all, that counts as a good trip. You can email the Country Girl at countrygirlramblings@gmail.com

supported the service. Lori Jennings-Harris of the Department of Aging said her office was looking for way to make the program more cost efficient, but said the commissioners should still aid it. “For participants and families it’s worth supporting,” Jennings-Harris said. Russell said: “We’ve got

to find some answers to get this bottom line down.” The county commissioners will continue with two more budget work sessions on March 11 and March 17 before finalizing the budget for public hearing by the end of the month.

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well. Facing tight capital and operating budgets this year, they hoped for citizen input on what projects to fund. “One recent statement made about why the county is in decent [financial] shape is that the we didn’t overspend in the good times,” said Commissioner Daniel Raley (D-Great Mills). “We’re sure not going to overspend in the not so good times.” The commissioners also debated programs expenses, especially those that were running behind. Commissioners said they would continue to try and find ways to fund the Medical Adult Daycare Services (MADS) even though it was running a $458,000 deficit. “We can’t keep it going like this,” Raley said of the program who was

was not happy and everyone in a 10-foot perimeter knew it. The husband was nonplussed so I can only assume this was pretty much how their lives were. And then there are the folks carrying their pillows from home, with the pillow cases still on them. They’re dragging them around the airport, onto the plane, into the hotel and then they’re taking them back home to their own bed. Bleah! That’s just disgusting. I have stayed in four different hotels in the past month or so and not one of them had automatic doors. Who designs these buildings? Who in their right mind thinks a hotel doesn’t need either automatic doors or a doorman? And let’s face it, I can’t afford the hotel with a doorman so I’d be perfectly happy with the automatic door. Both hands are full with rolling luggage and you have to struggle with the door. It’s crazy and drives me absolutely nuts. I don’t care about a coffee maker in the room, just open the darn doors for me! The little things in life that shouldn’t be hard and make life more of a hassle are the most annoying. It would be so easy to fix this and it would make so many people happy. The happiness of the cus-

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The County Times

Section A - 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

High Tech Photography Could Be Used To Help Preserve Watershed By Guy Leonard Staff Writer

areas in the watershed and make it easier to justify to elected officials the need for resources to rectify them. “It’ll come in handy for addressing problems sooner rather than later,” Anderson said, adding that the health of the watershed affected that of the Chesapeake Bay. “The river is

a threatened resource… we’re just trying to take care of our own backyard and help the greater good.” Paul said the GPS/GIS assisted photography has been used by the state Department of Natural Resources as an enforcement tool against landowners who may be in violation of the law along the Corsi-

ca River on the Eastern Shore, but Sue Vieth, county environmental planner, had a different vision. “It’s a good snapshot in time,” Vieth said of the advantages the photography affords. “We can track erosion and see how well we’re applying critical area laws.” Vieth said she believed the photography could be used to warn landowners of erosion problems and give them a chance to take corrective measures. Some of those included planting more vegetation nearer the shoreline

or using small stone in barriers to reduce the erosion caused by waves without using heavier stones that disfigure the landscape. There are laws under consideration in Annapolis that could approve those methods, she said, as well as strengthening critical area laws to protect the Chesapeake Bay. “There’s a lot of momentum for getting environmentally friendly shoreline preservation measures passed,” Vieth said. “It’s for a softer looking shoreline. “I think it’ll [the GPS/GIS photography] be used proactively.”

Scientists working on a plan to identify problem areas along the shoreline of the St. Mary’s River Watershed are working to get a high-tech tool to aid in their efforts — photography supported by GPS (Global Positioning System) and GIS (Geographic Information System) technology. The project will allow those studying the river to catalog exactly where a photograph was taken and at what time of day it was snapped to show the shoreline’s exact condition. This is important for tracking the health of the watershed and the shoreline when it comes to sediment and erosion control. “It’ll be a really powerful tool,” said Prof. Robert Paul, who heads the St. Mary’s River Project at St. Mary’s College. “It documents what the shoreline looks like… the state needs to know what shorelines need restoration and to get a handle on how much is being lost.” Paul, who is working on getting federal grant funding through the state to do the project, is helping to formulate the St. Mary’s River Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS), a list of recommendations for bettering the watershed’s health that will take the next two years to complete. Paul is concerned about the quality of the water in the river, specifically what his scientific research has documented as low oxygen levels in the deepest parts of the river, which is harmful to aquatic plant and animal life. He also said sedimentation and other runoff is muddying the river and killing off life there as well. All the while shoreline is eroding, which reduces habitat for flora and fauna. Joe Anderson, former county commissioner and now president of the St. Mary’s River Watershed AsPhoto Courtesy of Robert Paul sociation, said the photography will Sections of shoreline like this along the St. Mary’s River could be the subject of Global Positioning Systems assisted photography that would be used to documents erosion and other document conclusively the problem problems as part of efforts to maintain the watershed.

