Dock of the Bay

Vol. 8, No. 6
February 10-16, 2000
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Mary Kilbourne:
Bay Foundation’s Woman of the YearMary Kilbourne

With traffic blasting by her and rain pouring down, naturalist Mary Kilbourne stood on the side of Rt. 301 to snap pictures of a vacant lot. It was all in a day’s work for a woman as likely to be knee deep in the Bay hauling sacks of oyster shells to restore reefs. You might run into Kilbourne in library reference rooms panning for clues to environmental crimes. Or you might bump shoulders in a packed statehouse hearing room, where she has waited sometimes eight hours to testify, as the parking tickets pile up on her windshield outside.

This quality of dedication made Kilbourne a natural for Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 1999 Conservationist of the Year. With the honor, awarded on January 21, Kilbourne received an osprey bust, rendered exquisitely in bronze by sculptor David Turner, plus $1,000. The osprey now perches on Kilbourne’s bookshelf.

What about the money?

“I’m buying a kayak,” says Kilbourne. “I have canoes and a poke boat, but if you want to do the Bay, you need a sea kayak. Besides, it’s non-polluting and very environmental.”

The Rt. 301 photo session was more than a stunt. The developed pictures helped squelch an Exxon station on a floodplain by demonstrating that when it rains, this plain indeed floods. “Imagine wanting to bury fuel tanks in a flood plain,” says Kilbourne. Though she is quick to state many of her efforts don’t produce such hands-down victories, in this case a picture was worth reams of Exxon testimony.

“You couldn’t deny those pictures,” says Kilbourne.

A naturalist at Patuxent River Park, Kilbourne has from the early ’80’s lent her vigor and expertise to Chesapeake Bay Foundation, leading restoration projects and advocating laws that protect the Bay.
“That process is too complicated,” says Kilbourne. “I wish it were made easier for citizens to know, say, the process of zoning a development so they could see how they can have an impact.” One of her pet projects is oyster gardening, which is appreciably easier. “I get so happy when I’m getting muddy putting out oysters,” she says.

Kilbourne’s latest award joins other recent honors: she was named 1995 Baysaver of the Year, and in her fishing debut, was distinguished in the 1999 Annual Bay Weekly-Bill Burton Fishing Expedition by catching most species, including a whopping 40-pound cow-nosed ray.

“I thought I’d caught a whale,” she recalls. “When I felt that pull on my line I thought, ‘If this is an ordinary fish, my career as a fisherwoman is over before it’s even started!’”

Kilbourne was born in Oklahoma, but she’s lived most of her life in Chesapeake Country and found her calling early. “I grew up in Prince George’s County and didn’t realize the environment was threatened until I saw it disappearing fast,” she says.

After earning her bachelor’s and graduate degrees at the University of Maryland, Kilbourne taught high school biology in county schools 30 years. She retired to become a naturalist. “After being in a windowless classroom all those years, I’m finally outdoors. I couldn’t go back inside now,” says she.

Of being named Conservationist of the Year, Kilbourne says “I’m honored, because it’s really recognizing my entire life.”

—Christy Grimes

Practice the Fashionable Beatitude:
Clothe the Cold
he classy ’40s dresses whisper discreetly, beckoning with their soft, draping fabrics and sophisticated tailoring. The frothy ’50s evening dresses giggle together in the corner amid tight bodices, voluminous skirts, ruffles and bows. The naughty ’60s denim hot pants jumpsuit flirts with the boxy gondola-print men’s shirt. The garish ’70s polyesters shout psychedelic colors and patterns.
Retrofit Vintage Clothing in Severna Park wows you with a chorus of fashion history.

These pedigreed fineries seem far adrift from the sweats and flannels, puffy coats and clunky snow boots most of us sport these frigid days. But Retrofit owner Ruby Degenhard has interwoven sensible warm clothes with fancy vintage fashions by organizing a benefit Vintage Fashion Show to help clothe the homeless in winter gear. The show goes on Sunday, Feb. 13 from 2-4pm at the Columbian Center (the Knights of Columbus Hall) at 335 N. Ritchie Highway in Severna Park.

There’s a reason for the connection. “About two months ago, some of my employees and I were saying that we’d really like to do something for the community. So we decided to have a vintage fashion show as a benefit for We Care & Friends, which is an Annapolis organization that provides help for the homeless and the needy,” Degenhard explains.

One blanket, coat or pair of boots (either new or clean and gently used) is all it costs to enjoy this parade of time-tested styles. About 16 models will strut the runway in five different vintage ensembles apiece. The models, all current and past Retrofit employees and their friends, raided both Retrofit’s racks and their own closets to assemble outfits that fit seamlessly into the show’s three segments: Vintage fashion inspired by television shows, such as I Love Lucy and The Brady Bunch; Vintage fashion themes, such as a bobby soxer and a greaser; Vintage evening wear. Degenhard approved all choices.

Fashion lovers can drop off clothing and pick up tickets at Retrofit on 820 Ritchie Highway, or they can bring their donations to the door on the day of the show. (Degenhard prefers admission be paid as clothing, but you can also buy a ticket for $10.)

The sooner the winter clothes get to Retrofit, the sooner they can be handed over to We Care & Friends, whose members then hit the streets to distribute the clothing to the homeless.
Degenhard explains the urgency: “We are trying to get coats and blankets and boots to the people who need them right now, when it’s cold out.”

To learn more: Ruby Degenhard 11-6pm daily @ Retrofit: 410/421-5454.

— Kim Cammarata

In Southern Maryland,
Three Counties Make One College

Chuck U? Quad C? Those monikers are so yesterday. As is Charles County Community College.
Charles County Community College has long been the community college of Southern Maryland. Its tentacles reached into Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, where small campuses brought dozens of classes to local students. But to achieve associate’s degrees or vocational certificates students had to cross county borders into Charles.

Charles County Community College’s days are now numbered. Its alter ego, the College of Southern Maryland, will pop up with the daisies its old persona pushes up in spring. Beginning in March as a publicity campaign, the changeover finishes by July 1, 2000, when the College of Southern Maryland becomes official.

“Everybody is excited,” declares Emily Henry, 19, senior vice president of the student government association. “They want to know why it’s happening, what’s going to happen next and when it’s happening.” She likes the new name, College of Southern Maryland, too, and says it will look better on applications and résumés without the ‘community college’ tag. “I think it will get more attention and respect.”

The metamorphosis has taken three years. Overcoming many objections, commissioners of the three counties and college officials hammered out the details of funding, representation and direction. When all agreed, a bill to create the new college was put before the Maryland General Assembly, which approved it last year.

Under the new identity, a contractual arrangement dominated by Charles County becomes a full partnership among three counties. Representatives from each county will sit on the expanded nine-member board of trustees, starting with two spots each for Calvert and St. Mary’s to Charles County’s five. The counties will reach equality, with three board seats each, by 2010.

Meanwhile, the college is expanding with new programs in manufacturing technology, graphic design and digital imaging, patient care, medical assistance and technology support. Ever more courses and two new programs will be added to the Internet offerings. A new college web site will let students register and find other services on-line. Many changes are in the virtual realm, but that’s not to say there won’t be any tangible progress.

In Calvert, tomorrow’s students may never know the experience of education at the diminutive Port Republic campus, a renovated Christian school. In all likelihood, they won’t arrive at morning classes to find live poultry strutting among parked cars, having strayed from their coop next door.
Come 2003, the privileged pupils of Calvert will find a whole new campus of some 75 acres, stretching out just to the west of Prince Frederick on the north side of Route 231. Construction on the first building starts in 2001 and finishes in 2002 with classes by 2003. More room means less commuting to La Plata for upper-level courses.

Charles County’s La Plata campus, the main campus for both incarnations of the college, has already found shelves for homeless books with the shiny new Learning Resource Center. Soon the same campus will renovate its administration building and may eventually set up a child care center.

Leonardtown, in St. Mary’s, is expecting a visit from bulldozers in the near future to break ground for the campus’ third building, to be finished within the next year.

To its full college campus in the rolling country of suburban La Plata, the Charles County campus has already added a new Learning Resource Center. It is also renovating its administration building and planning to set up a child care center.

The new name may also end the colleges’ identity crisis.

“We’ve been operating on three or four different names, and the students don’t know what college they’re a student of,” explains College President Elaine Ryan. “So our schizophrenia will come to an end.”

School pride is sustained by preserving green and gold as the school colors and the hawk as college mascot. “The student government association just bought a new Hawk costume, so that’s a good thing,” notes Ryan.

Even better is a fuller college coffer. Because the College of Southern Maryland is going to be a true regional college instead of a contractual set-up among counties, it qualifies for a raise in the share of expenses the state will cover — up from around 50 percent to as much as 75 percent.

“We just submitted our budget for 2001 to 2005,” reports Michelle Goodwin, chair of the transition team. “If it is approved, it could mean an additional $6.2 million in state funding.”

One thing won’t change. The College of Southern Maryland will not become a four-year institution. It will continue partnership programs with larger schools — including University of Maryland University College, Johns Hopkins University and Towson University — so that students can earn a full range of lower-level credits locally before making the trip north to finish their degrees.

“On the one hand, we’re not a four-year college offering bachelor’s degrees,” explains Goodwin. “On the other hand, we’re a very flexible, nimble college that can rapidly adjust to new demands and requirements from the community. That’s the whole essence of a community college.”
The College of Southern Maryland smells success, though nobody has caught a whiff of what the new nickname might be.

“We haven’t talked about that,” says Ryan. “The initials don’t really say anything. Our students have the ability to do that. I have no doubt they’ll come up with something.”

—Mark Burns

Way Downstream …

In Virginia, families along Blackberry Creek in Henry County grew a little weary of raw sewage backing up into their yards and up through manholes and even bubbling up into their tubs and sinks. Finally, the state Department of Environmental Quality took notice and promised to crack down on a privately run sewage treatment plant …

Also in Virginia, officials have given the okay to a $3 million proposal to build oyster reefs in the Rappahannock River. They’ve also scheduled a hearing on another plan to introduce oysters from China into Chesapeake Bay

In Florida, cattails are gobbling up the Everglades. The Miami Herald reports that they now cover 61,000 acres, four times the amount in 1996. They’re spreading because of phosphorous, a fertilizer used by farmers and sugar growers …

In Alabama, bikers and environmentalists both are happy now with a plan to build a $33 million motorcycle museum and racetrack near Birmingham. Conservationists were worried because the nearby Cahaba River is the city’s major source for drinking water. But they’re satisfied with monitoring plans …

Our Creature Feature this week comes from Louisiana, where competition is sprouting to the groundhog Punxatawney Phil. In New Iberia, where they make the famous hot sauce, a nutria named Pierre C. Shadeaux emerged from his cottage to see his shadow, which meant a hot and humid Louisiana summer.

Meanwhile, in Shreveport, Claude the Crawfish stretched his claws toward the sun after being pulled from a pile of mud along the Red River. Cajuns cheered because Claude had just signaled an early end to winter.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly