Farmers Market opens this month! See story on page 14
Vol. 5 No. 6
Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper
Historic House Tour shines despite rain Residents take pride in property by Jessica Wilson
espite a few raindrops, locals were out in force for the 29th Annual Historic Hyattsville House Tour. With nine properties made up of both private homes and commercial spaces, there were a variety of styles and structures to ogle over. Ann Barrett, Hyattsville Preservation Association board member said about 300 visitors crossed the thresholds of this year’s properties. “We had some that were adaptive reuse; some before and after and some total remodels,” Barrett said of the types of spaces featured on the tour. When looking for properties to feature, Barrett said the first thing is to find interested parties. “It’s a lot to ask a homeowner to open up their home to 300 people,” she said. Homeowner Erica Riggio, whose 1924 Craftsman bungalow was featured this year, and has graced the tour before, did not seem to mind. “It can be very rewarding seeing people’s reactions,” she said. “You get to meet a lot of cool people in
the neighborhood.” Riggio, a designer, completely renovated the interior of her home including a new kitchen that features granite counters and a subway tile back splash. “I enclosed a porch and made it part of the kitchen,” she said. She also put in a new staircase that goes from the dining room to her newly renovated upstairs master suite, which used to be an attic. “The people who run the tour do a good job,” said Ann Hanlon, whose 1911 Folk Victorian house was also part of the tour. Hanlon said that the members of the HPA arrived on the morning of the tour with breakfast for the family, so that they wouldn’t have to worry about making it themselves. Hanlon and Ryan Jerving purchased their home in December 2004 because they really wanted to live in the neighborhood. Jerving said the house was already in pretty good shape and aside from some landscaping and painting, they have not changed much in the house. A striking feature of the house is its 50s style kitchen with vintage off-white metal cabinets and red metal tiled walls. Another home featured this year that has been on the tour in
Is national housing crisis affecting Hyattsville? by Sarah Nemeth
[after the fire],” said Edwards. “The water came down like Niagara Falls,” she added referring to water damage from the fire. But now this home boasts a
ressure from this spring’s downturn in the housing market is materializing in Hyattsville, just as in many other communities around the country, in the form of empty houses, new developments that are not filling up and increased property assessments from the state. But real estate experts in the area say what may look like an obvious halt in home sales is not necessarily to be taken at face value. “Competitively priced homes that are in good condition are still selling well,” said Greg Tindale, a real estate agent who lives and sells homes in Hyattsville. “It is very important to have your home showing at a top condition or else you need to mark your price down. Buyers are very picky now.” According to a Standard and Poor’s report issued late last month, U.S. home prices have dropped by 14.1 percent from this time last
TOUR continued on page 11
CRISIS continued on page 10
Sharon Edwards sits on the porch of her 1915 American foursquare on May 18th for the 29th Annual Hyattsville Historic House Tour.
previous years is Sharon Edwards and Keith Feeley’s home, a 1915 American foursquare. After an attic fire in 2001, Edwards and Feeley moved out while the house was repaired and renovated. “The house had to be gutted
Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781
City budget approved with deficit by Sarah Nemeth
PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit # 43 Easton, MD 21601
hile this year’s approved budget does not include a hike in the property tax rate, it does lean on a deficit of $160,501 which will be gleaned from the city’s general fund to balance the bottom line. The City Council on June 3 approved the proposed budget by an 8-2 vote, with council members Mark Matulef and Paula Perry dissenting. The $20 million budget is $4.8 million or 24% more than last year’s $15.1 million projected budget. The fiscal year ends on June 30. Mayor William Gardiner said he expects the city to have monies left over from projects that did not materialize this year, and the
deficit is needed in order to complete various infrastructure needs including continued road work, renovation of City Hall, increased street lighting and improvements to Hyattsville’s parks. “We still have significant needs in terms of the quality of neighborhood parks, the amount of projects that we offer our youth…,” he said, adding that the city’s fund balance is healthier than it was a few years ago and is able to withstand his proposal. The budget assumes a 3.44% cost of living allowance for city employees; a 14 percent health insurance increase; 14- to 35-percent utility and fuel cost increases; and a 20 percent increase in landfill fees for trash.
Gardiner said he expects the city to have monies left over from projects that did not materialize. The approved budget also includes: •$100,000 for emergency call boxes; •New financial software; •An additional trash compactor to be used in the University Hills area; and •A $50,000 place-holder line item for an assistant city treasurer. The mayor also proposed decreasing trash pickup from twice to once per week.
“Let’s reallocate the resources that we currently spend on picking up residents’ trash twice a week … and those extra resources to keep [other areas] clean.” Gardiner believes that having the recycling Toters - which could be utilized more, he said – will cut down on residential trash and allow for fewer trash pickups.
Deriving a budget
Gardiner’s budget was unveiled at an April 14 council meeting and the city has held a few community meetings to discuss it since. However, at least one councilman is displeased with the process and what might be driving the
BUDGET continued on page 10
Center Pullout Section: The June 11, 2008, Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
A taxing situation Editor's City Council sets property tax rate for FY2009
by Sarah Nemeth
Begin with me
o I’ve been hearing these rumors lately. Two of them are about me. I don’t know where they came from or how they’ve been fed, but I’d like to share the story of how children view rumors. In the popular video series, the “Veggie Tales” — a series of moral stories with vegetables as role models — there’s a character called the Rumor Weed who makes an appearance in episode 12. It all starts when Percy Pea and Li’l Pea are leaving a movie theater. They’re met by a bandit who steals their milk money. But the bad boy doesn’t get far. On a nearby rooftop, he runs into Larry-Boy, who accidentally knocks a plant off a ledge. It falls into the sewer and gets caught on some electrical wires on the way down. The electrical charge brings the plant to life, and the Rumor Weed is born. The Weed extracts secrets from people and passes them along. Eventually, Mayor Blueberry declares that weeds are taking over the city. Then Mother Rumor Weed beats up Larry-Boy, who does not know how to stop her. His friend Alfred travels to Bumblyburg for help, but he finds that the usually kind folks there are afraid of him and are saying strange things about him. When the giant Rumor Weed crashes up out of the sewer and grabs Alfred, the citizens believe he is getting what he deserves. The episode concludes with the characters realizing the power of their words and deciding that it is better to say nice things about people than to drag them through the rumor garden. They say when you point your finger at someone, you’re actually pointing three fingers back at yourself. Go ahead, give it a try. Point your index finger at your dog. There’s “middle,” “ring,” and “pinkie” pointing back at you. And if you extend your thumb toward the ceiling, you’ll see what rumors do to other people, and to ourselves. I’ll admit it; I’ve grown accustomed to checking out a rumor now and then (especially if it’s a salient one!). And many times, as a journalist, the best thing I can do is go to the object of the tale. Sometimes people don’t like that. I don’t blame them. I don’t like it either. And I don’t like having to do it. But there are times when the best way to squash a Rumor Weed is to take it by the thorns and wrench it from the garden. Oust it so the good things can grow and flourish. It’s bad enough that we often think poorly of ourselves. I’m reading a book by Tommy Newberry that submits that our self-image often translates into what we convey about ourselves and others. Someone with a high self-image, Newberry asserts, “will only say yes to things they feel terrific about.” As I employ these nuggets of truth in my own world, it occurs to me that quite possibly the best way to stop dealing in rumors is to begin with me. Start with what I know to be true. Start by knowing who is trustworthy and who is not. As I live that in my life, I think the rumors – yes they’ll still be around — won’t matter. I’ll probably save a little Round-Up too!
by Sarah Nemeth
yattsville’s real property tax rate will remain the same as last year — 63 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — but with increases in property assessments individual tax bills will likely rise this year. For the tax year, which begins on July 1, the estimated amount of real property assessment will increase by 14 percent, rising from $1.27 billion to $1.45 billion. The state of Maryland sets property tax rates and assessments are based on that rate. The amount of assessed valuation for a property is multiplied by the city’s tax rate to determine the amount of the real property tax bill for that home. That means that even if the city’s tax rate does not increase, residents could still see higher bills. In order for the city to completely offset the increasing assessments, the city’s real property tax rate would have to be reduced to 55 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is the constant yield tax rate. Some residents would like to see the city’s tax rate decrease to at least partially offset the assessments. Monte Chawla, of Rosemary Lane in the University Hills subdivision of Hyattsville, said his tax bill went up by $3,000 due to the annexation of his area into the city in 2006. “You’re not raising the tax rate, that’s good, thank you,” he told the council at a public hearing on the proposed rate, held on May 27. “What I think you’re doing is increasing the tax burden. How about decreasing this tax rate just slightly and be noticed. That’s all I ask.” Jim Henissian, also of Rosemary Lane, is also against the proposed tax rate. He said his house experienced an increase of about $328,000 in assessed valuation this year, a 120 percent increase over last year’s assessment of $282,000 to about $610,000 this year. “I believe in taxation for the
Real property tax rates around the county, per $100 of assessed valuation Bladensburg: 74 cents Bowie: 35 cents Edmonston: 50 cents Mount Rainier: 79 cents Riverdale Park: 64 cents University Park: 60 cents overall good, but there must be a limit and I believe that limit has been reached,” he said. “It’s time for belt-tightening, and all of us have to do this. Don’t force the middle class out.” Resident Andrea Faller, of Madison Street, questioned whether the annexation of the Mall at Prince George’s brought in the financial benefit that residents were, according to her, promised before the property was brought into the city in 2006. According to Mayor William Gardiner, for the city’s 2009 fiscal year, the annexed properties – including the mall, some businesses around the Belcrest Road / East West Highway area, and two other parcels in the area — are project-
ed to bring in just over $833,000 in real property revenue. The city would have to raise its property tax rate by 5 cents in order to generate that amount, he said. Even still, some residents and council members would like to see the city offer some tax relief to residents, considering the nationwide economic crisis which spawned a federal tax rebate program earlier this year. Councilman Mark Matulef (Ward 2) moved to reduce the tax rate to 61 cents per $100 of assessed valuation citing resident input at the meeting. A vote to set the tax rate at 63 cents was on the council’s meeting agenda for the same night as the public hearing. The average house in Hyattsville is worth less than $300,000, Gardiner said in an interview later. With a 2-cent decrease in the tax rate, a home valued at $225, 000 would see a savings of $45 over the year, said City Treasurer Robert Oliphant during the council meeting. Meanwhile, the council is also considering offering tax rebates to specific residents, not carte blanche. The real property tax rate applies to both residential and commercial properties. Specifically, the council is looking into piggybacking on the state’s homeownership program, Gardiner said. If such a plan were implemented, residents who qualify for the state’s program would automatically get a credit on the city’s taxes. The council passed a motion that will allow for a tax break of 15 percent of what the state offers if they fall within the parameters of the program. A revised motion requires that a homeowner make no more than $80,000 and have a home worth no more than $350,000.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
COMMENTARY AND OPINION ON HISTORY & POLITICS
qual justice under the law dates back to the funeral oration of Pericles. The grand jury can safeguard equal justice and defend citizens from tyranny. Sometimes justice can be best served when a grand jury refuses to indict a citizen, even when that citizen may be guilty of a crime. Justice is not equal when one citizen is targeted for prosecution while other citizens are not. Deborah Jeane Palfrey, called the “D.C. Madam” by the press, was convicted of running a prostitution service that served Washington’s political elite. After her conviction and suicide by hanging, WTOP reporter Neil Augenstein said Palfrey had told him she thought, “someone in the government had targeted her for prosecution.” Maybe she was right. The Federal government normally does not prosecute prostitution. Violations of local statutes are usually prosecuted by local jurisdictions. Palfrey was indicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (commonly referred to as RICO). The act provides harsh penalties and
by Hugh Turley
permits the government to seize the assets of the person indicted. Persons indicted under RICO often plead guilty to lesser charges because they cannot afford a defense attorney after their assets have been seized. The grand jury indictment charged Palfrey with racketeering, interstate commerce in aid of racketeering, and conspiracy to launder money obtained in exchange for sexual intercourse. Under the RICO indictment the government seized her assets including her bank accounts, investments, home and gold coins in her home. Palfrey was not charged with income tax evasion and reportedly paid her taxes and filed 1099 forms for her employees. Uncovering an escort service involved in prostitution is reminiscent of Claude Raines closing Humphrey Bogart’s Cafe in the film Casablanca. “I’m shocked, shocked to find
that gambling is going on here,” said Captain Renault in the movie, as a croupier handed him a pile of money saying, “Your winnings, sir.” Yellow Pages telephone directories have hundreds of pages of sexually suggestive advertisements under “escorts.” The online Yellow Pages has 144 escort listings in Washington with names like “Bad Girls,” “No Limit Exotic Dancers,” “Sexy Girls,” “A One Night Stand,” “Black Fantasy,” “Anything Goes” and "Hot Girls.” In other cities Yellowpages. com lists 134 escort services in Miami; 153 in Minneapolis; 186 in Chicago; 228 in Los Angeles; 301 in Atlanta; 373 in Dallas. Even the small town of Crooks, South Dakota, population 859, has 5 escort services listed at Yellowpages.com. If escort services are engaged in prostitution, are the companies that profit from advertising these services also part of a racketeering enterprise?
