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by Hannah Bruchman A newly arrived elementary school vice principal accused – then acquitted – elsewhere of child abuse was hurriedly transferred out of Hyattsville Elementary School by county school officials on Oct. 26. An Oct. 28 meeting for school parents and community members concerned about the hiring of Shadrick Woods, a former assistant principal at Gaywood Elementary School in Seabrook, was called off after the transfer. Woods had been at the Hyattsville school only two months. He is now working in the Prince George’s County public school system's administrative offices in Upper Marlboro. In March 2008, Woods, then 39, was indicted on four counts of sex abuse against a 6-year-old boy at the Seabrook school. The grand jury that indicted him said the alleged abuse concerned two incidents between Dec. 15, 2007 and March 10, 2008, after which Woods was reassigned to administrative duties when his supervisors heard allegations about his behavior. Various news accounts said the official inappropriately touched the boy while tucking in his shirt and spent an unusual ELEMENTARY continued on page 11

The first-ever Hyattsville CX was a success, drawing over 225 participants racing for charity. PAGE 3


Vol. 6 No. 11

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit # 43 Easton, MD 21601

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

November 2009

Resident stops crime in progress by Paula Minaert


New dog park brings owners out in droves by Kyle M. Jones

Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781

New outdoor market features everything from jewelry to coffee to homemade beauty products. PAGE 5


Looking to spread some cheer this holiday season? Our guide to volunteer and donation spots can help. PAGE 2

Hyattsville Elementary vice principal replaced



More than 100 dogs and their owners came to the Heurich Dog Park Saturday, Nov. 7, for the grand opening of the much-anticipated community park. “This is not just a dog park, but a place for us to practice being a community,” said Del. Justin Ross (D-Prince George’s). Ross, along with Del. Anne Healey (D-Prince George’s), Hyattsville mayor William Gardiner, and Prince George’s council member William Campos, cut the ceremonial ribbon for the park, opening the second dog park in the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning CommisDOG PARK continued on page 10

Heurich Park has

gone to the


On Nov. 3, a Hyattsville resident who saw a crime taking place was able to step in and prevent it. Rebecca Roberts was driving with her 3-year-old on 40th Ave. when she saw two people in an altercation. “A thin young man was being shaken by a stocky older man,” Roberts said. “Then he punched the kid really hard, [knocking him] to the ground, and began kicking him.” She yelled out the car window and the older man looked at her briefly but did not stop. So she pulled over, got out of the car and walked over to them. When the larger man said that the youth had stolen his iPod, Roberts suggested calling the police. “That shocked him and he stopped," she said. While she CRIME continued on page 11

HEARD AROUND HYATTSVILLE HLT asked, “Are you planning to get the H1N1 vaccine, when and if it becomes available?”

“No. I stay pretty healthy. I think people work it up to be more than it's going to be.” — Caitlan Mitchell

“We're going to get the shot because I have two children. I know how getting the flu is.” — Ric Garcia

“Sure. I'm diabetic and the V.A. [Veterans Administration] gives it to me for free.” — William Shields

“Probably not. The shot looks scary.” — Amber Grimm

Included: The November 11, 2009 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter — See Center Section

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Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009


Thursday lunch at St. Jerome’s Café by Paula Minaert

10 a.m. St. Jerome’s Café will be open in two and a half hours. Every Thursday it serves lunch to anyone who wants to come. For the last several years, I've been helping out; my team comes every six weeks. Most weeks, 30 to 60 people come, but a few times we had close to 100. I’m the first volunteer there. I fill the steam tables with water, find the pasta and meatballs the cooks have left for us, and gather the cans of green beans and fruit cocktail.

11 a.m. The other team members

start coming in. John brings boxes of bread and pastry, donations from the Rolling Pin bakery. Carrie butters the bread, Colin arranges the pastries on the table, and Don makes iced tea in a 10-gallon container. It’s very hot in the kitchen. The steam table is going, we’re all bumping into each other, and we have to wear plastic gloves besides. I worry we won’t get the food hot in time, so we nuke everything in the microwaves before putting it in the steam table. It takes a surprisingly long time. A man came in early once and eyed the bread. “Could I have some now? I haven’t eaten in three days. I been living a car because I lost my job.” We gave him some.

