Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 37

September 12-18, 2002

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Articles for this Week:

Look Who You’ve Elected!

For a few more days the signs stand, proclaiming the ghosts of failed hope as brightly as victory’s triumph. But as the count of absentee ballots concludes Maryland’s primary election, few races will change. Losers will carry their signs to landfills or garages, and soon, we’ll take for granted the count we tallied so expectantly the suspenseful night of September 10.

But that night, hopes soared — or died.

By 9pm, Peter Perry knew he had lost his chance to represent the largest district in the county, the Seventh, on the Anne Arundel County Council.

“Eight-five to 90 percent of people don’t pay attention to the issues,” lamented Perry, an astrophysicist whose math was good enough to tell him that the seven precincts still out would not give him the votes to beat Bill Rinehart, who polled about 50 percent of the votes to Perry’s 34, in a race where 30 percent of registered Democrats voted. “They just see who’s got the biggest signs.”

As stunning as the unanticipated upset was Rinehart’s arrival at the door of Perry’s deep-woods Harwood home.

“Peter ran a good campaign with a good message,” said Rinehart, standing on Perry’s porch.

Even as Bill Rinehart was beating Peter Perry, he reached out, visiting Perry at home in Harwood.
Rinehart asserted that he and Perry, a favorite of environmentalists, were not so different on development. He said he regarded himself as independent minded, despite being aligned in the eyes of many Democrats with County Executive Janet Owens.

“Let’s face it,” the Democratic candidate said looking ahead. “With 17,000 Democrats and 18,000 Republicans in this district, you have to bite off some Republicans to win.”

In another lopsided Arundel County Council race, incumbent Bill Burlison, council chair and a former congressman from Missouri, scored two-thirds of the vote in holding off Terry Wilson — despite his challenger’s big newspaper endorsements.

On the Republican side, Phil Bissett celebrated his birthday with yet another landslide, winning the right to oppose County Executive Janet Owens by 64 percent of the county-wide vote to opponent Tom Angelis’ 36 percent.

But a couple of Republican races were squeakers. In the closest, in new legislative District 33B, firefighter Bob Costa edged out opponent Larry Myers, a legislative aide in the 33rd, by 51 percent to 49.

In 33A, where two Republicans and two Democrats will face off for two seats in November, the four-candidate race had two easy winners: Incumbent David Boschert led with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Tony McConkey with 29 percent. Retired from the race are Sean Logan, who took 25 percent of the vote, and another legislative aide, Vicky Overbeck, who took only 15 percent.

In District 30, four Republicans duked it out for the November right to challenge successful Democratic incumbents Virginia Clagett (32 percent), Michael Busch (30 percent) and Dick D’Amato (28 percent). Leading the trio of winners with 32 percent was former Annapolis alderman Herb McMillan, who saw defeat last year against now Mayor Ellen Moyer. A fellow Naval Academy grad, Michael Collins, took 27 percent, while former broker Nancy Almgren finished in the running with 24 percent.
A victorious Dotty Chaney celebrated at home in Lothian.
In Anne Arundel legislative races, one more Democrat trounced the opposition. Dotty Chaney won a 63 percent victory in 33B over opponent Tom McCarthy.

Celebrating at her home in Lothian, Chaney said that she intended to keep knocking on doors. Chaney said she visited more than 2,000 homes. “Some of the driveways were very long,” she said.

For cliffhangers, we turn to Calvert County’s crowded race for Board of Commissioners. On September 10, the starting field of 16 in the race for the five-person governing board was reduced to 11.

With only one vote dividing fifth-place winner from sixth-place loser on the Republican side, absentee ballots will determine whether challenger Jerry Clark (2307 votes) or incumbent John Douglas Parran (2306) makes it to the general election.

Top down, the other nine winners are —

Democrats: Wilson Parran; Barbara Stinnett, incumbent; Grace Mary Brady; Thomas Pelagatti; and Gene Karol.

