Citizens Know Best
Citizens may have persuaded the Anne Arundel County Charter Revision Commission to recut the county pie into smaller pieces. These cuts determine the shape of the county's smallest unit of government, the County Council.Elected in each newly carved district are County Council members, the public servants we are most likely to know face to face.
Following the 10-year cycle of the Census, the Commission was set up to
draw election districts to fit our changing population. Districts are supposed to be contiguous, not gerrymandered, and each one must hold about the same number of people: 69,000.
The map drawn by the Commission was a conservative one, largely maintaining
the status quo. It keeps seven districts, with Southern Anne Arundel County aligned with Crofton. However, Crofton would be divided into two districts, north and south of Johns Hopkins Road. Crownsville would also be divided into two districts.
Citizens waited turns out in County Council chambers at an end-of-August public hearing to tell the five member Commission that their plan would fragment the integrity of their communities.
Councilman John Klocko, the Crofton-South Arundel councilman, turned up to hear half a dozen citizens say they didn't want him as their representative.
Nothing personal, Mr. Klocko, was the tenor, but the interests of rural
South Arundel are a world apart - and should be a council district
apart - from the suburban interests of Crofton.
We have no overlap with the interests of Crofton or they with us, said Joan Turek of Davidsonville.
Klocko, who says he opposes slicing Crofton apart from Southern Arundel, has served his allowed term and cannot run again.
Most everybody else supported a rival plan, drawn by Sylvia Jennings of the Concerned Citizens Group of South County to unify Southern Arundel under a redrawn seventh district and combine Crofton with Odenton and Gambrills.
If ever there was a community of interest, it's Crofton, Odenton and Gambrills, said Robert Agee of Crofton. School districts, transportation planning, newspaper coverage, even original zip codes: Everything pushes toward a continuity of interest.
The 7pm hearing was polite and timely. Commission members could have been home in bed by 9pm. But it had its effect. As the meeting ended, Chairman Thomas Riggin said You certainly made your point here. We'll go back to the drawing board and see if it's feasible.
We'll be looking to see if citizens indeed know best.
A Few More Ways to Leave Your Summer
It may seem too soon for some, but fall is in the air. While ushering in the new season, late summer festivals help people to squeeze every worthy moment out of the old one. The last weekend in August brought us out in great numbers to celebrate at fairs small and sprawling, quaint and modern, local and regional.
All had one lucky thing in common.
The weather was perfect, said Edie Bernier of the Maryland State Fair in Towson.
Usually people get hot and leave in the high afternoon, but not this year - the weather just brought people out, and we had our best turn-out yet, said Susan Yoe, whose husband Jim organized Calvert Countys Jousting Tournament at Christ Church in Port Republic.
It was great, especially compared to years when it was 100 or 105 degrees, said Carolyn Spedden of the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville.
It was a beautiful weekend, and that makes it even more fun said Stacy Ward of North Beach Bayfest.
Ward joined fellow town employees to put together the 18th - and many say the best - annual Bayfest, which kicked off Saturday morning with a parade along Bay Avenue. Eighteen thousand strong, this years festival gave 150 craftspeople the chance to show off their wares to Anne Arundel and Calvert countians.
Bayfest paid homage to the old with traditional games like the three-legged-race and the egg toss. Live entertainment including local rock and bluegrass bands kept festival-goers on their toes. A crabcake contest and crab races honored the unofficial state crustacean, which also joined the menu for the first time this year.
Crab feasts on the pier were the biggest success of this year, said Ward. They sold out. We went through I dont know how many bushels.
Those who missed it this year need not worry, Ward promises, because, every year it gets bigger and better.
Many who missed Bayfest must have been checking out one of the three other celebrations under the sun this weekend.
It was so packed, said 14-year-old Jessie Hamilton of Port Republic of the 135th Annual Jousting Tournament. But still fun. I got a book for 10 cents at the bazaar. Others carried away home-made jams and pepper sauce, stuffed animals and even a Victorian pillowcase doll with button hair.
The provincial atmosphere and the lovely setting - historical Christ Church - of the Jousting Tournament make it a favorite for Calvert locals. But guests who visited from all over - just outside county lines to as far off as Tucson, Arizona - this year proved that old sports never lose their universal appeal.
Jousting contestants dont actually spear one another in the states eldest joust; they aim for steel rings suspended from a series of arches. And they dont always don full armor, or even medieval garb; most come in T-shirts and jeans; some in modern riding gear.
This festival is all about sport, but theres more here than just competition. Socializing, sunning and shopping have their part too, in a day that includes crafts, a bazaar and a country supper.
