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Features (News)

Calvert Marine Museum chips away at 58 million years

Persistence pays off. That’s the case with retired farmer Bernard Kuehn of Accokeek.
    After 30-plus years combing the stream bed running through his farmland for fossilized sharks’ teeth, Kuehn hit the jackpot this month.
    He discovered the soft-shell turtle fossil that lived over 58 million years ago in the Paleocene epoch.
    Heavy rains this spring exposed new layers in the creek bed, revealing the significant paleontological find on Kuehn’s farm, which was under water millions of years ago.
    The reptile would have inhabited fresh water near the ocean.
    Kuehn’s rare find, which he donated to Calvert Marine Museum, is one of only three known specimens of this species.
    Paleontologist Peter Kranz from Dinosaur Park in Laurel investigated the fossil, then asked Calvert Marine Museum for help in quarrying it.
    Joe and Devin Fernandez from Diamond Core Drilling and Sawing Company had the special equipment, a diamond-blade chainsaw, to cut the turtle out of the rock while preserving most of its shell. The turtle was delivered to the museum wearing a coat of rock.
    Unlike a normal turtle’s smooth shell, the fossilized soft-shell turtle’s shell is bumpy from a skin over the living shell.
    The ancient two-by-two-foot reptile appears to be whole.
    The inch-thick hard shell — like a coat of armor — would have protected the turtle from most predators all those millions of years ago.
    It will take many hands — and months — to remove the rock from around the bones as Calvert’s marine paleontologists study the rare specimen.
    Stop by to see the fossil and the work in progress in the Museum’s Prep Lab.

Wild Orchid chef takes over Sam’s kitchen

It’s a new year. With the flip of a calendar comes a chance to renew, refresh and remodel.
    In Annapolis, the new year offers opportunity for two local restaurateurs to help each other.
    Andrew Parks, owner of Sam’s on the Waterfront, has announced his new executive chef, Jim Wilder. Chef Wilder recently closed his Westgate Circle restaurant Wild Orchid after a difficult three-year tenure.
    Timing is everything, so hopes Parks, who has struggled to consistently employ an executive chef in the eight years he has owned the waterfront restaurant built in 1986 by his grandfather, the original Sam.
    Each man endeavors to bring the best of his farm-to-table vision in this new marriage of culinary talents. Each restaurant has — or has had — the green restaurant certification.
    At Sam’s, Parks takes the front-of-house role with Wilder running the kitchen.
    In the past, Wilder has worked both ends of the operation, with 13 years at the helm of his highly regarded Eastport Wild Orchid his pinnacle, to the head-scratching move to the behemoth at the Severn Bank Building — a move that would be his undoing.
    Few understood Wilder’s decision to sell the warm and comfortable 40-seat Eastport café in 2010 and move to the 250-seat former Greystone Grill on the other side of town.
    That decision “was not based on sound business models. I had to keep my mind occupied,” Wilder said, after the untimely death of his and wife Karen’s son, Andrew Wall, from brain cancer in 2009. “It was the bottom. And I deal with depression by keeping busy. Depression drove me.”
    Building a dream kitchen provided a needed distraction from grief. It also afforded access and opportunity to expand Wilder’s Company’s Coming catering business, along with a large floor plan that offered him ideal accessibility for his wheelchair.
    The dream was not meant to be. The restaurant closed in July 2013.
    Parks has his own challenges keeping Sam’s profitable and relevant. Hidden within the gated Chesapeake Harbour Marina community, the restaurant is difficult to find. Warm weather brings boaters out and swells the population of Chesapeake Harbour, where many residents are summer only. Still, Parks estimates that 80 percent of his business comes from outside the community. Getting diners in the door is an ongoing pursuit. Parks hopes hiring a well-known chef will do the trick.
    Chef Wilder brings his most popular dishes to the menu. Butternut squash soup with crab, scallops Napoleon and pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon join Sam’s favorites: lobster mac ’n’ cheese, rockfish and Kobe burgers (half-price on Tuesday).
    The transition has been subtle thus far, though Parks is enthusiastic about a new winter menu and many collaborative surprises to come.

Got a tasty tip for a future’s Dish? Email Lisa Knoll at thedish@bayweekly.com.

It’s just a game for Senior Olympic billiards player Blaine Jacobs

What Olympic athlete would say the game is not about winning?
    For one, Blaine Jacobs, Maryland’s Senior Olympic Gold Medalist in the sport of billiards.
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After three years in Chesapeake waters, Pride of Baltimore II resumes her voyages of goodwill

How long can you stay at home before the urge to get out of the house overwhelms you? That restless feeling also afflicts one of our local treasures: the sailing ship Pride of Baltimore II. This year she is finally escaping her home waters of the Chesapeake Bay, off on the high seas to do what she was built to do: travel afar to represent Maryland and foster friendships and economic relations.
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Becoming a Riverkeeper was my way of helping change ­people’s lives

February 1, 2003, was the day I first learned about Riverkeepers. I remember it so clearly because it was the same date the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up in the earth’s atmosphere over Texas.
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Look for Chessie Ruckus and his partner Officer First Class Jake Coxon in Annapolis

At first glance, the scene at Sandy Point State Park on a bright June morning had all the earmarks of a typical graduation ceremony. Camera-toting family and friends eagerly faced a lectern where officials gathered, diplomas at the ready. But instead of strains of Pomp and Circumstance, barks and yips were the music of the day.
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Stovy Brown turned two generations windward

“No student who wanted to join the young sailors has ever been turned down for lack of funds,” says Stovy Brown, who has introduced two decades of Southern Maryland youngsters to sailing.
    To get kids to the water, Brown founded three groups: the Southern Maryland Sailing Association, Sailing Center Chesapeake and, in 1999, the Southern Maryland Sailing Foundation, to support the other two training programs with funding, boats and equipment.
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92 and never, never, never giving up

Wind-driven waves roiled the river into a sandy soup for Bernie Fowler’s 29th annual Patuxent River Wade In June 12.
    “It feels like the surf in Ocean City,” laughed a wader bound hand-in-hand to every other in the long line radiating out from the 92-year-old retired state senator and Patuxent River champion.
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Weather Smiles on River Riders

The weather gods cut cyclists and fundraisers a break on May 14. After days and days of rain, the storm clouds parted and a beautiful day was revealed, a great day for touring South County on a bicycle.
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Sort through hundreds of sunscreens rated from best to worst

As a fair-skinned mutt of European descent, I depend on sunscreen as my summer best friend. However, sunscreen has been found to contain harmful chemicals that make it inefficient and much more of a foe than the friend I need.
    This year, I plan on winning the battle for sun protection. My weapon of choice is the Environmental Working Group’s extensively researched list of the most effective sunscreens.
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