|For the Animals,
$120K from 1,200 Walkers
Joined by their humans, beagles and boxers and pot-bellied pigs walked to raise $120,000 at SPCA of Anne Arundel County's 9th annual Walk for Animals at Quiet Waters Park.
But before taking their first steps down a choice of 1-, 2.5- or 5-mile courses through the park, human walkers recruited pledges to help the 5,000 needy animals housed annually at SPCA's shelter in Annapolis. Not all sponsors were of the two-legged kind. Suzy, an 11-month-old gray cat from Pasadena, had to pass on Sunday's fun, so she sent her turkey and giblet allowance to sponsor two dachshunds from Churchton.
The dachshunds, Kenai, 14, and Sitka, 13, each raised $101 in pledges from generous Bay Weekly friends and neighbors, helping the shelter approach this year's goal of $125,000. When the Churchton duo checked in with Cathy Ryan at the registration table, they learned there had "not been one slow period all morning."
"Rain or shine" organizers had promised, and Ryan said no one seemed to mind the rain. "Besides," she said, "it's nicer for the dogs."
Don't tell that to Dori Storin of Millersville. She left her "prissy" collie Morgan at home. "He hates the rain," she said. With her instead was Blake, her tri-calico mini Rex bunny, who quietly nibbled damp grass.
Damp and cool was the woodland course Duchess, 15, a "tweenie" dachshund chose. When she ran out of steam, owner Lisa Starkey of Arnold defended her portable pooch: "In her prime, she could walk forever."
For a while, along a course sweet scented with honeysuckle, mountain laurel and trailing blackberry vine in blossom, vintage dogs seemed to rule. Pixie, 13, rode high and dry in a "pet pouch" traded back and forth by Paula and Elizabeth Martin, a mother-daughter team from Shady Side.
Kyla Kellog, three, of Hillsmere carried her stuffed toy monkey Cha Cha because mom and dad Steven and Catherine said their 13-year-old airedale, Windsor, couldn't make the trip he annually enjoyed.
A pony-sized Great Dane named Chief, accompanied by a ferret named Bonnie, lowered the age, providing a contrast in scale and walking styles.
In the damp drizzle, no one complained about having a bad hair day - not even Andre, two, or Tarzan, seven months, four-foot-tall alpacas from Galesville. Representing some 300 fellow Ameripaca Farm friends, they sported their best coat of wool, escaping a shearing the others got to look their Sunday best. "They make wonderful pets," said owner Susan Hicks, "and people like them for investments." Female alpacas go for $20,000 to $50,000.
A prize for the youngest and smallest walker could have gone to a newt named Evian. Stephanie Cole, 11, of Edgewater, held the tiny one-month old amphibian in a dish of water. She likes newts, she said, "because they're adorable and easy to take care of. But if newts get too dry, they can shrivel up and die," she cautioned. She got hers from fellow walker Alicia Nye of Crofton, but they're available from Pet Smart for $3. Nye walked another pet, a German shorthaired Pointer named Max.
No fear of drying up if you were one of 1,200 who walked for SPCA and the Animals May 21.
If you stayed dry that day, you can still 'walk' for the animals. Pledges on that wet day fell about $5,000 short of the goal. So SPCA of Anne Arundel County has extended to June 3 the deadline for supporters to turn in their Walk 2000 pledge sheets and monies collected.
Drop off pledge sheets and claim prizes at SPCA Volunteer and Education Center at 1815 Bay Ridge Ave., Annapolis, Tues. to Fri. 10-5pm, Sat 11am-2pm, or Wed. May 31 6-8pm: 410/647-6051.
At the Front Lines of Literacy:
Making Reading Memories
The excitement's all around as the children gather at the feet of their visitor. Voices are lowered and ears tuned in. They know that this must be something very special because the guests are not from their daily school routine.
Many have never even seen these new faces, but they find them warm and inviting. A common interest is about to be shared, much like a secret between old friends.
Today is the RIF Read-A-Thon at Patuxent Elementary School in Calvert County. Reading Is Fundamental not only gives free books to all children at this school but also encourages projects that promote reading itself.
My job as a RIF coordinator is to organize this event, bringing in people from the community to read to children aged four to seven. Response was so inspiring that the one-day event had to run two consecutive Fridays.
The guests included school principals, Board of Education members, business professionals, elected officials and both the editor in chief and the general manager of Bay Weekly newspaper.
The teachers were delighted to find so many enthusiastic people able to take time out of their busy days to come and share not only the love of reading but also a bit of themselves.
Take for instance Sandra Martin, the editor in chief of Bay Weekly, a busy woman with more tasks than there are hours in the day. When I asked Sandra if she would come and read to the children her response held no hesitation. "Of course, when do you need me?" she said.
