Page 1

Learning from the nest by Paula Minaert


hey happen daily—the traditional signs of fall. Yellow school buses zoom by and crossing guards in orange vests wave pupils walking across streets. But not all of Hyattsville’s children ride a bus or walk to a school building for education. Some of them are taught by their parents in what is called home schooling—though it doesn’t all happen at home. Some children take classes in specific topics taught by private teachers or take part in college programs geared to younger students. According to Lynn McCawley, spokesperson for Prince George’s County Schools, the Hyattsville area - which includes University Park, Adelphi, and Colmar Manor - has 194 children being home schooled. As of August 2008, the whole county listed 4,189 home schooled students. The county requires that home schooling families either register their children and get approval for their work for them, or register with an accredited program. Why do home schooling parents do it? “We did it for freedom of choice,” said John Snogren. “We wanted to be able to focus our sons’ education.” Snogren’s older son is now majoring in performing arts at the University of Maryland, and John and his wife Valerie stressed music in his studies. His younger son is interested in medicine, and he’ll soon be

Vol. 5 No. 10

by Karen Anderson


obile vendors operating throughout Hyattsville will be held to stricter standards since the City Council adopted a policy to regulate the location and times allowed for vending and increase fines for violators. During a meeting on Sept.15, in an 8-2 vote the Hyattsville City Council passed an ordinance to tighten limitations on mobile vendors effective Oct. 15. A week later the council voted 6-4 to stall the implementation of the ordinance in designated parts of Hyattsville until Oct. 15, 2009. As a result, the council determined that the six trucks currently vending pupusas with city-issued permits on the 5600th block of Ager Road may continue to do so until the fall of 2009 as long as they do not create traffic or safety concerns. All other vendors must meet the restrictions

ORDINANCE continued on page 14

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

October 2008

Ordinance limits mobile wending within city

A man seeks donations at the corner of Chillum and Queens Chapel roads.

‘A way of interacting’ New café with artistic bent opens on Route 1

HOMESCHOOLING continued on page 12

by Lauren Cohen


Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781

hode Island Reds, with its bright red décor, red booths, red curtains, red floor and high ceilings, is both unique and familiar, and local Chris Brophy is eager to serve customers and receive their feedback. It may have taken a lot of work and quite a bit of time, but Reds, a café on Rhode Island Avenue brought to life by Brophy and friend Stuart Eisenberg, is officially open. “Your way of interacting just sets you apart from other places,” customer Marci LeFevre told Brophy one Friday morning in the coffee shop located near the North Brentwood border. Brophy, who has previously

Photo: Sarah Nemeth

worked mostly in what he refers to as trade professions, is still in the process of developing the café and figuring out what the public wants. “I don’t really feel like I need to hit the ground running,” Brophy said. “I can sort of find my way I think, and treat it like a work in progress.” As much as Brophy has put into getting Reds started, his friend Stuart Eisenberg was a catalyst for getting the café’s doors open. Eisenberg originally purchased the property for his woodworking studio, but when he became busy with other responsibilities he decided to sell the building. He struck a deal with Brophy, who fixed up the building

RHODE ISLAND REDS continued on page 13

Hamilton Street to see improvements in ‘09 by Maria Zilberman PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit # 43 Easton, MD 21601

T Chris Brophy enjoys a moment at his new restaurant, Rhode Island Reds, a café on U.S. Route 1. Photo: Lauren Cohen

he City of Hyattsville plans to have a final design for Hamilton Street improvements by the end of this month, with construction potentially beginning in early spring. Jim Chandler, Hyattsville’s

Community Development Manager, said the improvements would first address issues of pedestrian safety, followed by arts-oriented developments that pay tribute to the city’s artistic heritage.

HAMILTON STREET continued on page 13

Included: The October 8, 2008 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter—See Center Section

Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 2

Opinion: Talking about taboos

Tiny Bubbles by Michael Martucci

by Sarah Nemeth


nother issue of the Hyattsville Life & Times will not be published before the 2008 presidential election. I want to be cautiously optimistic that Nov. 4 – my 28th birthday – will leave America with a good presid … I mean present, but until the results are in, my stomach knots when I think about the possible outcomes. People like to say that it’s inappropriate to discuss religion, politics and money in social situations. Well, then, where is it appropriate to talk about these things? Let me speculate: You can talk about religion in church, politics in the Senate and money at the bank. That’s lame duck thinking. I’m not going to suggest who you should vote for. We have enough campaign signs, T-shirts and bumper stickers to inundate us all for another four years. Not that I’m the least bit suspicious over who Marylanders

will vote for – I see the Obama propaganda on T-shirts at the gym every day. And I’ve only seen one McCain / Palin yard sign in Hyattsville. So really, we are talking about our political, religious and economic views, now aren’t we? In a way, I can’t blame people for not wanting to talk about these issues. We live in such a hostile environment, and one that immediately shuts you up if you buck the system. Check out this Web site for topics that “shouldn’t” be discussed at work: Maybe this is why Fox News Channel pundit Bill O’Reilly is so disliked by so many people. He’s refreshing, blunt and the antithesis of so much of the “bleeding heart” jaw flapping that wafts around town. But that’s an opinion for another column. Meantime … on Nov. 4, vote. People in many countries cannot.



istorically there have been bubbles. Not simply the Lawrence Welk kind of tiny bubbles, but economic ones have ebbed and flowed during Hyattsville history. The most renowned bubble is the one that preceded the stock market crash of 1929. In the 1970s, shortfalls in energy created inflated prices that were not only unrealistic but were manipulated by U.S. enemies. The 1980s “me” generation spent excessively on creature comforts, and redefined American culture by standards dictated on Madison Avenue. The 1990s brought some significant bubbles in the technology sector - specifically the dot-com business. Much of Hyattsville is finally “connected.” Many however, missed the Internet boom that was performed with smoke and mirrors as entrepreneurs extracted money from investors for companies that amounted to little more than a slick Website, and stealth, Ferrari driving CEOs The 21st Century’s first bubble was the housing boom that began more than a decade earlier. While a modest 10 percent

gain in value over a five year period would have thrilled our parents, Hyattsville’s baby boomers came to rely upon unrealistic increases in home values. Annually, 30 - 40 percent value increases over a short decade became the standard, and owners viewed it as normal instead of an aberration. The city’s market was so hot that owners could list a sale and have a bidding war among numerous buyers. Sellers sometimes ended up with thousands of dollars more than the original asking price. The improbable and unsustainable conditions guaranteed a sale in a matter of days rather than months. Sale signs in Hyattsville appeared and disappeared like flashing lights on a Christmas tree. Today there aren’t enough fingers and toes to count the glut of homes for sale in the area. The real estate market fortunes led to the banking bubble where credit principles were discarded in favor of the gluttonous consumer appetite. Astute business-men offered consumers the opportunity to borrow more than their actual homes were worth,

TINY BUBBLES continued on page 3



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 Production, Electronic Ink Writers/Contribtors Colleen Aistis John Aquilino Keith Blackburn Steve Clements Bert Kapinus 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.

by Tim Hunt


n linking past preservation efforts with an emphasis on the need to ensure that those efforts are continued by future generations, a new fountain was dedicated at the University Hills Duck Pond in a National Public Lands Day ceremony on Sept. 27th. Chris Wagnon, Deputy Director of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and Park Ranger Kyle Lowe hosted the event.Working with Thomas Slezak, president of the University Hills Area Civic Association, Wagnon and Lowe were instrumental in getting the fountain installed. The movement created by the fountain will help the pond sustain its ecosystem by providing more oxygen to the water. It will also help rid it of algae that forms on the pond’s surface in the summer months. Different fountain heads offering varying spraying patterns will be used in the coming weeks to determine the most suitable option for the pond. “The duck pond is a natural oasis in an urban community,” Wagnon said. “With the water fowl, the birds, the fish and turtles in the pond, it gives the kids the opportunity to enjoy nature in their own backyard.” This is especially important because studies have recently suggested that many of today’s children suffer from a “nature deficiency.” University Hills residents are fortunate to have this natural resource and appreciate the efforts of MNCPPC for their stewardship of the pond and surrounding Northwest

Youngsters have fun at the University Hills duck pond after a fountain begins to spray into the water. Photo: Tim Hunt

Branch parkland. Tom Eichman, longtime resident and secretary of the UHACA, honored neighbors in a speech that detailed the history of the park and those who have put forth substantial time and energy maintaining it as an important resource for our tight-knit community. The highlight of the ceremony was the recognition of Alice Eichman, who was presented with a plaque by Wagnon for her service to the community over the past few decades Along with Frank Leser, who lived in University Hills from its in-

ception until his death 12 years ago, Eichman was a member of a park committee that served as a liaison to the M-NCPPC until the civic association briefly disbanded a few years ago. University Hills residents are indeed grateful for Eichman’s continued efforts and concerns with the area’s native plants and wildlife. After the ceremony in the pavilion, neighbors and guests, including Hyattsville Mayor William Gardiner and City Council members Krista Atteberry and Anthony Patterson (Ward 3) and Mark Matulef (Ward 2), walked over to the pond and

counted down as Kyle Lowe threw the switch and the fountain was turned on. There was still work to be done, however, as many volunteers then picked up trash in the parkland in an effort coordinated by M-NCPPC and Colleen Aistis, Hyattsville’s volunteer coordinator. A good time was had by all as neighbors celebrated and worked together in a ceremony that stressed the importance of preserving parkland in a time when increasing development competes for its space.

|THE PUBLICATION DEADLINE for articles and letters in the November issue is Friday, October 31st. |

Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 3 Commentary and opinion on history & politics

MissFloribunda Dear Miss Floribunda, Our vegetable garden has done well, but we're harvesting very little. Rabbits, squirrels and who knows what other creatures seem to be helping themselves to just about everything. We don't even have pears on our tree—they are eaten green. Of course shooting the little beasts is out of the question, but we're desperate. Could we catch them in Havahart traps and take them to a pooch park somewhere to give the dogs something to chase? Really, the situation is completely out of hand.This morning we saw a brazen squirrel run by in broad daylight, a ripe red tomato in his mouth.  –The McGregors of Gallatin Street   Dear McGregors, You are among the many victims of the “Magruder Park Gang” led by Bugsy Springer, Pogo the Poacher, Bunnyface Niblet, Quickcaw McCrow—not to mention their masked master, Al "Lightfingers" Racoon.  But be advised that both city and county ordinances forbid trapping these miscreants and tak-


continued from page 2

far from sound financial practice for both the borrower and the financial institution. Most are going to skate away having the period written-off as “glee run amok” instead of facing prosecution for shirking personal responsibility and the shady deception that actually took place.


ing them elsewhere. There are few unpopulated areas to take them to and there are no reform schools for them.  I've spoken with various gardeners about ways to save our harvests. Mr. and Mrs. Minnowhaven put out "protection" veggies on their back steps for the gang to take, and this seems to keep their garden safe. My neighbor Pattypanelope claims that she  grows so much that there is enough for everyone, including her family. I have found that my fearless dog, Barcus O'Droole, keeps both diurnal and nocturnal thieves at bay. Others report success growing garlic and onions among the vegetables.  Hot pepper sauce or powder is temporarily very effective but washes off in the rain.  Some nibblers are repelled by the odor of marigolds and nasturtiums. These ornamental plants  also deter many insects.  However, if you want a quick fix in order to save this year's crop, you might  try a product that no one I know has yet used - a hot pepper wax that does not wash off but which peels off when you wish. I hope someone will experiment

with it and report back.You can also make a  spray from mashed garlic, vegetable oil and water.  If your pear tree is small enough you might cover it with a net - although Aunt Sioux complains that her squirrel visitors deftly undo netting. Wire mesh is available but cumbersome.  Shiny CDs and aluminum pie pans hung in trees help keep birds  away.  Cousin Forsyth planted his fruit trees  so far from each other and other trees that the squirrels can't jump from one to the other, but not all of us have enough space to do that. And even so he has seen the occasional squirrel scamper through his gauntlet of dogs and run up a tree for snacks.  If anyone has other helpful ideas, please join us at the next meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 at City Hall, 4310 Gallatin St.

The latest bubble exists in the energy markets and at this writing is bursting. Petroleum is overpriced by about 45 percent. Instead of $145 per barrel, oil should be about $80. The rest is market manipulation, speculation, hysteria and greed. Then again those are the usual traits that supply the extra hot air to inflate any bubble. What the next bubble will be no

one knows. We can only hope that people wake up. Realize that most things that seem too good to be true usually bare their teeth in time. We could use some levelheaded thinking instead of the usual emotional frenzy that accompanies these economic anomalies. That however, is as likely as a Lawrence Welk concert without tiny bubbles.

Questions may be sent to floribundav@ Miss Floribunda is the collected wisdom of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society compiled and edited by Victoria Hille.

Virtuous leaders?


he choice for president has been narrowed down to Barack Obama and John McCain. The combination of publicity in the press, polls and primary elections has limited the choice to these two men.The candidates have taken up the usual positions, “country first,” “change,” “reform” and “a new beginning.” Also as usual each candidate is disliked for a variety of reasons by large segments of the population. Normally when people choose something they narrow the field down to things they like. People will narrow their choice of a new car to the make and model they like and then choose the one they like the most. Choosing a president is different. The public seems to narrow their presidential choice down to candidates they don’t like. Then they choose the lesser of two evils. This was how the current unpopular president was chosen. The best thing about George W. Bush was that he was not Al Gore or John Kerry. Some people preferred Gore and Kerry because they were not Bush. Obama’s greatest qualification may be that he is not John McCain. I frequently receive emails trying to convince me that Obama or McCain are unfit and unqualified to be president. It is puzzling that Obama and McCain are the chosen candidates when so many people find them undesirable. Obama is critical of McCain’s support for the war in Iraq. Obama promises to pull soldiers out of Iraq but at the same time he favors sending soldiers to fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama’s running mate

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Joe Biden has been as hawkish for war as the current Vice President Dick Cheney. Switching Cheney for Biden is not “change.” Both candidates plan to continue the unpopular wars abroad. Somehow the public must choose between two candidates who will do what is unpopular. How could this have happened? The character of our next president does not seem to be of concern, but it should be.The argument that a man’s private life has nothing to do with his public life is false. Virtue is a quality the public should desire in their leaders because without it the common good cannot be maintained. Great thinkers throughout history like Aristotle, Cicero and Confucius recognized the importance of virtuous leaders. The character of a person is known by their habits. Virtue is a good habit and the virtuous person is proficient in goodness. A moral person does not possess one virtue in isolation. Cicero said, “If you confess to not having one particular virtue, it must be that you have none at all.” To possess one virtue is to have them all. All men and women are obliged to be prudent, just, temperate and courageous, especially men and women in leadership positions. Virtues are embedded in the natural law, the universal moral law to which we are all bound. When we violate natural law by walking off of a cliff the result is swift and we go down. The consequence of choosing immoral leaders may not be as immediate as stepping off a cliff but the result will be just as sure.

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Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 4

Yard policy a disturbance for nature-loving resident by Andreus Narain


erb Hille, a Gallatin Street resident with tall grass and plants in his front yard, considers Hyattsville’s recently enacted grass policy to be an annoyance. Earlier this year the City Council passed a law that made it a violation of code for residents to allow grass to grow above 10 inches on their property. The law was passed in April, but not effective until late May. The city’s code enforcement department began its annual walking tours on May 1. During this procedure, inspectors travel through Hyattsville neighborhoods inspecting residential properties in designated areas of Hyattsville. They look for violations ranging from tall grass to peeling paint. Hille admits that his yard is overgrown, but carefully tended. The overgrowth has allowed various forms of wildlife to live in his yard. “The ecology is better now,” Hille said. “I have seen salamanders in the yard.” For Hille, the plants serve as both

a home and food source for the wildlife in his yard. The animals live in the tall grass and eat the plants and flowers. Without hesitation Hille said he isn’t worried about being cited during the walking tours. He doesn’t mind if someone wants to stand in front of his yard and measure his grass. “[The] city’s main concern is obviously to correct violations,” said Jerome Hampton, Hyattsville Code Enforcement Supervisor. “Our inspectors are out every day.” Hampton said that codes are enforced in two ways - proactively and reactively. To be proactive, inspectors patrol residential areas looking for violations. As a reactive measure, inspectors respond to complaints by residents and other sources. If a code enforcement inspector spots a violation, they leave a notice on the property and also mail another notice to the property owner. Residents then have 18 days to correct the violation. If it is not corrected the resident will receive a municipal citation, and the city will hire a private contractor to bring the yard up to

code at the expense of the resident. If a resident is incapable of bringing their yard up to code because of a disability or financial reasons they should contact the inspector who left the citation. All inspectors’ contact information is left on the notices posted on properties. As previously reported in the April 2008 edition of the Hyattsville Life & Times, animal control was a strong motivation for the new grass policy. Large grasses and overgrown yards are likely to attract rodents.The flowers and plants that are grown in the yards would then serve as a food source for the rats. Snakes are also prone to living in tall grasses, creating safety risks. Mosquitoes breeding in standing water from certain gardens may contribute to the spread of diseases. With the new policy the likelihood of animal infestations is reduced. Residents are encouraged to inspect their own property for violations to ensure that their property is up to current regulations.The walking tours are scheduled to end on Oct. 31.

Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 5

City Council: under its own thumb by Karen Anderson


he City Council is looking into implementing rules designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of council meetings, changes that Mayor William Gardiner described as “periodic updates.” Earlier this year at a council-staff retreat, local officials pooled together suggestions to improve the rules of orderly communication at official meetings and more clearly lay out the expectations of council members regarding conduct and attendance. The result is “Motion #16709-08, 2008 Council Policies and Communication Procedures.” The motion was initially set to go before the council on Sept. 15. It was tabled two weeks in a row because time ran out at council meetings before all issues on the agenda could be addressed. Gardiner said typical council meetings in Hyattsville can take up to three hours but that if meetings are more efficient they could possibly be completed in two. According to the rules included in the motion, if passed and en-


Upcoming activities at Hyattsville’s only bookstore Oct. 16: Book Group discussion of "Glass Castle" a 7 p.m. Oct. 18: Hyattsville resident and author, Julia Duin will discuss her new book, Quitting Church: Why the Faithful Are Fleeing and What to Do about It. This event begins at 3 p.m.

Hyattsville police officer suspended, investigation of alleged excessive force used The Hyattsville City Police Department began an investigation regarding an incident that took place during the early morning hours of Sept. 29th. Though no complaint has yet been received, the department began investigating shortly after the incident. It is alleged that Officer Todd Prawdzik, who has been with the department for just under two years, was involved in a traffic dispute with two Hyattsville men near the 4100 block of Queensbury Road. Prawdzik was off-duty at the time. According to police, blows were exchanged, and both Prawdzik and another man, Matthew Crouch were injured. Prawdzik has been relieved of his police powers, pending further investigation of the matter by Hyattsville Police Internal Affairs Investigators. The Hyattsville Police Department urges anyone with firsthand knowledge of the incident to contact 301-985-5060.

Global cultures featured at craft fair On Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 the Hyattsville Mennonite Church will host its 23rd annual International Craft Sale. 4217 East-West Highway The event features handcrafted

forced, council members could be limited to two minutes or less for comments, particularly when a motion is on the table. “We’ve done new policies and procedures in the past, and they work and they’re nice, but our meetings are just as long,” said Councilman Douglas Dudrow (Ward 1), who has served on the council for 30 years. The new policies also would allow “all council members ... an opportunity to speak once on a topic before any one council member has the opportunity to speak more than once on a topic.” At times, some council members have expressed frustration over the length of debate. For instance, after spending more than 45 minutes on a single topic during a meeting on Sept. 15, Council Member Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) said, “We have discussed this since July ... we have talked and talked it to death.” “The biggest problem is we’ve done so much bickering between us,” said Council Member Paula Perry (Ward 4), when asked about the pace of city council meetings. “We do not work collectively as a council ... I would like

to see the bickering stop.” Gardiner suggested that limiting time and staying strictly on topic “really does help the meeting move forward,” but he also emphasized the importance of discussion at council meetings. “It’s not always easy for me to request for people to stop making comments because of a time consideration,” Gardiner said. “The flow of discussion of items leads to better public policy, so if you restrict those discussions too much, then you end up with policies that aren’t fully thought out, fully discussed.” Perry said discussion would suffer if the proposed time restrictions were enforced during council meetings. “You’re not always going to get your point across because you’re staying within two minutes,” she said. Although discussion may be more regulated during council meetings, Gardiner said the new policies would create a work session designed specifically for discussion, to be held for an hour before the second council meeting of the month. The new policies also spell out the expectations for attendance of council members, stating that “Council

members are expected to attend all council meetings, special council Councilman meetings, Carlos Lizanne and comm i t t e e meetings when they are the committee liaison.” Although the new policies do not specifically explain what actions will be taken against council members who are absent or excessively absent, Gardiner said a charter passed by the council in 2002 allows the council to call a public hearing in the event a councilman is absent for more than half the meetings in a calendar year, and declare a seat vacant if they wish. The council called such a hearing on Sept. 8 in response to Dudrow’s excessive absences in 2008 due to illness. The council did not ask Dudrow to step down. According to meeting minutes, Dudrow has been present at every meeting since the hearing. At the time of the hearing, Dudrow said, “Even though I haven’t

been here, it’s not that I’ve turned my back on my job.” This idea was echoed by Perry, who said Dudrow was “working behind the scenes,” though he was not at council meetings. Gardiner said the specific expectations regarding attendance were “not really in response to Dudrow’s absences.” “I think if we were to adopt the policies and enforce them, that it would help council focus better on the business at hand and help each of us come to meetings a little better prepared than maybe we do at the moment,” Gardiner said. He said a challenge for the Hyattsville City Council is its size, which is second only to the Baltimore City Council. “We are a large body and these types of policies would help us address the city’s business.”

items from around the world, including India, Vietnam, Kenya, South Africa, Peru and Nicaragua. The event is conducted in partnership with Ten Thousand Villages, a project of the Mennonite Central Committee. Ten ThousandVillages provides high quality, fair trade items to the U.S. market. The International Craft Sale is run entirely by volunteers and does not benefit Hyattsville Mennonite Church. Selected items at the sale include jewelry, weavings, pottery, carved wood, children’s toys and

holiday decorations. The sale runs on Oct.31 from 4-9 p.m. and on Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Hyattsville Mennonite Church is located at 4217 East West Highway. For more information call 301.927.7327.

Prince George’s County bird - during the 2008 breeding season. Sixteen bluebird trails were monitored throughout the county on a weekly basis to observe how many nest attempts, eggs, hatchlings, nestlings and fledglings each box produced. Although the nesting boxes are constructed for bluebirds, other species utilized the boxes as well. Severe mid-summer storms were challenging for the breeding bluebirds. Several nesting boxes were damaged, and some chicks were lost. However,

dozens of chicks fledged during the 2008 season on M-NCPPC trails. We had a very good year with 379 fledglings, up from 232 in 2007,” said Park Ranger Erica Hahn, who will be coordinating nest box repair and replacement throughout the winter and early spring. To volunteer with Hahn’s project, call 301.627.7755. The amount of cumulative fledglings has increased each year since 2005, according to information provided by M-NCPPC.

M-NCPPC: Eastern Bluebird count up this year The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staff and volunteers continued monitoring the Eastern Bluebird - the

Councilman Douglas Dudrow

Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 6

Plans for live/work space could transform this tired site into a vibrant corner in Hyattsville’s arts district. Photo: Valerie Bonk

Plans to revive buildings on Farragut approved by planning committee by Valerie Bonk


n Sept. 2, the Hyattsville Planning Committee approved a proposal to convert 4332 and 4334 Farragut Street, the old fire station and former city hall, into living and commercial space. Garth Rockcastle, Dean of the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and founding principal of the architectural firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd., presented the plan. His proposed adaptive reuse of the space is to convert the original upstairs of both buildings to four loft living spaces and the first floors to commercial functions. “We are also adding three residential loft spaces to the north or rear

side of the site to increase roundthe-clock liveliness and energy of the downtown area,� he said. All residential spaces will have off-street parking for the convenience and safety of both incoming residents and drivers in the area. “This project will further contribute to the growth of the [Hyattsville] arts district,� said Nkosi Yearwood, a member of the planning committee. “It is an adaptive reuse of an existing historic resource and it will integrate green and sustainable elements.� The reconstructed buildings will be enhanced with “progressive sustainability features,� including a green roof, solar collectors, super insulation and recycled materials.

These environmentally friendly aspects of the construction were added “to respect and uphold benefits to the community as well as future users and owners,� Rockcastle said. To help the environment, construction will include brick pavers to retain and percolate most of the site’s collected rainwater into the ground instead of channeling it to public storm sewers, Rockcastle said. Other eco-friendly improvements include street front trees and landscaping, an interior landscaped courtyard and a vine covered green screen on the north end of the side facing Church Place. The proposal is now headed to the City Council for review and possible approval on Oct. 6.

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Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 7

Overlay regulations headache Alleged signal violators get green for local church group by Andreus Narain


he Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement was issued a stop work order earlier this year when converting the former Marche Florist building, 4800 Rhode Island Ave., into a church. The Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources issued the order because the property falls within certain restrictions, one of which prohibits the use intended by the church group. Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation, said that according to a 2005 planning overlay applied to Hyattsville along U.S. Route 1, construction in the area now has a specific goal of economic revitalization through arts and entertainment.The intention is to create a combination of commercial and arts use areas. Residential areas would then support the commercial areas. “Hyattsville is an economic development engine,� Eisenberg said, adding that the uses of the land are designed as a “revitalization strategy of arts as [a] tool for economic development.� The Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, or any other group, cannot convert the former florist building, which was

sold for around $1 million, into a church because it is located within the overlay restrictions. The Prince George’s County-designated Arts and Entertainment District has its own set of regulations, which stipulates its land use. “Land use is law,� Eisenberg said. Timothy Okeke, pastor of the Watchman church, said his group was not initially aware of the overlay zone’s requirements for redevelopment.

According to a 2005 planning overlay applied to Hyattsville along U.S. Route 1, construction in the area now has a specific goal of economic revitalization through arts and entertainment. The intention is to create a combination of commercial and arts use areas. Residential areas would then support the commercial areas. “We never knew,� he said. “We were never accurately informed.� He expressed his disappointment by stating that his group is paying for two buildings, but only able

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to use one of them. Their current church is located at 6603 Adrian St. in New Carrollton. Property owners usually hire someone to explain land use regulations. “The first question realtors need to know is can we do this here,� Eisenberg said. “Land use regulations are public information and are available in public libraries and across the Internet.� The land use requirements are a grass roots effort by the community that was developed over the course of many years. Planning began in 2001 and the regulations were adopted in 2005. Hundreds of people from each municipality worked together to determine the land use regulations It is the “community’s will,� Eisenberg said. Okeke and Eisenberg both said that the appeal process for changing the land use characteristics of the building would be a long and arduous process. The Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement describes itself as a Roman Catholic Nigerian-based group with over 50,000 members. It is a branch of the Voice of the Last Days Ministries Company, with missions located around the world.

lights from courts by Anke Bettina Irgang


he City of Hyattsville is investigating the cause of a series of citations issued for failing to stop at a red light at the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Hamilton Street. The investigation was launched following complaints by citizens who said they had received citations erroneously. Right turns on red are prohibited only for trucks at this intersection. Ally Spencer received a citation in the summer after being captured on camera turning right on a red at that corner. “When I arrived for my court date a few weeks ago, I found about 10 people there who got the same citation,� she said. “I wasn’t surprised because I knew some of my neighbors and friends had gotten it as well.� Before going to court, Spencer had tried to argue her case with the Hyattsville Police Department, but was diverted to

the court system. “I was told to either show up or be held in contempt of court,� she said Maria Lee, a resident who received her citation as far back as May 2004, had a similar experience. “When I came to court, the judge dismissed the charge and he seemed aggravated,� she said. “He asked if anyone else was there with the same citation and told them to just go home. He seemed familiar with the issue.� According to the Hyattsville Police Department, 1,221 citations were issued for failing to stop at this light between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year alone. Less than 5 percent of those cited – 51 people - requested a court date. More than half the citations brought before a judge were dismissed. Mayor William Gardiner said that the problem is currently

SIGNAL VIOLATORS continued on page 11

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Throngs attend International Festival

artwork for festival goers. Vendors make funnel cake into Photo: Karen Anderson

by Karen Anderson


n Sept. 20, Hamilton Street overflowed with 1,000 festival goers enjoying performances, food, crafts and other entertainment at Hyattsville’s 13th annual International Street Festival, This year’s festivities included 36 booths and vendors. "I'm as pleased as I can be," said Joanne Mood, director of Hyattsville’s Department of Recreation and the Arts. Mood described this year as "the biggest crowd we've ever had." "There's great diversity in this group... that's one of the great things about Hyattsville," she said. The festival featured Colours 100, a youth performing arts group based in Prince George's County. Other appearances included Mandy the Clown, Positive Vibrations steel drum orchestra and Alex Martin Amerique Latine, a Brazilian jazz quartet. "We like to have local artists as our entertainment,� said Cheri Everhart, a recreation department worker. “We have tons of talented people right here.� The night was capped off by a 25-minute fireworks show hosted by Fireworks Production.

