Page 1

NEWS BRIEFS $350,000 from state may pave the way to more parking. PAGE 6

Sixth graders may start at Hyattsville Middle in 2013 by Rosanna Landis Weaver

The opening of Hyattsville’s new elementary school has been delayed until 2014, but some elementary school students may start the next academic year at a new school under a plan that would shift sixth-graders to Hyattsville Middle School. The news came at the Prince George’s County Public Schools forum on “Boundary, Grade & Program Improvements” held at Nicholas Orem Middle School on December 4. Studies suggest that a three-year transition between elementary and high school serves students better and allows for more academic opportunities. The county has been focused on such a move “as opportunities allow,” according to Johndel Jones-Brown, Director of Public Accounting and School Boundaries. Hyattsville Middle School is one of five county schools that may include sixth graders next year. Under the current plan, sixth graders from Hyattsville Elementary and Riverdale Elementary would attend HMS beginning next school year. During the meeting, school officials also shared the news that the elementary school under construc-

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

SCHOOLS continued on page 12


“Post Office Pam” retires after 31 years. PAGE 3

The Small Town Energy Program (STEP) promises to cut your energy bills. PAGE 7

Hyattsville Life&Times

Vol. 9 No. 12

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

December 2012

Washington chosen to replace Ross

by Susie Currie

SHANI WARNER In 1992, Mike Franklin opened Franklinʼs General Store, with toys and gag gifts in the front and a deli in the back. The business has come a long way in 20 years.



by Bill Holland

Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781


If you lived in Hyattsville in 1992, and you had something to celebrate – like say, the Redskins winning Super Bowl XXVI or a young Arkansas governor winning the presidential election – your options for where to spend the evening were, to say the least, limited. That was when new Hyattsville resident Mike Franklin entered the picture. And Route 1 has never been the same. The atmosphere for the store’s 20th anniversary on November 24 was celebratory indeed. Well-wishers crowded both the restaurant and store, where everything was 20 percent off. A great opportunity, as one shopper noted, “to stock up on stocking stuffers.”

Franklin’s employees offered samples of champagne and hot chocolate, and encouraged shoppers to take advantage of the sale to buy something for the prominently displayed Toys for Tots box. It all began in 1991, soon after Mike and Debbie Franklin moved to Hyattsville. At the time, he was a veteran toy salesman, with dreams of opening his own business. He envisioned a deli and a shop that would sell not only top-shelf toys, but funky gifts. He wasn’t a likely candidate to make a go of it. Instead of an MBA, he had a liberal arts degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis. He had all the business chops of a student who’d studied FRANKLINS continued on page 13

On December 4, Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed Hyattsville resident Alonzo Washington to the Maryland State Legislature. Washington, chief of staff for County Councilman Will Campos, will be sworn in on December 19 to serve the last two years of former delegate Justin Ross’ (D-22) term. Washington serves on the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee – the very body responsible for, among other things, filling seats unexpectedly vacated by Democratic officeholders. When a seat becomes empty, as Ross’ did with his November 9 resignation, the committee has 30 days to choose a successor and forward the name to the governor. “State law is very clear on this matter: We don’t have special elections for [midterm vacancies] in the General Assembly,” said Matt Verghese, a spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party. Instead, the 24-member committee holds a public vote. During a packed hearing at the Hyattsville Municipal Building on November 15, Washington easily beat four other contenders for the seat. His victory was also a win for Ross, who supported his nomination, and a political blow to the other members of the delegation. Sen. Paul Pinsky and delegates Anne Healey and Tawanna Gaines had all supported Cheverly resident Kisha Brown, director of legislation and research for the Maryland Attorney General’s office. At 29, Washington is just three DELEGATE continued on page 10

Included: The December 11, 2012 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter — See Center Section

Page 2

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012


North from Hyattsville by Paula Minaert

My husband and I moved to Hyattsville in 1979. We went to St. Jerome’s for church and to the Safeway on Hamilton Street for groceries. (At that time, it was located at the corner of Queens Chapel Road.) We were part of a group of friends who moved here around that time. Over the years, we attended each other’s weddings and watched each other’s children. I firmly believe that we all raised our children together; I know we couldn’t have raised our three without their help. Gradually, our world expanded beyond our circle of friends. Our

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 hyattsvillelifeandtimes@gmail. com. To submit articles, letters to the editor, etc., e-mail Executive Editor Susie Currie 301.633.9209 Managing Editor Rosanna Landis Weaver 301.277.5939 Editorial Intern Scarlett Salem Production Ashley Perks Advertising 301.531.5234 Writers & Contributors Victoria Hille, Bill Jenne, Valerie Russell, Kimberly Schmidt, Fred Seitz, Hugh Turley Board of Directors Joseph Gigliotti - President and General Counsel Chris Currie - Vice President Susie Currie - Secretary Peggy Dee, Bart Lawrence, Karen J. Riley, Valerie Russell Rosanna Landis Weaver - 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 9,300. HL&T is a member of the

children attended Hyattsville Elementary, St. Jerome’s, DeMatha, Seton. They joined the Scouts and the Prince George’s Pool swim team. We met more and more people. My husband played the organ for St. Jerome’s and I got very involved in the parish. Why am I recounting this history? Because we are moving to New Hampshire and this is my last column. We’re starting a new chapter in our lives. We’re excited about it, and it feels like the right thing to do, but at the same time it will be wrenching to leave. We’ve made good friends here. I will remember many things

about Hyattsville. These are only a few. I will remember our previous next-door neighbor, a man who went hunting regularly in Pennsylvania with his two beagles. He was retired military and kept a watchful eye on the whole block. I will remember the various loose dogs I brought home and returned to their owners. One dog I returned three times. I will remember that our daughter saved people’s lives three times, all before the age of 21. She and a friend were about 10 when they noticed a little boy face-down in the water at PG Pool and realized he was in trouble. They told a grown-up and

he was rescued. As a teenager, she pulled a child to safety out of a collapsing moon bounce at Magruder Park. And finally, she put out a fire at our house. She was coming home late one night and noticed the mulch smoking next to the porch and ran for the fire extinguisher. A guest had tossed a cigarette into the mulch, not knowing that newspapers were underneath. I will remember that one of our sons was in a band in high school that practiced in a friend’s garage on Emerson Street. One night the city police showed up to tell them to turn down the volume. Then the officer who warned them mentioned that he played in a band, too. The boys invited him to jam with them, and he did. (They didn’t remember his name.) Only in Hyattsville.

