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School-zone cameras add to General Assembly’s debate

Attention lead-foot drivers: Annapolis is watching you.     The capital city is setting up speed cameras in 10 school zones. Drivers clocked going 12 mph over the speed limit from 8am to 6pm will be mailed a $40 fine. Tickets from the cameras don’t come with points and won’t be sent to insurance companies.

Waterway Access Bill would get Charlie Stek — and you — safely to the water

Charlie Stek wanted his son to experience nature, fishing and paddling rivers. With Maryland’s 10,000 miles of rivers and streams — crossed by 5,176 bridges — that ought to be easy.     Yet there was no safe way to get to the water.     To fish the Patuxent, Stek and his son Alex had to park on blind curves, jump guardrails and scamper down banks.

And earn you a buck a bushel

Oyster shells could be worth more than the change in your pocket if the Oyster Recovery Partnership can talk the political talk.     The nonprofit Partnership, which has planted four billion seed oysters in its work for recovery, is now seeking to persuade legislators to pass a bill giving a $1 tax credit for every bushel of oyster shells you recycle.

Red Wigglers demonstrate the inside story of composting

Red Wiggler worms are busy digging and dining in a compost Can-O-Worms at Annmarie Garden.     Second graders visiting Annmarie Garden on daily CHESPAX field trips explore the world of composting with a little help from the Garden’s squirmy residents, about a thousand in all.     Red Wiggler worms, along with eight volunteers who do the talking, teach the students hands-on and practical ways to go green in their daily lives.

Crossword creator Ben Tausig wins Orca award for Best Crossword

When your favorite movie wins an Oscar, you can say I was there — virtually.     You’ve gotten closer than that in the world of puzzles if you’ve matched wits with Ben Tausig, winner of the Orca for Best Crossword of 2012.     Like the Oscars, the Orcas are awarded by insiders, the followers of Sam Donaldson’s blog, Diary of a Crossword Fiend.

Their innovation is award-winning

Chesapeake Bay waterman were coming close to extinction in 2010 when a group of Chesapeake non-profits got innovative. The bright idea: Training captains who make a living on the Bay to give tours of the water and their craft.     Now, 80 watermen guide tours through the Bay where they make their living, earning extra cash during the slow seasons.

Bay Gardener helped found an ­industry on nature’s fertilizer

For every job, there’s an association. Every association has heroes lauded for having discovered how to do the job better. The Bay Gardener, Dr. Francis Gouin, has just been enrolled as a hero of the U.S. Composting Council.     This month, Gouin received Hi Kellogg Award in recognition of his outstanding service to the composting industry in research, teaching and promoting the use of compost by nursery and greenhouse growers and by home gardeners.

Good intentions bring unintended consequences

Balloons were fresh on my mind when the Heart Healthy Foundation sent the press release announcing a balloon release to kick off Heart Health Month.     The Annapolis-based foundation was releasing 200 heart-shaped balloons spaced at 33 second intervals. That’s how often an American dies from heart-related diseases.     A few weeks earlier, I’d written about balloons in a very different context: as killers of sea turtles. (Read the story at http://bayweekly.com/node/15208)

What would get you to walk and bike more?

Do you long to bike to work, but fear the roads? Want to walk around town more, but have no sidewalks in your neighborhood? This is the time for every Marylander to speak up.     Maryland’s Department of Transportation is updating the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which outlines how to make our state more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Tell them what it would take to get you to pedal to the drug store or walk to the park instead of hopping in your car.

I may be crazy, but I know what I’m wearing

With several inches of snow on the ground and more steadily falling, I watched from the sidelines of the 2010 Polar Plunge. Who, I wondered, would be crazy enough to run into the Chesapeake Bay in the middle of winter?     For the 2013 Plunge, I’ve answered that question. I am.     On Saturday, January 26, I will join 12,000-plus plungers for a quick dip in the Bay at Sandy Point State Park to raise money for Special Olympics Maryland.     Are we all crazy?