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Relief Continued from page A- [senior] homeowner,” said Sandra Wheeler, chair of the four-person committee. Using a fictional elderly home owner as an example, projections showed that for an elderly person owning a home assessed in 2007 at $226,643, which was the mean home tax assessment for that year, they would pay $1,763 in taxes. That amount would have increased to $1,851 the following year but they only had to pay the previous locked in rate because they got into the program. While the assessments continued to increase every year, eventually to $3,325 in taxes a year by the year 2020, according to the projection, the fictional homeowner would still only pay the $1,763 for the year they entered the program. The total savings to that homeowner would come to $9,872 by the year 2020. But committee member Berne Wheeler warned that applicants had to refresh their application to the program each year or they would not be included back into the program. “If you want this continual cumulative earning you have to reapply every year,” Berne Wheeler said.

County Treasurer Jan Norris said that the tax credit program has also been popular since its inception. She said that in 2005 there were 899 eligible applicants, while in 2006 that number increased to 1,037. In 2007 there were 1,164 participants in the program. Under the county law the participants in the program would only have another two years to reap the benefits of the tax credit because of a sunset provision in the legislation. But the following year a statewide bill was passed that allowed every county and jurisdiction in to have a senior property tax credit, according to County Attorney Christy Holt Chesser. Chesser said that if the state law had not come into effect then seniors here would have had to pay increased tax rates to get back up to their level of property value assessment, which would have been a significant blow to their finances. “Once the county law sunsets, we’ll still have the ability to have a senior property tax credit,” Chesser said. Commissioner Daniel Raley (D-Great Mills) opposed the tax credit originally, but said that the current drain it represented on county tax revenues was

acceptable for now. “It’s OK for the time being,” Raley said, adding that future commissioners would have to reexamine the drain on revenue in future years to see if the senior tax credit to see if the county could afford to keep it in place. The report had projections for best, average and worse case scenarios for revenue loss pertaining to the tax credit. If the number of applicants rise nine percent each year, the best case scenario, the county could lose $658, 826 in property tax revenue by 2010 and $1.87 million by 2020. If applications increase by 14.2 percent, the average scenario the county can expect to lose $858,623 in 2010 and about. $3.9 million by 2020. The worst case scenario showed the county would lose about $1.1 million in property taxes by 2010 and almost $8.3 million ten years later if applications rose by 20 percent a year. For seniors to be eligible for the tax credit they must be 70 years old or more and make less than $80,000 a year in income. The report recommended reassessment of the program in another three years.

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The County Times

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Odd News Talk About Strict!

In February, a United Arab Emirates court in Dubai sentenced Briton Keith Brown to four years in prison for violating the country’s “zero tolerance” drug laws. He was found with a “speck” of marijuana weighing 0.003 grams, which was stuck in the tread of his shoe and discovered by sensitive drug detection equipment at an airport in Dubai. The same equipment detected three loose poppy seeds stuck in the shirt of a Canadian passenger, from a bread roll he had eaten at the airport. The Canadian man was also imprisoned for possession.

Unusual Lengths 26 year-old Shafkat Munir was sentenced to 12 months in jail for an attempted hoax in Lancaster County, England. He had received three speeding tickets in 2007, but rather than pay the fines, which totaled $350 and would have retained his license (his driving record was otherwise clean), Munir instead fabricated his own death certificate to get the charges dismissed. Detectives for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in Pasco, Washington, said a man had a friend of his shoot him in the shoulder so he would not have to go to work. Daniel Kuch told police that he had been the victim of a drive-by shooting while he was out jogging one Thursday, but Kuch later admitted that he had asked his friend to shoot him so he could get some time off work and avoid an upcoming drug test. The friend, Kurtis Johnson, of Burbank, has been arrested for reckless endangerment, and Kuch was booked into the county jail, where he is expected to be charged with false reporting. There have been no reports on his employer, or whether or not he is still employed.

Seeing Double Two weeks ago, a robber escaped with cash from the Sovereign Bank branch in Plainstow, New Hampshire, after a relatively successful hold-up. But two weeks later, police said that the same man wearing the same clothes walked into the same bank and attempted to rob it a second time using the same words and gestures as he had the time before. Bank employees refused to give him money the second time, but he still escaped, though this time witnesses have described his getaway car and license plate number. Police in Plainstow are searching for the suspect.

Cheap Husbands Beware! An Iranian court in Tehran ordered a man to buy his wife 124,000 red roses after she filed a complaint against her husband to claim her dowry. “Shortly after marriage I realized that Shahin was very cheap. He even refused to pay for my coffee if we if we went to a café or restaurant,” said the wife, identified by her first name as Hengemah. Under Iranian law, a woman can claim her dowry, which is a gift pledged by the husband at the time of marriage, at any time during married life or during her divorce. The court has seized Shahin’s apartment, which is worth 600 million rials (64,000 dollars) until he has bought his wife 124,000 roses. A long stemmed red rose costs about 20,000 rials (two dollars) in Tehran, and Shahin has complained that he can only afford to buy her five roses a day, but he may end up in jail if he does not pay.