I discovered later, when I began working for the HL&T, that the officer was Sgt. Chris Purvis (and he plays a mean guitar). He was one of many people I met as I covered city council meetings, public hearings, football games, neighborhood news. It was fascinating to see how the city government functions and, even more, to learn about the different facets of life here in Hyattsville. I am grateful I had the opportunity to do that, and to work with people who care as much about Hyattsville as I do. With this issue, Rosanna Landis Weaver joins the staff, and I give her my best wishes. This is a great town. I will be making new memories up north, but I won’t forget all the ones I made here.


I’m dreaming of a purple Christmas by Rev. Todd Thomason

’Tis the season to be jolly, or so the carol goes. In reality, though, December often winds up being the season to fly into a tizzy, as my mother would say. Fa la la la la, la la la AAUGH! There are lights to put up and lists to check off and presents to wrap and schedules to coordinate and endless details (among other things) to debate. Will we have ham or turkey – or both – for Christmas dinner? Will we spend the day with your parents, my parents – or neither? Do we start playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving or after – and will the Mannheim Steamroller be allowed? Do we say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Holidays!” – and whom will we offend regardless of what we decide? In my house, some of the biggest fights I’ve had to referee have been rows between my twin 4-year-old daughters over who gets to play with which pieces of their nativity set. I’ve probably put Baby Jesus in time-out more this past week than Mary ever did, merely to ensure his survival. Many of these seasonal squabbles come down to matters of personal taste and nothing more.

But others are symptomatic of the deeper divisions that exist within our society. As the recent national election revealed, we the people of these United States remain rather divided in our ideologies and priorities beneath the star of Christmas. A month after the electoral dust has settled, partisan niceties are already beginning to fade and well-worn battle lines are receiving fresh coats of paint. As a Christian, and especially a pastor, the frantic, fractured state of things in our lives and in our nation grieves me. But the story of Christmas is the very thing that gives me hope. Whether you see this story as foundational to your faith, as I do, or a mere fanciful tale on par with Santa Claus, I pray it will speak hope to you as well. The story of Jesus’ birth, at its core, is a story of unity in the face of deep division. Indeed, Jesus was born into a world as divided as ours, if not more so. The Roman Empire of the early first century was a volatile blend of citizens and non-citizens, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free persons. Probably no surprise, then, that it frequently erupted in war and revolt. Bethlehem, in the West Bank, occupies a swath of land that has been

COURTESY TODD THOMASON Nativity art from the authorʼs 4-year-old daughters.

seized, traded, and manipulated by rival Middle Eastern powers for millennia. Yet, in that time and in that place, we read of a special child of royal lineage, born not in a palace but in a stable, and surrounded by a retinue of lowly shepherds and heavenly angels – a birth foretold by the prophets of Israel that also attracts the attention of pagan priests from Persia. Heaven and earth, rich and poor, humans and animals are all brought together on that silent, holy night. I find it a blessed coincidence that purple is both the liturgical color of Advent, the holy season of preparation leading up to Christmas, and the true color of the electoral map, as Mark Newman of the University of Michigan has demonstrated. (See We shouldn’t be surprised, really. As human beings, our basic wants, needs, and desires are essentially the same: health, prosperity, safety and opportunity for ourselves and those whom we love. Our differences arise primarily out of disparate opinions about how to achieve those wants, needs and desires. But Christmas is a reminder that we are not necessarily as divided as we appear – and we certainly do not have to be. My daughters reminded me of this recently. After one of their nativity-set tantrums resulted in the set being put in time-out, they sat down and decided to draw a nativity set of their own. They each drew part of it on pieces of paper and then put it all together. When it was complete, they had Mary, Joseph, some shepherds, four sheep, three kings, an assortment of camels, a donkey, an angel – and a flamingo – all gathered to celebrate the baby Jesus. In the words of Jesus, “It is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Merry Christmas. And Happy Holidays! Rev. Todd Thomason is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hyattsville.

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

Page 3

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Recipient of Checkbook Magazine’s “Check of Quality” BILL HOLLAND A fixture at the Hyattsville Post Office for decades, Pam Davis-Daniels retired on November 30. Mayor Marc Tartaro presented her with a flag and official proclamation of thanks on her last day.

Popular Post Office employee retires by Bill Holland

The year was 1981. Ronald Reagan was the new President of the United States. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court. On the radio, the numberone song was Kool & the Gang singing that we should join their “Celebration.” And Pam DavisDaniels walked into the historic brick post office at 4325 Gallatin Street for her first day of work. She stayed for 31 years. She retired on November 30 – much to the chagrin of her many regular customers. To them, DavisDaniels has been a helping hand, a confidante and a post-office pal for decades. She is the last of the veteran crew to go, folks that so many Hyattsville residents got to know over so many years, such as recent retirees Linda Parker, Laura Woodland and Ajchariya Nubangchang (known to customers as “Indra”). With the United States Postal Service (USPS) losing money, employees have seen their numbers decrease due to budget cuts. Those who remain find themselves with heavier workloads. Pam, as her customers and coworkers call her, has surely worked her way through hundreds of thousands of letters

and packages; more recently, she has also helmed the post office’s passport office, which has grown steadily busier with the influx of immigrant neighbors. Her departure took longtime resident and business owner Anna Frankle by surprise. “I can’t imagine Pam not being there,” she said. “I know just how valuable she was to me over so many years on a professional level. Also … you knew that she also cared about you personally, not as just another customer walking in the door.” On November 28, Bob and Sarah Harper led a self-described “geriatric flash mob” of a halfdozen regular customers in a surprise send-off for the departee. They appeared at the post office with balloons and first-class cupcakes from the nearby Shortcake Bakery. Davis-Daniels’ low-key disposition and whimsical personality – a winning combination – are the reasons she has so many friends in town, says Kay Foster, her colleague behind the counter. “She’s always even-tempered and she has a wonderful sense of humor. That comes in handy,” says Foster, who has worked alongside her for 4 ½ years in the still-elegant 1935 Colonial Revival brick post office. Built as a public works project

under FDR’s New Deal, it features murals by Eugene Kingman depicting the agricultural heritage of Prince George’s County. The building, across from City Hall, was awarded a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. And on her last day, Mayor Marc Tartaro surprised Pam with her own award: a proclamation of official thanks from the community for her years of dedication and service to thousands of residents. After her lunch break, he delivered the proclamation, which had been framed with a folded U.S. flag that had flown over City Hall. “I got the keys to the city!” she joked later, with one of her last customers. Tartaro said he has always been charmed by “her Mona Lisa smile.” She’s so likeable, he added, “that you feel you have to buy the stamps she’s suggested before you leave.” Davis-Daniels, who is married with a daughter and a stepdaughter, says she plans to move back to Georgia, near her family home outside Waynesboro. She hints she might get into online sales because of the large trove of antiques, collectibles and ephemera she has gathered over the years.