In exchange for an interview, Palfrey gave her telephone records to ABC News. She told ABC news that Brandy Britton, charged with prostitution by Howard County, once worked for her. Britton reportedly hanged herself before her trial. The trial judge suppressed the phone numbers and names of Palfrey’s 10,000 customers. This information could have been subpoenaed and examined by the grand jurors. If the grand jurors had discovered that trusted public oﬃcials were associated with the criminal enterprise they could have been indicted. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “It is impossible that the common good of any state can be fittingly maintained in the absence of virtuous citizens, at the very least in the person of those citizens who play leadership roles within the state.” Removing corrupt oﬃcials would better serve the community than jailing the “D.C. Madam”. The federal grand jury could have refused to indict Palfrey. They could have issued subpoenas and investigated who made the decision to target Palfrey’s escort service under the RICO Act. They could have questioned the prosecutor under oath. It is odd that Palfrey was indicted for conspiracy, but no other conspirators were indicted. None
of the companies advertising the prostitution nor Palfrey’s prostitutes or customers were indicted by the federal grand jury. Grand juries, also called the people’s panel, have historically played an adversarial role with government prosecutors. Given recent legislation like the Patriot Act, our fellow citizens serving on the grand jury may be a citizen’s best hope for equal justice. Grand jurors should be apprehensive when it appears one individual is being targeted. Palfrey’s last hope for justice disappeared when the petit jury found her guilty. Jury nullification is when a jury ignores the instructions of the judge and the law. Citizens can do what they think is right to ensure justice. The jury could have found Palfrey innocent in spite of the evidence against her. Perhaps a future grand jury will choose to subpoena the phone records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey and the investigative records surrounding her prosecution and death. *** A previous article about the Grand Jury by Hugh Turley appeared in the January 2007 Hyattsville Life & Times. It is reprinted online with permission at http://www.dcdave. com/article5/070119.htm.
Wheels on the bus
“Wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round . . .”
o the kindergarten children’s tune goes. A pleasant little ditty it is, until one finds themselves part of a political campaign in America. Those big wheels have been pounding over folks this election season. “Wheels on the bus go thump, thump, thump.” Ask Reverend Jeremiah Wright of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. Wright is the latest political hit-and-run victim whom the Barrack Obama campaign tossed under the spinning wheels when the campaign association heat got too blistering. The list of victims is long, varied and includes such notables as Geraldine Ferraro, Rev. Louis Farrakhan and even President Bill Clinton who was cast aside by Al Gore in 2000 because of Clinton’s Oval office Shenanigans. Such actions bemoan long-engrained behavior traits. Robert Fulghum may be right as his book title suggests that, “Everything I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten.” The practice of casting off close confidants to distance oneself from
unsavory press coverage is nothing new. It looks even worse when the smear is directed against the candidate themselves. Recent Hyattsville history demonstrates the drive-by attack mode methodology. A campaign comes to mind regarding the character assassination of a Hyattsville City Council candidate a few years ago. On the eve of the election the contender was asked to withstand the barrage of unsubstantiated domestic innuendo that miraculously caught the attention of a Washington, D.C., television station. When was the last time the word “Hyattsville” was even uttered by a local TV anchor let alone a whole 3 minute segment devoted to spreading local political propaganda? You could almost hear the whispers seeking to attract regional coverage to the small Hyattsville hamlet. Experience suggests that it is this sort of cat-and-mouse game that the devious will resort to when they cannot win the race based upon issues. Since the world was riled up by Farrakhan, Feraro and Wright perhaps our little town can learn the lesson and reject such transpar-
ent shams the next time someone attempts one in a council race. In a year when campaigns seek to rally around “candidate positions” but fall way short, it has to be asked: Can local government hope to fare better? The snooty elites around town might realize that what’s good for the masses is good for them also. Then again that is apparently not the lesson anyone learned in Kindergarten.
Write to us The Hyattsville Life & Times would like to hear from you. Send your thoughts and opinions our way by e-mailing Sarah at hyattsvil lelif ean dtim es@ gmail.com or by writing to P.O. Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781. Letters must include name, address and phone number of sender (addresses and phone numbers will not be published) and will be considered for publication in the following issue. Letters may be edited for space and clarity.
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 Hyattsvillelifeandtimes@gmail.com. For inquiries re advertising rates or to submit ad copy please email to Hyattsvillelife@Yahoo.com. Sarah Nemeth, Executive Editor 240.354.4832 or firstname.lastname@example.org Ashby Henderson, Photographer Kathy Sinzinger, Publication Production Colleen Aistis Steve Clements Bert Kapinus
Writers/Contributors John Aquilino Keith Blackburn Ashby Henderson Phil Houle Michael Martucci Hugh Turley
Board of Directors Christopher Currie Matthew McKnight Tim Hunt Bert Kapinus Sarah Nemeth 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.
THE PUBLICATION DEADLINE for articles and letters in the July issue is Friday, June 27th
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
A 'green house'
Residents find eco-friendly ways to save money — and the environment
by Jessica Wilson
aving the environment and saving money sometimes go hand-in-hand when it comes to your home. With the “green” movement taking the country, and the world, by storm, local residents are trying to stay ahead of the curve. Hidden among Hyattsville’s tree canopy-lined streets of historic homes, neighbors are thinking green when they renovate their homes. On the Hyattsville Preservation Association’s Historic House Tour this year, many renovations featured eco-friendly finds, from new technology to simple re-use of salvaged materials. Designer and 2008 Historic House Tour participant, Erica Riggio, said when doing her renovations, she tried to focus on natural materials and window placement that provided the best airflow. “I tried to make the space work,” she said, rather than change for change sake. Riggio said as a designer, she is seeing more green designs and though green materials can cost more, she looks to re-use things as an economic alternative. Hyattsville resident Jim Groves agrees and mentioned looking at Craigslist.org, Freecycle.org or locally at Community Forklift to find items to re-use rather than buying new. “It’s not buying green, it’s reusing,” he said. Groves said he too just did a renovation project on his home, expanding it by nearly 800 square
feet. He said he did a lot of research to find eco-friendly alternatives for construction. “It’s obvious, green costs money upfront, but you’ll get it back later,” he said. Adding a low flow toilet, Groves
Hidden among Hyattsville’s tree canopy-lined streets of historic homes, neighbors are thinking green when they renovate their homes. said has saved him on water costs. By replacing every light bulb in his house with Compact Florescent Light bulbs and from installing a programmable thermostat, he has seen a decrease in his electric bill. “You’d be amazed!” he said of the savings you’ll see just from changing out a light bulb. For larger ticket items, Groves said he has a separate heating and air conditioning unit that controls temperature upstairs and downstairs. When no one is upstairs, they turn that unit off. Groves also installed a corn stove that heats the bottom floor of his home and said it is the most efficient way to heat your home. He said it reduces your gas, oil and/or electricity use and gives off more heat than other
devices. At the same time, it is a climate-friendly fuel source. “The whole green movement is getting bigger, which is a good thing,” Groves said. “It should get to the point where there is no choice [but green].” To water his garden and lawn, Groves installed rain barrels that collect rainwater that can be saved to water plants in drier months or during drought. These simple green items can be purchased online at such retailers as Plow and Hearth for under $200. Of all things, insulation seems to be one of the biggest money savers. Groves installed Icynene insulation, which unlike traditional fiberglass insulation does not have formaldehyde and not only keeps cool air in and hot air out, it also protects your home from air loss through wind. Resident Scott Chappell also used this insulation on the remodel of his 1926 Bungalow, which was also featured on the 2008 House Tour. Chappell said they added a second floor that nearly doubled the size of their home and their utility costs haven’t changed. “What we’ve seen so far, we are paying the same on gas and electric that we were before we added on to our house,” he said. Though Icynene is not really a “green” material he said, with the increase of utility costs, it saves on the amount of resources you use and the amount of money you spend. Chappell also installed a tankless water heater, which he heard about through various sources. He said it has also reduced utility costs
and it provides continuous hot water, so you don’t have to worry about running out in the middle of a shower. “It has comfort and cost benefits,” he said. In their kitchen, the Chappell’s have a counter top made of recycled paper called PaperStone. According to Paperstoneproducts.com, it was placed in the top 10 Green Building Products of 2006 from buildinggreen.com. Chappell said the cost of the counter top was comparable to popular granite or Corian counter tops. “We tried to get the biggest bang for our buck,” he said. “Some green options are a lot more money,
some are comparable [to non green items].” But Riggio added there are simple things anyone can do to lower costs and make a difference, just by closing your blinds during the day to minimize heat from the sun. That way your air conditioning won’t feel the need to keep running. “I think we all need to be more conscientious and I’ll do whatever I can to help,” she added. Chappell said educating the community is integral to making a “green” difference. “The important thing to me is spreading the information, making people aware of the options out there,” he said.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
The good earth
Patch gardens popular as food prices rise: one gardener’s experience by Ashby Henderson
he fuel crunch is affecting more than just fuel prices these days. Utility costs are going up, clothing prices are on the rise and grocery bills are affected too. Some, feeling the hit too close to home, have been converting parts of their lawns into beautiful organic gardens. Mel Bartholomew uses and teaches “The Square Foot Gardening Method” and assures us newbies
that with 16 square feet one could feed a family of four all the vegetables they can use through spring, summer and fall with enough in reserve to last through the winter. Vegetables are costly right now and if you shop organic, well, you probably know they cost about twice as much. (Yes, gardening is work but so is mowing and watering the lawn. With vegetables you at least get rewarded in food for your hard efforts).