12:30 p.m. A community newspaper chronicling the life and times of Hyattsville Mailing address: PO Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781 Hyattsville Life & Times is published monthly by Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc., a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. Interested reporters should send their e-mail addresses to the editor to be reminded of deadlines and receive internal news. Articles and news submitted may be edited. The deadline is the last week of the month for the following month’s issue. Letters to the editor and opinions are encouraged. For all e-mail correspondence with HL&T: news, features, tips, advertising and business write to To submit articles, letters to the editor, etc. , e-mail Executive Editor Paula Minaert 301-335-2519 Managing Editor Susie Currie Contributing Editor Sarah Nemeth Editorial Intern Allison Lyons Production Ashley Perks Advertising Director Felix Speight Writers & Contributors Daniel Hart Victoria Hille Tim Hunt Cassie Johnson Hugh Turley Board of Directors Julia Duin - President Jamie Aycock - General Counsel Chris Currie -Treasurer Paula Minaert - Ex Officio Circulation: Copies are distributed monthly by U.S. Mail to every address in Hyattsville. Additional copies are distributed to libraries, selected businesses, community centers and churches in the city. Total circulation is 7,500. HL&T is a member of the National Newspaper Association.

People are already lined up. We always pray before we eat, and sometimes one of the customers shouts, “Hey, quiet! We’re gonna pray now!” Almost all of them thank us as we fill their plates. Many say, “God bless you.” One woman never wants the meatballs, just the pasta. Another woman complained once because the man in front of her got more meatballs than she did. That same woman then went up to the coffee table, which my husband was tending. He handed her a coffee bag and she held it up, unsure how to open it. He offered to do it for her. Just as he started to tear it, she said, “Are your hands clean? I’m very particular.” He assured her they were. We often have students helping out. One of them, a very tall high-school boy, nudges me and says, “Hold up. You and I are doing better than the others and they’re not ready for us.” He points to the bottleneck down at the pastry table. “Be ready in a minute, sir,” he tells the man waiting.

1:30 p.m.

One customer always stays late and bags up the trash for us. A blonde woman usually stays late, too, because she wants to wipe off the tables. We’re happy for the help. She asks us if we know anyone who needs help with housecleaning or elder care. There’s a man who always wears a baseball cap on backwards and sunglasses, even inside. He doesn’t smile and rarely says anything. But I notice he is having an animated conversation with the high school student. I think they’re talking about video games. One volunteer, Colin, is new. “Thanks for coming,” I say. “I was glad to. I'll be here next time. I need it.”

Lending a helping hand by Allison Lyons The holiday season tends to bring out people’s desire to lend a helping hand to others. Here are some ways you can volunteer around the city, both now and throughout the year. If keeping Hyattsville beautiful is your cause, then you might enjoy helping out at Magruder Park. On the third Saturday of each month, volunteers are taught how to identify and remove aggressive plants and weeds. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 3911 Hamilton Street. Get involved with the community by volunteering at local events. Activities include helping out at information booths, games, and contests as well as setting up and cleaning up. Upcoming events that need helpers are the Holiday Tree Lighting and Breakfast with Santa. Call Colleen Aistis at 301.985.5057 to register. St. Jerome’s Café provides hot meals to the needy every Thursday, except Thanksgiving Day, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Volunteers prepare, cook, deliver and serve the lunch. Donations of food are also welcome. St. Jerome's Church, 5205 43rd Avenue. If you are interested in cooking, serving or donating, please contact Terry Enfield at 301.864.9260. Community Place Café at First United Methodist Church serves lunches every weekday but Thursday. 6201 Belcrest Road. Contact Deborah Commodore by calling the church at 301.927.6133 after 1 p.m. on weekdays. The Christian Life Center will be serving lunch

on Thanksgiving Day at the Alamo Restaurant, 5508 Kenilworth Ave., Riverdale. Hats, gloves, and coats will also be given away to those in need. To donate items or to help serve, contact Pastor Ben Slye at 301.277.9495. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 9, during the Sonny Frazier Holiday Toy Drive, you can drop off a new, unwrapped toy in one of the designated boxes at Safeway (3511 Hamilton Street), Hyattsville Municipal Building (4310 Gallatin Street), and CVS (3605 East-West Highway). Hyattsville elementary schools will select and invite children to receive toys during a lunch with Santa. To make a cash donation, please contact Ruth Ann Frazier at 301.779.5428. Donate blood during the city's blood drive on Dec. 10 from 2 to 7 p.m. in the Hyattsville Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street. To make an appointment, call 800.448.3543. Community Forklift could be considered a thrift-store version of Home Depot, except that volunteers can earn $5 per hour in store credit. Donations of building materials such as furniture, tools and cabinets are accepted on Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston. 301.985.5180. Nearly one in three children in Prince George’s county is eligible for free or reduced meals. The Stuff a Truck campaign aims to get enough donations of food to fill a fire truck. Donate nonperishable items at Giant (3251 East-West Highway) or come on Dec. 11 to help load the truck. Several shifts will run from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; e-mail to sign up.

Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009

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PHOTO BY JAY MCCRAY Hyattsville CX participants wind through a maze on the event course. Cyclocross racing originated in Belgium and in recent years, has gained popularity in the Washington, D.C., area.

Fleisher’s Jewelers Hyattsville cyclocross race Celebrating 60 Years in Hyattsville debuts, supports local charity Layaway now for Christmas! by Kyle M. Jones More than 225 cyclists flocked to Magruder Park recently for the first-ever Hyattsville CX, a cyclocross race benefiting Special Olympics of Prince George’s County. The Oct. 11 event, which drew a crowd of about 150 and participants from as far away as North Carolina, was sponsored by Arrow Bicycle and Route 1 Velo, a USA Cycling member club of the MidAtlantic Bicycle Racing Association (MABRA). “Cyclocross is the steeplechase of bike riding,” said MABRA Cyclocross Coordinator Chip Sovek. Originally a Belgian cycling sport, it consists of several laps around a 1.5- to 2-mile course that includes combinations of roads, wooded paths and open fields that can be used in all weather conditions. The path also contains up to six obstacles such as wooden planks, hills or stairs, forcing riders to hop off, carry their bikes over the objects, and quickly get back on to continue the race. This feature helps increase circulation in cyclists’ feet, especially in the cold. Movement on and off the bike, says Sovek, is “in one fluid motion, and people can do it as though it’s been choreographed.” The Magruder Park course incorporated the man-made obstacles with natural terrain. “The course was designed to include the hills at the edge of the park for elevation change, and we created a spiral on the edge of the river,” said Scott Cernich, a Route 1 Velo member and event promoter. Racers wound around

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Hours: Monday - Friday 9:30 - 6:00 Saturday 9:00 - 5:00 PHOTO BY JAY MCCRAY Cyclocross racing requires cyclists to get off their bikes and carry them while navigating obstacles during the competition. the spiral to the center, and then made a sharp U-turn to ride the spiral back out to continue on the course. Entrants were categorized according to experience level, age and gender, and there were separate junior races for people under the age of 18. Mayor William Gardiner was on hand to help distribute awards to the winners. Cernich estimates 30 USA Cycling one-day licenses were sold to racers on event day, an indication of those who were either first-time riders or those who don’t participate in USA Cycling events often. “I had a ball,” said Michael Donnellan, a life-long cyclist and firsttime cyclocross racer. “I fell in the

sand traps, wiped out in the 'Spiral of Death,' and just had a lot of fun.” The race raised $3,000 for the county Special Olympics and included a parade lap for Special Olympians at the end of the race. For 30 years, the mainstay of Route 1 Velo has been the Greenbelt Park Training Race Series, held each Wednesday for 16 weeks in the summer. The Hyattsville CX is the first event sponsored by the club outside of the Greenbelt series, and organizers hope to make the race an annual event. “Although cyclocross is kind of new in the U.S.," said Arrow Bicycle shop owner Chris Davidson, "it’s starting to take off.”

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Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009

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New dispatch system would improve police response time by Allison Lyons Imagine a world where you call the police, and the words you say immediately appear on a laptop in a police officer's car. That is Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), and on Nov. 2 the city council approved purchasing it for Hyattsville's police department. With CAD, a police dispatcher receiving a call immediately types the name, location and nature of the call into the computer. At the same time, a laptop in another officer’s car will alert them that a dispatch is coming through, then shows them in real time the words being typed at the station. Sharon Hampton, communications supervisor for the City of Hyattsville Police Department, said

this system will cut “at least 30 minutes” off the time it usually takes to receive a call and dispatch an officer. Besides quicker dispatches, this system also keeps a record of every call that is typed in. Currently, for calls that do not require a report, there is no record of the call. Hampton said, “Right now we could have officers go out four times in one night for one loud party [without having access to written information about the previous trips]." The price tag of $529,984 will be paid for partly with $304,000 in grants, with the city covering the rest. City spokesperson Abby Sandel says it will take about a year to install the CAD software, complete the communications center, and train officers to use it.

Grant money available for new Hyattsville homeowners by Paula Minaert A new program recently approved by the City Council provides 20 $1,000 stimulus grants to people buying homes in Hyattsville after October 1st of 2009. “The first 20 people to submit valid applications for this real estate sales stimulus grant will receive $1,000,” said City Council member David Hiles, who proposed the legislation. The Council approved $20,000 for the program. Homeowners must be owner/ occupants of the property and must submit their Prince George’s County tax number to the city. “It’s pretty straightforward,” said Anniversary Specials



Anthony Rainey, city treasurer. “The application is on the city’s web site, and it’s a fillable form.” Rainey added that only two people thus far have applied for the grant. “I think people expect to walk in, fill out a piece of paper, and get a check. But we require the Prince George’s County tax ID number. And all you need to do for that is go on the county’s web site and put in the address.” Hiles said that the rationale for the program is to get people “off the fence” and make a decision to purchase a home in the city. “It will help people in the community sell their houses, too,” he said.

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Outdoor market sets up shop on Saturdays by Morgan Gibson On Halloween morning, about 20 local vendors set out their wares in a parking lot in the Arts District, hoping to attract shoppers for a different holiday. The Marketplace, a new outdoor shopping destination at the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Longfellow Street, was open for business. It will run Saturdays only from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Dec. 19. Customers who braved wet, windy weather milled around the brightly colored tents buying everything from coffee and baked goods to jewelry and handmade purses to elaborate wood lacquer pieces. Hyattsville resident Nicole Harris stopped by the event before her morning jog. Her plan was to return with money after her run if she saw anything she liked. “I always know what I’m coming for — jewelry,” Harris said, adding that the selection had impressed her enough to return with her wallet. Among the jewelry exhibitors was Renaissance Square resident Falani Spivey, whose bright, eclectic earrings and bracelets were a mix of her own designs and pieces she bought in Trinidad and Brazil. At a colorful striped tent nearby, Mia and Steven Lee showcased their own handmade

items ─ purses made from jackets, belts, and even couches ─ as well as natural beauty products from their line, Zuresh. Along with browsing opportunities, event organizer Erica Riggio has put together a series of artthemed workshops at her Design Studio Art Gallery. The schedule, available at, includes sessions by a Macy's visual designer on Christmas centerpieces and sketching instructions from a local artist. Each workshop is $15 a person and people can sign up in advance online.

“Hyattsville is a great little area, but its cultural aspect is disconnected.” — Erica Riggio event organizer

Riggio hopes to make this not only an annual event, but also a seasonal one as more people become aware of the Arts District. “Hyattsville is a great little area, but its cultural aspect is disconnected,” Riggio said. “Hopefully, events like this one will centralize local culture and let people stop and take notice of this great city.”

PHOTOS BY MORGAN GIBSON Top: Mia and Steven Lee display their beauty products and handmade purses at the opening day of the Marketplace, a Saturday-only outdoor market in the Arts District. Bottom: Residents shop at the Marketplace.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009

COMMUNITY CALENDAR to 9:30 p.m. daily until January 3. Watkins Regional Park. 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro. 301.699.2456

November 20 Discuss Ida: A Sword Among Lions at the College Park Arts Exchange Book Club. This book, by Paula J. Giddings, is about Ida B. Wells and her work against lynching. Free. 7:30 p.m. Old Parish House. 4711 Knox Road, College Park. 301.927.3013.

Watch the Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony at the National Harbor. There will be hot chocolate, roasted nuts, storytelling, ornament making, holiday music from the Double Brass Quintet and fireworks. The lighting of the 60-foot tree is at 5 p.m. and the fireworks will begin at 7 p.m. Free. Waterfront Plaza. 137 National Plaza, National Harbor. 804.217.8803.

November 21 Browse unique and functional pottery at the Annual Fall Pottery Show and Sale. Free. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Langley Park Community Center. 1500 Merrimac Drive. 301.445.4508.

Come to the 10th Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Show. A tiki hut, haunted house, and ski chalet are just a few of the creative designs of years past; see what this year's contestants have come up with and vote for your favorite. $1. Noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until December 13. Darnall’s Chance House Museum. 14800 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro. 301.952.8010.

November 27 It’s opening day for the 23rd A n n u a l Winter Festival of Lights. Drive through this holiday display featuring over a million twinkling lights. Please bring a canned good to donate. Admission per car or van is $5 for a single visit or $10 for a multi-visit pass. 5

November 29 With their parents, kids ages 3 to 8 can make 3D spaceships and UFOs at the



PHOTO BY CASSI HAYDEN / M-NCPPC An archway at the Annual Winter Festival of Lights in Watkins Regional Park. monthly Children’s Arts Drop-In. Free. 2 to 4 p.m. Old Parish House. 4711 Knox Road, College Park. 301.927.3013.

December 1 Head to the park for the city's annual Holiday Tree Lighting. Free. 7 p.m. Magruder Park. 4000 Hamilton St. 301.985.5020.

December 5 Design your own holiday cheer with Make a Wreath, hosted by the College Park Arts Exchange. Basic materials will be provided, and you can bring items from home to make your wreath unique. $10 registraCALENDAR continued on page 7

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tion fee due by December 1. Send to P.O. Box 784, College Park, MD 20741. 2 to 4 p.m. Old Parish House. 4711 Knox Road, College Park. 301.927.3013. At Breakfast With Sint Niklaas, children will meet the Flemish forerunner of Santa Claus and receive a gift bag. Adults, $5; children, $8. 10 a.m. Register by November 30. Riversdale House Museum. 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park. 301.864.0420. Apparently, Santa doesn't always use a sleigh. At the Santa Fly-In, children can have their picture taken with Santa and create a craft. Free with museum admission of $4 for adults and $2 for ages 18 and under. Noon to 4 p.m. College Park Aviation Museum. 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Drive, College Park. 301.864.6029. At the city's Breakfast with Santa, children will enjoy pancakes and face time with the man in red. Free. 10 a.m. Municipal Building. 4310 Gallatin St. 301.985.5020.

December 10


Watch dancers and drummers at the Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration, which also features a talk on the holiday's history. $5. 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. Publick Playhouse. 5445 Landover Road, Cheverly. 301.277.1710.

The Gwendolyn Britt Senior Activity Center has a full schedule of events for those 60 and over: line dancing, billiards, card and mah-jongg games, a choir, a book club, a piano bar happy hour, health seminars and screenings, daytrips and more. Many activities are free. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 4009 Wallace Road, North Brentwood. 301-699-1238.

December 12 Teach your children new holiday traditions at Hands-On History: Holiday Traditions of Maryland’s First Immigrants. Children will enjoy holiday treats, making crafts, and playing games. 10 a.m. to noon. $7 per child, reservations required. Montpelier Mansion. 9650 Muirkirk Road, Laurel. 301.377.7817.

December 13

The Hyattsville Branch Library offers a number of Story Times each week. Ages 9-23 months: Mondays at 10:15 a.m. Ages 2-3 years: Mondays at 11 a.m. and Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m. Ages 3-5: Tuesdays at 11 a.m. English-Spanish ages 3-6: Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Limited admission; pick up free ticket at Children’s Desk. 6530 Adelphi Rd. 301.985.4690.

Bring your children to Science for Kids at the Old Parish House. Amy Hansen, the local author of “How Things Work,” will present her latest science book for children. 3 to 4 p.m. Free. 4711 Knox Road, College Park. 301.927.3013.

Community Calendar is compiled by Allison Lyons and Susie Currie. It's a select listing of events happening in and around Hyattsville from the 15th of the issue month to the 15th of the following month. To submit an item for consideration, please

PHOTO BY RIVERSDALE HOUSE MUSEUM Children learn about the Flemish forerunner of Santa Claus at Riversdale's annual Sint Niklaas program. e-mail or mail to P.O. Box 132, Hyatts-

ville, MD 20781. Deadline for December submissions is November 23.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009