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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

MissFloribunda Dear Miss Floribunda, I’m from the Midwest and so read with surprise your advice to do in autumn what is usually done in spring where I come from. What about pruning and fertilization? How do gardeners prepare for winter here, if they do? Not in Kansas Anymore on Kennedy Street Dear Not in Kansas Anymore, I’ll address fertilization first: Not only is it inadvisable, it’s illegal. While some people will put lime on their lawns at this time, use of fertilizer in Maryland is forbidden from November 15 to March 1, or whenever the ground is frozen. The Fertilizer Use Act of 2011 was signed into law on May 19, 2011, by Governor Martin O’Malley as a means of reducing the amount of lawn chemicals washing into the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake

Roses should be pruned now to keep them from being damaged by January winds.

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though restrictions on the use of fertilizer by farmers had been in place since 2001, there are now restrictions on its use by home gardeners and, of course, golf courses and cemeteries. Even if it were legal to fertilize, it would be a bad idea because it would prevent needed dormancy. While our winters can’t compare in severity with those you remember, even our mildest winters are cold enough to harm plants putting out new growth. And sometimes, as in the winter of 2009-2010, we get an unusual amount of snow and temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. So wait till March to wake your shrubs from their winter’s nap with a jolt of nitrogen.

Many Hyattsville gardeners put their raked leaves in compost bins; others mow them and use them as mulch. Those with water gardens net them and remove the leaves so their acidity won’t harm pond life. Some perennials, such as asters and other plants susceptible to mildew, should be trimmed back. Plants that bear seeds for birds or have hollow stalks that shelter bees are best left alone. It’s high time to dig up dahlias before the ground freezes hard. While local rosarians don’t hack back rose bushes to the degree necessary in sub-zero climates, we do prune the bushes to about 2 ½ feet high. This is to keep them from being lashed about by Janu-

ary winds, which could result in serious root damage. Because there are rumors of heavy snow again this winter, it would not hurt to prune evergreens of overhanging branches. Best of all, you can use those fragrant branches to decorate your home for Christmas. To meet some gardening wizards and share some holiday munchies, please come to the next meeting of the Hyattsville Horticulture Society on Saturday, December 15, at 10 a.m. at the home of Herb and Victoria Hille, 4101 Gallatin Street. In the meantime, please send gardening questions to floribundav@


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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

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Big sales for local merchants on Small Business Saturday by Rosanna Landis Weaver

Black Friday gets all the press: the overnight campouts, the overeager bargain hunters, the advertising budgets. For the past few years another tradition has been growing: Small Business Saturday. In 2010 American Express began an annual promotion that allows qualifying small businesses to apply, and offers card members a $25 rebate if they spend over $25 at a participating store on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. But the promotion has expanded beyond that, and business was booming for local stores at this year’s event. Dozens of Hyattsville stores participated in the November 24 program, including over 30 in the Mall at Prince Georges. “We’ve been slammed,” says Barbara Robey at A Tangled Skein, in downtown Hyattsville. This year’s event coincided with the store’s annual birthday sale, drawing eager knitters who were counting down the days to the holiday. “You have to think ahead when you’re doing a knitting project,” notes Robey. “No better day to do this than Small Business Saturday,” said customer Sharon Doughty as she checked out. The Bowie shopper was making a day of it in Hyattsville; in addition to browsing local shops (including Franklins, whose 20th anniversary celebration was also Saturday, see cover story), she’d enjoyed lunch at Busboys & Poets. Business was also brisk at The Big Bad Woof, which participated for

“This started as an opportunity with American Express to express the sentiment that small business is what makes up the fabric of community.”

University Town Center. Operating partner Cathy Nelson says they will “absolutely” be participating again next year. “Typically, right after Thanksgiving is pretty slow,” she said. “The numbers are definitely better than last year.” In 2009, a year before the American Express campaign, Community Forklift introduced “Green Friday” as an alternative holiday shopping experience. The store specializes in low-cost building materials and vintage home improvement supplies — or, as Marketing and Outreach Director Ruthie Mundell notes, “not your typical big-box-standin-line-for-plastic-junk-imported-from- China [inventory].” The idea has expanded into a

three-day event, complete with free hot cider, sale prices, a DJ and hands-on workshops, including one on decoupaging picture frames. Mundell reports that the store was swamped both on Friday and Saturday. “It caught us by surprise. It’s never been this busy.” Weekend workshops will continue throughout the month, along with a gift fair featuring the work of 27 artisans. ( Just don’t bring your American Express card — it’s no good here.) The holiday shopping season has been particularly important to Community Forklift, because in its first years business fell dramatically over the colder months, whether because the large unheated warehouse was too chilly for customers or because the do-it-yourselfers and small contractors who make up a good portion of the clientele were not doing the same number of projects. The post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend “supports artists and keeps bringing customers in the door,” and the revenue bump in November and December helps carry the store through the rest of the winter months. “A big part of our mission is generating local economic activity,” said Mundell. “Helping artisans and tradespeople helps us.”

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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

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Brian K. Slack Mayor Marc Tartaro looks on as Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond Skinner announces a $350,000 Community Legacy Grant during a November 30 ceremony at Busboys & Poets.

NEWS BRIEFS by Susie Currie

At a ceremony at Busboys & Poets on November 30, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown announced that Hyattsville would receive a $350,000 Community Legacy Grant. It’s among the largest awards the state bestowed to fund 58 projects across the state. Hyattsville’s share will be used to demolish two auto shops at the east end of Hamilton Street near the railroad tracks in order to expand parking in the area. Customers are already finding a parking shortage at the Shoppes at Arts District Hyattsville; when the hundreds more multi-family units now under construction are occupied, it’s likely to get worse. Congratulations to Hyattsville resident Laura Reams, who began her job as city clerk on December 10. The post has been vacant since April 30, when longtime city staffer Doug Barber left to become Rockville’s city clerk. Filling director-level positions is the next priority, says Mayor Marc Tartaro.

A city administrator is likely to be the next major hire, followed by a director of public works. We know you’re out there, civil servants. As part of the Atlas Intersections Festival, to be held in February at D.C.’s Atlas Performing Arts Center, the local theater group Active Cultures is putting together .govaculture, 15 original short plays about life as a federal employee. By “short,” they mean 60 seconds, and by “plays,” they mean, really, anything that can fit in that time slot: song, dance, skit, etc. Got an idea? Contact The Sonny Frazier Toy Drive is underway. Boxes for new, unwrapped toys are set up in the lobby of the city building, the Magruder Park building, Bestway, Lawson’s Pharmacy, and the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department. You can donate through December 14. For more information, call City Councilmember Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) at 301.779.5428.

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

Page 7

Postcards from the Past

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Church celebrates 70 years of service by Peggy Dee

Congratulations to the Ager Road United Methodist Church on the occasion of its 70th anniversary! On June 26, 1942, a group of 69 people met on a porch in the Brookside Manor neighborhood of Green Meadows to hold Sunday services. The Reverend Edgar W. Beckett of the First Methodist Church of Hyattsville on Belcrest Road presided. He continued through the summer, preaching in various homes. That fall, a small construction office at the corner of Ager and Riggs roads was donated to the group by Mr. Sidney Lust and consecrated as its first official meeting place. Mr. Chester Craig, a local preacher, was appointed pastor in charge. The Ager Road Methodist Church was born. With further growth and development, the church bought another plot on Ager Road in 1944 and built a small cinderblock

chapel there. The church is still there today. By 1948, the young church had a membership of 171, making it necessary to expand again. The west wing was completed in 1950. Fern Duvall of Lancer Place moved to Hyattsville in 1953 and purchased a post-war home. She remembers well meeting Rev. Osborne, pastor of the church, when he came to her house. The entire neighborhood was full of young families, and Rev. Osborne made a point of visiting all of them in an effort to build his congregation. Mary Hupp, who now resides in Illinois, has happy memories dating back to 1954, when she taught Kindergarten Sunday School. She had 60 to 70 fourand five-year olds each Sunday. At Christmas and Easter she had 85. Now those four- and five-year olds have grandchildren. The membership had grown to over 600 people by 1955 and a

new sanctuary was consecrated in 1959. Fern’s two young sons, Owen and Randy, sang in the children’s choir, which was known as the “cherub choir.” She hand-stitched the white cottas (collars) that topped off the children’s choir robes. Being a part of the committee that catered the church’s wedding receptions was Fern’s delight. The cream puffs that she made for them were a great favorite. And the church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner, which was held the week before Thanksgiving, was popular even among nonchurch members. Due to declining enrollment and many families leaving the area, the church shares a pastor with Grace United Methodist Church of Takoma Park. The Rev. Paul W. Johnson was named to the dual position in April 2011. We wish the church many more anniversaries and salute them for their contributions to our community over these last 70 years.

paula minaert After 70 years, the Ager Road United Methodist Church still serves people in the area.

Surf’s Up!

Parent and Child Dance Party Saturday, February 23, 2013 City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street

Catch a wave! Kid-friendly music and refreshments Tickets: $5.00 per guest

Children must be accompanied by an adult throughout the evening Reservations required - 301/985/5021 or

Hyattsville Reporter Page HR1

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

the • 301-985-5000


Volunteers honored in December 2012 marks another successful year for volunteer engagement in the City of Hyattsville. Volunteers come from local schools and corporate groups, through international exchange programs, and from university and community service organizations, as well as individuals seeking service opportunities in their community. Counted amongst our community partners are Greater DC Cares, the University of Maryland College Park Scholars, Catholic University, Howard University, the National Urban League, Potomac Job Corps, City Year, the Department of Navy, Cultural Vistas, Anacostia Watershed Society, the Ocean Conservancy, National Public Lands Day, and M-NCPPC. Among the many volunteers celebrated Monday night were: Ms. Jackie Stewart, Office Volunteer Ms. Mary Banks, Friendship Arms Wii Bowling League Coordinator Ms. Jackie Johnson, Friendship Arms Yard Sale Coordinator Ms. Grace Papagianis, The Friendship Arms Community Fellowship for Senior and Disabled Citizens of Hyattsville Ms. Dorothy Wilson, The Friendship Arms Community Fellowship for Senior and Disabled Citizens of Hyattsville Ms. Yongjoo Park, Cultural Vistas Korea WEST Ms. Joohee Jung, Cultural Vistas Korea WEST Ms. Belleh Asaha, Liberty’s Promise Mr. Muhammed Ann, Liberty’s Promise Mr. Emmanuel Etta, Liberty’s Promise Mr. Stephen Cole, Liberty’s Promise Ms. Kanika Sharma, Liberty’s Promise Ms. Lensa Temesgen, Liberty’s Promise Ms. Jemila Hussen, Liberty’s Promise Mr. Immanuel Eta, Liberty’s Promise Mr. Walid Yacoubou, Liberty’s Promise Mrs. Ruth Ann Frazier, President’s Volunteer Service Award, Lifetime Achievement Award for 4,000 hours of service Ms. Jan Townshend, City of Hyattsville Volunteer Service Award, Neighborhood Design Center Our sincerest thanks and appreciation goes to all Hyattsville volunteers. Interested in getting involved? Contact Colleen Aistis at 301/985-5057 or

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

No. 254 • December 12, 2012

AGES Holiday Social takes place Thursday, Dec. 20 Seniors, caregivers, friends & family are welcome to join us for our very first Senior Holiday Social! Part of the Aging Gracefully Education Series, our holiday festivities will include refreshments, cheerful music, door prizes, a holiday photo booth, and a special activity. The event takes place on Thursday, December 20 at 5:30 PM at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street. Free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!


On Wednesday, December 12, the City’s judges will be out on the town, looking for the best and the brightest holiday decorations on local homes. Judges circulate between 6 and 8 PM. Award recipients will be notified the week of December 17, and awards will be presented on Monday, January 7, 2013, at the first City Council Meeting of the new year. Check for a list of winning addresses after December 17.


City Council recently made changes to the City’s snow shoveling ordinance. In the event of a blizzard, the City may extend the time allowed for clearing sidewalks. Look for details in the January edition of the Reporter.


If your household is served by the Department of Public Works, there are several important schedule changes to note this winter. Christmas: No Yard Waste will be collected on Monday, December 24. If your trash is normally picked up on Tuesday, it will be collected on Monday, December 24. New Year: No yard waste will be collected on Monday, December 31. If your trash is normally picked up on Tuesday, it will be collected on Monday, December 31. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: No yard waste will be collected on Monday, January 21. Presidents Day: No yard waste will be collected on Monday, February 18.


The City of Hyattsville’s Charter and Code calls for the establishment of a nine-member Shade Tree Board. The Board is a very active group, reviewing applications for non-emergency removal of trees, working with the City arborist on plans to plant new trees, and is an important part of the City’s planning to enhance the City’s urban tree canopy. While several residents have stepped forward, a few vacancies remain. If you are interested in serving, please contact Acting City Administrator

Elaine Stookey at 301/985-5000 or


Announcing Senior Fitness Fridays! Ageless Grace is a fitness and wellness program that consists of 21 simple exercises designed to improve healthy longevity. The exercises are designed to be performed in a seated chair and almost anyone can do them, regardless of most physical conditions. Class meets Fridays, January 11 through March 22 at the Magruder Park Recreation Building, 3911 Hamilton Street. The cost is only $2.00 per session!

Small Town Energy Program Working in Hyattsville Almost 50 of your Hyattsville neighbors are already preparing to keep their homes warm and their energy bills low this winter through the Small Town Energy Program (STEP). Let STEP do the same for your home!

The 127th City of Hyattsville Anniversary Parade will take place on Saturday, April 13. It’s not too soon to think about marching! We welcome community groups of all types, from neighborhood watches to school clubs and beyond. A little bit of creative and some decent walking shoes are all that is required! Watch for more information after January 1st, or contact Cheri Everhart at 301/985-5021 or

Prince George’s County does not collect recycling on Christmas Day. Recycling collection will resume on the next regularly scheduled collection day. They do collect recycling on New Year’s Day. Questions? Visit or call 301/952-7630.


The City’s cable station is now rebroadcasting City Council Meetings at a variety of times. Tune in on Monday at 10 AM; Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 AM, 3 PM, and 10 PM; Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 AM and 9 PM; or Saturdays and Sundays at 12 NOON. We will broadcast the most recent Council Meeting. The City’s

Wednesday, December 12

Claus Applause Contest Judging, City-wide, 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Monday, December 17 Tuesday, January 1

Holiday – New Year’s Day See trash collection schedule changes, below

Monday, January 7

City Council Meeting, 8:00 to 10:00 PM

Friday, January 11

Senior Fitness Fridays: Ageless Grace Exercise Class, 12:00 to 1:00 PM Magruder Park Recreation Center

Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street.

To learn more about STEP or to attend a STEP house party at the home of a Hyattsville neighbor, contact Suzanne at, call 240-695-3991, or visit the STEP web site at http://www.

Please register by January 7, 2013, by contacting Emily Stowers, Senior Services Coordinator at 301/985-5058 or


DEC. 2012 — JAN. 2013

STEP covers $300 of the $400 cost of your home energy evaluation report. If you decide to make any of the report’s recommended improvements, STEP then helps you get up to 60% of the costs back through rebates. STEP Energy Coach Suzanne Parmet helps you every step of the way, making the whole process easy.

channel is 71 on Comcast and 12 on Verizon. Questions? Comments? Please talk to Jonathan Alexander, the City’s cable coordinator, at or 301/985-5028.

Leaf collection in the City of Hyattsville started on Monday, November 5 and is scheduled to continue mid-January 2013. We also do not collect leaves during the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s. Not sure which day we’re coming to your street? Visit or call 301/985-5032.


City Council Meeting, 8:00 to 10:00 PM

Please note that we had initially announced the time as 9:00 to 10:00 AM. We are now shifting the class to the afternoon, from 12:00 to 1:00 PM.


Page HR2



Remember that Christmas trees are collected as Yard Waste by the Department of Public Works during any Monday pick-up. There is no pickup on Monday, December 31 or Monday, January 21. Simply de-trim your tree and place it curbside. No bag or trimming is required. Trees are processed by Prince George’s County and re-used as mulch.


Looking for counseling, assistance with veterans’ benefits, or other information? The Prince George’s County Vet Center services County residents who have served their country. Services are provided at no charge to the veteran. For more information, visit, or call the Prince George’s County Vet Center, located at 7905 Malcolm Rd., Suite 101, Clinton, MD 21735, at 301/856-7173.


Families, caregivers and seniors: Do you have any age-related questions or concerns? Please call Hyattsville’s Senior Services Coordinator, Emily Stowers at 301/985-5058, or email estowers@hyattsville. org.


The Parent & Child Dance is scheduled for Saturday, February 23. It’s a fun night out for parents and little ones! Dancing, light refreshments and more. From princess costumes to play clothes, all are welcome. The theme will be revealed in the January edition of the newsletter! The Great Magruder Egg Hunt and Pancake Breakfast returns on Saturday, March 23. Uncle Pete will be back to entertain the crowds, and the high school art programs at Northwestern and DeMatha are already working on the 2013 souvenir eggs.


The City is now using Nixle to send public safety alerts and information via both email and text message. This system replaces the SafeCity website previously in use. Many of our neighboring jurisdictions also use Nixle to send out information. Please note that Nixle won’t report on every incident – typically alerts are sent when the HCPD needs to alert the public to a potentially dangerous situation, or when we are asking for your help solving a crime. In other cases, Nixle messages relate to road closures, power outages, etc. If you have a account, there is no need to create a new one. Simply log in and add the City of Hyattsville to your wire. New to Nixle? Register at or enroll using the widget online at


Are you on Facebook? You can now keep up with City events and happenings at When you see Vainglorious, the silver metal bird sculpture at Centennial Park, you’ll know you’re in the right place. He is kind enough to serve as the City’s wall photo.

Page 8

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

Federal funds help locals trim energy bills


by Megan Kowalski

A new, federally funded program promises local residents lower energy bills and more comfortable homes. The Small Town Energy Program – STEP, for short – is a $1.42 million, three-year grant funded through the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program of the U.S. Department of Energy. The program provides financial incentives for people to evaluate and improve their homes’ energy efficiency, as well as resources to facilitate the experience. STEP was implemented in University Park in January 2011 and expanded into Hyattsville and neighboring communities this past summer. After signing up, the first step for homeowners is a homeenergy evaluation, done by one of five STEP-approved contractors. That service usually costs $400, says program director Chuck Wilson, but participants pay $100. The evaluation results in a comprehensive report listing ways to conserve energy, how much an upgrade would cost, and how much it would save. Wilson says that on average, participants see their utility bills drop by 15 to 20 percent. If the homeowners decide to follow through with the upgrades – and about 2/3 do – STEP Energy Coach Suzanne Parmet will help them determine the scope. “The key job for the energy coach is to work with the homeowner to make sure they understand the report, answer any questions and work with them to understand what the most cost-effective thing is to do,” said Wilson. Suggested fixes might include

insulating attics, crawl spaces and overhangs or air sealing all the cracks and drafty places. “Most homes have the equivalent of a 2-foot-by-2-foot window if you add up all the cracks,” said Wilson. He added that replacing windows and doors is “almost always the last thing because it is the most expensive. Most people think this is where their problem is, but generally that is not the case.” One of the biggest benefits to participants is the rebate on upgrades. Wilson says that on average, homeowners can expect a 50 percent rebate, although the rebates have been as high as 65 percent. Hyattsville resident Paul Steinkoenig said he paid $1,400 for about $4,300 of work that was recommended after the energy audit. He praised the affordability and ease of the upgrades. “It’s a nice improvement on our home for a good deal,” he said. “It’s been amazing how easily and quickly the pieces have come together.” Often, new customers come through word-of-mouth reviews from neighbors. That’s how Hyattsville resident Robert DeKeyser found out about the program.