In Need of More Intensive Treatment A man in St. Paul, Minnesota was on his way to an anger management class when he allegedly attacked a 59 year-old woman at a bus stop in Ramsey County. 27 year-old Justin John Boudin was waiting at a bus stop when his altercation with the woman started. After a brief spat of yelling, in which he screamed, “Why don’t you show me some respect?” the woman took out a cell phone to call the police when Boudin hit her in the face. He also hit a 63 year-old man with a blue folder containing his name and his anger management homework before fleeing the scene. Boudin has pleaded guilty to fifth-degree assault and may face a sentence for time served…and more anger management.

White Continued from page A- months following White’s alleged murder of Phipps, he sometimes tried to repeat his alleged crime in the same place. When White was indicted in November, he was serving a jail sentence for a bank robbery conviction in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Det. Thomas Hedderich, of the St. Mary’s County Bureau of Criminal Investigations, said White is a suspect in bank robberies in places like Little Rock, Ark. and Knoxville, Tenn. “He robbed several banks and now it’s catching up with him,” Hedderich said, White

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is currently incarcerated at Missouri Department of Corrections. BCI commander Lt. Rick Burris said it was difficult to tell when White would ever be extradited back to Maryland to face the charges against him. “It really could be [a long time,” Burris said. “At this point I don’t know when we’ll get him back.” Officials with the FBI said they closed their federal case against White once he was convicted by the state of Missouri for the Cape Girardeau bank robbery. “We have him under indictment for a bank robbery here,” said Jane Duke, acting U.S. Attorney in Little Rock. “It’s a federal indictment with an April 28 jury trial.” Det. Leo Griego, with

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Section A - 

Local Residents Testify For Dandy Walker Kids Andrea Shiell Staff Writer Thirteen year-old George Pugh has been getting a crash course in political advocacy, having toured the General Assembly in Annapolis and testified before a crowded committee co-chaired by Senator Roy Dyson. George testified on Friday for the Committee of Education, Health & Environmental Affairs to have a bill passed that would designate May as a national awareness month for Dandy Walker Syndrome (DWS). By the look of him, it is hard to imagine that George was not expected to survive being born. “They told us that we’d have a vegetable, a very sick child, or a dead child,” said his mother, Kia Pugh, who said that her specialist recommended that she abort her baby. George was diagnosed with DWS when he was in the fetal stage of development, a rare neurological disorder characterized by the abnormal development of the brain that leads to the growth of a cyst on what is commonly known as the fourth ventricle of the brain cavity. This in turn can lead to hydrocephalus, a condition of fluid on the brain that increases pressure on the brain cavity, and, if left untreated, is fatal. If passed, House Bill 895

and Senate Bill 477 would designate May as a statewide Dandy Walker Syndrome and Hydrocephalus Awareness month, the first step in Maryland getting more funding for research and treatment, which for parents and their children affected by the disease would be a welcome relief. Kia described her problems finding out information on the syndrome when she was told that she should terminate her pregnancy. She said, “The book in my specialist’s office only had one little paragraph.” Since Kia’s pregnancy took place before the advent of the internet, Kia described having to track down information the old-fashioned way, and the frustration that came along with it. She described talking to other parents of Dandy Walker children and hearing similar horror stories about fears of giving birth to sick or dead children. “If you live in a place where there aren’t top-notch neurosurgeons, then you don’t know,” she said, adding that the bill should help to correct a lot of the ignorance that has surrounded her son’s disease, and possibly bring about more effective treatments. A similar resolution is circulating Congress, asking for increased public awareness and funding. Kia explained that there are currently only two foun-

Franchot Salaries

dations conducting research on DWS, and she and George hope that public awareness will widen the pool of available research in years to come. Kia was left going to the Department of Health and the National Institute of Health to conduct her own research, which for her was discouraging, to say the least. “They sent me eight George Pugh testified before the Committee of to ten case files of just Education, Health & Environmental Affairs on vile, sick, disgusting Friday about Dandy Walker Syndrome. stiff,” she said, addences in Annapolis, testifying ing that not much has changed for Senator Dyson, he smiled since then. “All you saw was as he described videotaping what could happen…no good the tour, saying, “It wasn’t news…” really what I saw there, it’s But there has been a lot of what I was taping…I realized good news for her son George, how much I loved using the who has only had to have his camera.” shunt repaired four times in George also commented the last 13 years, and though on the importance of his teshe suffers from some learning timony. “If I wasn’t there,” he disabilities, he is an honor roll said, “then people wouldn’t student at Leonardtown Mid- know what it’s like.” dle School who studies music As for his medical diffiand enjoys photography. He culties, George is optimistic. will be featured in a medical “Since I’m not in the ER very documentary called Dandy often,” he said, “I don’t reKids, which is being peddled ally worry about my health…I to networks like HBO and the imagine myself as a normal Discovery Channel. “George kid.” is lucky,” exclaimed Kia. “He As Kia sat next to her son, has great things going on for proudly nodding as he spoke, him.” she seemed happier than ever And George seems to to have not taken her specialbe a very well adjusted boy. ist’s advice. When asked about his experideputies in state agencies. Franchot replied that he had a list showing those salaries were not out of line. But Joe Shapiro, director of communications for Franchot’s office, said the actual release of the list took place only in response to specific requests for it. “We had two requests for the information, one from [The Examiner] and one from The Gazette,” he said. “The Gazette requests it every year whether or not the Examiner did it because he mentioned it, I can’t say.” Franchot, a Democrat, has angered several members of his own party by taking the opposing viewpoint on major legislative issues, including tax hikes and the ongoing debate over slots. In a written statement, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, called the list’s release “very troubling. I think he should apologize to the people of Maryland, and particularly our state employees, whose trust he has violated.” DeGrange echoed the sentiment in his letter to the State Ethics Commission, saying that “by using and publicly releasing the names and salaries of 4,678 state employees to justify the salaries of individuals working in [his] office, the Comptroller not only has committed an ethical breach, but has violated the public trust.” Shapiro shrugged off these claims. “I would refer Senator DeGrange to the Maryland Public Information Act,” he said. “Anyone who requests information from the comptroller’s office will get it if it’s following the law. We have never released salary lists just to release them, and we never will.”

Senator Angry At Comptroller For Releasing State Employee Salaries By Kate Elizabeth Queram Capital News Service Sen. Ed DeGrange, D-Anne Arundel, Thursday slammed State Comptroller Peter Franchot’s release of a list of state employees and their salaries, calling it a “gross violation of trust between employees and employers.” DeGrange has filed a letter with the State Ethics Commission accusing Franchot of releasing the information for his own political gain. Franchot released the list after being questioned about the salaries of three of his deputies during a recent Senate committee hearing. A Franchot spokesman said nothing improper took place. Under the Maryland Public Information Act, state employee salaries are required to be released to the public upon request, but DeGrange said the comptroller received no such request and instead just offered the information to the media. “There is a process in place. If you want the information, you follow the process,” DeGrange said. “This information was not requested. It was offered.” DeGrange was referring to Franchot’s appearance before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee last week, where he was questioned about three of his deputies who each make around $150,000. Budget analysts said this seemed a relatively high salary for

the Barstow, Calif. police said White has already been accused of committing one bank robbery there in 2006 and attempting to rob that same bank, a Bank of America just two days later. Those incidents occurred July 26 and July 29 of 2006, Griego said. Each time White allegedly used a “threatening note” to demand money from the tellers. During the first robbery, White was allegedly able to make off with bank money but when he returned he was

not so successful. “They recognized who he was and they didn’t give him any money,” Griego said. “After they refused he fled.” Between the two alleged robberies in Barstow, White drove to St. George, Utah and allegedly robbed a U.S. Bank there again using a threatening note. Many of the robberies White is alleged to have committed occurred “in pretty close proximity to the major interstates.”

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The County Times

Section A - 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Another Presidential Test Helicopter Takes to the Air Naval Air Station Command Press Release

Helicopter Support Facility here on Mar. 17 and will then travel to Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, N.Y. for final assembly and mission systems integration.  TV-3 NAVAIR PATUXENT RIVER, will be the first vehicle tested that MD -- Test Vehicle 3, the third he- is outfitted with mission systems.    licopter built for the VH-71 Presi-  Once missionized TV-3 will join dential Helicopter Replacement the other three test vehicles, TV-1, Program, made its initial flight Feb. TV-2 and TV-5 already in flight27 in Yeovil, England marking the testing that have accumulated more fourth helicopter to enter flight test.     than 650 total hours of flight test.     TV-3 is due to arrive at the Presidential  As a missionized aircraft, TV-3 will

be able to validate in-flight data, which has previously only been evaluated in laboratories. One additional test vehicle is scheduled for flighttesting and missionization after TV-3 before the initial lot of production aircraft are delivered to Patuxent River.      With fuel system testing already complete, VH-71 flight test officials are currently concentrating on satellite communications and high-powered FM Radio testing with tail rotor and flight load

survey testing on the horizon.      In addition to forward movement on flight-testing of Increment 1 test vehicles, which currently meet or exceed all key performance parameters, a parallel and concurrent effort supporting the flight test program is the Systems Integration Lab currently operational at the Presidential Helicopter Support Facility.      The SIL consists of test benches used to evaluate individual subsystems currently in development. A

larger SIL facility at Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY includes a master systems bench -- a full-scale functional mockup of the VH-71 cockpit and cabin. The systems integration laboratories allow VH-71 program engineers to test VH-71 avionics and mission systems prior to installation aboard the aircraft.    