The event was still weeks away when we spoke, but Sandra spent free time in the days ahead searching for just the right books, even making an evening visit to a local bookstore to browse the children's selections.
"What fun," she told me. "I have so many possibilities to narrow down."
Just as busy yet just as eager, was her son, Bay Weekly's general manager Alex Knoll. Alex knew right away what his selections would be. A Curious George fan, he would share his beloved childhood friend with the children.
His second pick came as no surprise either. Anyone who's been in Alex's office has seen his fondness for Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
As the day arrived, I met Alex in the school lobby. Dressed in his business suit, he looked like a man on a mission. Only his boyish grin made you realize that underneath the jacket and tie was a Curious Alex waiting to get out.
With Alex in place in the second grade class of Pat Eddleman, I met Sandra in the school lobby. Her reading time was set for a half-hour after Alex began.
Sandra would be reading to the first grade class of Christine Norris, just down the hall from Mrs. Eddleman's class. As we passed by, we paused to watch Alex mesmerize these adorable little faces. Holding up his book with wild Max, he made the voices come alive.
I looked at Sandra, who to my surprise was misty-eyed. She smiled and whispered, "The last time I heard this book I was reading it to Alex." My heartstrings tugged, and she sighed, wandering back to a boy who was often as wild as Max in the book.
Wiping our eyes, we moved onto Sandra's waiting class. They were thrilled to share in the reading experience as both guest and students read from the book Click Clack Moo, by Doreen Cronin
Taking turns, these first-graders sounded out the words with little effort. Sandra praised them for reading so fluently, and they waited anxiously to find out what the next page held.
Time does fly when you are having fun.
As we were leaving, we stopped by the cafeteria long enough to check out the day's menu. Children who recognized their new friends waved their sticky fingers and smiled. Some would go home that afternoon and share the incident with their families. Others would tuck the event in their memory banks and pull it out on a day when they needed a lift.
Alex and Sandra, I knew, would do a bit of both.
Chesapeake Beach Gets Swell with Planned Hotel
All that's standing between Chesapeake Bay and Chesapeake Beach's new luxury hotel is "a couple of permits." Then, says Gerald Donovan, what will rise is "an elegant Victorian-style very luxurious resort hotel and spa to blend in with what was once envisioned as the grand resort" of Chesapeake Country.
Donovan is both 17-year mayor of Chesapeake Beach and the force behind the Bayfront town's development. His holdings include Rod 'n' Reel, which will change considerably to keep up with the five-story hotel that will - by next spring, Donovan predicts - shade its restaurants, dock bar, charter fishing fleet and bingo parlor.
This week, all that's a step closer. On May 19, the Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit authorizing Donovan to "regain lost fastland" by filling in what Corps spokeswoman Mary Beth Thompson described as "100 or 200 cubic yards with sand to regain land lost to erosion and other natural causes."
To get that permit, Donovan's revised plans set the hotel "back landward of mean high water shoreland."
Still pending are a zoning permit from the town and a building permit from Calvert County.
"We're two to three weeks from having all permits in hand," said John Hoffman, town public works administrator.
Never mind that the whole development is lapped by Chesapeake's highest tides. Maryland's Critical Area laws allow growth in such "intensely developed" areas - so long as the development improves existing storm water management.
"The Critical Areas laws," explains Calvert County deputy director of planning Greg Bowen, "don't stop the development in areas like the Beaches, but they do set more standards."
As a municipality, Chesapeake Beach oversees its own development without county oversight.
Meanwhile, the luxuries to come are being promoted to potential customers as Chesapeake Country's version of San Diego's Hotel Del Coronado, cut to scale and appealing to weekday meetings and weekend celebrations.
On floors three to seven, 70 rooms - including 12 Bayfront suites with balconies, whirlpool baths and fireplaces - will rent for prices ranging from $100 to over $200 a night. The hotel will be managed by Merit Hotel Group, which operates Kent Manor Inn on Kent Island and the Patuxent Inn in Lexington Park.
Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools and spas and exercise room. Robert Andrew Day Spa and Salon, now of Crofton, plans a second location in the hotel.
Rod 'n' Reel's outdoor bar will move to make way for the hotel, and a "heavily landscaped plaza" complete with pool and Bay-facing hot tub that will link the hotel to Rod 'n' Reel. That establishment will have its own facelift, including a nautical entrance, to, Donovan says, bring it "up to the level of the hotel."
Both enterprises, Donovan says, will "reflect who, where and what we are, from a waterpark at the turn of the century to our location on the Bay."
As all this gets underway, one enterprise, bingo, receeds. Already, big games and buses have been dropped. "We cut back to six nights a week and a local market," says Donovan. Next, when Rod 'n' Reel is remodeled, the bingo parlor will move from the second story to the back of the first.
Rod 'n' Reel's 32-boat charter fishing fleet will continue, offering the fanciest fishing headquarters on the Maryland Bay. There'll also be shuttle connections to Twin Shields Golf Course.
Through such links as well as its inherent draw, "the hotel will raise the tide of business throughout the area," Donovan says.
Not on the horizon for Donovan's new resort complex is gambling. "I've always been realistic about gambling. People will gamble regardless of what the government says. But nobody will lend you money betting on something like that," he says.
Meanwhile, Rod 'n' Reel hedges its bets with a bank of fun-only video poker and slot machines.
'Stars' Sail from Annapolis to Sydney
In a week that provided every kind of weather known to Chesapeake Country - fair winds and shifting, fluky winds, thunderstorms, sun and gloom, all followed by a mahogany tide algae bloom - more than a hundred Star Class racing yachts representing 28 countries rode the choppy Chesapeake in a six-day battle for final slots in the summer 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
The Star Class World Championship regatta, sponsored by Nautica and hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club, had not sailed in Chesapeake Bay since the early 1950s. For Annapolis, much was on the line as gunfire crackled the start each day for the fleet of world champions and Olympic medalists. They duked it out on a five-leg, cross-Bay course between Thomas Point and Bloody Point Lights, as scenic a setting as you can get in Chesapeake Country.
Along with last year's Whitbread race, hosting this 100-year-old venerated and popular Olympic sailing class, "Annapolis proved it could handle a major international regatta. It put us on the map," said Dick D'Amato, an Annapolis delegate who, out of session, helped tow boats in light air to the start in his lobster boat dubbed Green Heron.
"The town extended itself," he said, putting up international team members in local homes, rolling out the red carpet, providing an army of volunteers and local powerboat owners to tow the 22-foot boats and two-man teams several miles out to the starting line each day."
The popular Star Class sailing boat, originally designed for Long Island Sound, is long and narrow. Using only a main sail and jib sail, Stars offer basic racing that accentuates crew skills. The oversized sail and flat bottom suited to the Sound give "a horrendous bone-jarring ride on choppy Bay waters," one crew member said.
Beefy, all-male crews slid their feet under hiking straps, extending their whole bodies over the side of the narrow boats, their sheer weight balancing and stabilizing the boats. No woman played this power game on the Bay.
After five days of racing, U.S. medalist and sailmaker Mark Reynolds took home the trophy, an Irish crystal bowl, "winning the whole thing," a friend said, and "proving that practice makes perfect." Reynolds, who qualified at trials earlier this spring, heads to Sydney in August when teams from 16 other countries compete for the gold.
Qualifying Swiss, Spanish, Canadian, Brazilian and Irish teams dream of winning their gold in Sydney this summer. Meanwhile, sailing organizers and enthusiasts in Annapolis keep their eye on another dream: hosting the 2012 summer Olympic sailing event right here in choppy Chesapeake waters.
Way Downstream ...
In Washington, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put koalas on the list of endangered species. You're right if you said that koalas are found nowhere in the U.S. The reason was to send a message to Australia, where koalas live, to do a better job of protecting the cuddly marsupials. Australia was irked, calling the listing "inappropriate and unnecessary" ...
In Pennsylvania, an ex-member of the state senate can truly be called anti-environmental. William Slocum, a Republican, resigned last week after being sentenced to a month in prison and five months of home detention for polluting a northwestern Pennsylvania stream while managing a sewage treatment plant ...
In Florida, the manatee news is getting worse. The Florida Marine Research Institute said last week that manatee deaths are up 25 percent this year, mostly due to collisions with boats. So far this year, 32 have died ...
In Spain, they've found a new use for olives beyond martinis and oil: Producing electricity. The utility Endesa is burning 5.5 million tons of olive pulp and skin yearly to make what the town of Benameji needs for power. Endesa is building two more plants in order to export electricity ...
Our Creature Feature comes from Massachusetts, where suburban Boston is beginning to look like a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds. Roving flocks of wild turkeys have been attacking people: In suburban Boston, a postal worker was attacked several times and the turkeys flew against his truck and pecked his tires. A woman was charged when she reached outside to fetch her morning paper, the Associated Press reported.
Wildlife specialists are perplexed, but think it might have something to do with aggression by males in mating season. Others are trying to figure out if there's any connection between equally bizarre attacks on humans by chickens in Sonoma, Calif.