Andrew Agostinelli of Brentwood has been working for a few years on this type of yard conversion. “The kids really love watching the plants grow,” he said. Agostinelli is an avid city farmer and has nearly converted his whole yard, about half an acre, into organic vegetable patches. He is eager to see more people yard farm. “I will help anyone who wants to have an organic vegetable patch in their yard with my labor for free,” he said.
His motivation comes from his eco-friendly mindset. He said that mowing an average size lawn gives off the same amount of pollution as driving an average size car all the way around the Beltway. So now you are convinced that having your own patch of vegetables is the thing for you, right? Here are some immediate benefits of going patch: saving money; getting organic vegetables; doing your part to be a little more green; and free labor to get you started. You just need to know where to start now that you have found that sunny spot in your yard. Removing all the grass is the first step. If you think your soil needs amending, look for organic soil or compost to add - this is the perfect chance to empty that compost bin. For most plants that grow in summer it is a little late to start from seed so getting your hands on organic starts is a great option. It is costly but worth it when you compare it with what you would pay for one pound of that same food at the grocery store. If you absolutely cannot get your hands on organic starts try just local growers and although you don’t know what they have added to the soil you can still grow them organically. Not fond of weeding? It is a good idea to buy weed block before you get your plants in the ground because you don’t want to avoid
your garden to avoid weeding. Now it is starting to look a lot like a farm in that corner of your yard. Watering is about the last step in the farming process. A drip hose on a timer is a great way to go if you don’t always have the time to water. Mulching your garden will reduce the amount of water it will need. Some vegetables do not like mulch so it is best to research each plant to determine what their specific needs are. Bugs can be a problem in any garden but there are many natural organic options available even at the large chain building supply stores. You will be harvesting in no time! Fall is coming so be prepared for your next crop of vegetables. You will have plenty of time to determine what you want to grow and when you need to start sprouting your seeds. All your unused harvest and just about any biodegradable item can go into the compost and back into the garden. “Mom, we are even composting our paper plates?” my son, Seamus Henderson asked when we first broke ground on our garden. A vegetable garden can bring so many wonderful things. It can give a mom and a child some quality time, a 12-year-old a release of pent up energy and a wonderful home grown meal. Finally, the labor is really free! For more information email me at email@example.com.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hills alive with local art Photo at left: Artist Ric Garcia with some of his work at his home studio in University Hills.
by Tim Hunt
s a child growing up in the Cuban community of Miami, University Hills resident and painter Ric Garcia knew that certain things were expected of him. “It was an unwritten rule in the culture we grew up in — you were expected to go into a career with a guaranteed success track,” Garcia said. For him, it meant following in the footsteps of his father. “My father was a painter who opened up a sign painting business. He found a way to use his
artistic skills to earn money in a regular manner.” Ever since he was fairly young, drawing was a regular part of Garcia’s home life. “We were always encouraged to draw at home,” he said. Through the years, Garcia developed his talent and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in Illustrations and Graphic Design from the University of Miami. “My plan was always to use graphic design and illustration to
fund my fine art ambitions,” he said. To that end, Garcia plies his trade as an employee of the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program, a division of the Smithsonian Associates which was established 40 years ago as the membership, cultural and educational arm of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His work involves developing marketing materials for various programs and events. In 2005 and 2007, he illustrated the programs for the Smithson-
ian Kite Festival held annually on the National Mall. After work and family responsibilities - he is married and has a young daughter - Garcia has found time to indulge his love of painting and is a member of the Hyattsville Community Artists Alliance He is currently exhibiting at Artomatic in the District. Artomatic is a multimedia arts event that features 1000 artists, musicians and performers over the course of 28 days and nights in one building. It has been held in various locations throughout the District since 1999 and is free to the public. For Garcia, shows such as Artomatic are vital to artists and the community. “A show like this gives everyone that’s creative - from the person who is semi-professional to the seasoned professional - a period to show their artwork to the public where in some cases they may not have the opportunity to do this on a regular basis,” he said. “[It] gives a chance [for] artists to meet under circumstances that they might not normally have, inspiring all sorts of creative collaboration.” Garcia brings to the table paintings inspired by his South Florida upbringing and the French Impressionist movement. “Being specifically from Florida and Miami and the Cuban community has had an effect, but I see myself as a member of the larger community,” Garcia said. “At the same time, when I see examples of Impressionist painters who are of Spanish descent, I can tell that there has been a subtle influence transmitted through a historical heritage.”