Southern Maryland Aiming to Become Next Napa Valley Andrea Shiell Staff Writer

tion and more vineyards and wineries.” The wine trail has been in Wine enthusiasts may the works for some time. In have some celebrating to do FY 2007, $500,000 in funding here in Southern Maryland, from the County Commiswhere the grape-growing sioners was funneled into the industry is gearing up to re- creation of an actual winery cruit more farmers for the at the Port of Leonardtown. bourgeoning wine business. The County has already hired The most recent of a series of a winery consultant to deterwine workshops was held at mine what needs to be done to the SMECO Auditorium in turn the historic property into Hughesville on February 13th, a fully functional winery. and drew a large response in In the meantime, growthe wake of growing interest ers have been stepping up to in the crop. the plate. Some growers have Wine is certainly not a replaced their tobacco crops new business in the United with grapes, in pursuance of States, but in Maryland it is the Maryland Tobacco Buyrelatively new. The number of out program, which offers tax vineyards has risen from 12 to incentives and subsidies to 32 in the last few years, and growers who stray from their interest is steadily growing. traditional tobacco harvest to “It’s kind of like a snowball produce other things, but the effect,” said Steve Purvins, transition has not always been President of the Southern easy. Maryland Grape Growers and “One of the requireWinery Association, and Vice ments of the tobacco buyout President of the Southern program was that while the Maryland Winegrowers Co- grower agrees to cease tobacoperative. “Once a few vine- co production, he also agrees yards and wineries appear in to remain productive in agthe region, people begin to riculture,” explained grower notice.” Purvins says that the David Wood, who planted next step will be a “wine trail, his first wine grapes as “a towhich brings more recogni- bacco alternative experiment”

at the Forrest Hall Farm in April 2004. “The marketing part of the puzzle was taken care of for us with tobacco production. You simply took your crop to the auction and it was sold for you…Today you have to find your own buyers for your ‘alternative to tobacco’ crop. That’s easier said than done because it’s an uncharted territory for some farmers…especially the farmers that only grew tobacco. They were not diversified and have struggled with what to do next.” Purvins noted, “There has been considerable interest in grape growing from farmers that have taken the buyout, but by and large most new growers are new to farming…but as the end of the buyout nears, I expect to see more farmers getting into grape growing.” Growers have commented that Virginia and Pennsylvania have relatively friendlier state laws for promotion and distribution than Maryland. “Many states have seen the benefits that a thriving wine industry offers,” explained Purvins, “but Maryland has been slow to recognize this, and the numbers tell the story.

Virginia and Pennsylvania each have well over 100 wineries. We have just over 30.” There are several challenges that growers have been facing as they edge their way into the wine market, which requires long term investments of time, labor, and capital. “The up front investment in both time and money are the biggest initial hurdles,” said Purvins. “Add to that the fact that it takes a couple of years before a decent crop can be harvested, and it’s easy to see why some are hesitant to get into grape growing.” In order to encourage interest, the Tri-County Council and the Maryland Grape Growers Association have recently started offering capital assistance programs “that have cost-shared the purchase of grapevine stock,” said Purvin. In addition, participants are put through “new grower workshops” to educate them on the harvest cycle, which growers say is not much different than tobacco. “It might sound odd at first,” said Purvin, “but I see a lot of similarities between growing grapes and grow-

ing tobacco. Obviously you only plant a grapevine once, but you’re out in the field several times a year, managing the growth of the plant…and come late summer you’re harvesting about three to four tons worth of crop.” “The biggest difference is the grape vine takes about three years of growth and maintenance before the first grape harvest is taken. During that three years a substantial investment is made before a return on investment is realized,” said Wood. “The upside is that grape vine should

produce a harvest for 20 years or more.” With vines sprouting across Southern Maryland, growers seem very optimistic about the future of the winery business here. “The American Vintners Association recently put out numbers stating that for every dollar spent at a winery, there is another dollar spent somewhere in the community,” said Purvin. “To me that’s a pretty impressive statistic, especially given our government’s recent budget woes.”

Maryland Vineyards have increased from twleve to thirty-two in the last few years as growers shift to new crops.

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The County Times

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Section A - 

Obituaries June Lucille Bell Dyson, 88

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Cecilia Clair Harding in 1972 and his wife, Mary Cecilia Harding in 2005. A Memorial Service was conducted Friday, Feb. 29, 2008 at the Church of the Ascension, Lexington Park. Interment will be private. Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A. in Leonardtown.

George Craggs Hopkins, Jr., 88

June Lucille Bell Dyson, 88, of Charlotte Hall died Feb. 23 in the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Charlotte Hall. Born April 13, 1919 in Rochester, N.Y., she was the daughter of the late Arthur Gordon Bell and Helen M. Little Bell. Mrs. Dyson served her country during WWII in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945. She worked as a claims examiner at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station from 1946 to 1973. Mrs. Dyson was a member of N.A.R.F.E. #969, the American Red Cross, St. Mary’s County Garden Club, American Antique and Art Association and the Order of the Eastern Star #92, La Plata, Md. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Gideon A. Dyson in May 2007. A Memorial Service was conducted Saturday, March 1 at 11 a.m. in All Faith Episcopal Church, Charlotte Hall. Inurnment will be Thursday, March 13 at 1 p.m. in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. Memorial contributions may be made to the All Faith Episcopal Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 24, Charlotte Hall, MD 20622. Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A. in Leonardtown.