Republicans: David Hale, incumbent; Susan Shaw; Linda Kelly, incumbent; Roger Tracy and Jerry Clark.

The race ahead will only get tougher, according to one winner, Dick D’Amato, who stepped aside from a victory party at Loew’s Annapolis Hotel to predict a close, tense election in November.

“The governor’s election will set the tone, and that’s going to be a very ugly and devisive election,” D’Amato said.


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Taking Toll of 23 Million Cars

Imagine being trapped in a booth for hours on end. All alone, while touching hundreds of hands. Our 43-member Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll collection staff are in there, but a steady stream of clumsy motorists keeps them company.

On Labor Day weekend, among the highest traffic holidays, toll collectors were far from lonely.

Some half million cars were expected to cross the Bay Bridge from Thursday through Labor Day Monday.

photo by Rebecca McClay
Toll collector Renatta Allen collects $2.50 from every passing motorist.
Tuesday after the holiday weekend is even worse. “Traffic Tuesday,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Justin McNaull calls the work day that backs up commuters with heavy congestion and taxes toll collectors.

“Labor Day traffic ended up being quite reasonable in large part due to the weather,” said McNaull. “On Tuesday, the bottlenecks returned.”

The Bay Bridge is a chronic bottleneck. More than 23 million cars passed over it in 2000, according to Maryland Transportation Authority estimates. One of seven toll collecting sites in Maryland, the bridge generated $30.3 million for road maintenance and improvements last year— an average of $83,000 per day.

Toll collectors, among them 19-year-old Renatta Allen, collect that money $2.50 at a time.

“Traffic Tuesday” kept toll collectors on their toes last week, but there were idle hours.

“Sometimes it gets lonely,” she said. “We do crosswords and twiddle our thumbs. Sometimes we talk to each other through the intercom — but we’re not supposed to.”

Allen enjoys her job and the view of the Bay. Each shift is a lab in applied psychology.

“Some people don’t even look at you and then slam money in your hand,” said Allen, who has been working five days a week for the last three months.

But by and large, Allen considers Bay Bridge motorists a polite breed.

“There are more nice people than mean people,” she said. “You meet a lot of nice people.”

Truck drivers frequently befriend the toll collectors on their regular routes across the Bay Bridge. Allen allows that some truckers flirt with her.

“They beep and wave,” she said. They also bring donuts, fruit or other snacks for all the toll collectors to pass around, Allen said.

No one has ever seen a toll collector trot across the highway or climb into their booth because each booth has a set of stairs to an underground tunnel.

The tunnel leads to the Maryland Transportation Authority’s administration building at the base of the bridge on the Sandy Point side. At the administration building, toll collectors can park their cars and gather for rest breaks from their stations five feet apart in the row of booths.

The 11 booths on eastbound Route 50 look identical to motorists, but toll collectors feel a difference.

“Booth number 11 [the far right booth] is the best of all,” said Allen, who rotates through booths. Motorists tend to shy away from the end booths, which means those toll collectors have more time to relax, she said.

Toll collectors in middle booths spend more time forgiving both the forgetful and clumsy motorists. Motorists who drop their money do not have to chase it down. Toll collectors are not supposed to let people get out of their cars, Allen said.

Some drivers try to pay with a check or credit card at the cash-only booths.

Motorists with Maryland tags who do not have money must pass under a camera that photographs their license plates. Owners of cars with out-of-state tags must fill out a form.
Procedures at all seven of Maryland’s toll stations are the same, but Bay Bridge operators deal with higher volumes of traffic than the state’s other toll stations.

“Though the demands are pretty consistent from facility to facility, there are longer back ups at the Bay Bridge,” Videl said. “That can be stressful.”

The Bay Bridge’s longest employed staff member, Sgt. Nancy Althoff of Queen Anne’s County, has endured those stresses for 33 years. Althoff, who is now a supervisor, began as a toll collector in March 1969, 17 years after the bridge opened in 1952.