What was great about the Impressionists was that their subject matter was of everyday life scenes. “Wherever you happen to be, you’re never without a subject,” Garcia said. His other artistic influences include Edouard Vuillard, Mary Cassatt with her paintings of families and children, and John Singer Sargent. “Sargent exemplifies some really great ways of representing the figure and what people are doing with ease,” he said. Garcia’s recent work includes his “Cuban Pop” series which features paintings of products he grew up with and is heavily influenced by the work of Andy Warhol. “I found a way to mesh two aspects of my life in a way that will work,” Garcia said. “I can explore my culture and work in a style of an artist that I like. It’s the unfamiliar coupled with the familiar that gives this series the unexpected impact and allows me to explore my ethnic childhood through the consumer goods of that cultural group.” Since moving to University Hills in 2005, Garcia has found Hyattsville to be a great area for a developing artist. He is looking forward to providing opportunities for figure study and painting groups and is particularly excited about the impending opening of the Brentwood Arts Center which will house the Maryland-National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission’s visual arts department, a classroom, and a space that will feature crafts from artists in the Gateway Arts District, which includes Hyattsville. Garcia’s work can be seen at Artomatic (visit their website at www.artomatic.org) until June 15th and at the Lustine Gallery on Baltimore Avenue at EYA’s Arts District Hyattsville. Visit his Web site at ricgarcia.mosaicglobe.com. In other news, many thanks go to Five Guys Restaurant at University Town Center for their generous contribution to the University Hills Area Civic Association as a result of its successful fundraiser on April 29th.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
City may tighten cinch on vending by Sarah Nemeth
hat for some is simply a way of earning a living is illegal in the county, but cannot be enforced in Hyattsville because of outdated code. Mobile street vendors, like the pupusa trucks that are prevalent along Ager Road, are technically legal in Prince George’s County, as long as the vendors get a permit from the health department showing they have addressed issues like refrigeration and a use and occupancy permit that would allow them to run their business, said Brad Frome, legislative aide to County Councilman Will Campos (Dist. 2.) But most of the vendors only get the health department permit and not the use and occupancy permit, he said. And county officials have not forced the vendors to get the use and occupancy permits for nearly a decade, Frome said. The City of Hyattsville drafted legislation a couple years ago to outlaw the vendors, but didn’t act on it because the County Council was considering a similar bill at the time, Mayor William Gardiner said. There are also regulations for how long a vendor can be in one place at a time. The trucks on Ager Road are stationary, and are, therefore, not mobile. The county’s bill addressing the issue would have superseded the city’s bill, but the County Council didn’t vote on its legislation, Gardiner said. As a result, the City Council is revisiting the issue, although it has not taken an official stance. The city’s law would have to be more stringent to be in effect, and it’s likely that the county’s
law will not change, he said. The city’s ordinance allows vendors to be on residential streets, and for a certain amount of time. It does not address non-residential streets like Route 1, East West Highway and Ager Road. At least one council member who represents the Ager Road area would welcome the change, saying
At least one council member who represents the Ager Road area would welcome the change, saying she has concerns about trash and hygiene around the pupusa trucks. she has concerns about trash and hygiene around the pupusa trucks. While Councilwoman Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) said she has received no complaints from constituents about the vendors, she has seen the pupusa trucks, which sell inexpensive Latino food, along Ager Road. The trucks had set up tables for diners, but no trash cans, she said, leading her to wonder where the diners were disposing of their plates, cups and utensils. She also wants to know if county health department officials inspect the trucks. “I don’t begrudge someone trying to make a dollar,” she said. “My concern is trash and filth. When I say trash, I mean trash on the ground.”
Gardiner also said a ban is necessary because of the trash and how the trucks could affect Hyattsville’s efforts to attract restaurant owners who are concerned about the proximity to the trucks. Because the trucks don’t move, Gardiner contends the vendors would be violating the city’s law if the council votes on it. Although the county maintains Ager Road, Frazier said she is concerned about the safety of the trucks’ patrons. If they get hurt, they could sue the city, she said. Not every council member agrees with Frazier and Gardiner. For recently arrived immigrants working long hours in physically demanding day jobs, the trucks serve as quality fast food. And for the vendors, the trucks are the means to a better life, said Councilman Carlos Lizanne (Ward 4.) “They’re not selling drugs,” he told the HL&T previously. “They’re trying to live their lives and serve the community. Now, we’re going to deny these people the right to work?” Lizanne said he does not believe trash is an issue. The vendors have to stay in one spot because of the need to cook their food, he added. “We have to find a medium where they can sell,” he said. “We
want to look at it again. This is capital we can bring to the county. There is a market for these vendors. If there wasn’t a market, nobody would be doing it.” Enforcing the ban would be a help to area restaurants Gardiner said. “The commercial establishments are paying a fair amount in
rent, and they have much higher costs, and I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to allow competitors who don’t have those same costs to compete with them for business,” he said, adding it would also improve the look of the area. “There are spots [under the trucks] that used
PEDDLING continued on page 12
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
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year. In the Washington, D.C. area, there has been a 14.7 percent drop over the past year. Out of the 20 metropolitan areas indicated in the report, the D.C. Metro region has experienced the ninth largest drop, behind Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa and Detroit. But according to Tindale, the stress is not causing home sales in Hyattsville to completely crumble. About 22 single family detached homes have sold this year in roughly the city limits of Hyattsville, he said. “The average sales price for homes in Hyattsville so far this year is $380, 442,” he said. “Last year the average sales price for January through May was $382,642. That price change is negligible because there are less higher-end houses coming on the market than last year. In the same time period last year 45 homes sold and this year only 22. “The biggest issue in the area is the amount of foreclosure and short sales that have flooded the market.”
And though Tindale’s calculations show a 51 percent decline in Hyattsville home sales for the first five months of 2008, the housing “crisis” seen today is not nearly what was seen in the U.S. during the 1930s According to U.S. News & World Report, in 1925, the economy produced about 900,000 new homes per year. By 1933, that number dropped 90 percent to about 100,000 new homes. A U.S. Census Bureau report reveals that, nationally, 142,000 homes sold during the first quarter of 2008, 171,000 fewer than the first quarter of 2007. During the fourth quarter of 2007, 146,000 homes sold across the country, according to the report. With Hyattsville being in the midst of major residential growth, where does the national housing crisis leave the city? University Town Center, with its One Independence Plaza condominiums and Lofts 22 housing units, is a large player in the development boom.
There are 112 units at OIP, and 44 units have sold, according to Catherine Timko, a UTC spokesperson. She said the downtrend is not negatively affecting UTC sales. In fact, it may have a positive impact because UTC condo prices – which range from $234,900 for a one bedroom unit to $361,900 for a two bedroom condo – offer a lower cost alternative to living in the higher priced homes in the District. “What we’re finding is that as the retail [component is] coming on, we’re getting stronger,” Timko said. “The assets and amenities are becoming an attraction.” The 56-acre complex, which is owned by private developer Prince George’s Metro Center, will have a dozen restaurants, a Safeway gro-
cery store and a Royale-14 Cinema as well as office space and other retail, condominium buildings – located around a central plaza with fountains. With several people in negotiations for homes at UTC, client traffic has steadily increased since the beginning of the year, she said. However, the Lofts 22 building – with its 22 multi-level units and zinc facade – was recently put on the market. UTC is looking to sell the entire building to another entity because the units were not selling. The building will remain residential in nature. According to Timko, UTC sold only two units in the building. One of those residents has moved into a condo at OIP, she said.
Tindale said the state’s increase in home assessments this year has
Budget continued from page 1 bottom line this year. “I see Hyattsville [council] as stewards of the city’s time, treasure and trust,” Councilman William Tierney (Ward 2) told the board at a council meeting. “The budget is the price of our plan.” Tierney said he was disappointed in what he sees as a lack of detail on many of the budget’s line items. He also said departmental goals and outputs should have been presented to the council before the proposed budget was formed. That document came to the council on May 19. Tierney also cautioned the council to make tough decisions that may not be popular in order to come up with the best budget for Hyattsville’s citizens. “It’s a question of conscience,” he said. “We should be looking first to … our customer base. A lot of what’s here – especially a lot of what’s in the capital budget – is about contract issues within the city, not about
not swayed any of his clients from moving into the area. “Hyattsville sells itself,” he said. “The majority of the people I work with have friends that already live in Hyattsville. When you have an active community that really loves where they live, it shows the strength of the neighborhood and attracts more people. “One of my recent clients chose Hyattsville because they said the homes were ‘quaint and quirky.’ Home buyers love the original charm of the 1920s era homes that have been updated with modern amenities.” Rising gasoline prices have also offered a positive tweak to the commercial/retail/residential UTC, which is located adjacent to the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station. “Our hopes are actually very strong,partially because we’re centrally located, and partially because we’re transit-oriented,” Timko said.
things that affect [our residents].” Tierney also suggested that some items in Gardiner’s proposal are not explanatory enough. “I don’t think that we as a city council understand all of what the line items mean,” he said, citing as an example a $40,000 appropriation for Heurich Park. “It could be just a drainage ditch … as opposed to a swing set,” he said. Councilman Mark Matulef (also from Ward 2) agreed that departmental presentations could have been more descriptive. “[It’s] a difficult process without explanations of what line items are,” he said. “I think we are behind in terms of where we were last year in terms … of the budget process. “We made a goal last year to have a more transparent budget process. I don’t think we’re there yet.” Gardiner said that at least 95 percent of the budget is prepared by city staff.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Who is HPA? by Ashby Henderson
he Hyattsville Preservation Association was formed in 1980 with the primary intention of being a local home owner’s resource. The goal was to provide a group where home owners could discuss renovation and repair of historic homes. Promptly, after forming the HPA, Hyattsville hit the map. The original city sites added to The National Register of Historic sites were the Armory, the post office - which was at the time a work in progress - and 3308 Rosemary Lane. The group went on to form the first Historic District in Hyattsville as well. It was able to expand the Historic District in 2004 and currently has several properties pending Historic Status. The HPA has put together the Historic Hyattsville House Tour for 29 years and has currently launched a “Self-Guided Walking Tour of
Hyattsville Historic District.” This tour includes 23 historic buildings and homes with a brief history of each and a map all found online at
The HPA has put together the Historic Hyattsville House Tour for 29 years . . . www.preservehyattsville.org/brochure3.pdf. This tour is laid out for walking or driving. This spring Arcadia Publishing’s approached HPA for a book contribution. Images of America — Hyattsville is coming to bookstands near you with luck in time for Christmas, there is not a firm release date at this time. “One of the best things I can tell you about this book is the uniqueness of the images,” said Stuart Eisenberg, treasurer of the HPA.
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renovated kitchen and is painted with colors that make the home feel cozy and welcoming. One of Edwards’ favorite colors is the one on the stair case wall that leads to the second floor. “I call that color bug gut green,” she said. Probably one of the most striking renovations is that of Scott and Ann-Marie Chappell’s 1926 Craftsman bungalow. The Chappells purchased the home in 2001 and started renovation in 2005 to open up the first floor and add a second story. “We looked around for other homes but couldn’t find what we wanted,” Scott Chappell said. “So we thought it would be cheaper for us to do what we wanted.” On the first floor, the original
hard woods were discovered and refinished. The staircase on the side of the house features a two-story entry and a window for natural light. As for being on the tour, the Chappells said they were both very proud. “It was a compliment,” Scott Chappell said. “We both really enjoyed it. Meeting people, having them ask questions. It was interesting to get feedback and people were very complimentary and respectful of the house.”
The fundamentals of the original inception are still in place at HPA. With a Yahoo! group members are able to discuss gardening, home repair and various other home and town related issues. They host annual get-togethers and functions throughout the year. After purchasing tickets for the Hyattsville House Tour this year Lanny Simmons, Zoning Administrator for The Plains, Virginia said her area needs to get on board with what is happening in Hyattsville. “This is just what The Plains needs to do,” she said. “Hyattsville is so organized and it shows.” If you are interested in becoming a member, visit www.preservehyattsville.org.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
CommunityAnnouncements Walk the plank to Pirate Fest '08
Arrrrrgh, Matey! If it’s a pirate life fer ye, then set yer course for Pirate Fest 2008 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. rain or shine on June 21 at Darnall’s Chance House Museum, 14800 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro. Get your fill of cutthroats, scallywags, sea-farin’ scoundrels and thieves. There will be music, food vendors, a costume contest, and a treasure hunt. Call 301.952.8010.
Gymnastics workshop for kids Looking for a safe and friendly place for your children to play, run and tumble? Check out the gymnastics workshop from 6:157:15 p.m. on June 13 at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex, 8001 Sheriff Road, Landover. This workshop is for children who are just walking to those 14 years old. The fee is $6 per child, and each participant must be accompanied by an adult. A maximum of 3 children are admitted with each adult. For more information, call 301.583.2400.
New Hyattsville elementary school County Council Representative Will Campos announced the new elementary school for the Hyattsville area has been moved up by four years. Recently passed in the County budget, planning and site selection for the school will take place in the coming fiscal year. Working closely with Councilman Eric Olsen, the new facility will help eliminate current overcrowding at area schools and also provide a facility that is state of the art.
The estimated cost for the school is approximately $25 million and it’s expected to open its doors in August 2011. A community meeting regarding the location of the new school is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 19 at Hyattsville Elementary School.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 21 at Magruder Park’s Garden Circle, featuring local artists and craftspeople selling and displaying their work and the work of others.
Hyattsville Artists' market
Peter Spiegel, a journalist who reports on Pentagon affairs for the Los Angeles Times, will speak at the Book Nook Bookstore from 7-8 p.m. on June 17 and the store’s
Kick off summer with the Hyattsville Artists’ Market from
Attorney speaks on confidential sources
Peddling to have grass on them. But now, because of the traffic, they’re dirt patches. I think there has been a negative impact on how the area looks.” Montgomery County and the District both allow the trucks, Frome said. This is something that is going to be in the news.”
Last month, some residents met Neal Stoutner, a blond-haired man selling Pinnacle Security systems door-to-door in Hyattsville. Stoutner, who hails from Salt Lake City, is a salesman for the home security company, whose local office is in Silver Spring. After appearing on several doorsteps, often as late as 9 p.m., Stoutner’s peddling left residents with an uneasy feeling. “He actually started out across the street at the house we’re rehabbing,” said Ward 2 resident Chris Currie. “I was wondering why he would be trying to sell a security system on a house that was clearly not yet occupied to a crew of workers who clearly were not the homeowners.
The Hyattsville/Mount Rainier/ Brentwood Boys and Girls Club is urging former members to apply for college scholarships provided by Sonny Long, a Prince George’s County businessman. The Tommy Long Scholarships are awarded every year to students
who participated in the county’s Boys and Girls Club activities. A total of $4,000 of scholarship grants are awarded every year. To be eligible, the student must be accepted to a two- or four-year college or university and must have been a member of a Boys and Girls Club in the county. Candidates must be sponsored by a specific club. Students interested in applying for a scholarship can get an application form from HMB or at www.pgparks.com/things/pgcbgc/ pdf/tomlong_scholar_app.pdf. HMB will verify the applicant’s participation in club activities.
officer is most likely going to convince the person to not return to the neighborhood,” Holland’s post said. According to Currie, Stoutner said he had a city peddling license, but that someone was mailing him his license information because his company just opened their local oﬃce. Persons peddling in the city must be licensed to do so within the city, not just with the state. “I … asked him if he could write his name and phone number on a piece of paper while I went inside to ask my wife if she wanted to talk about security systems,” Currie said. “Then I went in and called the [Hyattsville Police Department’s] non-emergency number and explained that [Stoutner] was outside my door waiting for me to return. The dispatcher asked for a detailed description and then said he’d send a car. So I went back out and tried to prolong the conversation a little. After a few minutes there was nothing more to say, so I took the slip of paper that he’d written a name and number on and went back inside. “My wife noticed that he did not go to the next house but walked down the block. He seem[ed] to be cherry-picking homes - first the unoccupied-but-nearly-finished
house under construction and then the biggest house on the block. “My conclusion after the experience is that he conveys no sense of danger or malice; maybe his awkwardness and slowness creates that impression. But then when you analyze everything he says all kinds of red flags go up.” Resident Sean Zadig had a similar experience with Stoutner. “He first went across the street to my neighbors (bypassing a number of more occupied houses on the way), who obviously weren’t home (no car in driveway),” Zadig said. “He was talking on his cell phone a lot. I was working in the yard and shouted over to him, ‘They aren’t home but they’ll be back soon,’ and he came over to ask me about Pinnacle Security. “First thing I asked him was, ‘Do you have a Hyattsville vendor permit?’ He said, ‘Hyattsville what?’ I repeated myself and he said it was back in his Silver Spring oﬃce. “As he walked away, he was talking on his cell phone again, and a grey Isuzu Trooper-type car came and picked him up. They sat in the car for a good five minutes and drove off together. He didn’t talk to anyone else on the street nor did he stop off at any houses.”
Baltimore Avenue location. Spiegel will be on hand for the free event with attorney Mark Bailen, of Baker and Hostetler LLP, to discuss whether journalists should be forced to reveal their sources.
HMB Boys & Girls Club looks for scholars
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“When he met me, the first question he asked was, ‘Do you still have a contract with Protection One?’” Currie said Stoutner was wearing a badge labeled “Pinnacle Security” but it did not have his name or photo on it. I asked him what he was selling and he went on some kind of vague shtick about “upgrading” existing security systems with new zones, etc. I asked him for some literature and he opened a brochure he had with him but didn’t even show it to me. I asked for it, and he said he couldn’t leave it with me because he would soon run out if he gave them out. I asked him if he had a card and he said he didn’t have one yet.” Currie had seen postings about Stoutner’s peddling on a listserv for the Hyattsville Organization for a Positive Environment — including suggestions from police Chief Douglas Holland on how to handle the salesman if he appeared at the door. Holland advised residents to get a clear description of anyone involved in this type of behavior, and to alert police. “If the persons are using this tactic for “casing” homes, the oneon-one interaction with a police
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Miss Floribunda Dear Miss Floribunda, I am another gardener new to the area. This is my first spring in the house I bought last summer. One of the main attractions of the house was its already established garden with some nice plantings. The soil seems pretty good. Last fall I planted bulbs and had good results this spring. In mid- and late April I planted seeds, mostly collections of annuals and wildflowers, sun-loving and shade-loving. There are lots of little things coming up, but some I suspect are not what I planted. They might be nice plants that self-seeded from established areas of the garden, but some I am pretty sure are weeds. I am always pulling out little sprouts with acorns attached, and even I can figure out they are oak seedlings put there by squirrels with a reforestation project. Because I have no oaks I have potted some of these to places elsewhere. I’ve potted some others that I can’t identify but the stems are woody and the roots relatively long so I’m almost sure they are little trees. I also can recognize dandelions. What I can’t identify is something that that looks like a chrysanthemum but with a different though equally acrid odor. It smells like some kind of medicine. In addition, I am finding quite a lot of fluffy things flowering so early I can’t believe they come from the seeds I planted. They don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen for sale. They look almost like mint, without the minty smell, and have sprigs of cute little lavender flowers. Also, I have some clumps of little cap-shaped flowers, white with pink stripes. Do you have any idea what they are? Mala Hierba
WHAT’S HAPPENING in your area of the city? Tell us what you’d like to see in future issues of HL&T. Contact Sarah at 240.354.4832
Dear Mala, Your letter has inspired the Hyattsville Horticultural Society to devote our next meeting, June 21, to weed identification and informal plant exchange. Please bring your pots of mystery seedlings. What one gardener finds a pest might be a boon to someone else. Some people would love to have an oak seedling. Personally I am thrilled to find volunteer althea (rose of Sharon) seedlings in my garden, and have been transplanting them to the edge of my property to form a privacy hedge, but other gardeners find them noxious. I pot the seedlings from my redbuds because they make welcome gifts. On the other hand, I ruthlessly extirpate the seedlings from the mulberry tree that I only permit to live because the birds love the berries, and I love the birds. One specimen of this invasive tree is quite enough. Another seedling you probably won’t want to tolerate is that of the controversial Bradford pear. This is a tree developed by a Dr. Bradford at the Glenn Dale USDA in the 1950s from the Callery Pear, seeds of which came from China around 1920. After being released commercially in 1963, it became very popular because it grows fast and is ravishingly beautiful when in bloom. However, its life span is not long, only 15 years, and with an ugly last period of demise. Falling branches can damage cars and other property if you have it in your yard or along a street. The thorns can puncture tires. Perhaps to make up for its short life span,
Some area gardeners consider rose of Sharon, shown here, to be a noxious weed, but not Miss Floribunda! She transplants seedlings to form a privacy hedge.
it reproduces, hybridizes and mutates frantically. This seasonally beautiful monster is very invasive and has become a threat to native species in woods and along highways. En masse, its pungent odor can be really unpleasant. Though it was designated the official tree of Prince George’s County about 35 years ago, it may lose that honor soon. About that “chrysanthemum” — I know it well. It also is of mixed value. It is mugwort, or artemisia vulgaris — a wild form of wormwood. It tends to repel insects and other weeds, which is good, but aleopathic excretions from its rhizomes can kill the plants you want to keep. In addition, it’s another very invasive plant and is
well-nigh impossible to extirpate once it gets established. I heard that adding lime to the soil helps but it’s still a problem. Be vigilant and dig up those rhizomes ASAP. It really does smell and taste like medicine, and in fact has medicinal uses. I asked my learned friend Dr.