Too busy preparing for the new school year or hanging out by the pool to make it last weekend? On-going events like the Maryland Renaissance Festival and the Maryland State Fair are yearly destinations for many festival-goers.
Thirteen thousand showed up for the opening weekend of the Renaissance Festival this weekend, including many families who took advantage of the free admission for kids.
The state fair hasnt looked at numbers yet, but with the Trisha Yearwood concert and the Friday night balloon festival, you can bet there wasnt much elbow room.
This upcoming weekend promises to be just as fun, said Bernier. The main attraction is the calf and piglet birthing center, where people can watch farm animals be born while a vet narrates the birth. It goes on all Labor Day - no pun intended - weekend.
Fair-goers can also see The Charlie Daniels Band and Blood, Sweat and Tears perform this weekend (if they dont get enough of that in the birthing center), along with traditional rides, contests and games.
The musicians at the Renaissance Festival might not be quite as well known, but they are just as much fun. Every weekend until October 25, festival-goers help celebrate its 25th anniversary with a full cast of kings and queens, lords and ladies, court jesters and minstrels and bawdy commonfolk.
Foster a Furry Friend
Got the end-of-summer, empty-nest blues? Channel your blues into making a difference in the life of a homeless animal?
The SPCA of Anne Arundel County is looking for people with time and love to spare. Not-4-Gotten, the SPCAs animal fostering program, needs volunteers to temporarily shelter homeless animals that do not adapt well to the shelter environment.
Most in need of short-term foster care are very young puppies and kittens. Until eight weeks old, theyre too young to be adopted. Others might be older dogs who are unsocialized or depressed. Or young homeless families.
A mother with her three newborn kittens was dropped at our door yesterday. She needs a home today, says Sue Beatty, organizer of the two-year-old program and director of operations at the Annapolis shelter.
The shelter environment is too harsh for these very young animals, says Beatty. A foster home is better for their health and development. They also receive one-on-one attention, which helps socialize the animals and makes for better pets once they are adopted.
In addition to puppies and kittens, adult dogs and cats, rabbits and guinea pigs sometimes need foster homes, as do other animals that the shelter handles.
Foster-parent Sue Strawn of Annapolis, who has two dogs of her own, has looked after kittens, puppies, elderly dogs and some in between in her two years as a Not-4-Gotten volunteer. She joined the program to ease her grief after the death of a close friend. Its a great program. Call if you have any interest. Dont just assume you wont be a good foster parent, says Strawn.
On any given day we could send out 10 animals. With 15 active homes, we have room for lots more, says Beatty.
Prospective foster parents must complete an application, after which the SPCA conducts a home inspection to ensure the environment is suitable for the animal. All members of the household must agree to accept the needy animal.
Once an animal settles into a foster home, the SPCA pays for all medical care. Foster parents provide food, water, attention and love. Beatty also asks foster parents to devote a couple weekends, if possible, to bringing their wards to adoption shows at local PetSmart stores.
The best foster parents, says Beatty, are those who can give lots of attention to the animal, then happily see it into a new home and, hopefully, help out with another.
Like Strawn. When they leave I get tearful, she says, but knowing theyre going to a good home is incredibly rewarding.
What happens if foster parents fall in love and want to keep the animal?
Thats one more animal in a loving home, replies Beatty.
More information? Sue Beatty: 410/268-5285.
- Kim Cammarata
In Virginia, a fellow who dumped sewage into a storm drain near a Manassas high school will spend five months in prison. Septic service operator Ricky Ray Aits ought to get additional time for stupidity: he dumped during a soccer game, causing a stench that wafted across the field
In Paris, French film star and sex symbol Brigitte Bardot is aiming her talents at her government for failing to punish hunters who illegally shoot herons and egrets. Bardot accused the Interior Minister of pandering on election eve. Do you think the French are that stupid? she asked in a letter
In England, theres a new version of the popular TV show Big Brother. Its called Pig Brother, and viewers will vote on the Web to pick their favorite pig named after a politician. The favorite is Blair Pig, named after UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
Our Creature Feature comes from Massachusetts, where authorities were trying to figure out why a slightly wacky bald eagle menaced people at New England beaches last week. The young eagle, which has a six-foot wingspan, swooped down to attack footballs and in one descent scratched an eight-year-old girl.
After clearing the beach, animal control officers captured the bird by luring it with a tennis ball and a hunk of meat. Authorities determined that it had been released July 25 from a North Carolina wildlife center where it had been treated after an injury. It remains a mystery why the eagle turned aggressive.