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Serialized in Bay Weekly’s second year, Alex and the Eagle returns between its own covers

It’s the Game of Thrones … The Sopranos … Breaking Bad … The Wire phenomenon. Get hooked on a compelling story, and you can’t stop.     Same with novels.     Since the 19th century, newspapers and magazines have made hay on that addiction. Like fans lined up to buy each new Harry Potter book, readers pushed and shoved to buy, by installment, novels by the likes of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes stories meant wealth for The Strand magazine.

Taking the chain saw to invasives along Route 50 and Interstate 97

Pretty is as pretty does, or so the old saying goes. When it comes to the vegetation lining the roadsides of Bay Country highways, the State Highway Administration couldn’t agree more.     Take the callery pear.     Almost anywhere you drive in Maryland in springtime, you’ll be greeted by beautiful clouds of white flowers tinged with green. But the impact of this native of China and Vietnam on our native woodland is far from lovely.     The invasive callery crowds out native species.

How a monthly get-together grew into an arts festival drawing thousands

I love a good mystery, and I was staring at one on West Street in Annapolis on the first Sunday of August as I enjoyed the First Sunday Arts Festival. Not my first time, but the first in at least a year — and something was different. What was it? Larger, more interesting, more vibrant, more alive? Had the Festival changed, or had I?

Solar array earns St. Margaret’s Church Silver-Plus LEED certification

Ninety-eight solar panels now top the roof of St. Margaret’s Church formation building, already LEED silver-certified for environmental friendliness. St. Margaret’s, a congregation more than 300 years old, is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and located on the Broadneck peninsula.     “Our vestry board supported the idea that the new building be as environmentally responsible as possible,” said the Rev. Peter W. Mayer, Rector at St. Margaret’s.

Millennial musicians break bigger

The capital city music scene is thriving. Over the last decade, the downtown bar scene and plentiful local venues have bred musicians now flourishing on a larger scale. Reggae rockers Joey Harkum — whose band Pasa­dena honors his home town — and Brandon Hardesty — who inspired Bumpin Uglies — went from strumming on the docks and breaking into open mikes to selling out local venues and touring coast to coast. They’ve headlined festivals like Silopanna and Bay Funk and still play weeknight solo acoustic gigs at downtown Annapolis bars.

Paddlers join together to help kids with disabilities

Energy swirls in the parish office of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Solomons. With only five days before the inaugural Solomons Island Dragon Boat Festival, staff is ready to see the paddles fly.     Bonnie Elward leads the chaos into a state of calm. Executive director of Southern Maryland Community Resources and festival steer person, Elwood acts with the fervor of a missionary for the hundreds of developmentally different individuals.

Take a book, leave a book

The Little Free Library at 9100 Greenwood Ave. in North Beach joins some 36,000 front-yard book-lenders in 70 countries, from Iceland to Tasmania to Australia.     Library stewards Gary Stevens and Meredith Allen have stocked their Little Free Library with a variety of used books for readers of all ages to take a book and leave a book.

How some of the world’s most famous art found safe refuge in early-America’s Annapolis

You’d want to know if you were neighbor to a secret treasure of masterpieces.     So I’m telling you.     Sixty-three paintings by great Northern European masters — Jan Breughel, Rubens and Van Dyck among them — lived quietly in Annapolis for two years, and Prince George’s County for 16 more years.

That’s Charles Baker, streetside entertainer

On the corner of Ego Alley and City Dock at weekends when the weather is at its best, The Balloon Man pumps and twists latex into masterpieces to tickle kids and tease the stiffness out of adults.     On an average sunny Saturday, Charles Baker makes up to 100 balloons from Elmos to penguins, flowers to swords.     “My grandson thinks he is grandpa,” says a customer. “I am sure it’s the grey hair.” The grandson brandishes an inflated miniature sword just made for him by Baker.

Solving problems, finding solutions

If Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Claro and Ray ‘Ray Ray’ Werwie Jr. had not stepped up to help, Enzo Tannozzini would have been in long-term rehab.     Instead, through a series of happenstances, Tannozzini’s happily back home.     The World War II veteran had fallen and broken his hip. Now he could come home … if their Franklin Manor home had wheelchair access. With little hope and less money, wife Juanita Tannozzini didn’t know what to do.