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Local chef to offer cooking classes to local residents

by Andreus Narain


hef Rasheed Abdurrahman, owner of the organic cafĂŠ, the Wild Onion, plans to offer engaging cooking classes to eager University Town Center residents. When asked why he thought there was a market for cooking classes in the area Abdurrahman said that because of the increased popularity of Food Network programs, more and more people have become interested in cooking. “Anyone who likes food will be


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under investigation. “There is a possibility that the stop bar is in the wrong place or that the cameras aren’t working as they should,� he said. “The chief of police has contacted the vendors of the cameras to find out if they’re functioning properly.� Hyattsville Police Chief Douglas Holland said he had received no reports of camera malfunctions so far and that the citations were not issued for the turning on red, but for failing to stop at or before the intersection’s stop line. “I think the problem is that people are unaware of what the law says,� Holland said. “It requires a com-

interested,� he said. Abdurrahman expects there will be a mixture of people taking the classes ranging from young singles to couples. Darlene Pinnock, wife and helper of Abdurrahman, believes that many active moms will take part in the classes. “Busy moms want to know how they can prepare food quickly,� she said. Nicole Stewart, patron and mother of three children, said “I don’t love cooking, but I don’t mind taking time to prepare food that tastes really good.� Abdurrahman plans for there to

plete stop at or before the stop line. So if a car is turning right at a certain speed, it will be captured by the camera. People should look at the speed it says they were going when the camera captured them, to find out if that is what happened.� As for the citations that were dismissed in court, Holland said he is not aware of the specific reasons for dismissal, but knows that some judges have upheld the citations. Lee said it’s a one word against another’s. “I am sure I stopped at the line,� she said. “I guess there are two sides to this story, and no way to find out which is true. On the one hand, who are they to say I didn’t stop, but then also, who am I to say I did?�

be two types of classes - participatory and demonstrative. In the participatory classes students will be offered a much more hands-on approach to cooking. The classes will generally have 14 participants to allow for a more intimate cooking experience. The classes are expected to run for about 2 hours.The price for this class will range from $70-$100 depending on the type of food that is used. There will also be classes specially designed for people of different skill levels. Some participatory classes

will be geared for beginners and others for more experienced chefs. Beginner chefs can expect to start by learning the basics of cooking, including how to make soups and different ways to cook fish. More elaborate dishes will be used for the higher level classes. In the larger demonstrative classes, students will be shown how to prepare various dishes. These classes are expected to run for about an hour and will cost between $35-$40. The classes will be taught by Abdurrahman and some visiting chefs.

They are expected to being in later this month. Classes will be held 2-3 times per week, with one or two of the classes being held on the weekend. “Life can get very routine,� Stewart said. “So if you can bring a little bit of excitement to your life, even if it’s just to your plate, that can help make your life a little less dull.� The Wild Onion, at University of Town Center, opened July 7. It specializes in organic food and drink. It serves breakfast and lunch with an assortment of deli sandwiches, soups and seafood.






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Ramblings &Musings by Bert Kapinus

Clean up for safety’s sake

A call to residents


A DeMatha student helps clean up trash from around the First United Methodist Church at Belcrest and Queens Chapel roads.

Photo: Krista Atteberry

by Krista Atteberry


lose to 20 DeMatha Black Student Union club members volunteered on Sept. 27th to help clean up efforts at the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville. Under the leadership and supervision of club mentor Vaughn Holsey, the group arrived ready to go and went straight to work removing invasive plant species and trash. The church owns a corner swath of land between Belcrest Road/ Queens Chapel Road/ East West Highway. A large area of woods and brush behind the church building and paved parking lot had, over the years, become overgrown with inva-

sive plant species. Not too long ago dense and dark underbrush area close to the sidewalk along Belcrest Road to the Prince Georges Plaza Metro caused safety concerns for pedestrians walking around the area at night. Those concerns became heightened as crime incidents occurred. First United Methodist’s Board of Trustees took action and started organizing monthly clean up efforts that began in March, according to Martha Schrader, a church trustee and lead organizer of the effort. “The invasive plant species just took over and it was hard to see in there – we needed to address the safety concerns,� she said.

Volunteers from the city, county and neighboring businesses have joined church members in their clean up efforts. The area closest to the Belcrest sidewalk has been cleared and progress continues towards East West Highway. Holsey said it is important to show students “to give is to receive� and the importance of working hard. “This is what DeMatha is all about – giving to the community,� he said, adding that DeMatha’s Black Student Union members work to surpass the regular service requirements of the school. Van Crawford, a DeMatha junior, said he participated in the clean up day to “lead by example�

hen I started writing this column, I was told that I could write about anything I wanted and as many words as I wanted. I took the directions literally. I rambled on for pages, mused for more pages and frequently my writing would rival War and Peace. As time went on, the paper evolved and my editor, who is affectionately known to me as “Sarah the Slasher,� reduced the column to 600 words. That wasn’t bad because by then I was having trouble coming up with ideas for the column (more about that later). There was one occasion where I lost my head and I was either inspired by my natural artistic bent or the third gin and tonic. I don’t know which. I wrote a piece that must have been 10,000 words. Then Sarah (the Slasher) used up most of her editing pencil to reduce it to a manageable size. There’s an old Ukrainian expression that God takes care of children, fools and drunks. I certainly don’t fall into the first of these categories, but I probably do the latter two. About the time the 600 word maximum was instituted, whether through God or otherwise, my creative juices began to decline. When you only have a thimble of creativity, it doesn’t take much to lose it. Where before when I used to be able to put the ideas on paper (that doesn’t equate with being humor-

ous) the words would just come out. However, the longer I wrote the column, the musing became more difficult and the rambling harder. So, God came to my aid. I received a memo from Sarah (I’m not going to use the word Slasher again) and she indicated that the columns would be downsized to 500 words instead of the previous 600 words. I view this as a blessing. I look forward to even further reductions in the future. Assuming I live long enough, the column banner may be limited to the letters R and M (for Ramblings and Musings) and my picture will be reduced to just an eyeball, the words of the column being limited to essentially “Hi,� “Goodbye,� or the equivalent. I suspect that such a change would be commensurate with my reservoir of creativity. In case you haven’t stopped reading and have gotten to this point, you’re asking yourself, “WHAT IS HE TALKING ABOUT?� I can only say that this is one of those months that I could not think of anything remotely interesting to ramble about. (Yeah, Kapinus, like your columns about your dog, your wife’s car being stolen and the green tea sign next to the railroad tracks reeeaaaaallly interesting!) So, this is a desperate effort to fulfill my obligation, not only to Sarah (the “youknow-who�), but also to both of my loyal readers.


them play in the Maryland Classical Youth Orchestra or are involved in Sea Cadets or Boy Scouts or the Home School Theater in Montgomery County, which has singing, dancing, acting, and Shakespeare troupes. They also play sports. “In all of this, we pray the rosary together as a family,� she said. “We’re passing the torch of our faith on to our kids, and when they grow up, it’ll be their turn.� Home school mom Cindy Hess, who lived in Hyattsville for years, said her Mormon religion didn’t influence her choice, but she saw the light of learning go out in her children when they started school, and she wanted them to recapture it. “The system isn’t always good for kids,� she said.�You have to pay attention to your children’s needs. My oldest was home schooled from first- to 12th-grade and is taking a break from college to do two years of service for our church. The middle child is a senior in high school taking college courses. My youngest one is 12, and he’s gone in and out of the public school. “In the end, you trust your kids and keep at it.�

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watching an operation at a hospital For some parents, religion plays a major role in the decision to home school. A co-op called Hyattsville Catholic Moms has 10 families. Its members offer each other practical and spiritual support as they raise and home school their children. “Our faith was certainly part of our decision,� said Jolene Bowman, whose son Gregory is in first-grade. “And I’m also excited about being part of Gregory’s education and the education I’ll get as well.� When she and her husband Matt teach Gregory Latin, they will learn it along with him. Therese Lipovsky, who still teaches four of her six children, said there are a lot of resources for home schooling families. The St. Thomas More Institute, a branch of Avalon School, a Catholic boys’ school in Gaithersburg, has after-school classes. When the Lipovsky children reach age 17, they can take classes at community colleges. They take advantage of the many educational opportunities in the area. Some of

Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

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hAMILTON STREET continued from page 1

“Everything from a functional standpoint will be the first phase,” Chandler said. Hyattsville is one of four municipalities in the Prince George’s County designated Arts and Entertainment District, a designation that allows for arts-oriented infrastructure developments in the area. Initial improvements along the Hamilton Street Artway, which stretches from the Magruder Park entrance to 38th Avenue, include

provements to Hamilton Street in 2002 and has spent several years acquiring the necessary funding, Chandler said. Now, the city has $329,000 in combined grant money from the county and state and is ready to move forward with the project. Potential artistic improvements for the area, such as new street lighting and a seating wall along the park featuring local art, will come after infrastructure developments, said Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville Community Development Commission. “There are funding limitations so

The artway project is about celebrating art and developing a place where people can gather and focus their lives through the prism of art.

Rhode Island Reds café is intended to eventually be a hub for local artists and community events. Photo: Lauren Cohen


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and received low rent rates from Eisenberg. “My hope is that Chris succeeds and that it’s so good for him that he wants to move into the space next door,” Eisenberg said. Right now Brophy offers café classics such as sandwiches, pastries, beverages and salads. He said he does have bigger ideas for the shop and mentioned selling fresh produce

and seasonal specialties, like pumpkins and Christmas wreaths. Currently, Rhode Island Reds is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Brophy said that once he expands the hours he would like to have fixed-price meals, the first of which he said will be on a Friday in October or November and will have an Italian theme. He is also considering getting a beer and wine license, which would allow him to serve alcohol to patrons.

Although there are no events lined up yet, Brophy said that the café is also intended to be a place for artistic exhibitions and other entertainment, and he is interested in doing a short-story reading series. “I think it’s the personal touch and the finer, more quality goods,” Brophy said of the coffee shop and what will set it apart from the competitors. And so time will tell if Brophy and customers like LeFevre, who said she will visit the shop again, will make Rhode Island Reds a hit.


building continuous sidewalks where possible, clearly defining driving lanes and on-street parking areas, adding bike lanes and building a median strip that runs east from the 38th Avenue intersection to The Store’s Hamilton Street entrance. The first phase will also include a raised entablature at the Magruder Park entrance intersection to help with pedestrian safety and drainage issues in the area. The city first began planning im-

we will have to work in pieces,” said Eisenberg, who eventually hopes to begin running juried art competitions and bringing public art into the community. “The artway project is about celebrating art and developing a place where people can gather and focus their lives through the prism of art,” he said. The city hopes to begin talks with state officials about improvements west of 38th Avenue once the Artway is complete, Chandler said.

Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 14


continued from page 1

What do you think?

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in the new ordinance by Oct. 15, 2008. The ordinance is intended to reenact Chapter 90 of the Hyattsville code regarding peddling and soliciting and update and clarify language, according to the objective stated in a council meeting agenda. Hyattsville Mayor William Gardiner said that last year the Prince George’s County Council adopted an amendment to their existing ordinance regarding mobile vendors, but were unable to enforce it within the municipal boundaries of Hyattsville. “We need to update our venues ordinance in any case,” said Gardiner, adding that the changes would make the city compliant with the county regulations. Gardiner said the new ordinance will require mobile vendors to move their place of vending after no more than 15 minutes in one location and, similarly, vendors will not be permitted to vend from a vehicle that stays in one location for more than 15 minutes. Further, the ordinance dictates how close mobile vendors can operate to specific locations, such as schools or private property. The ordinance passed on Sept. 15 after more than 40 minutes of discussion. Almost immediately after its passage, the council began discussing the possibility of postponing the implementation date. The council initially proposed exempting the 5600th block of Ager Road until April 1, 2009, which would create a small grace period for the six major pupusa vendors working on this specific portion of Ager Road. Commenting on the general issue of the grace period, Jerry Hampton, director of code enforcement, said, “The reason we license is to regulate. We aren’t regulating this. We’re voting to allow this for a period of time you decide.” Some representatives said that by allowing the grace period, the council was backing down from a

reasonable decision reached after an already lengthy debate. “We need some backbone,” said council member Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5).“We need to follow what we voted on ... it’s gone on long enough.” Others, such as council member Carlos Lizanne (Ward 4), saw a grace period as crucial, saying “this will give a chance to these people.” In a phone interview after the meeting, Lizanne said he recognized the general ordinance to be “against the Spanish community” and “very cynic and arrogant.” He said that some families paid in the neighborhood of $70,000 to $100,000 for a truck to use for food vending, but by the nature of food vending would have to spend more than 15 minutes parked in a given location in order to cook their product. Thus, under the new

making decisions that are right for their families,” said resident Jessica Guzman, who spoke during the public comment portion of the Sept. 22 meeting in favor of an extended grace period. For Manuel Florentino, the limitations add another layer of restriction onto his family’s struggle to make a living in the area. “When [we] began this [we] started to save some money but [we] were robbed at home and … lost everything [we had] in savings,” he said through a Spanish translator. Florentino said the money his family makes through selling food from their pupusa truck is helping them remain financially stable, as they are having problems making mortgage payments and he has had no luck with finding alternative employment. Throughout the council’s discus-

Manuel Florentino says the money his family makes from their pupusa truck helps them remain financially stable, as they are having problems making mortgage payments and he has had no luck with finding alternative employment. ordinance, there will be no room for mobile food vendors in Hyattsville, according to Lizanne. Alternatively, Gardiner and others on the council said they understand the disadvantage for non-mobile vendors, such as restaurant owners, who are required to pay expensive taxes that mobile vendors could avoid. Council member Paula Perry (Ward 4) said she has received over 50 complaints in the past year and a half about the mobile vendors. “They were complaining about the trash, people sitting around on tables, you name it...” she said. Perry said that complaints came from a variety of members of her constituency, including Latinos. “Residents are irate,” she said. The public comment portion of the Sept. 22 city council meeting presented voices from both sides of the issue. “That’s their living... they are

sion, Perry remained unsupportive of the grace period. “This is kind of a slap in the face to the Code Enforcement Committee,” she said. “We were pushed and pushed to get this [ordinance] to council and now that it’s here we’re postponing it.” The council voted six-to-four to support the motion as amended to create a grace period for the designated area on Ager Road until Oct. 15, 2009. Dissenters included the following council members: Douglas Dudrow (Ward 1), William F. Tierney II (Ward 2), Paula Perry (Ward 4), and Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5). “My colleagues were persuaded to be very generous in this situation, given some of the challenges that were expressed by the families who attended the council meeting,” Gardiner, who did not vote on either motion, said after the meeting.

Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

Page 15

The BackPage by Giosue’ Santarelli

Got Milk?


ave we come to a national milk shortage? Prices are certainly high, but the real concern is for supply. Once upon a cock-a-doodle-doo dawn the precious creamy liquid was delivered right to every American doorstep by a guy dressed in white. Not the Man from Glad or Mr. Clean, the milkman was once a vital part of the American landscape. He became as useless as the Maytag Repairman, and then disappeared as quickly as Jimmy Hoffa. You can find him in some faint remnant here in Hyattsville, but by and large few have seen his horse-drawn wagon in generations. Given the changing consumer marketplace, one has to ask if some tragedy has befallen Bessie the Cow on the dairy farm. Maybe Farmer Brown’s hands are just too cold to get enough milk out of the old girl. The reason to mention this is that over the past couple of months there seems to have been a milkshake shortage in fast food restaurants. Ray Kroc would be horrified! For a sudden “shake-less� crisis to

strike, there must be something serious afoot, or is that ahoof? Is ole’ Bessie’s udder on strike? I suspect that a vast Middle East bovine cartel is manipulating the milking and putting the pinch on ice cream lovers and milkshake connoisseurs. What will happen when we can’t fill up our 18 bowls of corn flakes (needed to achieve our daily requirements of vitamins) with milk? Will we be forced to conserve and eat cereal that only takes one bowl to be nutritionally equal? I suppose as a nation we will be restricted to purchasing milk on odd or even days of the calendar based upon whether we are on an even keel, or if our shrink labels us as odd. I’m sure we’ll go to great lengths to attempt to find alternative sources. Goat milk tastes sweeter, but those creatures only have one stomach apiece, and they eat just about anything. Who wants their milk tasting like old tin cans, rotten banana peels or Ma Kettle’s laundry consumed right off the farm clothesline by the animal kingdom’s one-man gar-

bage show? Anyone who has tasted evaporated milk knows that choosing between it and goat cheese is a toss-up of gag-like proportions. With the secret milk mystery occurring right beneath our noses, Jack’s swapping of the family cow for a couple of beanstalk beans sure looks like an even worse mistake. I expect that if spiraling dairy prices and corporate greed are allowed to run rampant that the family farm will have to make a comeback. So what if we live in Metropolis? Forward thinkers will seek a barn in every backyard because we need our milk. The political cry used to be “a chicken in every pot,� but now it will have to be “a heifer in every home.� We have to get to the bottom of this looming calamity before other areas are deeply affected. Suppose this city-wide farming spreads to include chickens, because of an egg emergency? We must tackle the milk mystery before we find ourselves drilling off the coast for milk from sea cows. Of course that could never happen.












Hyattsville Life&Times | October 2008

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Hyattsville Life & Times October 2008 Issue  
Hyattsville Life & Times October 2008 Issue  

Included: The October 8, 2008 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter—See Center Section Chris Brophy enjoys a moment at his new restaurant, Rhod...