DeKeyser, who recently completed the energy audit, says that he thinks the most positive aspect of STEP is the simplicity that the program offers busy homeowners. “It helps you negotiate the whole process because these things can be fairly complicated,” he said. For Hyattsville Environment Committee Chair Jim Groves, “the key point here is the program is run through a grant, so nobody’s out to make a buck. It’s something that is actually being done for the good of everyone, and there’s not enough of that going on in the world today.” The strength of small community to make a major impact in the national energy crisis is vital to the success of STEP, and Wilson says that the leaders in the community, as well as the residents, have been instrumental. “The [Hyattsville City] Council really showed leadership on this and made it easy for the program to be implemented,” he said. “The senior staff has been very cooperative. We couldn’t do it without them.” For more information on the STEP program, visit www. or call 240.695.3991.

Seasons Greetings from everyone at

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rosanna landis weaver An inflated Santa rests on a hammock on Nicholson Street, apparently enjoying the unseasonably warm December.

Fleisher’s Jewelers We would like to thank all of our loyal customers for their support over the years. We will be closing our doors by the end of this month. Please come by to take advantage of our storewide liquidation, with savings up to 70 percent on selected items.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

Page 9

COMMUNITY CALENDAR December 15 Browse locally made, blownglass art or make your own ornament at the DC Glassworks Holiday Studio Sale and Open House. Free. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. DC Glassworks, 5346 46th Avenue. 301.927.8271.

December 15 to 22 The National Capital Trackers model-railroad club returns to the College Park Aviation Museum with its Holiday Trains and Planes exhibit. See it during regular museum hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $4, with discounts for children and seniors. College Park Aviation Museum, 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Drive, College Park. 301.864.6029.

December 16 At this month’s drop-in art program, for ages 3 to 8, the theme is Holiday Paper Printing. Free. 2 to 4 p.m. Old Parish House, 4711 Knox Road, College Park. 301.927.3013. Looking for a break from traditional Christmas performances? Check out A Winter Aerial Showing, which features performances by students of Arachne Aerial Arts as well as regional aerial artists. $12; $7 for ages 12 and under. 4 p.m. Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier. 301.699.1819.

December 19 The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) will hold a public meeting on sewer improvements in Environmen-

courtesy leo lex DC GlassWorks Resident Artist Leo Lex made these ornaments and the bowl they’re in. Make your own at the studio’s open house on December 15.

tally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in Beaverdam Basin. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Glenarden/Theresa Banks Complex, 8615 McLain Avenue, Glenarden. Contact

December 27 & 28 Director Charley Grau and Coach Joe Sego lead the 5th annual Jaguar Holiday Basketball Mini-Camp, for ages 7 to 14. The camp will focus on the fundamentals of shooting, passing, dribbling and defensive skills. All skill levels are welcome. $60. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. St. Jerome Academy, 5205 43rd Ave. To register, visit www.jaguarbasketballcamp. com or call 301.776.1063.

December 28 Close out the year by stepping back in time at a candlelit 1812 Winter Evening, with period music, children’s activities, seasonal decorations and self-guided tours of the historic mansion, where costumed interpreters representing the Calvert family and visiting military troops will greet guests. $5; free for ages 12 and under. 6 to 9 p.m. Riversdale House Museum, 4811 River-

Pressed for time?

dale Road, Riverdale Park. 301.864.0420.

January 5 Escape winter and enter a night of virtual reality as the Xtreme Teens/Pre-teens host a Wii Video Game Night. Ages 10 to 17. Free. 7 to 10 p.m. Berwyn Heights Community Center, 6200 Pontiac Street, Berwyn Heights. 301.345.2808.

January 12 Dress up in your black-tie best at the Twelfth Night Ball, a Regency-style ball at the Riversdale mansion complete with dance lessons and live period music. Space is limited; registration required. $35. 7:30 p.m. 4811 Riverdale Rd., Riverdale Park. 301.864.0420 or

Through December 28 Find out Where Aviation Meets Art at an exhibit of astrophotography artwork at the College Park Aviation Museum. During a month-long series of workshops at the museum, local artists learned how to control an online robotic telescope and

Wash & Fold Drop Off Full Service • Same Day Laundry Service Free Pick Up & Delivery or do it yourself at

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take their own astronomy images of the universe. The resulting images, captions and poems are on display during regular museum hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $4, with discounts for children and seniors. College Park Aviation Museum, 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Drive, College Park. 301.864.6029.

Through January 2 Watkins Regional Park is hosting its 26th Annual Winter Festival of Lights, the popular 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 three-visit pass. Daily, from 5 to 9:30 p.m. until January 2. Watkins Regional Park. 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro. 301.699.2456.

Ongoing New this year at Community Forklift is a month-long gift fair, with 27 artisans selling items on consignment at the store. Browse fiber art, handmade walking sticks and more during regular business hours: Tuesday, noon to 6 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The shop is also hosting a free afternoon series of artist demonstrations and craft workshops on most weekends in December. For schedule information, visit 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston. 301.985.5180. Local couple Milton and Linda McGehee have distributed thousands of care packages to wounded soldiers over the years and still deliver regularly to the local veteran’s hospital. They welcome donations of new items,including disposable cameras, toiletries, puzzle books, playing cards, DVDs, and, especially, new towels and washcloths. Call 301.559.0864 to donate or volunteer.

Through March, naturalists will lead a guided hike around Lake Artemesia and the Luther Goldman Birding Trail on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Lake Artemesia, 8200 55th Avenue, Berwyn Heights. Free. 3 to 4:30 p.m. 301.627.7755. This isn’t your toddler’s Sit & Spin. At A Tangled Skein yarn shop, the name refers to fourthFriday gatherings where dropspindle and spinning-wheel users can work on individual projects, guided by spinning expert Anne O’Connor. Free. 7 to 9 p.m. And if you need more chances to unwind, come to the twice weekly Sit & Stitch sessions: Wednesdays, 7 to 9 p.m., and Thursdays, 1 to 3 p.m. They’re open to knitters and crocheters of any experience level. Free. 5200 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 101. 301.779.3399. Community Calendar is compiled by Susie Currie and Scarlett Salem. 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 e-mail or mail to P.O. Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781. Deadline for January submissions is December 23.

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Page 10


rosanna landis weaver Northwestern junior Gene Alestock II prepares to play bass in the school’s winter concert December 6.

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012


sense, the developer of the Shoppes at Arts District Hyattsville, on board for a smaller

continued from page 1

years older than Ross was when he was elected 10 years ago. But his path to the marble-halled Maryland State House differs greatly from that of Ross, whom he considers a mentor. Washington was born in Northeast D.C., the oldest of six children raised by a single mother who moved the growing family to Prince George’s County when he was about 5. With an 8th-grade education, she strung together a series of part-time jobs that often weren’t enough to make ends meet. “We bounced around a lot,” Washington, 29, said in an interview. “We were always getting evicted.” He spent most of his elementary-school years in Capitol Heights. But it was while attending Laurel High School that Washington met the first of many mentors: Joseph Fisher, who started the First Generation College Bound program to help low-income students achieve a college degree. “He went door-to-door in our public-housing project in Laurel,” recalled Washington. After joining the program, he became the first in his family to finish high school. He went on to graduate from the Uni-

His top priorities will be bringing FBI offices to Prince George’s County and supporting Metro’s Purple Line project.

bill jenne Mr. Washington Goes to Annapolis: Alonzo Washington will replace Justin Ross as state delegate on December 19.

versity of Maryland in 2007 with a degree in criminal justice. A year later, he joined Campos’ staff as community outreach director. He was promoted to chief of staff in 2010, the year he was elected to the PGCDCC. He plans to continue as a member of the committee. He will leave his day job, though. Asked what he’s proudest of in his time there, he points to helping bring Street-

project in Mount Rainier, and securing funding for a new Hyattsville library and volunteer fire department. As a state delegate, he says, his top priorities will be bringing FBI offices to Prince George’s County and supporting Metro’s Purple Line project. “We need to ensure that the Purple Line is well-funded because it’s going to impact our district heavily,” he said. Delegates, who earn $43,500 a year, meet for 90 days in Annapolis. They act on more than more than 2,300 bills, including the state budget. The 2013 session begins January 9, and for Washington, that day can’t come soon enough. “I’m a hard worker,” he said, “and ready to get to work.”

TRASH CHANGES Public Works Trash Collection Changes Fall & Winter Schedule for 2012

Senior Fitness Fridays Ageless Grace Exercise Class

Ageless Grace is a fitness and wellness program that consists of 21 simple exercises designed to improve healthy longevity. The exercises are designed to be performed in a seated chair and almost anyone can do them, regardless of most physical conditions.

Fridays, noon to 1:00 p.m.

Jan. 11 - March 22 Magruder Park Recreation Building 3911 Hamilton Street, Hyattsville Only $2 per session! Please register by January 7, 2013, by contacting Emily Stowers, Senior Services Coordinator at 301/985-5058 or

If your household is served by the Department of Public Works, there are several important schedule changes to note for the next few weeks. Questions? Please call 301/985-5032.


No Yard Waste will be collected on Monday, December 24. If your trash is normally picked up on Tuesday, it will be collected on Monday, December 24.


No yard waste will be collected on Monday, December 31. If your trash is normally picked up on Tuesday, it will be collected on Monday, December 31.

Questions? Please call the Department of Public Works at 301/985-5032.

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

Page 11


Bladensburg’s Mencken ported the president. But he later opposed FDR’s economic policies, comparing them to Benito Mussolini’s. Flynn’s articles appeared in leading publications including the New Republic, Harper’s Magazine and Collier’s Weekly. He expounded on his political views in books like Graft in Business, Country Squire in the White House (this book placed him on the White House enemies list), The Roosevelt Myth, The Truth about Pearl Harbor, Betrayal at Yalta, and The Lattimore Story. H.L. Mencken praised Flynn’s biography of John D. Rockefeller, God’s Gold, calling it “an excellent book.” Mencken, too, was a Democrat who opposed FDR’s New Deal. Both men opposed Roosevelt’s foreign policy, with Flynn accusing the president of using deception to maneuver the U.S. into war with Japan and Germany. Flynn consistently opposed militarism and an economic model based on defense spending and endless wars. “We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the deity to regenerate our victims while incidentally capturing their markets, to civilize savage and senile and paranoidal peoples while blundering accidentally into their oil wells or metal mines,”

By Hugh Turley

John T. Flynn was a contemporary of the noted “Sage of Baltimore,” H.L. Mencken. In 1882, Flynn was born to a devout Catholic family in Bladensburg and educated in the local public school. He likely attended mass at St. Jerome’s parish in Hyattsville after it was founded in 1884. Like Mencken, Flynn made his name as a newspaper journalist. As a student at Georgetown University Law School, he worked parttime as a reporter for the Washington Times (no relation to today’s newspaper). After graduation he never practiced law but instead made his living as a writer. Flynn worked at several newspapers in California before returning east to work at the New Haven Register and eventually the New York Globe. His years at the Globe shaped the direction of his writing. He began to study finance and economics and as the real-estate editor he uncovered schemes between individuals, organizations and government officials to cheat the public. Throughout his career, he took a stand against corrupt officials, corporate fraud and crooked bankers. Eventually he took on the federal government and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the early 1930s, he had sup-


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sayists and philosophers to invent the necessary reasons and gild the infamy with righteousness.” One might think the former liberal and critic of FDR would be championed by the political right. But his views drew ire from both ends of the political spectrum: his opposition to American militarism kept his articles from being published in William F. Buckley’s

wrote Flynn in his popular book, As We Go Marching. “No matter what the cause, even though it be to conquer with tanks and planes and modern artillery some defenseless black population, there will be no lack of poets and preachers and es-

conservative National Review. Currently, there are no popular writers quite like Flynn, who warned that an economy driven by defense industry spending will lead to Fascism. Today, it seems, America’s leading journalists are uncritical of politicians on the left and right deploying military personnel to 175 countries to fight an endless “war on terrorism.”


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2302 Chapman Rd - SOLD 5702 38th Ave - SOLD 4909 42nd Ave - SOLD 4015 Quintana St - SOLD 4008 Hamilton St - SOLD 4815 Fox St - SOLD 4530 32nd St - SOLD 3902 Madison St - SOLD 6003 39th Pl - SOLD 3814 Nicholson St - SOLD

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Page 12


continued from page 1

tion in West Hyattsville will not open for another 19 months — a surprise to some parents, still under the impression that it would open in for the 2013 school year. While the school system presented detailed prospective versions of boundary changes for two other schools, the presentation on the new Hyattsville elementary school was shared for informational purposes only. The presentation did, however, include a map that highlighted the approximate area covered by students who live within walking distance. Jones-Brown noted that

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

given the population density near the school, it was possible that the school could be filled with those students, but �that’s not a discussion we’re having right now.� That discussion is scheduled to begin next fall, with hearings associated with the naming, the boundaries and the consideration about whether this school should include a TAG (Talented and Gifted) program. Boundary decisions are unlikely to be settled before spring 2014. “This school will be what we make it as a community,� noted interim superintendent Dr. Alvin Crawley, “We want to build this with you.�

Crawley and other PGCPS representatives urged parents to email comments and questions to Following two additional public forums in December, the school system plans to incorporate input and move to the next component of the timeline: plan refinement and public hearings. While the locations of these hearings have not been determined, they are scheduled for January 22 to 24. The Boundary, Grade & Program Improvements presentation is available online at www1.pgcps. org/pasb under “Information on Boundary Changes.�



rosanna landis weaver Although it broke ground in May, the new Hyattsville Elementary School won’t open until the 2014 academic year.

Dr. Mark H. Sugar

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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012


continued from page 1

Plato and Aristotle and the other Great Authors: Zip. He shrugs, marveling at his progress: “From Aristotle to toys, then toys to a restaurant and a brewery.” It took 20 years to put together, but he pulled it off. In a first step, Franklin bought the ages-old Hyattsville Hardware Co. from its equally aging owners. The store, first opened in 1910, was a period piece with creaking wood floors, tin ceilings, sliding wooden ladders on casters that reached to ceiling-high wooden drawers full of nuts, bolts and heaven-only-knows. Franklin was enamored by its down-home, retro quality. After months-long negotiations, he bought it in 1991. After extensive restoration, the first iteration of Franklin’s opened 20 years ago on December 3, 1992, as a soup-and-sandwiches deli and toy/gifts store. He recalls he had six employees. In the first of many canny business moves, he hired Leni Lewis as manager. She is still the manager, and has added wine merchant to her title. “Actually,” she says with a grin, “on the current menu’s staff listing, I’ve been promoted to “Retail Goddess’. ” The first iteration of Franklin’s was an immediate hit, but a mini-hit. So after 12 years of okay success in that mode, Franklin, by then the father of two daughters, had bigger plans: to build a two-story family restaurant and bar with food that would now be called New American Casual – somewhere between sports-bar grub and hauté cuisine. A place where singles and young couples from Hyattsville and the surrounding neighborhoods might want to congregate. Oh, did we mention he also envisioned a craft brewery onsite? But first he had to build another building. For architectural guidance, he eventually turned to a young Hyattsville architect with a now-familiar name: Marc Tartaro. (That’s Mayor Tartaro to you.) Both of them liked the idea of a clean, modern space, with the brick wall of the old building serving to balance full windows on the other three sides. The main dining area would be downstairs; the brewery, bar and other dining tables would be on the second floor. Tartaro drew up the plans pro bono. Another local architect, Mark Ferguson, stepped in as construction manager. Local artists Barbara Bancroft and Greta Mosher, who are still neighbors on Crittenden Street, suggested the interior color scheme. Franklin would change the place from a deli to a full-menu restaurant. He would turn the original deli “side” into a gift shop “general store,” with, oh, let’s just look around now: fine wine, imported beers, candies, gift cards, toys, rubber chickens, hot sauces and funny

Page 13

magnet signs for the refrigerator. Then there was the brewery. “I couldn’t afford to buy new equipment,” he admits. That would have cost about $200,000. So he traveled to his hometown of Cleveland and placed a winning auction bid on the hardware of a failed brew pub for about one-fourth the cost. “It all arrived in trucks,” Franklin recalled. To build the restaurant, he had to re-mortgage his properties to borrow the money necessary. Even today, there is a momentary look that crosses his face that might reflect how he felt at the time, an “Am I barking mad?” look. Well, he wasn’t. The building got built, the brewery got installed, and Franklin endured what must have been a kazillion meetings with city, county and state authorities. The newly named Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store opened in February of 2002. It was an immediate success. This time, a bigger success. The exterior of the new building was mod-rad for Hyattsville, even today: vertical metal sheathing, “which was way less expensive than brick,” he said. The Franklin’s vertical neon sign, you might have noticed, is enclosed in an exclamation mark. (That was his wife’s idea.) Inside, there was an open feeling, with exposed ductwork and lighting. He tried music briefly, but music groups, even at moderate volume, were too much. (Full disclosure: My band, Rent’s Due, had a CD release party there in 2002. Although the “upstairs” audience enjoyed the two sets, some fusion jazz – with added congas! – apparently wasn’t what the downstairs family crowd had in mind.) Downstairs and upstairs there’s a capacity of 110 customers each. He now has 40 full-time and 20 part-time employees for both the restaurant and adjacent gift shop. It is a busy place. The chef de cuisine, Mark Heckrotte, has been on board six years. His menu is seasonal; many of his providers are local. Says regular diner Mac Cridlin, “He’s achieved a balance between offering family-style food, like burgers and salads, and [more exotic things], like hanger steaks or finding ways to sneak duck on the menu.” The on-tap craft beers offered by Franklin’s are now well-known throughout the Washington metro area. Twisted Turtle Pale Ale and Rubber Chicken Red have entered the local beer drinkers’ lexicon. Brewmaster Mike Roy came to Franklin’s with 10 years experience, and is now well into his second year at Franklin’s. There are currently 11 regular and special offerings, including an autumnal Pumpkin Pie Stout. Franklin said he has begun to “export” his own brands of beer to three well-respected brew

bill jenne On December 3, Mike Franklin marked 20 years in business. His two-story restaurant and brewery evolved from humble beginnings as a smaller first-floor combined deli and gift shop.

pubs downtown: Meridian Pint, in Columbia Heights; Boundary Stone, in the trendy Bloomingdale neighborhood; and Granville Moore’s, on the H Street corridor. “And there’s more to come, more on the way,” he adds. For one thing, “we’ve begun the enlargement of the retail store.

We’ll expand into the old Hanley’s Jewelry Store next door.” As for future plans? “I’m not sure. I’m still thinking,” he says with a grin. Perhaps classically educated Mike Franklin, who was willing to open a restaurant in an old hardware store, at a time when

today’s Route 1 development would have been impossible to imagine, personifies the saying on a magnet for sale at his store now. It’s a quote by Mark Twain: “To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” All of Hyattsville is grateful.

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Page 14

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2012

HAPPY HOLIDAYS Call Larry Perrin, Realtor to sell your home!




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December 2012 Hyattsville Life & Times  

New Delegate Alonzo Washington; Hyattsville Middle adds 6th grade; Franklins 20th anniversary; Pam Davis-Daniels retires from Post Office; S...