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Editor Sarah Nemeth visits Baltimore's The Book Thing PAGE 2

Former Hyattsville resident visits her old house and gets a birthday surprise. PAGE 3

Cassie Johnson lists five easy ways to be happy. The best part? It involves naps. PAGE 5

An ongoing traffic study of Hyattsville’s streets has surfaced some resident dissatisfaction over methods of slowing down traffic. “Traffic circles, speed humps, raised intersections, [and] chokers are not traffic calming devices, they’re traffic infuriating devices,” said David Marshall of 37th Avenue. “People speed from one hump to the next, worse than they would normally.” Marshall also expressed concern about emergency vehicles not being able to negotiate speed humps in a timely manner. “If you’re having a heart attack [and] there’re 12 humps to go over, you’ve got to slow down every time — you’re not making it to the hospital,” Marshall said. “So I would implore you to erase that from the program.” Preliminary results of the Citywide Traffic Study and Transportation Plan, were presented to council members and residents at a public meeting last month. The study is being conducted by Sabra, Wang & Associates, a Baltimore-based engineering firm that specializes in traffic engineering and transportation planning. The first phase of the study involved the collection and analy-

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

TraFFIc continued on page 9


Vol. 6 No. 8

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781

by Paula Minaert

currently attend Rosa Parks, Hyattsville, Lewisdale, Carole Highlands, and University Park elementary schools may be required to attend the new school, which will have a capacity of 790 students and serve grades pre-K through six. The earliest date that the new school could be completed is August 2012. Prince George’s County School Board members Heather Iliff (Dist. 2) and Amber Waller (at large) welcomed attendees to the meeting, which was held, according to Iliff, to have the community meet the architect, better understand the planning process, and determine the best way to continue the process with the community. The “H” shaped building will be two stories tall and will total 80,000 to 87,000 square feet -- about the size of two grocery stores. It will be designed as

A city resident has filed a civil lawsuit against two Hyattsville officials, requesting access to public records about the actions of a former Hyattsville police officer. Attorneys for Matthew J. Crouch, who was allegedly assaulted by former HPD officer Todd O. Prawdzik, said that the police department refused them access to a police report of the incident. “We had to file suit against the City of Hyattsville to get disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act,” said Philip J. Sweitzer, Crouch’s attorney. The suit, filed July 19, names Mayor William Gardiner and Police Chief Douglas Holland as defendants and petitions for judicial review of denial of access to records. In September 2008, Crouch was involved in a dispute with Prawdzik, who was off duty at the time. The altercation left Crouch, who was taken to the hospital, with stitches and staples in his head, and he later had to return to the hospital. According to the HPD, certain requests for information legally can be denied to the families of victims. “The City of Hyattsville takes seriously any request for public information and attempts to comply fully and timely under the Maryland Public Information Act,” said HPD Spokesman Sgt. Greg Phillips. However, the city is forbidden under the Maryland Public Information Act and the Health In-

ScHOOl continued on page 10

laWSUIT continued on page 11

PHOTO BY JASON AUFDEM-BRINKE The Maryland Shakespeare Festival performs "Taming of the Shrew."

Some residents unhappy with proposed new school location Pupils from five area schools could be affected by Tim Hunt Discussion about the construction of a new elementary school in Hyattsville -- a change that could affect pupils from five local schools -- brought dozens of area residents to Hyattsville Middle School last month to brainstorm about the school, which is to be located adjacent to Nicholas Orem Middle School. Representatives of the architectural firm Hord Coplan Macht, Inc. (HCM) of Baltimore presented the details of the new school building and how it will fit onto the parcel of land at 3120 Nicholson St. The land was recently purchased by Prince George‘s County Public Schools. The crowd was a mix of residents, local elected officials and employees of PGCPS, including many of the principals of the elementary and middle schools that could be affected by this new school. Children who

August 2009

Civil lawsuit filed against city officials


by Dan Hart


in love with

Feedback on traffic study provided

Included: The August 12, 2009 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter — See Center Section

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Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009


A hidden book nook by Sarah Nemeth


have to admit, when my friends and I pulled into the parking lot at The Book Thing of Baltimore, I thought about asking them to lock the doors and keep on driving. But there is this saying … that good things often come in unbelievably ugly packages. Unpacking my preconception about the location of our destination, I got out of the car, lugged some books to the drop-off spot, and made my way inside the dingy corridor and into a room full of treasures: The Great Gatsby. A Civil War textbook. Huckleberry Finn. Hamlet. The Bible (times about 13). I grabbed them all, and

