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State Highway Administration is fast behind

Don’t let looks deceive you.

Toys help patients having a rough day at Children’s Hospital

It’s a big job making sure Dr. Bear’s closet at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is never bare.       For the children, it’s a closet as crucial as the closets that hold bandages and medicine.     Dr. Bear’s Closet stocks toys and games for children with a special request or who have a special day, like a birthday, coming up.

It’s time for your close-up, Mother Nature

Capture family memories with the Bay as a backdrop, on top of one of Maryland’s mountains or in a leaf-filled meadow for Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ family photo contest.     The League wants photos of families having fun in Maryland’s great outdoors to enrich League publications and website while inspiring Marylanders to fight to protect our state’s natural beauty.

Winners and losers in this year’s General Assembly

Not everyone made out well with environmental legislation this year.     “This session started with a landmark legislative win for the environmental community when the offshore wind bill sailed through both chambers,” said Karla Raettig, executive director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters.     “Unfortunately, the General Assembly killed or weakened many other environmental priorities.”

Bridges to become waterway access points

As cars rumble over newly built bridges, Marylanders will be paddling beneath them. As soon as 2014, bridges will no longer be only routes over rivers. They will also be places where Marylanders can safely get down to the water to fish, canoe and kayak.     That’s the result of one of more than 350 bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly this year. Passed almost unanimously, only three nays were cast, all in the House, one by Calvert Del. Tony O’Donnell.

Helping cats and kittens on their way to adoption

Perfection: our younger son, a philosophy major, insists there is no such thing. I disagree, because nature provided kittens.     True, kittens don’t stay kittens for as long as I’d like. Our house is too small to continually add more. So until we can retire to a cat ranch, my husband and I enjoy perpetual kittens as part of a five-county foster-home network. The payoff is twofold: along with contributing to an orphan’s bright future, we get the playtime fun a pet naturally inspires.

New law funds spay-neutering with pet food surcharge

To combat shelter overpopulation and reduce the number of homeless animals euthanized, the Maryland General Assembly has passed the Animal Welfare-Spay/Neuter Fund-Establishment bill. Annual taxpayers savings of $8 to $9 million are projected.

Maryland’s license plate heron in identity crisis

You see him every time you drive to pick up Chinese. He’s lined up in the grocery store parking lot. You stare at him during rush hour. And now, you get to name him. He — or is it she? — is the blue heron on Maryland’s Treasure the Chesapeake licenses plates.     Who would have thought such a popular bird was nameless?     After 27 years, the bird is in identity as well as gender crisis.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2012 Grade F (9 on a scale of 70)

Inspired this time of year by the earliest signs of spring to carry on their ancient species, shad don’t know they’re failing the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s survival test.          They’re just doing what comes naturally.    
Editor’s note     Three report cards come to us in the early months of the year, each asking us to consider the health of the Chesapeake Bay and where — if anywhere — all our work is getting us.     Each arrives at a different time, uses different criteria and grading systems and supports a different agenda. How to make sense of any — let alone all — of them? Here staff writer Ashley Brotherton offers a cheat-sheet on the basics.