R. Cain what they might be, and it would take an entire column to repeat all the lore. A brief rundown of properties attributed to it by different cultures through the centuries are diuretic, diaphoretic and emmenagogic, as well as an antidote to toadstool poisoning. It has been considered a cure for epilepsy, jaundice, “the ague”, plus protection against sunstroke, evil spirits, wild beasts and the common cold. As if this weren’t enough, my enterprising friend Dee Ellis has managed to make absinthe out of it. Though now legal, the stuff Dee has concocted so far isn’t really potable - maybe with time she can bring about a better, less brutally brackish batch of bitter brew. Less of a problem are those shallow rooted little flowering weeds. The first I guess to be a plant with the charmless name of “dead nettle.” The second is almost undoubtedly the adorable “spring beauty” wildflower. Bring them in to our meeting and let a panel of experts make a decision. In fact, we invite all readers to come to City Hall, 4310 Gallatin St. at 10 a.m. on June 21 with all the plants that you wish to have identified. Challenge us! *** Miss Floribunda is the collected wisdom of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society compiled and edited by Victoria Hille.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
Hyattsville Farmers' Market opens this month by Krista Atteberry
pring is here and crops of vegetables, fruits, soap, fresh baked foods, kettle korn, “lucky” bamboo and herbs are on their way into Hyattsville. On June 17th the Hyattsville Farmer’s Market will open again featuring at least eight stands of homespun offerings. The market will be located at the Queens Chapel Town Center’s (Queens Chapel Road and Hamilton Street) parking lot behind the post office and will be operational from 2-6 p.m. every Tuesday during the summer. Peggy Campanella, of Harris Orchard in Lothian, is manager of the Hyattsville Farmers Market. She said there are long-standing relationships between market customers and vendors. “We know many by name…,” she said. “We miss each other over
the winter months and look forward to spring The market will operate when we will pick up from 2-6 p.m. on Tuesdays where we left off last fall.” at the Queens Chapel Before it was locatTown Center parking lot. ed at the Queens Chapel Town Center, the grilling, and, in turn, gave her a Hyattsville Farmer’s Market was located outside the wonderful roast. She is also very proud of the Mall at Prince George’s for 13 freshness and superb quality of the years. Campanella said she likes goods for sale. “Usually product is picked that Hyattsville because it is, “an oldmorning and in everyone’s kitchen fashioned community.” by that evening,” she said. Shoppers at the market have Hyattsville resident Gloria even traveled to her Harris Orchard Felix-Thompson, who has lived in farm in order to see where there the city 32 years remarks, apprecifood is grown and to visit her there. Campanella also tells of unique and interesting connections that people make while frequenting the market. One customer who likes to barbeque came to her farm to collect peach prunings to burn while
ates what the neighborhood market has to offer. “They had nice soaps there last year at very reasonable prices,” she said. “I stocked up on some as Christmas presents.” As market manager, Campanella is in charge of the operational aspects, as well as being an individual vendor. She explains: “All of the farmers at the Hyattsville Farmer’s Market are from southern Maryland and the Southern Maryland Agricultural Commission provides grant money every year to help make this market continue to prosper both for the benefit of the farmers
and the nutritional benefit of the customers.” Campanella recently received a congratulatory letter of recognition from Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley: “We thank you for your commitment to bringing fresh, local produce to our neighbors, and for helping farmers remain profitable through sales at Maryland farmer’s markets …,” the letter states. “Buying local will help continue our efforts to protect and strengthen our middle class, our family owned businesses, and our family farms, while preserving our farmland and promoting rural economic development.”
Wipeout: Jasper Rain skateboards his way home from school on Hyattsville's 43rd Avenue.
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Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008
by Giosue’ Santarelli
Greatest flow on Earth
am hereby patenting my new idea: a computer that is surgically implanted into your brain. All you have to do is think about the information that you normally retrieve with your computer and the stuff will be processed and available inside your noggin. The brain works on electrical impulses anyway. More than simply audio streaming, it will be the height of stream of consciousness. What better place to put the whole chip-size shebang than inside of our gray matter? No one else will know why you are staring. I’m sure the look on your face will be somewhat blank as your info is acquired. It will be much like the facial expression of one stumbling across Jen-
nifer Aniston in the steam room at the YMCA. (What she’d be doing there, we don’t know.) No longer just the stuff of science-fiction movies, the possibility is on the horizon. As long as doctors and researchers are nosing around in our skulls anyway, why not come up with something productive on which I can cash in? I long for the day when I can clear off the desktop from the cumbersome computer machinery. No more carpal tunnel syndrome, stiff necks, eyestrain or backaches. At the office you could just sit at your desk and stare off into space like you do today, but you really could be working. The boss would never be able to tell either way. I’ll call it the “internal superhighway,” and I’ll be as famous as Al Gore. I write this just to let you know that when someone who has both better scientific knowledge and better connections to research grants than
I actually accomplishes such a feat, I want all of the credit. I invented it first, here on paper. I want bragging rights, and royalties too, even though I have only conceptualized the future and not actually lifted a finger (other than to my bulky desktop computer) to come up with the most impressive invention advancement since the Clapper. C’mon, give me some credit. I missed investing in cable TV, Bill Gates and Microsoft, and the dotcom business boom. I come from a long line of would-be wealthy people who never got on board at the right moment during colossal turning points in American history. The string of bad decisions has kept our millions at bay, and the family mired in the “poor-
house”, which is kind of like the outhouse of the middle class. When my grandfather had the chance to invest in RCA, but decided to spend his loot pickling himself with Tennessee mash products instead, the die for our family was cast. When my aunts, in their youth, used to wrap inner tubes around themselves and spin them around their waist and hips for fun, yet never made the connection to take that sucker all the way to Easy Street by inventing the hula hoop, our business fate was assured.This “computerbrain” technology I see clearly, however, with enough lead time to boot-up. It has the potential to revolutionize humankind, and I want in. When I’m 75 years old
I want people to point at me and say, “There goes the guy who made all of this possible.” All the while they’ll be calling up my picture inside their head giving them my life story and sending me all of their investment royalty dollars.I want to see that look on their face when they view my image. Hopefully, the file in their head will be from when I was a svelte bodybuilding 30-something heartthrob instead of an old prune in his golden years. But hey, whatever. All of this brings up another point. I’ll have to figure out where the switch goes to turn the darn thing off. *** Giosue’ Santarelli is a pseudonym for a former HL&T editor.
Hyattsville Life&Times | June 2008