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 Hyattsvillelife@ executive editor Paula Minaert Managing editor Susie Currie contributing editor Sarah Nemeth Production Ashley Perks Writers & contributors Victoria Hille Tim Hunt Cassie Johnson Hugh Turley Board of directors Julie Duin - President Tim Hunt - Vice President Jamie Aycock Christopher Currie Paula Minaert 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.

about a dozen or two others. A book about Marcia Clark. Norton Anthologies. I felt as greedy as a kid on an Easter egg hunt. The Book Thing is led by Russell Wattenberg who has been giving away books in the Baltimore area since 1999. “I take books that I find, or that people give me and I give them to people who need or want them,” Wattenberg states on The Book Thing’s Web site. “I hate seeing good books that people can use in boxes in people's basements or collecting dust on shelves, especially when there are people who don't have the money to buy a new book or ready access to used books.” It started when Wattenberg was managing Dougherty's Pub. A group of teachers came to the bar for happy hour on Fridays. “One Friday I had picked up a load of books earlier and still had them in my van. I gave the keys to the teachers at happy hour and told them to ‘Open it up, take whatever books you

need for your classes or for yourselves,’” Wattenberg states. “To my amazement, they were amazed. Soon, people were bringing me books, for my "book thing ..." or whatever. Hence, The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc.” I did something very similar. Thanks to The Book Thing, I have copies of the classics to fill the yet-to-be-seen shelves of my classroom this fall when I begin my teaching career. The Book Thing of Baltimore is located at 3001 Vineyard Lane in Baltimore. It is open from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information visit Editor’s farewell: Thank you Hyattsville for two years of stories. This is my last month as Executive Editor for the HLT. The role will hence be assumed by Editors Paula Minaert and Susie Currie. Welcome them! I leave you in grand hands. -Sarah


Walk right in by Paula Minaert


n one of my walks around Hyattsville, I saw a sign in a store window that read: “No appointment necessary! Walk-in’s welcome!” It made me cringe. Why? Because the correct usage is “walkins” (plural), not “walk-in’s” (singular possessive). The sign means to invite many people to walk in. As written, it is inviting only one person in and implies that that one person has something but doesn’t say what it is. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice this grammatical mishap, but I did. I usually do. I was called a “grammar Nazi” by a crusty religious brother with whom I once worked. But it’s more than grammar. I pay attention to what people say and write because I love words.

And I have ever since I was a child. I love the English language, both for its richness and for its absurdities. I love exploring the history of words. Did you know that the word “sarcasm” comes from a word that means “to cut flesh”? It makes sense, when you think about it — after all, what is the purpose of a sarcastic remark? Fortunately, my husband shares my obsession, which gives us a never-ending source of conversation. Once when I was scrap booking, my Evangelical friend asked me, “Why do Catholics say St. Michael the Archangel in the prayer? I thought a saint was a holy person, and angels aren’t human.” I didn’t know, so I called my husband, who said that in Latin the words for holy and saint are related. In the prayer, St. Mi-

chael means holy Michael. “For example,” he said, “In French, they say at mass, Saint, Saint, where in English we say, Holy, Holy.” My other scrap booking friend, who is also Catholic, remarked that was way more than she wanted to know about the whole thing. Our children have picked up this trait. Our daughter was in fifth-grade when she said to me, “You know, sometimes my friends make mistakes when they speak.” “That happens, sweetie,” I answered. “But sometimes their parents do, too. Can I tell them?” I hastened to explain that this was not a good idea. Recently, she and I were driving into Hyattsville and she saw the sign that announces, “Wel-

come to City of Hyattsville.” “Isn’t that wrong?” she asked. I agreed that it sounded odd, and it was good for a 10-minute discussion. Later I called my sister (my go-to person when I have language questions) and she thought that it was all right. Not common, she said, but not actually incorrect, because the actual name of the city is City of Hyattsville, not just Hyattsville. I once saw an ad for a computer English program that proclaimed in big letters, “Improve your verbiage!” I couldn’t figure out if it was a mistake — verbiage means an excess of words, usually of little content — or if the writer was hinting that any reader who accepted this phrase as correct really needed to buy the program. I get a lot of enjoyment out of this obsession of mine.

Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009

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A welcome surprise by Sharmina Manandhar Mary Ellen Owens Brown just wanted to visit her old Hyattsville house one more time. What the Glen Burnie resident actually got was an opportunity to celebrate her 80th birthday in that house. On May 24, a day after her birthday, Brown sat at the exact place at the dining table where she had sat about 59 years ago on her 21st birthday. The opportunity and a chocolate cake were provided by Amy and Kevin Sturm, the current owners of the house on 42nd Ave. following a request from Douglas Dudrow, Ward 1 City Councilman and Brown’s longtime friend. “It made me feel so good to go back and remember what it was like,” Brown said. Brown also said that she still remembers the time when her house address used to be 32 Wine Ave. and when Gallatin Street, where the municipal building is currently located, used to be Spencer Street. Franklin’s Restaurant used to be Hyattsville Hardware, where her father Elmer Owens used to work before he died in 1972. After the house was sold in 1972, Brown said that she had been back in the house once, when it was turned into a home for runaway children. But Brown said that she was excited to go back this time because she had learned from Dudrow that the current owners were restoring the house. She said she was anxious to see what they had done so far. Dudrow, a fourth generation Hyattsville resident, said that Brown has been a family friend for more than 70 years. He also said that at age 19 he had painted the house for Brown’s father, whom he had met while Owens was working at Hyattsville Hardware. “I knocked at the house after I heard that somebody had moved in,” Dudrow said. “When I told them that I knew some of the history of the house, Kevin dragged me in by the arm and started asking all these questions.” According to Dudrow, the Sturms were very interested in the history of the house and asked what it used to look like. Amy Sturm said that she and her husband are community and family oriented and were glad to grant Brown’s long time wish when Dudrow asked them. She also said that at Dudrow’s urging, they arranged for Brown to visit and the most convenient time turned out to be Brown’s birthday weekend. “It was a great meeting and we had a wonderful time,” Sturm said. “We were thrilled to help her create another special memory in the house.” Sturm said that Brown arrived “with her arms heaped with photo albums” and interesting stories like “listening to Roosevelt’s speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor on a radio in the front corner of our living room and getting married in that same room.” According to Sturm, Brown’s photos gave them the closest picture into what was original to the house and what has been changed over the years. “Information like that is invaluable as we consider what to renovate or restore, what to preserve, and what, if any, to remodel,” Sturm said.

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“Kevin and I like to think of the house as a jigsaw puzzle that was assembled and reassembled over the course of about 100 years, and it is helpful to know a rough estimate of what was added or changed, and when.” Sturm said that it is their first home and they “bought it with the intention of living in it, not necessarily restoring it right away.” She also said that one of the reasons they moved to Hyattsville is “the vibrant community of home enthusiasts who not only care about homes, but work very hard to protect and celebrate the history of this wonderful neighborhood.” “We loved the historic features of the house -- the molding, original fireplace, pine floors, etc,” Sturm said. “Our schedules and budget, however, mean that renovation is still a long way off. In the meantime, we are engaging in small projects.” She said that so far they have stripped the paint off the original fireplace mantle, ripped up the carpet on the second floor, and restored the pine floors and installed a shower in the master bath upstairs. “Like many homes in Hyattsville, ours is now a work in progress,” Sturm said. “Our intention is to keep and restore or replicate some of the home’s original features, while making it our own.” Sturm also said that she was happy to learn from Brown about her mother’s garden. “It was wonderful to hear that where I plan to plant rose bushes, Mary Ellen’s mother had a thriving rose garden,” Sturm said. “Little things like that connect us to the larger history of the house.”

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Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009



Growing happiness under our feet by Cassie Johnson


uthor and poet James Oppenheim said, “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.” Here are some seedlings the wise might plant:


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Learn to appreciate small gifts. One day last fall I was shopping in the grocery store when I stopped in front of the soup section. Another shopper there turned to me and said, “This is a great day for some bean soup. I’m standing here and I can almost taste it.” We both laughed. And when I thought about it — the aroma and taste of a hot, hearty soup is a gift of autumn cheer. That I didn’t know this lady, but her smile and friendly comment connected us — another gift. Our lives are full of these small gems that we easily overlook, perhaps because they’re so fleeting or we’re preoccupied. But we can become consciously aware of these unexpected presents and be thankful for them. Count your blessings — an extension of learning to appreciate. I read that taking 10 minutes each day to affirm the blessings in your life can improve its quality significantly. So establish an evening ritual. Get an attractive notebook and at the end of the day jot down all the blessings that came your way. If writing isn’t your thing, use gratitude beads as a way of affirming your gifts. If we just give ourselves time to think, we might be amazed at the abundant pleasures in our everyday lives.

Don’t let yesterday eat up too much of today (Cherokee proverb). How many of us haven’t been touched by hurt or disappointment, loss or anger? It’s our ability to accept these setbacks as lessons and transitional points of reference that enables us to move beyond them with grace. And we become that much better equipped to deal with life on its most contrary terms. Moving beyond also helps reestablish us in the present, the only place where we can successfully grow happiness. De-clutter your life. Yep, toss old clothes and get rid of things you haven’t used in eons. But don’t forget to look at the people in your orbit. Are they nurturing and supportive? Do they always want the best for you? Or are they constantly creating chaos and upsetting your balance? Our happiness doesn’t have to be compromised by attachments to people whose “love” or “friendship” is a source of unease and a detriment to our growth. Take naps. We know that naps are magical things. We see it when tired, cranky children wake from afternoon sleep positively transformed. Well nap magic is for adults too. In her wildly colorful and creative book, Change Your Life without Getting Out of Bed, Sark says exposure to “the nap-deprived workers of America results in snippy, frosty, spacey treatment.” Napping, however, creates “joy-full, flexible, buoyant human beings.” Sounds like happiness to me! Cassie Johnson is a Reiki Master/Teacher. Contact her at

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Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009

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MissFloribunda Dear Miss Floribunda, I am a fairly new gardener, encouraged by good results in the past couple of years but wanting to do better. I heard from so many sources that I ought to mulch that this past spring I put cedar bark on my flower beds and vegetable garden. Very few of the seeds I planted came up. Also, I put the mulch around a maple and it seems to be dying in spite of this. Is this coincidence, or did I do something wrong? Mortified Mulcher on Madison Street Dear Mortified Mulcher, For the same reason that mulches are successful in controlling annual weeds, they will also keep your annual flowers and vegetable seeds from sprouting. It's a good idea to plant the seeds separately in pots and set them out later. Or you can do as I do, and delay mulching till summer – after your seeds have sprouted and you have weeded. It's in summer that the mulch is most useful for conserving soil moisture and reducing the soil erosion and water runoff that results from the torrential rainfall of our area's thunderstorms and cloudbursts.

Mulching in summer also helps keep the soil from heating up too much as temperatures rise. The mulch you are using is heavy and should be reserved for trees, shrubs, roses and in perennial beds where the plants are already established. Even so, be careful how you mulch. My mulch adviser, Herr Huber Krumelschicht, is sure he knows why your maple is dying. He believes you were probably overgenerous with the mulch and piled it up around the trunk of the tree. He inveighed indignantly against the over mulching of trees he's seen perpetrated by municipalities: "Beautiful trees killed with taxpayer money, I tell you!" When he calmed down, I got some practical advice for you. Do not put more than two inches of mulch down around the tree or it will keep water from getting to the roots. Above all do not pile the mulch directly against the trunk. This can cause the roots to grow into what they assume is soil and they will surround the trunk and strangle it. In addition, mulch against the trunk is conducive to rot, and insects and diseases are introduced that way. He recommends making a little dry moat around the trunk and then spread-

ing the mulch out to the point where the longest branch casts a shadow smoke. There are lighter mulches for your vegetable and flower garden, such as shredded leaves, welldried lawn clippings and straw. Cocoa-bean hulls are excellent but poisonous to pets. Pine needle mulch is good for such acid-loving

plants as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. There is one caveat – add extra nitrogen to your soil when you mulch. As it decomposes, it draws nitrogen out of the soil. Another caveat is that mulch when dry is flammable, so be careful if you lay it on beds adjoining a porch where smokers might flick their cigarettes over a railing.

To continue the conversation, please come to the next meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society at 10 a.m. on Aug. 15, at the Hyattsville Municipal Center. Miss Floribunda is the collected wisdom of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society, compiled and edited by Victoria Hille.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009

COMMUNITY CALENDAR songs with meaning, fullness of heart, and sometimes humor. Featuring Riverdale Park’s own Miles Spicer!

Farmer’s Market offers ripe opportunity

Concerts take place rain or shine. In the event of rain, everything moves inside. For information call 301.864.0420.

The Hyattsville Farmer's Market is open for business this season from 2-6 p.m. Tuesdays at the corner of Queens Chapel Road and Hamilton Street, behind the Queens Chapel Shopping Center. WIC and Senior FMNP checks are accepted. Blackberries, squash, radishes, potatoes and other fresh victuals are readily available. In addition, there is a weekly cookbook giveaway.

First United Methodist Church

■ Youth Choir rehearses every Sunday after the 11 a.m. church service. All middleand senior high youth are invited. ■ HIV/AIDS Ministry Meets once a month and is working on plans to open a monthly test clinic. Also participates in group events. Contact Janet Cochran at 301.927.6133.