Talbot Harding, 96 Talbot Harding, 96, of Leonardtown died Feb. 15 in St. Mary’s Nursing Center, Leonardtown. Born Jan. 17, 1912 in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of the late Richard Talbot Harding and Della Elouse Purcell Harding. Mr. Harding graduated from Oberlin College in 1934. He studied German at Heidleberg University in Germany and later rose to the rank of Captain in the Signal Corps in World War II. He married his wife, Cecilia Mary Randall, in England in 1943 and returned to Cleveland after the war and worked as a reporter and copy editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He later became editor of the Erie Railroad Magazine, public relations director for the Family Service Association and eventually retired as public relations director for the Ohio Turnpike Commission in the early 1970’s. He and his wife then settled in Darien, Ga. until 2005. Active in community and church affairs wherever he lived, Mr. Harding served on the vestry of the Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio, as president of the Western Reserve Chapter of the Sons of the America Revolution in Cleveland, Ohio, and as director of the Coast Development Commission of McIntosh County, Ga. Mr. Harding had many interest and hobbies, ranging from model railroading to sailing. He was an avid reader and book collector. But he will be best remembered as a wonderful father and role model for his family. He is survived by his sons, Martin of Springfield, Va., Nicholas of Hartford, Conn., and daughters, Rona of Lexington Park, Fargo of Liberia, Costa Rica and his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

George Craggs Hopkins, Jr., 88, of Lexington Park, died Feb. 27 in St. Mary’s Hospital, Leonardtown. Born Feb. 17, 1920 in Mitchellville, Md. he was the son of the late George Craggs Hopkins, Sr. and Eva Marie Clarke Hopkins. George was a retired St. Mary’s County public school teacher and owner and operator of various businesses including the Roller Rink. He was the founder of the George C. Hopkins, Jr. Arts Endowment Scholarship Awards which helped local students pursue college studies in the field of Art. He enjoyed drawing and visiting with his many friends at Linda’s Café. George is survived by a daughter, Linda Hopkins of Bradenton, Fla., a son, George C. Hopkins, III of Seattle, Wash., his lifelong companion, Dolores Mercer of Lexington Park and her daughters Sharon Boudreau of N.H., and Charlene Knott of St. Mary’s City. The family received relatives and friends Saturday, March 1 from 9:30 – 11 a.m. in Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Lexington Park. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 11 a.m. with Father Jack Kennealy officiating. Interment will follow in the church cemetery. Condolences to the family may be made at www. brinsfieldfuneral.com. Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown.

Warren Kunz, 86

Warren Kunz, 86, of California died Feb. 25 in St. Mary’s Hospital, Leonardtown. He was born July 18, 1921 in New York, N.Y. to William John Louis Kunz And Irma Fink who were first generation Americans. He was the youngest child in a family of three boys whose mother was an excellent cook. Warren quickly earned the nickname “Chubby” which followed him throughout his long life. When he was seven years old, Warren’s family moved to Port Washington, N.Y. where

he and his brothers enjoyed swimming and boating on Long Island Sound and spent several summers on a farm in Upstate New York. He was an outstanding student who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Rochester in 1942 with a BS degree in mechanical engineering, with highest distinction. He received an L.L.B. degree from Chase College of Law in 1954 and was a member of the Bar in Ohio and Massachusetts. He married his high school sweetheart, Fredda Louise Turrill Feb. 20, 1943. They moved to Hartford, Conn. where he began his career developing engines for Pratt & Whitney Company. In 1949, Warren joined the legal department of Avco Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as a patent attorney in the Cincinnati office and later developed the patent office at the corporation offices in Massachusetts. In 1962, he was named vice president of administration for Avco Systems Division. In 1975, he was named corporate director of planning and information systems and in 1976 was elected a corporate vice president serving at the corporate offices in Greenwich, Conn. He retired in July 1983 after 34 years with the company. In 1990, he moved to St. Mary’s County where he and his wife became active members of Patuxent Presbyterian Church. He served on the Session and contributed his handyman skills to a variety of projects. He served on the board of the Honey Maccallum Christian Pre-School and Kindergarten and especially enjoyed telling stories of his beloved dragon Archibald to the kindergarten children. He was a member of the Lexington Park Rotary Club and loved working the front gate at the annual Oyster Festival. In recent years he served on the St. Mary’s County Ethics Commission. He enjoyed writing and authored “Lest We Forget Major Kunz” about his brother, Robert Calvin Kunz’s service and death in World War II as well as a collection of personal recollections entitled “Leaves in the Wind”. Besides his wife, he was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, William John Kunz and Robert Calvin Kunz. He is survived by his daughter Claudia Ann Knowlton and her husband John Charles Knowlton; his son Robert Ronald Kunz and his wife Frances Junod Kunz; granddaughters Andrea Beth Mroz and her husband Robert Carl Mroz, Amy Michele Joyce and her husband Robert Joyce, and Katharine Anne Kunz; and grandsons John Charles Knowlton III and his wife Lalania Dawn Knowlton, Todd Steven Knowlton, and Robert Carter Kunz and his wife Meredith Alexander Kunz. He is also survived by six great grandchildren; Logan Ronald Joyce, James Warren Knowlton, Elizabeth Helen Kunz, Shannon Louise Kunz, Natalie Jane Mroz, and Rachel Anne Mroz. A Memorial Service will be conducted Friday, March 7 at 3 p.m. at the Patuxent Presbyterian Church, California. Memorial contributions may be made to the Patuxent Presbyterian Church, 23421 Kingston Creek Road, California, MD 20619 or Hospice House, c/o HOSPICE of St. Mary’s, Inc., P.O. Box 625, Leonardtown, MD 20650. Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A. in Leonardtown.