Is WMATA serving disabled passengers? by Hugh Turley


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The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority operates Metro Access to provide transportation to persons with disabilities who are unable to ride bus or rail. Sadly, Metro Access service sometimes leaves disabled people waiting for their promised rides. In fact, disabled citizens are totally at the mercy of Metro Access to honor its promise to pick them up. My wife was recently stranded at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Confined to a motorized wheelchair and unable to speak clearly, she did not have the option of getting a cab or other ride when Metro Access failed to show up. She had to wait and wait, not knowing if the ride would ever come. I had reserved her ride and received a confirmation number. The reser-

vation clerk requested my phone number and my wife’s cell phone number, in case they needed to contact her at Montgomery Mall. They promised to pick her up at 4:30 p.m. at entrance six, near Macy’s. Perhaps because traffic is unpredictable, Metro Access drivers may arrive 15 minutes early or late to pick up a passenger. My wife was waiting before 4:15 in case the driver came early. When her promised ride did not arrive by 4:45, she contacted me to call Metro Access for her. After leaving me on hold for 20 minutes, a representative said the driver would pick up my wife in five minutes, at 5:10. This also proved to be untrue. After my second call to Metro Access, my wife was finally picked up at 5:54 p.m. When she arrived home, I spoke with the driver to learn what had

gone wrong. The driver suggested I contact Metro if I had questions and politely explained that Metro Access has special vehicles that are called “recovery routes.” The driver explained that recovery routes pick up disabled persons who have been left behind after promised rides fail to show up. According to Metro’s most recent statistics, for August, 2,884 rides were excessively late (more than 30 minutes) and 854 rides did not show up at all. “I’ve heard thousands of complaints from passengers,” the driver told me. “I reported to work at 4:30 and was later told to pick up a passenger at Montgomery Mall. I was not given information about the passenger, so I drove around the mall looking for someone who looked disabled and needed a ride.” Angela Gates, a spokesperson for Metro, said the vehicle scheduled to pick up my wife had “a problem with the wheelchair lift,” and “due to large call volume … no staff were able to call your wife.” The driver showed me a clipboard with blank forms and said that recovery route drivers receive none of the original reservation information, such as phone numbers, passenger names, or even specific address information – all details I provided when the ride was scheduled. To the contrary, said Gates, “The driver who picked up your wife … had the same information that the first driver had.” Metro Access, according to Gates, was on time 91.6 percent of the time during August. That means that even if her numbers are accurate, there’s about a one in 10 chance that rides for disabled persons won’t show up as promised.

Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009

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MissFloribunda Some months ago, you advised someone who wanted to grow vegetables but had a backyard full of trees to try mixing vegetables with flowers elsewhere in the garden. I tried this and got a few tomatoes, herbs and lettuce, but I’d like to do some serious vegetable gardening. In addition to tomatoes, herbs and lettuce I want to plant rows of corn and eggplant, put up poles for beans and peas to climb, make hills for squash, watermelon and pumpkins to sprawl over, and even have a potato patch. I long to rival or outdo your friend Patapanelope. I hear that there are plans afoot for a community garden in Hyattsville. What do you know about this? Frustrated Farmer on Farragut Street Dear Frustrated Farmer, As it happens, the person spearheading the community garden effort, Dr. Harold Stone, spoke at the October meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society and provided a wealth of information that generated intense interest. A former college professor and administrator of a number of important environmental programs, Dr. Stone directs a program with the National Park Service to restore community gardens in Washington D.C., and in his private life also manages the flourishing Fort

Totten Community Gardens. Fortunately for us, he and his lovely wife, Barbara, moved to Hyattsville in May 2008 and he is willing to help us develop a similar garden in our community. He is working with city and regional park officials on a possible site – the former Jack & Jill child care center, across from the Safeway on Hamilton Street. However, much remains to be done before ground can be broken; preliminary tasks range from soil testing to surveying community interest. I urge you and other interested gardeners to email him at with your questions, concerns and suggestions. Expect a public forum soon on this topic. In addition, let Mayor Gardiner know of your interest in having a community garden. In the meantime, you are welcome to come to the next meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, in the downstairs meeting room of the Municipal Building. We expect to have more information about the community gardens project by that time. If you have questions for Miss Floribunda on this or other topics, just email her at floribundav@gmail. com. Miss Floribunda is the collected wisdom of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society, compiled and edited by Victoria Hille.