Free Jazz on the Portico summer concert series Listen to free jazz concerts at Riversdale House Museum, 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and a picnic, or purchase a dinner on the grounds courtesy of the Calvert House Inn. Concerts run from 7-8 p.m. and include:

■ Summer Volunteers Needed Calling students who need community service hours for graduation! Volunteers are needed in the church office to answer phones, monitor doors and assist staff. Substitutes are needed for both morning (9 a.m.–1 p.m.) and afternoon (1 p.m.–5

August 26: MSG: The Acoustic Blues Trio A stripped-down blues combo that plays


BREWHOUSE & RESTAURANT Daily Happy Hour Specials Mon. - Fri. 4-7 pm Appetizers as low as $2.00 Come enjoy all the games on our 25 HDTVs


Venue is available for private parties, meetings and birthdays

Crossover Church Food & clothing pantry for county residents Hours: Wed. & Fri. 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. By appointment only 301.927.5620 Ext.19.

Community center open for teen down time

■ Sunday services:

Bored teen at home? The Prince George’s Plaza Community Center is open for business this summer. Here are the hours of operation:

8 a.m., 9:15 a.m. & 11 a.m.; Prayer services: every Wed. at noon & 7 p.m.; Catalyst youth fellowship: every Wed. from 7-8:30 p.m. (ages 12-18); Bible study: every Wed. from 7:458:30 p.m.

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■ "For Girls Only Network" 2009 Mentoring Empowerment Program (ages nine to 18): Group mentoring, education, fun, support and guidance, interactive discussions. Register your daughter, friend, neighbors today. Contact Pastor Deborah Evans 301.927.5620, Ext. 12 or

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china buffet University Town Center Across from Royal 14 Theaters 6504 America Blvd. #105 Hyattsville, MD

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■ Register for the spring/summer session of Community Life Groups. We have a variety of social and interests groups for you to enjoy and connect with others. Visit www.crossoverchurch. tv and click on Community Life Groups to register. Contact Pastor Tonya Williams at 301.927.5620, Ext. 20 or

Adelphi Rd.

Tai Chi is being offered at Rollingcrest Community Center, 6120 Sargent Road, Chillum, beginning in early September. This is for ages 18 and up. Learn this ancient art of exercise for balance, stretching, muscle tone and flexibility. The fee is $40/residents and $48 non-residents. Call 301.853.2005.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009

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are offered for seniors from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Xtreme Teens programs are held from 7-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Classes in martial arts, dance, exercise and toddler activities are available. Call 301.864.1611.

O’Malley gives nod to Arts District Hyattsville In 2005, former Governor Erlich chose EYA’s Arts District Hyattsville development for Priority Places recognition. Again on June 28, the community was chosen by Governor Martin O’Malley’s office for designation as a “Smart Site,” encouraging development plans that are “smart, green, and growing.” Since its opening, Arts District Hyattsville has received several awards including: Best Urban Smart Growth Community (National Association of Home Builders); Best Mixed Use Design (Monument Awards); and Best Green Building (MNCBIA). For city planners and land developers, Arts District Hyattsville is a scalable model for mixed-use design – incorporating new homes, historic preservation, a walkable lifestyle close to neighborhood retail, community amenities and fitness,

and proximity to employment centers of Washington, D.C. Almost 90 of EYA’s130 new town homes in Hyattsville are occupied in the community on the west side of U.S Route 1. Several locally owned retailers have opened at livework residences and the 1950s Lustine automobile showroom anchoring the site has been transformed into a community fitness center and art gallery. Soon, construction on the east side of Route 1 will begin, featuring another 200 town homes, apartment rentals, and a new retail strip including Busboys and Poets and Tara Thai. The community is designed to allow homeowners to spend less time in their cars and more time in their neighborhoods.


Library events and information

■Daytime story times 9-23 Months with Caregiver Mondays, 10:15 a.m., limit 15. Please pick up free ticket at children’s desk. Ages 2-3 Mondays, 11 a.m., limit 25 & Tuesdays, 10:15 a.m., limit 25. Ages 3-5 Tuesdays, 11 a.m., limit 25.

■ Story times especially for day care providers. Ages 2-3 August 12 & 26 10:15 a.m., limit 35. Ages 3-5 August 12 & 26 11 a.m., limit 35.

Have a love for literature?

■ Evening story time Ages 3-6 Wednesdays, 7 p.m., limit 25.

Join others from 3-4:30 p.m. on Mondays at the Gwendolyn Britt Senior Activity Center, 4009 Wallace Road, North Brentwood, Md., for discussions about the book of the month. The book of the month for August is Through It All by Christine King Farris. The Book Club is for seniors ages 60 and over and membership to the club is free. For information call 301.699.1238.

■ English-Spanish story time/cuentos para niños en español e inglés Ages 3-6 Saturdays, 10:30 a.m., limit 25. Edades 3-6 años Sabados 10:30 a.m., capacidad para 25 personas. To submit a calendar item, e-mail hyattsvillelifeandtimes@

2008 Despite a hiring freeze, Prince George’s County last month created a new position designed to reduce energy costs for the county and enhance environmental benefits through reduced energy consumption. 2007 Two officers returned to the city police force last month after returning from five-month stretches with Bowie’s newly formed police department. 2006 Anacostia Hours, a local, innovative, alternative currency, was about to be launched in Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, Brentwood, North Brentwood and surrounding areas. 2005 Hyattsville’s Legacy Trail Task Force was considering four possible historic walking tours through the city. 2004 The Maryland Route 450 project, to alleviate traffic at the CSX train crossing, began this fall.

Hyattsville Farmers Market W O N EN OP Tuesdays 2-6 pm

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The Hyattsville Farmer’s Market is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission

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Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009


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Hugh’sNews New discoveries about Hemingway ... along with some new questions by Hugh Turley Ernest Hemingway had secret contact with Soviet intelligence agents, according to a recent book, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev. The book is based largely upon newly released KGB records, but it draws upon his FBI file to show, as well, that during World War II Hemingway used his fishing boat the Pilar to hunt for German submarines for the U.S. government. He had a weakness for political intrigue, and he leaned heavily to the left. Although there is no known record of Hemingway ever having passed along any secrets, one KGB correspondence notes that “… he repeatedly expressed his desire and willingness to help us.” The KGB gave him the code name, “Argo.” Hemingway’s KGB contacts possibly cast a new light on the violent death of the famous author. FBI records show Hemingway was under surveillance, and shortly before his death he checked into the Mayo Clinic using the alias George Sevier. In a letter to his son Patrick, Hemingway wrote that he was

being treated for high blood pressure. Mayo’s Dr. Howard Rome kept the Minneapolis FBI office informed on Hemingway’s condition. (Rome is the doctor who later performed a psychological autopsy of Lee Harvey Oswald for the Warren Commission). On July 1, 1961, the night before he died, Hemingway dined at the Christiania Restaurant in

"was Hemingway paranoid and suicidal, or were those covert operatives with sinister plans at the restaurant that night?" Ketchum, Idaho. In her book, How It Was, his wife Mary wrote, “As we wedged into the small farcorner table, Ernest noticed a couple of men seating themselves at a small table farther inside and asked Suzie, our waitress … who those men were. ‘Oh, they’re a couple of salesmen from Twin Falls, I think,’ said Suzie. ‘Not on Saturday night,’ said Ernest, ‘They’d be home.’ Suzie shrugged. ‘They’re the FBI,’ Ernest muttered.”

The first official report of Hemingway’s death was a joint statement by the coroner Ray McGoldrick and the sheriff Don Hewitt, “Ernest Hemingway died this morning at about 7:30 at his home near Ketchum from gunshot wounds. His wife thinks it was accidental while he was cleaning his gun.” The UPI reported, “Officials did not see any gun-cleaning equipment in the room.” The following day the UPI said McGoldrick was asked if “selfinflicted gunshot wound in the head” on Hemingway’s death certificate meant he killed himself or died accidentally. McGoldrick responded, “I wasn’t there so I don’t know. Maybe the truth will never be known. No one saw it. The family is willing to let it go that way and that’s all right with me. The wife thinks it was an accident.” The authorities did not interview Mrs. Hemingway until the day after they had reached their ambiguous conclusion. Her statement had been given through a friend. There was no coroner’s inquest and no autopsy. Hemingway was shot in the 5-by-seven foot front entrance hall of his home. Hemingway’s custom-made, .12 gauge, double barreled, Boss shotgun was near his body. Both barrels had been fired, and Mrs. Hemingway said she was awakened by a couple of banging sounds. Boss shotguns are highly prized and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. One known to have been made for Hemingway would have doubtless fetched a large premium. However, according to Carlos Baker in Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, a family friend “cut the gun to pieces with a blowtorch and buried them in a secret place.” When Hemingway, himself, was buried on July 5, The New York Times reported “there was still no official decision — and never may be — as to whether the death … had been an accident or suicide.” Suicide eventually became the popular truth while the reality of FBI surveillance and his meeting with KGB agents remained unknown to the public. Was Hemingway paranoid and suicidal, or were those covert operatives with sinister plans at the restaurant that night?

Hyattsville Life & Times | August 2009

Page 9


continued from page 1 sis of existing traffic conditions -- including pedestrians and bicycles -- during weekday and weekend commuter rush hours. Data was collected at 57 intersections as well as 20 locations between intersections and includes vehicle volume, classification and speed. Traffic delays at intersections were given a letter grade based on the average amount of time a commuter was delayed before being able to move through the intersection. The worst delays, where commuters experienced an average of more than 80 seconds, occurred at Route 193 and Adelphi Road, and U.S. Route 1 and Route 410, during both morning and evening peak hours. “We have absolutely no recommendations to share yet,” said Paul Silverman, of Sabra, Wang & Associates. He added that the second phase of the study will focus on developing traffic forecasts and network improvement alternatives as well as preliminary cost estimates. The contract for the study, which began in February, was signed for $46,764. Residents and council members expressed concern about a lack of sidewalks, pedestrian safety around schools, an excessive number of mostly empty buses, the effects of current and planned urban development on traffic, and speeding, particularly on hilly streets. “People build up speed as they come down, and by the time they get to the bottom, they’re flying through there,” said Councilman Matthew McKnight (Ward 3), in reference to roads around University Hills and Wells Boulevard. McKnight suggested the possibility of installing traffic calming devices to curb the problem. Others expressed concerns about proposed traffic calming devices, such as traffic circles. “There’s one in Takoma Park that I regularly go through, and since it was installed, [I’ve] twice had near misses of a head-on collision with somebody coming the wrong way around the corner,” said Nina Faye of Queensbury Road. Others hope to see the vehicle weight policy lowered and enforced. “It’s not unusual to see semis [trucks] on our local city streets and not on state roads,” said Krista Atteberry of 42nd Place. Atteberry also requested a reevaluation of the “hot-button” Do Not Enter policy on Queensbury Road at 43rd Avenue. Silverman said the goals of the study are to “identify deficiencies in both the existing and future transportation network

[and provide] recommendations to support the city in their future construction planning.” Other goals of the study include assisting the city in new development and effectively directing “visitors, tourists, and workers to key destinations within the city.” “There was no single issue that prompted the city to pursue a traffic study, but elected officials and staff alike were hearing comments and complaints about traffic on different streets,” said city spokeswoman Abby Sandel. “We felt that good data was needed to plan for improvements and determine which areas should be prioritized.” Full map results of the study can be viewed at Traffic concerns can be e-mailed to

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continued from page 1 part of a “campus setting” with Nicholas Orem to include shared athletic and recreational fields because of space limitations. It is intended that the school will meet environmental standards for Gold Certification and may include a vegetative, or “green,” roof for purposes of collecting water runoff and insulation. Photovoltaic panels for electricity generation are a possibility as well. The new building will be designed to be a “village for small learning communities,” according to Chris Elnicki, HCM’s design principal for this project. An upper school consisting of fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grades will house one leg of the “H,” while a lower school of first-, second-, and thirdgraders and separate housing for the early child development center (pre-K and Kindergarten) will form two more legs. The fourth leg will be a multi-purpose room. There will be a shared courtyard for grades pre-K through third. It will offer natural light and ventilation and provide a separate play area for the younger children. Grades four, five and six will have classrooms on the side of the school nearest Nicholas Orem and will share the outdoor recreation fields with the middle school students. Additionally, the school board is exploring whether the wooded area owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority next to the elementary school site could be used for recreation, Iliff said. It is planned for vehicles to have access to the campus from Nicholson Street, though some are concerned that the small neighborhood street is incapable of handling the extra traffic. “Nicholson Street is not designed for the additional traffic that would be generated by an 800-student school,” said Mayor William Gardiner. “The vehicular entrance should be via East West Highway and Editor’s Park Drive, just like Nicholas Orem.” For Gardiner, it is also important to consider how this new school project could assist and enhance the middle school. “In order for this new school to succeed, we’ve got to find a way for it to be able to lift up Nicholas Orem,” Gardiner said at the meeting, adding that he looks forward

to discussing options with Richard Jackson, the new principal at Nicholas Orem. “The new school could have a shared music and art wing, or other specialized space,” Gardiner said. “We should also look at academic programming and develop programs so that a student could engage in specialized studies in the new elementary school and continue those studies at Nicholas Orem and the local high school.” Reaction to the new school from area residents is mixed. “I thought that [the architect’s] planning was thoughtful and pretty decent, especially the green roof idea,” said Chris Hinojosa, whose son graduated from Northwestern High School in 2007 and whose daughter will start there this fall. “The design of the building looks great.” However, Hinojosa, like many Hyattsville residents, said that the decision to place the new school in the proposed location has been rushed. “There was not enough creative thinking. Why did they only look at that spot?” said Hinojosa of the fact that the site was the only option presented by the school board to the public last year. Hyattsville resident Jonathan Alexander, father of children ages one and four, is also impressed by

the design of the school. “I love the green features . . . in fact, why stop at the gold LEED standard? Go for platinum!” he said. “I like the campus idea and the individual mini age-appropriate schools [and] I like the super flexible classroom orientation.” He is concerned, however, about the size and location of the school. “I do not want an 800-kid regional school,” he said. “I think this is pretty much a neighborhood wide sentiment. I noticed Heather Iliff and the architects both kept calling this plan a neighborhood school . . . but it’s not.” Alexander is concerned that the school board representatives are not listening adequately to residents’ needs. “I will be seriously looking into alternatives once election time rolls around,” he said. Though yet unscheduled, community meetings will be held this fall regarding any special programs or curricula as well as to address how the new school will function with Nicholas Orem as part of the “campus setting” described by the architect, according to Iliff and Waller. Community meetings will also be held in the future when it is time to determine whose children will go to this new school.

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continued from page 1 surance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) law to release personnel, disciplinary and medical and personal records of third parties, Phillips said. “When the city denies access to those items, as it must, the city specifically notes to the requestor that it is denying access to certain of the records under the law, and notifies the requestor of his or her right to seek relief in the Circuit Court,” Phillips said. “The city can only release those documents if specifically ordered by a court to do so.” According to news reports, Prawdzik allegedly hit Crouch in the head with a gun during the dispute. Crouch and Hyattsville resident Joe Heidenberg called out to Prawdzik after they saw Prawdzik run a stop sign on Queensbury Road. “It’s been a life-altering experience for Matthew and his whole family,” said Sweitzer. “It’s a very solid, very pro-law enforcement family. On [Crouch’s mother’s] side, there are police officers. For this to happen to them is surprising and eye-opening.” The HPD suspended Prawdzik’s police powers af-

Page 11 ter the incident with Crouch, and he stopped working for the Hyattsville police on March 13, 2009. On June 8 he was sentenced to three years probation for second-degree assault in an earlier, unrelated incident that took place January 24, 2008, also while he was off duty. The HPD launched an investigation into that incident.

“The police have a difficult job, and for the most part they serve the public well, while putting themselves in danger.“ — Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Glenn Ivey

Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, commended Holland for prosecuting a former officer. “The police have a difficult job, and for the most part they serve the public well, while putting themselves in danger. The [Hyattsville] department is one of the better ones in the county.”

Answering the call New pastor led to First Baptist Church of Hyattsville by Paula Minaert and Kent York Rev. Todd Thomason says he hasn’t heard the still, small voice of God speak clearly and specifically very many times in his life. But he did when he was trying to decide whether to take the position of pastor at First Baptist Church of Hyattsville, or at a church in New Orleans. “I was praying for guidance and, one day, I glanced out of my in-laws’ living room window into the beautiful spring afternoon and clearly heard, deep in my soul, ‘Hyattsville,’”

he said. “I've never looked back.” Born and raised in North Carolina, Thomason attended seminary at Mercer University in Atlanta and was pastor at Baptist Temple Church (now Commonwealth Baptist) in Alexandria, Va. before coming to Hyattsville. He also served as interim pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va. He and his wife, Kristen, have been married nine years and have 11-month old twin daughters, Mary and Emma. “The metaphor that I use with the congregation as we seek to discern God’s vision for the future is living and serving as an embassy of God’s Kingdom,” Thomason said. “The church ought to be an outpost of the

Kingdom of God in its community, because that is where our citizenship truly lies as disciples of Jesus Christ.” He pointed to the fast-paced, transitory nature of life in the Washington, D.C. Thomason area, and said he is trying to help the church streamline things to make it easier for members to serve. “Being a Christian and a church member isn’t about serving on a committee so much as it is about living out the good news of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We need to simplify and refocus church life so that our members feel engaged with their faith and with First Baptist’s mission Sunday through Saturday.”

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Hyattsville Life & Times August 2009  

The August 2009 edition of the Hyattsville Life & Times