Josie Lee Newland, 75 Josie Lee Newland, 75, of Lexington Park died Feb. 29 in St. Mary’s Hospital, Leonardtown. Born Sep. 10, 1932 in Vardaman, Miss., she was the daughter of the late Vernice Theodore Higginbo-

Carolyn Jean Russell, 63

tham and Lelia Bessie Wiggs Higginbotham. She was a Navy wife and mother, maintaining a home wherever duty assignments took her husband, among which were several stations in California, Guam, Maine and Maryland. She was a good mother, well loved by her children who were always first and foremost. Her husband of 48 years stated, “She will be sorely missed. She was the glue that held our family together.” She enjoyed sewing and needlecraft, particularly crocheting, for most of her life making gifts for friends and family members until losing her vision to macular degeneration. An avid reader before, she then switched to the audio versions recorded on tape or CD afterwards. Health issues caused her to become a virtual shut-in for a long time. While she would rarely leave the house for social occasions, she greatly enjoyed visits from the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. Mrs. Newland did volunteer work for the Office on Aging at the Garvey Center in Leonardtown. She is survived by her husband, James R. Newland, LCDR, USN (Ret.), whom she married July 9, 1960 in Memphis, Tenn., a daughter, Patricia A. Thomas, two sons, William J. Newland and Robert E. Newland all of Lexington Park, three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, two sisters, Faye Emerson of Earle, Ark., Gladys Archer of Toney, Ala. and a brother, James T. Higginbotham of Millington, Tenn.. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by two sisters, Jewel Jacobs in 1984 and Thelma Lillie Carlin in 1995. A Memorial Service will be conducted Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. in the Brinsfield Funeral Home Chapel in Leonardtown. Inurnment will be in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. March 13 at 2 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 531313, Henderson, NV 89053.

Helen Florence Royle, 88 Helen Florence Royle, 88, of Lusby died Feb. 26 in her residence. Born Sept. 28, 1919, she was the daughter of the late Ralston DeMar Binkley and Elsie May Chambers Binkley. Mrs. Royle was a graduate of Sibley School of Nursing in Washington, D.C. She is survived by her husband, Judson Royle of Lusby, six daughters, Illona Hull of Westminster, Md., Karen Changuris of Frederick, Md., Denise Bloom of Laurel, Kathleen Carlisle of Provo, Utah, Becky Royle of Lexington, Tenn., Charlotte Hawk of Port Republic, Md., three sons, David L. Grigg of Greenville, S.C., Troy Grigg of Lusby, David Royle of Rockville, Md., 18 grandchildren, four great grandchildren and two sisters, Grace Herman of St. Helena, Calif. and Mary Lou Huffaker of Gobles, Mich. All services will be private. Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A. in Leonardtown.

Carolyn Jean Russell, 63 of Leonardtown died Feb. 29 in St. Mary’s Hospital. Born July 9, 1944 in Leonardtown, she was the daughter of the late Louis Frederick Burris and Jean (McNey) Burris. She would later marry Richard F. Russell, and from this union came five loving children. Carolyn had many hobbies, some of which included basket bingo and watching game shows. She loved to host and entertain the family during gatherings; especially Easter and Thanksgiving. Carolyn adored her children and grandchildren and always looked forward to dinner with her siblings. She appreciated the little things in life and most of all her savior on earth, Richard her loving husband. In addition to her husband Richard, Carolyn is survived by her children, Eleanor Cargill of Hazel Park, Mich., Kenneth Robert Russell of Chesapeake, Va., Kyle Patrick Russell of Leonardtown, and ten grandchildren. She is also survived by her siblings, Beth Wilkerson of Leonardtown, Fred Burris of Clements, and Dan Burris of Leonardtown. In addition to her parents, Carolyn was predeceased by a daughter Elizabeth Jean Osantowski, a son James Ernest Dixon III, and a brother Tommy Burris. The family received relatives and friends Monday, March 3 from 5 - 8 p.m. in the Brinsfield Funeral Home Chapel. Prayers were recited at 6:30 p.m. A mass of Christian burial was celebrated Tuesday, March 4 at 10 a.m. in St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Leonardtown, with Fr. John Dakes officiating. Interment followed in Charles Memorial Gardens, Leonardtown. Serving as pallbearers were Michael Russell, Shane Wilkerson, Rick Burris, Gary Oliver, Robert Drury, and David Guyther. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice House of St. Mary’s, P.O. Box 625, Leonardtown, Maryland 20650. Condolences to the family may be made at www. brinsfieldfuneral.com. Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown.

Mildred Margaret Wiedenbach, 87 Mildred Margaret Wiedenbach, 87, of Leonardtown, died Feb. 28 in St. Mary’s Nursing Center. Born Nov. 1, 1920 in Brooklyn, N.Y. she was the daughter of the late Thurston and Lillian Peterson Johnson. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated March 3 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church where an interment followed in the church cemetery. Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.

Francis Xavier Woodland “Frankie”, 45 On the morning of Feb. 26 God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, took unto

Himself the soul of one of his own, Francis Xavier Woodland “Frankie”, 45 of Mechanicsville, at St. Thomas More Nursing Center in Hyattsville, Md. after a lengthy bout with cancer. Born Nov. 13, 1962, in St. Mary’s County he was the youngest of 13 children born to Agnes M. Molden Woodland and the late Joseph H. Woodland. He attended St. Mary’s County Public Schools. Francis also received his GED from the State of West Virginia in June 1981. Francis was baptized in 1963 and was a devoted Catholic. He held several jobs during his employment years, as a Ticket Agent for Diplomat Travel; Mail Clerk for American College of Health Care; Office Manager for National Technical Services Association, and last, as a cashier for Giant Foods before retiring due to his illness. He was a

hard working and dedicated man. He was well liked and a good hearted person. He was well known for tracking and playing the daily lottery numbers. In his spare time, he enjoyed watching the soap operas, playing cards, listening to gospel music and spending time reminiscing with his nieces, nephews, family and friends. Francis leaves to cherish loving and special memories, his mother Agnes M. Woodland, five sisters Thelma Graham (Arthur), Alice Young (Thomas), Mary Mills (Thomas), Annie Holley (James), Brenda Daniels and five brothers, Adrian Woodland (Thelma), James Woodland, Jerome Woodland (Agnes), John Woodland (Bonita), Charles Woodland (Shirley) and host of nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends. In addition to his father, he was preceded in death by his two brothers, Clayton Eugene and Thomas Matthews Woodland; maternal grandparents Thomas R. and Mary L. Molden; one niece (Sonja) and one nephew (Garrett), and several loving aunts and uncles. The family received friends Friday, Feb. 29 from 10 – 11 a.m. in Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Mechanicsville where a Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 11 a.m. with Fr. Peter Alliata officiating. Interment followed in Charles Memorial Gardens, Leonardtown. Arrangements provided by Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.

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The County Times

Section A - 10 ing workers from the Patuxent Naval Air Station to read with children during their Continued from page A- lunch hours. “They loved Captain Ives,” said kindergarten teacher Theresa Dyson, who commented that the guest reader turnout was always impressive. “He was so incredibly personable with them.” Colleen Seremet, assistant state superintendent of instruction for the Maryland State Department of Education, read “Osprey Adventure” by Jennifer Keats Curtis while Linda Dudderer, chief academic officer for St. Mary’s County Public Schools, read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Mark Viniard, General Manager of the Blue Crabs baseball team, got into the act, wearing a large blue-crab headpiece as he read to the children. Dr. Brad Gottfried of the College of Southern Maryland read “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” and then talked about his love of reading with children. “One of my goals is to have grandchildren,” he said. “Whenever I have an opportunity to read to kids, it’s one I won’t miss.” Research has shown that the simple act of reading to a child can improve not only their vocabulary and reading skills, but their confidence and attentiveness. “Mrs. Mattingly shared that one of her read-

Read

Thursday, March 6, 2008

ers tripled her reading scores,” exclaimed School Board member Cathy Allen, when talking about the “Read With Me” partnership. “So that shows the power of taking time to read with them.” Barbara Cooksey Abell, principal of Mechanicsville Elementary, commented on the significance of the day. “Guest readers can show the children the magic of reading and how it opens the door to a world of information and enjoyment,” she said. “After having learned to read, children are never quite the same.” School Board member Mary Washington cradled a homemade set of green eggs and ham as she crossed the hallways to read Seuss’s book to a nearby class. “This will always be etched in their mind, how much fun they had reading Dr. Seuss,” she said, adding that the experience would help foster a love of literature as the children got older. “Leaders are readers!” she said, enthusiastically. Read Across America is sponsored by the National Education Association, and started seven years ago to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Blue Crabs General Manager Mark Viniard reads to children at Mechanicsville Elementary.

Photo by Andrea Shiell

Read Across America was set up to honor Dr. Seuss on his Birthday

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Thursday, March 6, 2008 • St. Mary’s County