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LifeNotes All about ego: how to let it go by Cassie Johnson Not too long ago I had expectations that fell through completely, and my ego got totally involved. The occasion was a milestone birthday. Someone close, who I thought would acknowledge it in a special way, all but ignored it. Now I’m not the kind of person who demands lots of attention and lavish gifts, but when the day came and went with only an anemic “happy birthday,” I was more than disappointed. This was a breach of the highest order regarding specialbirthday ethics. After that I figured I could either wallow in an unhappy funk or follow enlightened advice and let it go. So the next day I wrote all the things I could think of to help me get some perspective on the issue. The first thing I wrote was “releasing ego.” From there I conceded that it was a birthday, not a relationship-threatening issue. I reasoned that the person in question is generally thoughtful and big-hearted. Then I began to think of all the sage philosophies I’ve been privy to, and started writing what came to mind. It turned out to be a valuable exercise, and it didn’t take long for ego-itis to start evaporating. Here’s some of the wisdom I drew on as I wrote. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Don’t take anything personally.” What oth-

ers do has nothing to do with you. Instead of making situations about ourselves, understand that the other person’s reaction to events is all about her or him and the realities of their own world. And if we make the agreement with ourselves to de-personalize all things, we don’t have to worry about what other people do or say – ever. Then I jotted, “Practice the art of no expectations.” A guru’s words to his student taught me about this concept: “I do not expect anything from others, so their actions cannot be in opposition to wishes of mine.” Beautiful in its logic and simplicity, but obviously not an easy habit to form. It’s a companion piece to not taking things personally and it can free us to love without conditions. “You hold the key to your happiness,” was next. Talk to someone who’s truly happy, read any book or listen to any CD on happiness, and that’s the message you’ll hear. And I knew this. Just by meditating I can reach a contented, “all is well,” inner core. But I’d forgotten the lesson in a momentary ego-fest. The last thing I scribbled was “Forgive.” “Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting,” wrote William Arthur Ward. By the time I’d finished my list, I was in a better place. Maybe not quite practiced enough for the art of no expectations, but certainly willing to forgive. Cassie Johnson is a Reiki Master/Teacher. Contact her at

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sion (M-NCPPC) system. Over 20 vendors offered pet owners everything from microchips for tracking and identifying lost pets to dog walking, veterinary care and day-care services. The one-acre park is located on the corner of Ager Road and Nicholson Street, just off East-West Highway. It comes after years of work by many local residents and elected officials. “This wasn’t done because of some far-off politician in some far-off place,� Mayor Gardiner told the crowd. “This was because of you and your persistence. The demand started with you and ended with you. You ought to congratulate yourselves.� As M-NCPPC planner and park designer Eileen Nivera notes, residents were first interested in a local park almost 10 years ago. After years of research and a feasibility study, Heurich Park was chosen because of its location, access and land availability. But the grand opening is just phase one. “We plan to have a shaded pavilion, agility obstacles in both the large and small dog areas, drinking fountains, and concrete paths around the park,� said Nivera, as she showed the crowd a map of the additions to be made by next year. The park consists of a larger fenced area for large dogs, and a smaller fenced area for small dogs. Both sides have a mix of gravel, grass, and trees. Park benches are made from recyclable material, and trees around the park were planted as part of the Gorgeous Prince George’s campaign.


PHOTOS BY CHARLENE HOWARD AND TODD MCDONALD Top, county parks and recreation director Ronnie Gathers addresses the crowd. Above: Del. Anne Healey and County Councilman Will Campos, joined by other local elected officials, cut the ribbon at the dog park's grand opening.

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Mike Busch, of Hyattsville, comes to the park almost every day, and appreciates having a convenient location for his Rottweiler, Anne, to play off-leash. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There were no venues for her to socialize with other dogs before, which is really important,â&#x20AC;? Busch said. County Council member Will Campos heard the same concerns when he first ran for office in 2004. After his election, â&#x20AC;&#x153;we sat down, looked at the resources and funds, and saw it was a very doable project,â&#x20AC;? he said. The free park is a welcome addition to residents, who often had to travel to College Park's Acredale Park if they wanted to let their dogs play off-leash. But because it was M-NCPPC's first dog park, it was established as a paid membership park, with fees of $30 per year for the first dog in a household and $10 for additional dogs at the same address. Further afield, the cities of Bowie and Laurel run free dog parks as well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the benefits of membership parks are that they help keep better record of dogs and their vaccinations,â&#x20AC;? said Faith Weiner, president of the College Park Dog Park. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a small park, and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a small-dog area. And when there are large parks like this that are free to the community, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nice as well.â&#x20AC;? Dogs had the run of the park for the rest of the afternoon. Large and small, Yorkie to Great Dane, familiarized themselves with the place where many will come to play for years to come. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dog parks improve the community, they get people out and provide ways for people to meet,â&#x20AC;? said Charlene Howard, who worked to help the park come to fruition. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dog parks are as much for people as they are for dogs.â&#x20AC;?