Back then, rates were more expensive than today’s $2.50 round-trip fee. When the first toll was collected on opening day in 1952, motorists had to pay $1.40 each way and an additional 25 cents per person.

— Rebecca McClay

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How’s Art? Alive and Well in Anne Arundel

Bonnie Roth Anderson knew she would be a professional artist when she was seven. “I just loved all the pretty colors,” she remembers. After 20 years as an artist-in-residence at Maryland Hall for Creative Arts and 22 years teaching art in Anne Arundel County, Anderson still can’t claim any favorites. “I still love them all. I really do,” says she.

She, however, is the pick of The Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel, winning this year’s Annie award for Visual Arts.

“I’m absolutely walking on air. I’m thrilled,” says Anderson of the news.

Artist Bonnie Roth Anderson paints a portait of Bill Burton.
An Anne Arundel resident over four decades, Anderson studied with Cedric Egli, last year’s winner of the Annie Visual Arts award, and with Henry Hensche of Cape Cod. Hensche taught Anderson the French Plein Air method, which goes outdoors for light and color.(On, September 21, Anderson and other Mid-Atlantic Plein Air painters show their style on the streets of Annapolis. See 8 Days a Week.)

The president of the Maryland Society of Portrait Painters, Anderson has made portraits of many distinguished locals, including Bay Weekly’s long-time columnist Bill Burton. Her portrait of John Cade adorns the Cade Center at Anne Arundel County Community College, and her image of former Naval Superintendent Admiral John Davidson hangs at the Naval Academy. But her favorite subjects are children, because, she says, “they’re so beautiful.”

The State Arts Council presented an Anderson landscape, of boats on the Bay at sunrise, to Gov. Parris Glendening. That honor aside, Anderson says the Annie is the biggest award she’s received.

For it, she had lots of competition. Finding local talent worthy of the Annies is easy, says Nadja Maril, of Cultural Arts Foundation. Choosing the winner is hard. “The exciting thing for us is that there are so many talented individuals in Anne Arundel County who deserve to be recognized,” Maril said.

The Annies honor six Anne Arundel residents who have made “lasting, significant and inspiring contributions” in their arts.
  • Bob Nichols, president of the Board of Directors of Chesapeake Arts Center and retired art and drama teacher, wins the Arts Patron award this year.

  • The Literary Arts award goes to James Luceno, science fiction writer and best-selling author of books based on George Lucas’ Star Wars movies.

  • Ernie Green, music director of the Annapolis Chorale and Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, wins the award for Performing Arts.

  • The Arts Educator award goes to Pam Chaconas, former director of Education for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.

  • Douglas Allanbrook — world-renowned composer, harpsichordist, author and St. John’s Tutor Emeritus — wins the Lifetime Achievement award.

Some 30 county non-profits will receive grants this year from the Cultural Arts Foundation, established to foster and promote arts in Anne Arundel County. Grants range in size from $1,000 to $20,000. Maryland Hall, the Historic Annapolis Foundation and the Chesapeake Arts Center are among the recipients of larger grants.

Private and public schools throughout the county will also receive grants for Arts in Education programs, which bring artists and historians into the schools. The Cultural Arts Foundation matches funds to those raised by the Parent-Teacher Association and showcases local artists so PTA representatives get a sampling of their choices.

As the three-year-old Annies testify to the vitality of the local arts community, so does a stroll through Maryland Hall in Annapolis, where Anderson paints her award-winning canvasses in a newly remodeled studio. The arts flourish there, but musicians, dancers and visual artists are bursting out of the seams.

The 70-year-old building needs new windows and new ceilings. That’s why Hall supporters hope Friday, September 13 will be their lucky day. That’s the date of Arts Alive 4, a community fundraiser featuring a buffet from Outback Steakhouse, live jazz with the Rob Levit trio and three auctions — live, silent and art. Irresistibles such as an Orioles/Ravens sports package, a Maryland Hall ticket sampler, a jacket from The Sopranos and works by local artists Nancy Hammond and John Ebersberger go to the highest bidder. As well as the building fund, Maryland Hall’s dance, music, literary and visual arts programs also benefit.

At Arts Alive, you’ll see what good your money’s done, as you tour the studios —including Annie-winning Anderson’s — upgraded courtesy of last year’s gala.

— Martha Blume

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photo by Val Hymes
St. James’ music director Michael Ryan admires the new electronic Trillium.
At St. James, Maxwell Makes Organ-ic History

Two masters join forces on Sunday, September 15 when Monte Maxwell pulls out the stops on the new Rodgers Trillium 957 organ at St. James Parish in Lothian.

Maxwell is the principal organist at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he plays 400 events per year, including church services both Catholic and Protestant, weddings, funerals, memorial services and concerts. “I love playing the organ,” says he.

The Trillium gives the 239-year-old church a new — and new-age — voice.

“Organs are designed and voiced for the building where they are installed,” says St. James musical director Michael Ryan, a singer retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Band. “So you not only hear the organ but the building as well.”

Because the 1763 church building doesn’t have room for pipes, its new organ is electronic. The digital Trillium creates a range of effects equal to a 115-rank pipe organ. It has four keyboards — one played with the feet — and 55-stop controls.

The organ completes the historic parish’s first renovation in three decades. Walls have been painted in a white-trademarked as White Dove; the trim and pews, a pale beige called Cedar Key; and the carpeting, China Berry. Continuing a half-century tradition was paint contractor Robert T. L. Griner of Shady Side, whose father, Norman, painted the church in the early ’50s and again in 1975.

So on three scores, the inaugural concert promises quite a show.

First, musically. “Music can move the emotions like no other vehicle,” says Maxwell, “and organ music is the supreme vehicle to that end. The organist is both the conductor and the player of an instrument that has a full orchestra of sounds — flute, oboe, trumpet. It can sound soft, loud, high or so low — 16 hertz — that it reaches the lower threshold of hearing.”

On the Trillium, Naval Academy’s master organist will caress listeners with soft, warm gentle sounds and thrill them with a majesty that will shake the building.

“The concert will be crafted to show the instrument’s grandeur — and its relaxation,” says he. “It can feel like a warm blanket on a cold night.”

For this concert, there’ll be a visual show, as well. The organ will be turned to face the audience, so all can see both its workings and the organist’s. As he plays with hands and feet, lights flash on the keyboards’ notes and stops.

On the third score, who doesn’t enjoy a fresh paint job?

All in all, it’s a concert that, Maxwell promises, “You don’t have to be a trained musician to enjoy.”

All are invited to recital and reception at 4pm, Sunday, September 15 @ St. James Parish church on Route 2 in Lothian near the intersection with Route 258: 410/867-2838.

—Sonia Linebaugh

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, budget cuts are taking a toll on Chesapeake Bay research. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science already has lost 10 percent of its staff and had to mothball its research buoy, which provided real-time information on currents, wave action and other conditions in the Ba …

In Washington, the National Park Service will begin a study to decide if portions of Chesapeake Bay should be designated a national park. A series of workshops begin this month — including one at the Annapolis Public Library Sept. 26 at 6:30 — to solicit views from the public…

In Rome, Andrea Crapanzano was startled one recent night when 51 sea turtles marched into her beachfront home. Authorities said the turtles must have been confused by the lights. They spent the night, and she returned them to the sea at dawn...

Our Creature Feature is a charmer from India. Animal rights activists this week said they rescued 50 snakes from cruel treatment at a festival of snake charmers.

Unlike many who fear and detest snakes, their protector Issac Khemkar said they’re valuable in India’s countryside: “A snake is considered a farmer’s friend because of its carnivorous nature. It survives on rats, birds, lizards, frogs — and not milk as people would like to offer.”

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Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly