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Vol. 5 No. 3

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

Residents look to learn something from ‘eternal’ institution by Jessica Wilson

Flying straight


mammoth bluebird has alighted at Centennial Park on Baltimore Avenue. The sculpture is part of the MNCPPC birds i view effort, one of the largest public art exhibitions in Prince George’s County. Seventy-five, five-foot bird sculptures were designed by area artists and modeled after the bluebird, the official county bird and a species native to Maryland. Andrei Trach of Laurel sculpted the Centennial Park bird, which is crafted out of sheet metal. It is called “Vainglorious Bluebird.” “Andrei was one of many area artists whose proposed

FLYING STRAIGHT continued on page 14


n Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, some indulge in their favorite treat because for the next 40 days, they will have to do without. It is the beginning of the Lenten season, one of the oldest Christian observations, and is intended to be a time of self-examination and penitence as well as a time to fast. Giving up something like caffeine, candy or something you desire is meant to lead to greater self-discipline, allowing a person to gain control of a particular part of life once Lent is over, according to That is what Hyattsville resident Vicky Moore looks to do. But for her, it is not about giving up chocolate or Starbucks, it is a way to do a bit more soul searching. “I’m giving up feeling negative energy,” she said. It is a time of year for her where she takes stock in herself and her character, Moore said. “It started three years ago, this epiphany I had one Lent,” she said. “Every Lent [since], I’ve been building on it.”

A member of St.Andrews Episcopal Church in College Park, Moore shared this epiphany with a fellow congregation member, who was impressed. “Part of being religious is keeping perspective,” she said. “It’s not just going to church, it’s how you treat people.” This Ash Wednesday, Moore’s “anti-negativity” goal was put to the test. Looking forward to getting her Lent commitment off to the right start, she was about to attend a church service at noon near her office when she was called away on a work matter and missed the event. “That’s where my Lent started,” she said,“I had to turn it around. I just said ‘Be with what was happening’.” Hyattsville resident Carol RamseyLucas said for her family, the emphasis is on prayer during Lent. A member of University Baptist Church, she said throughout Lent, sermons have a focus on discipleship. “What can you do to deepen your faith,” she said. “I think a lot of the sermons are geared toward that.” She said traditionally for most Baptists, the emphasis is not on “giving something up.” One year though,

Lent’s lasting impression

Yolanda Gureckas and Shane Walker, students at Roosevelt High School, attended services on Ash Wednesday. Some Catholics opt for a priest to spread palm ashes on their foreheads in commemoration of the first day of the Lenten season.

she and her husband did give up TV. “We began to look at it as reclaiming that time,” she said. Ramsey-Lucas said in the early church, Lent was a time to prepare for baptism and she thinks today, it fits well to think of that time as a way of orienting yourself. Reminding themselves of Baptism is the theme of Lent this year at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Pastor Rudy Kampia said Lent is about taking time to read the Bible together and grow in the faith. Kampia said that people often

Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781

Striking a bargain [HPD petitions city for collective bargaining rights] by Sarah Nemeth


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he Hyattsville Fraternal Order of Police has presented to the City Council an initiative aimed at stemming what some have called a lack of solid communication between the police department and city administration. Sgt. Patrick O’Hagan, president of the FOP, said the plan for collective bargaining with binding arbitration rights will open up lines of communication by giving sworn officers a say in their pay and other benefits. “There has been some apprehension from the Council that

collective bargaining might make the Council do certain things,” O’Hagan said at a Feb. 25 meeting. “It forces [people] to sit down. It opens the lines of communication.” Collective bargaining is a process whereby workers organize and bargain with employers regarding the workplace. It includes the process of negotiation between representatives of a union and employers regarding things such as wages, hours of work, working conditions and grievance procedures. A collective agreement is a labor contract between employers and unions.

March 2008

One benefit that collective bargaining rights likely would bring to the city is a police force that is more committed to remaining with Hyattsville, O’Hagan said. Hyattsville police officers historically stay with the department for just over three years but less than five years, he said. “I truly believe if we continue to make progress we can greatly affect that attrition rate,” he said. Why is attrition a problem? Officers with less than three years are more likely to crash a police car than other officers,

STRIKING A BARGAIN continued on page 14

take what they have discovered during Lent and apply it throughout the year. It depends on what they might be going through at that time. “Quite a number of people find fasting is helpful in their own spiritual discipline,” he said though he added the Lutheran Church does not observe such practices as not eating meat on Fridays. Moore once worked with a woman who did fast for all 40 days of Lent. “Here is a woman who for 40 days, she didn’t eat,” she said. “It was spiritual just being around her.”

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

Included: The March 12, 2008 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter—See Center Section

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

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Abandoned by the party Opinion: Our nation’s shooting sickness by Michael Martucci

by Sarah Nemeth


ylan Klebold and Eric Harris have become household names. Well, maybe “schoolyard names” is a better way to put it. Do you know who they are yet? Do you even have to think about it? While writing this column, I confess, Klebold’s name popped into my head instantaneously, but I had to search the Internet for Harris’s. But when I hear their names, I instantly zoom back to 1999 and the shootings at Columbine High School that resulted in the deaths of 15 people. It was so shocking then. But as time has passed, it seems shootings like these—at schools and other very public places—are happening with near predictability, at least time wise. Last year’s mass murders at Virginia Tech, where 33 people lost their lives when a student opened fire seemingly at random, shot fear into the hearts of not only Blacksburg residents, but of Americans everywhere. Where will the next strike happen? Last month, society watched the news as it revealed slaying upon slaying before Valentine’s Day alone. Here’s a breakdown of what I saw: Feb. 3: Tinley Park, Ill. —Five people are dead af-

ter a man attempts to rob a Lane Bryant store Feb. 7: Los Angeles, Ca.—A standoff in a home, where a man claimed he had killed three family members, ends with one police officer dead after the perpetrator shot him. Feb. 7: Kirkwood, Mo.—A disgruntled resident of the St. Louis suburb tears into a city council meeting and shoots several people, leaving 4 dead before being shot himself. Feb. 8: Baton Rouge, La.—a nursing student shot and killed two women and then herself in a classroom at Louisiana Technical College. Feb. 8: Portsmouth, Oh.—A man enters a school through a back door and stabs his teacher wife Feb. 11: Memphis, Tenn.—One teen shoots and injures another teen during a high school gym class. Feb. 12: Oxnard, Ca.—One student shoots another student at a junior high school. Feb. 14: DeKalb, Ill.—Gunman kills seven students and then himself, and wounds 15 more when he opens fire in a classroom at Northern Illinois University. The gunman, Stephen P. Kazmierczak, was identified as a former graduate student at the school in 2007. This is all within two weeks. This trend disturbs me so deeply that I don’t have an analysis to offer in this column. All I know is that when I turn on the news these days, I very nearly expect to hear of a crime like this. How sick is that?


A community newspaper chronicling the life and times of Hyattsville

Mailing address: PO Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781 Hyattsville Life & Times is published monthly by Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc., a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. Interested reporters should send their e-mail addresses to the editor to be reminded of deadlines and receive internal news. Articles and news submitted may be edited. The deadline is the last week of the month for the following month’s issue. Letters to the editor and opinions are encouraged. For all e-mail correspondence with HL&T: news, features, tips,advertising and business write to To submit articles, letters to the editor, etc. , e-mail For inquiries re advertising rates or to submit ad copy please email to Sarah Nemeth, Executive Editor 240.354.4832 or Ashby Henderson, Photographer Publication Production, Electronic Ink

Colleen Aistis Phil Houle

John Aquilino Bert Kapinus

Writers/Contribtors Keith Blackburn Michael Martucci

Steve Clements Hugh Turley

Ashley Henderson

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.

What do you think?


ne of the most popular refrains from conservatives comes from the fact that many of them were once Democrats. “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, it left me,” is an often-overheard motto that Republicans cite regarding their transition from one party to another. It is most likely true. Given the fact that President John F. Kennedy was a strong defense Democrat, an argument can be made that he would today be somewhat conservative. Given the times in which he lived he would likely be considered a liberal on some social issues, but might be considered socially conservative on some as well. There is truth that the 1960s diminished the banners that Democrats once carried, and the electorate with them was abandoned. Over the next 15 years those displaced Democrats, and true Conservatives, gravitated toward the Republican Party. By the time Ronald Reagan came on the presidential scene in 1976 the party-less, found a home. When Reagan became president many of the folks who still considered themselves Democrats sided with “the Gripper.” They too joined in the Reagan Revolution. The original Kennedy Democrats and Reagan Conservatives flourished, reaching a zenith when Newt Gingrich stormed Congress with “the Contract with America.”There in print for all American’s to see were conservative Republicans’ own principals in a blueprint declaration showing how the country should be governed, and what accomplishments were left to be achieved. Unfortunately, for that traveling band of Conservatives, it was the last time that their core values were in the limelight, enjoined by action. Over the next 14 years the Conservatives were cajoled into service by the notion that supporting another Bush in the White House would assure maintenance and strength of those core values. However, President George W. Bush governed much more from the political middle than from the political right, where most of these purists reside. These once staunch supporters have been disillusioned over the past four years by some Bush policies. Immigration amounting to amnesty, abandonment of Social Security reform and privatization, along with exponential governmental growth, fiscal irresponsibility, and an attempt to place Harriet Meyers on the Supreme Court, have labeled the “Bush conservative credentials” as fraud. The Conservatives do like Bush’s strong stand on defense, though most probably have trepidation about a preemptive strike foreign policy. The 30 percent of support that remains for the president is from those strict hawkish conservative Republicans that believe in a strong national defense. 2008 brings John McCain to the front of the political race to succeed President Bush. This may be the last

straw for those out-of-sorts Conservatives. The talk shows scream it, the media takes advantage of it, and the Kennedy Conservativesturned Reagan Republicans are now left with no place to go, again. McCain has an even worse record than Bush on abundantly more issues that threaten to push executive governance to the center, or even left of center. True Conservatives cannot abide that occurrence. The nomination of John McCain will likely move these Conservatives to some other coalition if he does not act in the manner that they see fitting. Someone needs to tell Senator McCain that even strait talk is cheap. It is his legislative actions that have him in trouble with his own party. That is not likely to change unless a President McCain governs from the right, not the middle. McCain is not likely to beat Barack Obama in his presidential bid. The first black man with an actual chance to win the presidency is a fresh face with a silver tongue that can seduce many. His is a unique flirtation with America's own ideals, however that reality is marred by politics, which is in the way. Standing side-by-side on a debate platform, McCain and Obama would look worse than the Kennedy-Nixon debate. A fresh vibrant Obama standing beside an old grumpy, wrinkled McCain gives a clear visual to the electorate. March forward with youthful abandon, or creep along with aging obsolescence. Giving rise to hope, Obama could become the next John Kennedy. That would happen if his record did not reflect his absolute liberalism at every corner. He might win those homeless Conservatives based on hope, were it not for his polar opposite views on so many things. Too bad the Illinois senator isn’t a centrist, because then he would win the election in a landslide. McCain however, could beat Senator Clinton. She is a polarizing force, much stronger than the distaste for McCain in the mouths of Conservatives. Clinton’s nomination as the Democrats’ choice for president is the only thing that could make enough Conservatives stay and vote for McCain. Reduced to voting as the anti-Hillary bloc, the Conservatives will not be a true constituency for McCain. Barring a Clinton nomination, however, the Conservatives will once again find themselves abandoned by their own party. This time it is the Republicans that have erred. Perhaps after an eight-year stint of liberal policies, higher taxes, bloated social program expansion and international respect at the sacrifice of American sovereignty, the Republicans will learn their lesson. Likely then, it will be long too late. The Conservatives will likely have forged a new home outside of the Republican Party, or have rebuilt it with what really works to win -residential elections - true conservatism.

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

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Commentary and opinion on history & politics


FromTheHills Community rallies to clean park, pond by Tim Hunt


hen pitchers and catchers report to their teams and the sports page turns to baseball, it may not feel like it right away but, somehow, spring starts to push winter away and thoughts turn to being outdoors in pleasant weather. Locally, blooming crocuses and daffodils are the telltale signs of what is coming around the corner. On March 1, University Hills residents gathered at a neighborhood park and duck pond not to enjoy the scenery but to get rid of some of it. With the help of Marc Imlay, a conservation biologist with the Anacostia Watershed Society, neighbors embarked on a mission to eradicate non-native invasive plant species from the park ecosystem.

In anticipation of the volunteer brigade, Imlay and University Hills resident Tom Slezak surveyed the park surroundings and identified areas that were in need of attention. Neighbors were then able to brave the windy weather with pitchforks and a plan. “Over time, most of the native species will disappear unless we uncover them from non-natives like Japanese honeysuckle, kudzu, and English ivy,” said Imlay. Most non-native species in this region come from Asia or Europe. About half of them have been intentionally planted for erosion control or aesthetics and about half came here by accident through com-

mercial trade. According to Imlay, the multiflora rose is likely the most invasive species in this park. It was planted for decades by the Soil Conservation Service with the United States Department of Agriculture to control erosion. This is no longer done and they have since apologized, but the burden is now on volunteers to pull it and other invasive species from the ground. Like it has in other regional parks, the Anacostia Watershed Society is encouraging residents to follow a high intensity removal program followed by a low intensity maintenance program for plants that are missed, have emerged from the seed bank or have migrated from other areas. “It takes five years to save a site,” Imlay said. Typically, about 80 percent of

eastern U.S.” After some brief instruction on proper removal technique, volunteers spent the next few hours removing large patches of wineberry and the trash that had collected in them. Neighbors intend to continue their removal efforts at the park every second Saturday of the month. In addition to saving the park, University Hills resident Chris Borkowski is interested in helping neighbors throughout the community save their native trees. “We are trying to develop a brochure with the help of Marc Imlay and Colleen Aistis [with the City of Hyattsville] to help educate homeowners to what they can do with their trees on their property,” Borkowski said. He particularly looks forward to continuing his efforts with his

the work can be done by volunteers pulling plants and with help from government agencies is needed to cover the rest. Thick vines that cannot be pulled are cut and an herbicide can be applied to the stump. “We support the use of biodegradable herbicides, carefully targeted, that do not move through the soil to other plants,” Imlay said. For the first day, the primary target was the wineberry. “We are rescuing the native American blackberry,” Imlay said. “The wineberry will replace it if we do not rescue it. There are 41 native species of blackberry in the

wife and two young daughters. Aistis also looks forward to continuing to provide help to neighborhood residents. “We can offer a lot of support,” she said. In addition to publishing announcements regarding the invasive species removal, the City of Hyattsville was able to provide gloves and each volunteer was given a fluorescent light bulb to further help the environment. With the help of the Anacostia Watershed Society, the City of Hyattsville and dedicated volunteers, the trees in University Hills look forward to breathing a little easier.

Easter Sunday has pagan origins by Hugh Turley


aster Sunday is a popular holiday when retailers sell Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow eggs. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the Venerable Bede, a seventh-Century Benedictine monk from Durham, England, said the English word “Easter” is derived from Eastre, a Teutonic goddess. Rabbits and eggs were popular pagan symbols of fertility and spring. Easter is a principal feast of the Christian Church and the feast is as old as Christianity. The celebration always occurs in the spring, often in April, the same month pagans called the Easter Month. Since both celebrations were at the same time of the year the name Easter may have become associated with the Christian celebration. (In a similar way, Thursday is derived for Thors day named after the pagan god Thor the Thunderer. Today the words Thursday and Easter have taken on new meanings different from the original meanings of these words). European countries have different names for the feast of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that are derived from the Greek word pascha, which came from the Hebrew word pesach (Passover). In Latin it is pascha; in Italian, pasqua; in Spanish, Pascua; in Dutch, paschen, and in Swedish, pask. From the beginning, the death and resurrection of Christ has been linked to the Jewish feast of Passover. The Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian celebration with Christ representing a sacrificial lamb. The origin of the Passover feast is found in the Old Testament of the Bible: “This day must be commemorated by you and you must keep it as a feast in Yahweh’s honor. You must keep it as a feast-day for all generations; this is a decree for all time.” (Exodus 12:14) Passover is celebrated on the 14th

day of the first month, Nisan. The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar of 354 days so every few years a month is inserted, not scientifically but arbitrarily, by order of the Sanhedrin, a Jewish legislative assembly. Therefore, a distant Jewish date can never be predicted with certainty into the corresponding Julian solar calendar. Although the feast of Easter is movable it will always fall on a Sunday and always between March 22 and April 25. The Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed that Easter falls on the Sunday immediately following the paschal moon - the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. This year the vernal equinox is on March 20. The date of Easter has always been controversial.The Eastern and Western Christian Churches use different calculations. This year the Western Church will celebrate Easter Sunday on March 23 while Eastern Orthodox Church will celebrate Easter on April 27. Last year they both celebrated Easter on April 8. According to the Bible, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified when Pontius Pilate was governor over the Roman Judaea province. It is recorded in the Gospels that on the Sunday after Jesus was crucified he rose from the dead. Ever since that time Easter has been a feast of joy and hope in the Christian Church. There are many customs and traditions leading up to Easter. One custom is the washing of feet to commemorate the washing of the apostle’s feet by Jesus. This tradition is symbolic of humility, service to others, forgiveness, and a cleansing. The observance of Easter Sunday for many Christians begins on the Saturday evening before Easter with the ceremonial lighting of the paschal candle. The candle is symbolic of the Jewish Passover representing the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that guided the Israelites on their exodus from Egypt. The candle also represents the resurrection of Christ, who Christians call the Light of the World.

|THE PUBLICATION DEADLINE for articles and letters in the April issue is Friday, March 28th. |

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

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CommunityAnnouncements First annual Hyattsville Arts Festival at EYA

Arts District Hyattsville is hosting the First Annual Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival on Route 1 and Longfellow Street. EYA and The Gateway Community Development Corporation team will present the event on from noon-5 p.m. on April 19. Local visual and performing artists, along with craft and food vendors will gather along the streets and the afternoon will feature performances by musicians, dancers, and performers, and guests can stroll the sidewalks to view and purchase original artwork by Metro area artists. The Hyattsville Community Artists Alliance and Joe’s Movement Emporium will also provide art activities at The Lustine Center.   Admission and parking are free. For more information call 301.209.0116. For exhibitor information call 301.634.8667.

March HBPA meeting scheduled

The next meeting of the Hyattsville March 25 Business and Professional Association will be from 8-10 a.m. on at the Business Center, 2970 Belcrest Center Drive, Suite 300. For more information e-mail

Silent auction to feature Latin culture

“El Festival” Christian Family Montessori School of Mount Rainier will host its Annual Silent Auction at the St. Anslem’s Abbey School Gymnasium from 6-10 p.m. on March 15. This year’s event will feature: n Georgetown University’s Ritmo y Sabor Latin dance group n Latin catering from Through the Kitchen Door n Salsa music and dancing n Raffle prizes to include: 1st: One week at an oceanfront condo in Nosara, Costa Rica, plus airline miles 2nd: An iPod Classic 80GB 3rd: Four lower level tickets to a Washington Wizards game in April

Call CFMS at 301.927.7122 for information on admission, raffle tickets or advertisement of your local business at the event. Proceeds will benefit CFMS and its scholarship fund serving the local community.

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Join vocalist Andaiye for an evening of jazz and R&B music from 9-11 p.m. on March 29 at Artmosphere Café, 3311 Rhode Island Ave., Mount Rainier. The café, which offers live music, free Wi-Fi and an array of food and drink, is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. For more information and a schedule of events, visit

“We are the World” dance showcasing in Cheverly

The sixth-annual World Dance Showcase, “We are the World,” is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on March 15 at the Prince George’s Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Road, Cheverly. The event will feature dance traditions from Russia, Spain, Africa, India, China and Polynesia. Artists include Jayamangala, Meki’s Tamure, Golden Universe, Balafon, Kalinka Ensemble and Furia Flamenca. Tickets are $12; $10 for students and seniors. For more information call 301.277.1710.

Events for seniors Calling Prince George’s County centenarians

Do you know someone 100 years old or older?

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation is looking for residents of Prince George’s County ages 95 and older. If you, or someone you know is 95-plus years old by December 31, please contact the Special Programs Division by March 21. Include the name of the resident, their age, birth date (including the year), and the address, along with your name and phone number. These individuals will be invited to a special event honoring them. Send information to M-NCPPC, Special Programs Division, 6611 Kenilworth Avenue, Suite 205, Riverdale, Md. 20737, or call 301.454.1480.

Seniors exercise free each week in Brentwood

Seniors 60 and over are invited to exercise for free from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Cora B. Wood Senior Center, 3601 Taylor Street, in Brentwood. The National Institute of Health Heart Center at Suburban Hospital sponsors classes. A completed medical form by your health care provider is required for participation. Forms are available at the center. For information call 301.699.1238.

Marching through time

Marietta House Museum, 5626 Bell Station Road, in Glenn Dale, will host Marching Through Time, a multi-period living history encampment on April 19 and 20. Events will be held 11a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8/adults, $5/ages 5-18 and free for children ages 4 and under. Experience over 10 centuries of living history including the Romans, Vikings, 15th Century War of the Roses, 16th Century Holy Roman Empire and the Privateers. Also highlighted will be the French and Indian War, the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, the Old West, World War I, World War II and more. Re-enactors from over 50 different units will demonstrate camp life, crafts and weaponry. Drill and tactical demonstrations will be held throughout the day. Period merchants and artisans will be on site and food will also be available. Free parking and continuous shuttle will be provided from the Glenn Dale Community Center on Route 193. For information call 301.464.5291 or visit www.

Get a free M-NCPPC weeklong fitness pass

Step up to health with a free seven-day trial fitness pass good March 1-31 for use at fitness facilities owned by The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County. Ages 13 and older may sign up. Youth ages 13-15 must have supervision in all fitness rooms. Set up a free SMARTlink account at any staffed MNCPPC facility in Prince George’s County and ask for your free trial fitness pass. The pass may be used at M-NCPPC community centers or special facilities in Prince George’s County with a fitness room. Only one free pass per person is allowed during this promotion. All fitness pass rules and regulations apply to pass holders. Fitness center hours and availability vary. Call the site of interest for details. For further information on the program call 301.699.2255.   To list an item in the Hyattsville Life & Times, please send an e-mail to or send to P.O. Box 132, Hyattsville, Md. 20781.

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

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Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

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Hyattsville’s 42nd Place: next Sesame Street? by Krista Atteberry


uppets of different shapes, sizes, and variety fill the Hyattsville home of Osbel SusmanPena. The whirling noise of a sewing machine and lively and playful voices reverberate throughout the 42nd Place house as puppets are created and come to life during rehearsals. Susman-Pena is busily getting ready for the D2 Puppet Theatre’s upcoming performances of “Un Encuentro Maravilloso� or “A Wonderful Encounter� at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainer in March and April. Originally from Havana, Cuba, Susman-Pena earned his Master’s Degree in Art Education and Set Design from the Instituto de Superior de Diseno Industrial. He also studied at San Alejandro. His work with puppets began when his son Mack, now 19 years old, asked Susman-Pena to make a puppet for him. An actress family friend later saw the enchanting puppet, loved it, and connected the artist with a puppet theater in Havana where he then worked for seven years. Susman-Pena, 42, has been in the United States for four years and in Hyattsville for one of those. “We chose to live in Hyattsville, because it is beautiful,� he said. “We wanted to live in a developing area that is respectful of nature because it helps us as artists and as parents. We wanted a very quiet area in a semi-urban environment, with a history visible in the architecture. We also liked that Hyattsville is culturally mixed, a place where a racially mixed family can feel comfortable and at home.� Last year, Susman-Pena worked on children’s productions for the Gala Hispanic Theater in the Adams Morgan area of Washington, D.C. He also teaches art for the after school program at the Oyster School in the District. Susman-Pena along with partners formed the bilingual D2Puppet Theatre whose mission is to “make kids and youth aware of the importance of protecting our environment, respecting each other, and upholding basic human values such as

Resident Osbel SusmanPena shows off one of his elaborate puppets.

“Un Encuentro Maravilloso�

“A Wonderful Encouter� will be showing at Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainer, starting on March 29th and running on weekends through April 20th. For further ticket and show information visit

love, mutual respect, tolerance, and freedom of expression.� After a yearlong creative and production process, their upcoming “Un Encuentro Maravilloso� will have its Spanish language version premier at Joe’s Movement Emporium at 5 p.m. on March 29th. Based on the famous story “The Little Prince� by Antoine de Saint Exupery, the story unfolds as the tale of a child and the lessons he learns as he travels to different planets. Each planet has its own unique way of life and the child learns “lessons of love and human sensitivity, respect, and environmental consciousness.� “This story is full of whimsy and wisdom and leads the audience to reflect about the things that truly matter in life,� Susman-Pena said. The production combines live puppet performances with a film segment and live non puppet-oriented acting. The show’s target audience is, “kids from four to 99,� Susman-Pena said. “We aim to give the young audience a tool that is both an aesthetic experience and thought-

provoking, to make them aware of the ecological problems facing the planet, and further, issues related to emotions, war, love, friendship, tolerance, intransigence, greed, loneliness, among other themes that pertain to all of us,� he said. “For the parents, we want to help them be aware of the legacy we leave our kids, to leave them a world that is more balanced, fair, filled with people who are interested in the well-being of others. “We hope that this show will first of all be fun, that the audience will enjoy themselves, then at later at home families can think and talk together about the issues we raise.� Separate performance days and times will be offered in Spanish and English. Perhaps the most internationally known former resident of Hyattsville, Sesame Street creator Jim Henson, lived here while a student at the University of Maryland. The “puppet craze� on 42nd Place represents a current-day renaissance of this playful art.

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Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

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Follow the leader by Sarah Nemeth


Monitoring the moves.

her, patiently for his fat George Currie waits 's ren ild Ch at y bar Chris, to open a cand rk. The event was Pa er ud gr Ma at Bingo y of Hyattsville's De sponsored by the Cit ts. Ar e th on and partment of Recreati

Showing his hand—Fum bling with a deck of ca rds while m anning the snack booth at Children 's Bingo.

he City Council voted to not actively support concept plans for a mixed-use development situated around the West Hyattsville Metro station, the majority saying that developers have not addressed concerns over pedestrian safety and the impact the project will have on the local police department and the environment. “I have a very big concern over the parking [garage] for the safety,” said Councilwoman Paula Perry (Ward 4). “Who’s going to provide safety for that garage?” Plans call for a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority parking garage to be located at the corner of Ager Road and Hamilton Street, about two football fields distance from the WMATA station.

the project was remanded back to the Planning Board. Though changes were made to the plans, some City Council members said it just was not enough. “The Metro now has a lot of crime…” said Councilman William Tierney (Ward 2). “I’m unconvinced the area’s going to be safer by having stores there that are only open [at certain times].” Plans for the development— on the northwest portion of the intersection of Ager Road and Hamilton Street—call for: n 130-225 townhouses; n 1,000-1,270 multi-family units; n 200,000-220,000 square- feet of office space; n 60,000-85,000 square-feet of retail space; and n a 23,000 square-foot community center.

On Feb. 28, the county Planning Board approved the plans with some conditions. For more information visit


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Developers have said the placement of the garage is strategic to activating stores that will line the area between the two destinations. But Perry, who represents the area, is not buying it. “How safe is that really going to be if these shops are closed and have a long way to walk to your car,” she asked developers at a Feb. 19 meeting. West Hyattsville Commons has been on the drawing board for almost two years, having previously been approved with conditions by the council and Prince George’s County Planning Board. Plans were then nixed by the County Council acting as the District Council, and

Policing of the garage area would be the responsibility of WMATA, county and city police, said John Davey, who represents the developer. “We’ve come to the site having to adapt our thinking to what various planning entities have supplied,” he told the council. “We have moved the garage [to] almost every location on the site.” Brad Frome, legislative aide to County Councilman Will Campos (Dist. 2), said current crime around the Metro station is in large part due to a lack of regular

FOLLOW THE LEADER continued on page 11

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 8

Board to uphold new ethics rules by Sarah Nemeth


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n Representing any party, for a contingent fee, before any city body;

ily member of the official or employee may knowingly accept any gift from any person: employed by an entity regulated by the city; who is seeking, negotiating or doing business with the city; or who has financial interests that may be affected by the official’s or employee’s official duty.

fter years of having outdated ethics legislation, the City of n Intentionally using the prestige of office or position for private gain Hyattsville has a revised code or that of another; of ethics and a five-person panel to compel city officials to follow it. n Within one year following termiThe City Council recently passed nation of city service, acting as a an ordinance that delineates bepaid representative in connection tween what is acceptable behavior with any specific matter in which In August 2006 Councilman from an elected official or employee he participated substantially as a Mark Matulef brought forth legislaof the city and what is not. city official or employee; tion to revise the city’s ethics code, The adopted motion is now inline with the state’s ethics code n Engaging in any improper action which had not been updated in 20 years. and has been reviewed by the “The city attorney has menAttorney General for the state tioned in City Council meetethics commission, City Attorings that such a review is pruney Richard Colaresi said at a dent and that it is likely that February council meeting. the City Ethics Code does not “Hopefully [it is] a much reflect the current language more simplified ordinance of the Maryland Code, State which has a focus on financial Government Article,” Matulef ’s ethical [standards], which is the earlier motion reads. “Furtherfocus of the state’s ethics ordiMark Matulef Krista Atteberry more, legislative bodies across nance,” he said. Ward 2 Ward 3 the country are examining their The new ordinance prohibits Council President ethics provisions to prevent the the mayor, council, city adminundue influence of private inistrator, city clerk, city treasurer, terests in government policy, candidates for elective office and that could cause a family member to increase public disclosure of the defined persons lobbying before the to be hired, employed, promoted, relationship of public officials and council from certain actions, includtransferred, or disciplined in any paid lobbyists or the interests they repreing the following: employment with the city; and sent, and to guard against the motin Participating on behalf of the city vation of personal gain as a result of n Permitting or facilitating the in any matter which would have unauthorized use of city-owned public service.” a direct financial impact on them, After several revisions, the council facilities, vehicles, equipment, any family member or a business directed Colaresi to bring the promaterials or personnel for private entity in which they have a finanposed code in-line with the state’s. matters or profit. cial interest; Last year, three residents were apn Holding, acquiring or allowing n The ordinance also requires the pointed to the ethics commission. above entities not to accept cer- Prior to that, terms for the commisa household member to hold or tain gifts. A gift is the transfer of sion members had all been expired acquire a financial interest in a anything of economic value, ex- for some time, said Mayor William business entity that has or is necept a political campaign contri- Gardiner. gotiating a contract with the city bution. The council has 30 days after or is regulated by the city; adoption of the legislation to fill all Regarding gifts, the ordinance n Being employed by a business five slots—which may include rerequires: entity that has or is negotiating a appointment of current members. contract of more than $2,500 with n An official or employee to not sothe city or is subject to the regulalicit gifts; and tory jurisdiction of the city; n No official or employee or fam-

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Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

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Middle school students learn the value of a dollar

From Left to right: Linda Dunn, parent volunteer, DeLoria Savoy, ESFCU representative and Sherina Garner, parent liaison.

by Vicki Kriz


tudents at Hyattsville Middle School are just like any other pre-teens, except how many pre-teens spend part of their lunchtime

making bank deposits and hopping online to check their bank accounts? With the installation of an inschool banking program, these tweeners are learning valuable skills that will last them a lifetime.

Sherina Garner, parent liaison at the middle school and a former mortgage loan processor for Chevy Chase Bank, approached Principal Gail Golden about installing the in-school banking program after her previous occupation

made it clear to her that some people do not know how to save money. She believes teaching children how to save money early just made sense. “Saving is a learned behavior,” Garner said. “With the economy the way it is now, we need to teach our children to put money away.” Educational Systems Federal Credit Union (ESFCU), a not-for-profit financial cooperative that serves the educational community across Maryland, recently implemented its In-School Banking Program Hyattsville Middle School, holding its grand opening on Feb. 6.The program gives students, parents and faculty the opportunity to open a functional savings account and deposit money into their accounts at the school. DeLoria Savoy, representative for ESFCU and “dean” of the in-school banking program, agrees. “We should start at the very beginning,” Savoy said. “We need to develop those habits right now so they don’t make the same mistakes that we made.” Each Tuesday, known as “Thrifty Tuesday” at the school, students are asked to think twice about spending money in the snack line and encouraged to put some of that money into their in-school savings account. “They know the seriousness of the value of money,” Garner said. Opening a savings account is as simple as filling out an application and depositing a $5 minimum. Membership includes a membership card, account number, ATM card and online access.


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After a student has received their savings account, they can deposit money at lunchtime each Tuesday when a representative from ESFCU acts as a teller at the bank. Members also receive quarterly bank statements through the mail. The bank is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “It gives a child the ability to appreciate saving money for something special,” Savoy said. Nine teachers, 17 seventh-graders and 10 eighth-graders have opened ESFCU accounts at HMS since the program’s inception. The program is still being promoted daily via televised morning announcements, information on the school Web site, and on posters and flyers throughout the school. Parents have been very supportive of the program, with some volunteering one Tuesday a month to escort students who would like to deposit money to the bank location during lunches. “Parents are very excited about it,” Garner said.“This is a gift for their children to learn the value of money.” Savings accounts continue to be functional even after students graduate from HMS. ESFCU has several locations in Prince George’s County, including a walk-up ATM and a Member Service Center in Greenbelt. The credit union also has locations in Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s and Talbot counties. Although a few teachers have already done so, Garner hopes that by next year the banking program and skills associated with saving money will become a fixed part of classroom curriculum.

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 10







HealthCorner Your diet, your teeth by Ronald Grossman, DDS


our diet plays a very important role in helping your body stay strong and healthy. Sugar not only contributes calories without nutritional value to the diet, but also can trigger tooth decay and gum disease. Sugar is rapidly broken down in your mouth and produces acids which begin the decay process. Different forms of sugar (honey, molasses, sucrose, corn syrup, dextrose and fructose) are equally destructive in producing acid. The decay process begins when sugar mixes with plaque. Plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless layer of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. Plaque breaks down the sugar to form acid. The sticky plaque then holds the acid to the teeth, allowing it to attack the enamel. Plaque is also a major cause of gum disease. Sugar plays an important role in allowing the plaque to organize and make its harmful by- products which cause the gums to bleed or become swollen. If the plaque is not removed by daily brushing or flossing, it will build up and harden to form tartar that pushes against the gum line to create pockets. These spaces fill up with more plaque, tartar and even pus. As the disease progresses, the bone that supports the teeth is destroyed. Teeth will loosen and drift

from their normal position. Once the acid forms, the greatest damage is done within the first 20 minutes after eating sweet foods. After repeated acid attacks the enamel decays. The problem is not just the amount of sugar eaten daily, but how often you eat the sugar, the physical form of the food containing the sugar and length of time sugar stays in the mouth. The more times you eat sugary foods, the more times acid forms on the teeth. Sugar-rich snacks that remain in the mouth for a long time feed the plaque and prolong the acid attack. Avoid cough drops, sugared gum, breath mints and sipping on sweetened soft drinks throughout the day. Foods that stick to your teeth encourage acid formation. Solid, soft, sticky sweets can remain on and between tooth surfaces for prolonged periods if not immediately removed by brushing and flossing. The best solution to controlling decay-producing acid is to limit the number of times you eat sugar each day and to avoid sticky, sweet snacks. With good food selection, correct eating habits, and regular professional and home dental care, you can reduce or even eliminate dental disease. By your own actions, you should be able to keep your natural teeth and gums free of disease all your life.

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Performers from the Praise Team at Crossover Church and Pan Masters steel drums band play at A Musical Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. last month at the Hyattsville Municipal Building.

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 11

County attempts mitigating walking woes at busy intersection Traffic along Belcrest Road near the Prince George's Plaza Metro station has made crossing the road difficult for pedestrians.

by Sarah Nemeth


ounty officials have offered a response to residents’ concerns over a bustling hub of pedestrians, traffic, Metro buses and shoppers near the corner of Belcrest Road and East West Highway, but it does not include many of the safety precautions neighbors have offered. The area is now congested by construction trailers, forcing partial lane closure and leaving many residents feeling unsafe negotiating the already bustling zone near the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station. Residents who traverse the area are concerned that speeding cars mixed with construction, closed lanes and inefficient pedestrian crosswalks could foster danger to drivers and walkers. “There are a lot of people who walk there and it’s a dangerous, dangerous place,” said Hyattsville resident Christine Hinojosa at a December community meeting hosted by County Councilman Will Campos (D-Dist. 2). Some said a remedy is to add lights and alerts to the crosswalks. “The only thing that’s going to work here [is] a lighted walk/don’t walk [alert] and an overhead amber light with pedestrian crossing,” said longtime resident Barbara Runion. In a letter to the city last month, Armen Abrahamian, of the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation, told residents that current construction precludes the county from conducting a study on the appropriateness of having a lighted crosswalk at the location.

“Unfortunately, due to the ongoing construction activity and the irregular pedestrian movements as a result of the sidewalk and lane closure, such study cannot be conducted at this time,” the letter states. “However, once the roadway construction is complete and pedestrian and vehicular traffic has stabilized, we will conduct the appropriate studies to determine if a lighted crosswalk is warranted for this location if deemed necessary.” Mid-Cities Financial is building Mosaic apartments just south of the existing WMATA entrance. Adjacent to the residential structure is another building slated for 165,000 square feet of retail space. A 300,000-square-foot office building, a parking garage with 600 spaces and a Marriott Courtyard hotel are also in the works for the site, situated southwest of intersection. A traffic light will not be considered at the area due to its proximity to East West Highway,Abrahamian’s letter also stated. Pedestrians can be seen hustling across Belcrest Road as cars coming from Queensbury Road must negotiate a slight curve when traveling north. Cars turning south onto Belcrest from East West Highway do not have much roadway before encountering a crosswalk from the Belcrest Shopping Center. Immediately after the crosswalk, the right lane is temporarily closed due to construction. Drivers must merge into the left lane between the intersection and the crosswalk. There are pedestrian crosswalks on Belcrest Road at the East West intersection, between the shopping center and

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a walkway to the Metro and between the American Red Cross building and the First United Methodist Church closer to Queensbury Road. The county has replaced the “State Law, Stop For Pedestrians Within X-walk” signs within the median with larger roadside mounted signs reminding drivers that as mandated by the Motor Vehicle Law, they must stop for the pedestrians within the crosswalk. Campos suggested that one major component of combating the cumbersome venue is enforcing the traffic laws in the area. According to Hyattsville Sgt. Gary Blakes, there has been a major increase in traffic since construction has begun. Police officers are exclusively assigned to the East West Highway corner.There is a $60 fine for drivers who do not obey to the state’s law requiring them to yield to pedestrians. There is also a $35 fine for pedestrians who do not follow signage and walk in the streets when sidewalks are available, Blakes said. Tom Farasi of Mid-Cities Financial said construction trailers have been parked in the lane on Belcrest closest to the development due to a lack of available parking space. Trailers, which are separated from the rest of the road by chain link fence, should be moved before the first quarter of 2009, he said. The $160-million project will be developed in four phases over the next two years. It will include 264 luxury apartments, said Jennifer Rademacher, chief operating officer of Miami-based Taylor Development and Land Co., the lead developer of the project.


Continued from page 7

activity there. “There’s no one there to look after you,” he said, expressing support for where developers have placed the garage.The garage would be located adjacent to some housing and some retail. “I promise you that length of space will not matter,” Frome said of the distance from the station to the garage. “I guarantee you people would be safer than they would be now because you’re going to have activity.” As for how it will affect the city’s police department financially, Frome said about $240 per unit would be given to the city as part of the county’s public safety surcharge. The development itself would also generate over $2.5 million in tax revenue for the city, estimates Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. “It’s a difficult site,” he said. “It’s a challenge to develop a feasible plan there.” But Eisenberg thinks leaving the spot as it is would prove more costly down the road. “The city isn’t in the position to not approve [smart development there],” he said. And money is not the only worry the city has. There are also concerns over the impact the project—which is located on a flood plain—will have on the surrounding environment. “How can you build one-half of the site on a flood plain and not have it affect the environment,” Councilwoman Nicole Hinds (Ward 5) asked developers. According to Davey, the developers are required to raise the area out of the flood plain. Their plans to do this would need to be approved by the county Department of Environmental Resources, the state Department of Environmental Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers. But their plans would not even be put before those entities until a detailed site plan is approved.

According to Frome, the site will also include two LID streets, some green roofs and effective storm water management. He said the new plan is “a delicate balance” between what involved entities want. “It’s a better site plan that the conceptual site plan one-and-ahalf years ago,” he said. “It’s a better [town] center. Better configuration. More height.” Progress for the project—in the early planning stages—stalled with the October 2006 unanimous Hyattsville City Council pitch to appeal Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission’s conditional approval. Some of issues of concern were traffic flow around the Metro station, have been addressed by developers Gunston Hall and Centex Homes. A hub, which would be called Hamilton Square, would be the centerpiece of the community, said Stephen Gang, a designer with the Lessard Group, who is working with the developers. “It has now become more of a town square,” he said, adding that the original plan had the square as more of a transportation center. “It needed to be a lot more pedestrian friendly,” Gang said. Buses would be on the outside of Hamilton Square. “One of the major criteria in redesigning this plan was how we were going to handle WMATA’s daily needs. That is of utmost importance.” Another concern of the District Council was the use of retail in the plan. “All along Hamilton Square from Ager Road coming down, all major tenants and all the area of Hamilton where people are walking will be filled with retail,” Gang said, adding that there will be opportunities for larger stores in the area as well. Developers have a 10-year timeline for construction, should their plans be approved, said Shawn Weingast, vice-president of Gunston Hall.

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 12

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Liquefied natural gas needs guidelines

[Local watch group member weighs in on the latest with Washington Gas proposal] by Imani Kazana


uring 2005 and 2006 every Prince George’s County zoning body—including the County Council acting as the District Council—ruled against the proposal put forth by Washington Gas to construct a liquefied natural gas processing and storage facility on Chillum Road. The utility company, however, has not yet abandoned its efforts and has filed appeals in the Circuit Court system. The appeals are pending. They are hopeful of finding that there may have been some flaw in the adoption of the zoning amendment for the area surrounding the West Hyattsville Metro station.The zoning prohibits the storage of hazardous materials. These legal challenges could continue for several more years. Notwithstanding successful community efforts to date to stop this dangerous project from being built, several community groups, towns and others have expressed concern that Washington Gas may identify yet another inappropriate site within the county in the future.There are no county evaluation standards for where these facilities can be built. Concerned citizens believe that more legal tools are needed to better protect residential areas, Metro stops and other sensitive places throughout the county. In response to these concerns, state Delegate Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) recently introduced a bill which seeks to provide the State’s Public Service Commission (PSC) new rules for the handling of future proposals to build intrastate LNG facilities within the county.The PSC requires applicants to comply with standards used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which routinely determine safe distances between hazardous materials and housing, nursing homes and other places where people congregate. The PSC would also insure that a new facility would be consistent with local zoning.

Ivey recently expressed her concerns “While the Chillum community continues to fight the [site] of Washington Gas’ proposed liquefied natural gas facility, it would be great to have new standards in force to end this battle once and for all,� Ivey said. “This bill would give the authority to the Public Service Commission to use standards in Prince George’s County for LNG facility [locating] that would make the Chillum location unacceptable. We’re not trying to block such a facility from being built in Prince George’s County at all, but rather someplace that would be safely away from residences.� A recent opinion by the State’s Attorney General has confirmed that these new requirements would in no way be in conflict with federal rules for intrastate facilities.The bill also has received support by County Councilman Will Campos (Dist. 2) and the mayors of Brentwood and Mount Rainier. It was recently approved by the County Delegation and has now been referred to the Economic Matters Committee, chaired by Derrick

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Davis. David Harrington, the newly appointed State Senator for the 47th District, has co-filed the bill on the Senate side. Lobbyists for Washington Gas have begun circulating a leaflet which alleges that passage of the bill would cause a significant increase in gas charges for consumers in six counties including Prince George’s.The other counties mentioned are: Montgomery, Frederick, Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert.  According to the Washington Gas Watch Alliance: n This bill is not just about Chillum Road. n Ivey's current bill is aimed at protecting every neighborhood within the county. n Chillum Road is not the only place an LNG plant can be built.  Washington Gas could acquire land in another location and build a plant and related pipes to connect with the existing distribution system. As of two years ago, the cost to build new pipelines was $2 million per mile.  It is impossible for Washington Gas to determine the cost of any LNG  facility  until an actual location has been identified. No one can pre-determine how much new land will cost, or where it will be located. Washington Gas has again failed to explain  that they need to install new pipelines to improve pressure from southern Maryland to the northern end of Prince George’s County whether or not they build an LNG plant. They could also install low cost compression stations to boost pressure. Washington Gas mentions only one other alternative option in their handout—construction of new pipelines and store gas in traditional tanks or purchase extra gas from other companies  whenever there are extremely cold periods. Some costs mentioned are related to regional growth and projected new customers.  Existing customers could be made to subsidize the capacity expansion that Washington Gas wants, of which  LNG storage is a component, when the expansion is intended to serve its new customers. Other utilities charge a system development fee for new customers.  None of the numbers have been reviewed or verified by the Public Service Commission.   Washington Gas’s internal five-year plan projections are confidential and not subject to public review. They do not share this information with any independent committee or board. No public agency reviews alternatives or the the financial impact of each possibility. “If Washington Gas Company customers want to know why their gas bills are so high, they should ask why Washington Gas spends so much on attorneys and lobbyists trying to avoid public safety measures,� said Stuart Eisenberg, co-founder of the Washington Gas Watch Alliance. Members of the Alliance can be reached at either 301.779.6948 or 301.779.1426. E-mails can be sent to

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 13

Finding a niche by Sarah Nemeth


hen Angelisa Hawes’ Book Nook opened last month, it became the only bookstore in Hyattsville. It is also the first retail component of EYA’s Arts District Hyattsville, a mixed use development on Baltimore Avenue. Hawes, a former librarian in Washington, D.C.,Virginia and Michigan, said she chose Hyattsville because of its changing charm. “We like the fact that it’s a small town but it still has urban feel,” Hawes, a graduate of Howard University, said. Hawes and her husband, Kas Mayanga and their infant daughter live just above the corner store, at Baltimore Avenue and Kennedy Street. She plans to tailor her stock to the requirements of her customers, who she thinks will represent a wide variety of society. On the tall walnut-colored shelves names like Stormie Omartian, Mehmet Oz and Beatrix Potter line the yellow walls. Books are divided into sections such as: children’s; teens; bestsellers; heath; cooking; religion; art; African-American fiction and parenting. The first few customers came into the store thinking Hawes sold used books, as her shop has a name similar to that of another store in the Metro area. But all these books are hot off the presses, and there’s nothing used about them. “Books are my passion,” Hawes said, adding that patrons who do not find what they are looking for on her shelves can order directly from her. She expects to get walk-in customers from the area and people driving to her store. Parking will eventually be offered

at the EYA location. For now, customers can park across the street in an empty lot. Resident James Yagey visited the store on opening day. “Folks should definitely check it out,” he said on an online community listserv.“I was able to special order some books and they arrived at the store in just two days, at no extra charge, either. “It’s great to finally have a bookstore within walking distance.” Retail planned for EYA also includes a Busboys and Poets restaurant and a coffee shop, among other stores. It is hoped that niche stores like Hawes’ shop, will appeal to Hyattsville’s eclectic breed. “The EYA development is a critical component to the economic and aesthetic revitalization of the Hyattsville portion of the Route 1 corridor,” said James Chandler, Hyattsville’s Community Development Manager. “Small businesses, such as the Book Nook,Alberta’s Second Hand Treasurers and Busboys [and] Poets will serve as commercial destinations while the inviting sidewalks and artistic surroundings will provide for a pedestrian friendly shopping experience.” But Hawes’ cause may be more than the community demands, at least at this time. Historically, small bookstores have not had success in the area. Karibu Books, which operated stores around the Metro area for 15 years, closed the doors of all its locations – including one at the Mall at Prince George’s – over the past two months. Hyattsville resident Scott Wythe managed a Reprint Book Shop, a small location at L’Enfant Plaza in the District for 15 years. The secret to his success was finding what appealed to their audience, and capitalizing on it.


See me today and get the discounts and service you deserve. A Hyattsville tot scopes out some paperbacks at the Book Nook bookstore which opened last month at EYA's Arts District Hyattsville.

“There were a lot of advanced degrees walking around the Plaza at that time,” Wythe said. “We could buy deeply from University Presses, which aren’t covered too well by the chain stores. Because of our clientele, our store looked nothing like a chain and was the secret to our longevity.” The prosperity came to a grinding halt when a large academic entity moved from the Plaza, taking with it a vast amount of Reprint’s clientele. The shop lost 15 percent of its business overnight, Wythe said. Wythe and shop owner Michael Sullivan tried to secure funding for a bookshop at the Tesst building across from Franklin’s Restaurant on Baltimore Avenue, but were unsuccessful. That’s when Wythe walked away from the world of book retail. But he has not shut the book on Hyattsville’s manuscript market just yet. “I certainly believe Hyattsville is a good

FINDING A NICHE continued on page 15

Hyattsville teachers, faculty honored for years of service by Vicki Kriz


n 1970, John Mitchell founded a music program at DeMatha Catholic High School with no school-owned instruments and no dedicated music room. The program began with 19 students, but Mitchell’s work has parlayed it into a bourgeoning 400-member group, playing in five concert bands, three percussion ensembles, two string ensembles and three choruses. As director of the program, Mitchell oversees all of the student ensembles but formally leads the wind ensemble, level two of the concert band, and the jazz ensemble. He enjoys seeing the growth of musical talent in his students as most begin without having played an instrument before and often graduate with the intention of playing at the college level. “Playing a musical instrument is something you can never master,” Mitchell said. “That’s the beauty of our program and its five levels.We’re able to challenge [the students] that way.” Mitchell, who still serves as music director at DeMatha, was one of 56 individuals recently honored by

the City of Hyattsville for providing one of the most important services to the community—the education of its youth. A ceremony was held at a Feb. 4 City Council meeting to honor teachers, faculty and staff who have served 20 or more years in the Hyattsville school community. Mayor William Gardiner presented to them Citations of Appreciation from Governor Martin O’Malley. “All of these folks have built their careers in this city teaching generations of students,” said Colleen Aistis, Hyattsville Volunteer Coordinator. “It only serves to enhance the community when we have strong schools.” Aistis also said the event was a good opportunity for teachers, faculty and staff from different schools to interact with each other in an “overwhelmingly positive” setting. David Falkner, principal of Concordia Lutheran School, who had 10 teachers and faculty members honored at the ceremony, believes in the importance of honoring such hardworking individuals. “Teachers made the decision to commit their life’s work to dedicating their lives to teaching others,”

he said. Miriam Cox, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Jerome Catholic School, was pleased to be honored although she could not attend the ceremony. She has taught for over 30 years and is currently in her 22nd year of teaching at the school. “It was special,” Cox said. “It is not very often that the public recognizes what teachers do.” Mary Pat Donoghue,Vice Principal at St. Jerome’s describes Cox as “consistently fresh and energetic in her approach.” “I always try to keep my kids engaged,” Cox said, adding that she tries to vary her teaching style in order to appeal to her students’ different learning styles. Cox has also spent the past few years as a co-sponsor of the St. Jerome Catholic School safety patrols. For many teachers, educating is more than just a way to earn a living, and the passion for the trade does not die hard. Even though he has been teaching for 38 years, Mitchell is not sure if he is ready to retire. “I don’t know what I’d do otherwise,” he said. “As long as I’m still effective, I’ll stick around.”

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Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 14

MissFloribunda Dear Miss Floribunda, I have four rose bushes but hope to have a full fledged tea-rose garden some day. I know that pruning is important, especially spring pruning. Is there some particular date to prune?  Can you give me some tips about how to go about it? I’ve read some books and looked at some pictures, but am still unclear on the concept. —Budding But Befuddled Rosarian on Hamilton Street Dear Budding Rosarian, Yes, pruning is very important, especially in spring.  There is, however, no specific date for this although most rosarians prune sometime  in March.  Every neighborhood has its own microclimate.  The most skillful and expert prunester I know is my friend Citizen Cane, and he gets round this by advising rosarians to prune their rose bushes when the forsythia in their own neighborhood blooms - whenever that happens. It varies year to year and can even happen in late February. One of Citizen Cane’s pupils, Prunella Thornworthy,  has agreed to give a hands-on demonstration at the March 15 meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society. HHS had hoped to engage the master himself, but he must serve as judge at an American Rose Society show on that date and has promised to come later to speak on ways to

get your roses safely through the brutal heat of midsummer. Ms. Thornworthy will bring potted roses and show you how to distinguish between temporary frost damage and really dead wood, which must be lopped off, how to combat the depredations of cane borers,  how to recognize the bud swellings above which  the gardener must cut—at a slant— and answer any questions. Please bring your pruning shears if you wish to try your hand. The Hyattsville Horticultural Society meets the third Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. at City Hall, 4310 Gallatin St. Whether or not you find time to become a member of HHS, Miss Floribunda is available to answer your gardening questions. Even her Cousin Moribunda, who invariably kills her plants, provides Miss Floribunda with a wealth of knowledge about what not to do and helps her guess what mistakes you might have made. We look forward to your questions, which can be sent to Miss Floribunda c/o the Hyattsville Life & Times, P.O. Box 132, Hyattsville, Md. 20781 or e-mailed to her at “Miss Floribunda” is the collected wisdom of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society, which was compiled and edited into this column by Victoria Hille.

STRIKING A BARGAIN Continued from page 1

O’Hagan said. Forty percent of Hyattsville’s police officers – except supervisors – have less than three years with the force. Turnover results in added initial training expenses to the city. High attrition rates cast the police department in a negative light for the purposes of recruitment. O’Hagan said a police force with a “voice” is a more secure force. “Are they going to get everything they ask for? No,” he said. “It’s not an effective negotiation if both parties don’t leave something on the table. We don’t want to be the highest paid; we don’t want to have the best benefits. We just want to be in the ballpark.” In 2005, Hyattsville had about 30 sworn police officers before seven left for greener pastures. In 2006, two officers left: one left during a probationary term and one captain retired. In 2007, six left: two joined Bowie’s new force, but later returned to Hyattsville; two left during probationary terms; Lt. Steve Walker left to become Edmonston’s police chief and one officer retired. There are currently about 40 sworn officers on Hyattsville’s force, said Mayor William Gardiner. The attrition rate can partly be attributed to a lack of involvement for officers, O’Hagan said. But with a reduced turn-over rate, some council members are not sure the problem is quite as advanced as O’Hagan has put forth. “If you were to look at what departments we’re losing people to it’s only departments with collective bargaining,” O’Hagan countered.“In police work that’s what we call a clue.” He did allow that communication between the department and the city has improved over the past couple years. The City of Mount Rainier has had collective bargaining for its police force since the late 1980s. “From my vantage point, there are goods and there are bads,” said Mount

Rainier Mayor Malinda Miles. “It’s a very expensive venture.” Mount Rainier has a $4 million budget and does not offer its officers LEOPS, a retirement plan that Hyattsville does offer. “I don’t think the collective bargaining agreement made relations with the police department any better or worse,” Miles said. “We could probably be the poster child for attrition,” she said.“We had collective bargaining and those officers still left.” When Mount Rainier’s agreement was established, the city’s personnel policies were not good, Miles said, attributing to those policies a high attrition rate and low officer satisfaction. Hyattsville has a personnel committee that has not met for the past 18 months, said Councilman Mark Matulef (Ward 2). But getting everyone involved can go a long way toward improving officer/city relations. “You might not be able to acquiesce to what the officers want, but everybody’s been heard,” said Michael Marshall, an FOP labor attorney, whose firm represents FOPs around Maryland. Under Maryland law, police officers are fired if they strike. But without collective bargaining in place, the possibility of a force strike is more plausible, Marshall said. The City of Greenbelt began its collective bargaining agreement about nine months ago. The process in that city began with a public referendum on the matter, said John Rogers, president of Greenbelt’s FOP. Greenbelt has 55 sworn officers. Since establishing a labor agreement, the city has lost five officers, though two returned, Rogers said. “What your officers are looking for is a say,” he told the City Council. “When you have collective bargaining you have one designated person that’s talking for all the others.” Gardiner said discussions on the matter will continue and he hopes the council will take action on it fairly soon.

flying straight

Continued from page 1 design was selected to proceed,” said Stuart Eisenberg, of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. “And we got it because we raised a bunch of money and were able—with time—to place it in a way that wouldn’t let kids grab it easily. We had an advance preview of all the 60 or Resident Stuart Eisenberg working on a brick so birds, and this one pedastal for a bluebird sculpture at Centennial was the best design Park. and rendering by far, and we made a commitment to get it out there.” Eisenberg and Master Mason Clint Dickson built a brick pedestal for the bird to be displayed on. Only 74 of the 75 birds are displayed throughout Prince George’s County. A delegation of county residents will visit the Royal Bafokeng Nation in Phokeng, Africa this summer, and a bird was sent as a gift from the people of the county upon the enthronement of a new king. “The Prince,” by Louis Porter, is adorned in the Prince George’s County flag.

Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 15

Ramblings &Musings by Bert Kapinus

Pet rocks and salt


wise gypsy once said that you cannot go broke by underestimating the intelligence of people (or words to that effect).An example of this is the success of the person who conceived of the pet rock. Just think, if you really wanted a pet rock, you could have gone out

smart is the public if they are willing to pay good money for a pet rock when they could have gotten a wild one free. I don’t think the pet rock phenomenon will reoccur in our lifetime if for no other reason than people who bought pet rocks probably have released them and now a

Himalania Pink Salt from the Himalayas that my wife had bought. I am told that Himalania Pink Salt frequently shows up on at least one food program on cable TV. According to the label on the box, this is an unrefined salt that has retained its precious purity and is naturally rich in elements and minerals which include calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. It is the iron that creates the unique pink color of this salt. From my high school chemistry course, I learned that salt is sodium chloride. There was no mention that there were other minerals in the salt. In the case of Himalania Pink Salt, it appears that the salt’s purveyors should not claim that it is pure when it includes these aforementioned minerals, and it is in fact impure salt. An old Ukrainian sage once said the bigger the lie, the more likely it will be believed. Disabuse yourself of the notion

Himalayan salt is readily distinguishable from the Morton’s Salt that we all know and love. Morton’s is of course white, this stuff is pink. Morton’s is refined, the pink salt is unrefined. One would think that if there’s an additional step in the processing, like refining salt, the refined salt would be more than the unrefined. Guess again. You can get a pound of Morton’s Salt for 89 cents and you can get a pound of the pink stuff for a total of $23.68 a pound. There appears to be a common theme that pervades the sale of pet rocks, Himalania Pink Salt and Lamborghini automobiles: the less necessary and more expensive an item is, the greater the marketability of the object. I tasted the Himalania Pink Salt and guess what it tastes like? Chicken! Nooooo, it tastes like Morton’s Salt and I defy anyone in a blindfold test to distinguish the difference. I am considering going down to

A wise gypsy once said that you cannot go broke by underestimating the intelligence of people

into your backyard and gotten a wild rock.You could have saved the $10 or $15 you would have paid for a domesticated rock sold in stores. In addition, you would have experienced the joy and satisfaction of training your wild pet rock. Like the gypsy observed, how

person can get all the wild rocks he may want. Of late, I have seen more lava lamps than pet rocks. But I digress. Recently I was looking through one of our kitchen shelves and I came across a new permutation of the pet rock. There sat a box of

that Himalania Pink Salt comes directly from the Himalayas. There is a certain cache in saying that it was shipped from France. I wonder if the salt’s image would be diminished if it was first shipped to Yugoslavia and then to the United States. It should be made clear that the



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finding a niche continued from page 13

book market,” he said.“I’ll never in my heart believe there is such a place as a bad book market.You just have to know what the customers are looking for. “Many people will drive off to a chain for more choice and lower prices, but there is a trade-off in doing so. The first trade-off is hard to describe, but try telling me the feeling of a Border’s is the same as the feeling of Politics & Prose. The chains are too big. There’s no sense that they serve as anything but enormous cash registers.A Border’s in D.C. looks the same as a Border’s in Buffalo. Politics & Prose is nothing like Talking Leaves in Buffalo [N.Y.]. Both are equally great, yet very different - a quality the chains cannot offer.” For now, Hawes does not worry about what might happen. Instead, she is staying focused on getting to know her client base and, heeding Wythe’s wisdom, intends to stock the stacks with just what customers want. “My take on it is that to build community, you have to have independent stores and your community has to support you in order for you to stay open,” she said. Large bookstores are often able to purchase books at a discounted price because they buy in bulk, Mayanga said. “We are part of the community,” he said.”Large bookstores take and don’t always give back.” With the support of her family, Hawes is thinking long-range only in a positive light. “I’m living in it. I’m working in it,” she said.“I’m giving back.”

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Hyattsville Life&Times | March 2008

Page 16

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Hyattsville Life & Times March 2008 Issue  

Included: The March 12, 2008 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter—See Center Section Yolanda Gureckas and Shane Walker, students at Roosevelt...