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Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009


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continued talking to the older man, the victim, an exchange student new to the U.S., was able to get into her car. She then offered to drive him to the police station with the other man following, at which point the older man took off on his bicycle. Roberts, who teaches at Northwestern High School, said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I couldn't live with the consequences of seeing a kid being killed in front of me. You cannot do nothing.â&#x20AC;? She said that people have to assess the risk in any situation and that aggression brings more aggression. "I have been able to de-escalate very serious situations by doing exactly what I did today," Roberts wrote in an e-mail shortly after the attack. "Talk nice to the mean guy and agree with him, offer assistance, anything to distract him; quietly get anyone in danger behind a locked door, stand my ground in a totally non-threatening way." In discussing the issue with some of her students, she learned another way to prevent attempted robbery of portable electronics: Switch the earbuds for oldschool headphones, so passersby can't guess that there's an iPod or Bose at the other end. Hyattsville Police Chief Doug Holland said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was a very brave and honorable thing that Mrs. Roberts did.â&#x20AC;? He added that Roberts has years of experience dealing with difficult situations because of her profession. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As a rule, we in the police profession do not encourage people to intervene, but to call us instead," he said. "Stop, make noise, attract attention. But call us first.â&#x20AC;? City spokesperson Abby Sandel said she wants residents to know that calling 911 is not the fastest way to get the police. "People should call 301.985.5050, the police emergency number, and they should program it into their cell phones.â&#x20AC;?

amount of time with the child. "I felt compelled to bring this case to court," Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said in a statement e-mailed to media that detailed the charges. The case dragged on until this April, when Woods, now 41, was acquitted of all charges by a jury that took two hours to reach a verdict after a week-long trial. Defense attorneys for Woods said the child, now 7, kept changing his story and was not reliable. Woods said he was happy to be exonerated and anxious to do the job he had been employed to do. In August, he started as the vice principal of Hyattsville Elementary and quickly earned the respect of many colleagues. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He was just terrific,â&#x20AC;? Principal Jeanne Washburn said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m appreciative of the many things he did for the school,â&#x20AC;? including ordering walkie-talkies for all the teachers and meeting with city police to make sure there was good traffic flow around the school. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The staff members [were] very intense in their support,â&#x20AC;? she said. "From my point of view, it was really sad that he was transferred." Some parents agree. Chris McManes, the father of a kindergartener at the school, remains adamant in his support of Woods, saying that officials â&#x20AC;&#x153;wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have put him in a situation where they thought he would harm kids." He says that the main cause of the uprising was the lack of communication with parents. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They should have let [parents] know,â&#x20AC;? McManes said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;[instead of letting] everyone just find out about it.â&#x20AC;? But other parents at the school are relieved over the transfer, according to Kelly Hutchison, the mother of a first-grader. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m happy with it because it was very uncomfortable for me, in the first place, to even think about [the charges],â&#x20AC;? she said. Woods admitted there was

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parental apprehension regarding his placement, saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I will say that yes, there was a group of parents who were concerned about the trial and had no confidence in the verdict.â&#x20AC;? Now, he says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have to question the value of the not-guilty verdict. I was judged by a jury of my peers and found innocent.â&#x20AC;? County schools superintendent William Hite had been scheduled to attend the meeting, but it was abruptly canceled on Tuesday, Oct. 27, because, Ms. Washburn said, Woods had been transferred from the school the previous day. Some city residents had intended to come. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I, probably like a lot of parents in Hyattsville, was planning on attending mostly to find out more about the situation," said city council member Matt McKnight, whose 2-year-old daughter is zoned to attend the school in upcoming years. Woodsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s replacement, Michelle Marek, took over his position on Oct. 30.




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Hyattsville Life & Times | November 2009


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Hyattsville Life & Times November 2009  

The November 2009 issue of The Hyattsville Life and Times, the community newspaper of the City of Hyattsville, Maryland.