Volume 16, Issue 25 - June 19 - June 25, 2008

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With the retirement of Gerald Donovan, this November Chesapeake Beach will elect its first new mayor in a quarter-century. In that time, Donovan conceived and presided over the rebirth of his native town as a Bay-blessed place to live and visit.

Donovan’s most notable memorial is a water park that recalls the town’s birth in the early years of the 20th century as a vacation destination at the end of the railway line from Washington. To complete the resemblance, Donovan and his brother Freddy also revitalized their Rod ’n’ Reel resort and marina to include a hotel and spa as well as restaurants and charter fishing.

Among his achievements, Donovan also counts Bayfront and Veterans’ parks, affordable housing and a home for recovering addicts of drugs and alcohol, “because those folks can’t get left behind. All of us have human frailties.”

Fiscally, Donovan says he’s proud of “managed growth that allowed us to lower the tax rate nine times in my 25 years as mayor.

“There are lots of ways to go out. I’m going out on a high,” said Donovan, who turns 60 this year. “I’m in great health, and the town is in great financial shape with a rainy day fund over $1.3 million. It’s been a wonderful run. I loved it. It’s great to be going out on this kind of high” …

Plastic checkout bags get the boot at yet another retail chain. True Value Hardware was swayed by Annapolis K&B True Value Hardware’s manager Jared Littmann, who asked for reusable bags. Now the entire nationwide chain is selling reusable bags for 99 cents and offers a new degradable plastic checkout bag, made with an additive that speeds breakdown when the plastic is exposed to light and water. So if a rogue bag gets loose, it would disintegrate in less than a year. Customers who tote in reusable bags — the better choice — get five cents back on each bag used. A reusable bag can accommodate two gallons of paint or 24 pounds of hardware, garden supplies and more …

Abby Elgie smashes fudge, crushed Oreos and marshmallows into The Incredible Chunk, the new ice cream MaggieMoo’s has concocted in conjunction with the release of the summer blockbuster The Incredible Hulk.

Can a mere ice cream measure up to The Incredible Hulk? Abby Elgie is trying, smashing fudge, crushed Oreos and marshmallows into the mint-green ice cream that MaggieMoo’s has concocted to rise to Hulk standards.

The Incredible Chunk is the chain’s third silver screen ice cream premier, in a promotion continuing every week through September. To invoke the experience of watching The Incredible Hulk, this week’s new ice cream would have to contain a mix as potent as the flick’s blend of sexy geeks, city-stomping fights and green goo.

As for the last qualification, the Incredible Chunk looks the part: it’s Hulk green. The mix of sharp mint and smooth fudge broken by the crunch of Oreo and the occasional chewy marshmallow is as surprising as the witty dialogue and well-paced action in the summer blockbuster. Like the surprise entrance of Ironman Tony Stark, hinting at action movies to come, Maggie Moos blockbuster ice cream leave you wanting more …

State Arts and Entertainment district mean a creative boost for Annapolis and Havre de Grace art and artists. Artists get income tax breaks for living in the state’s 16th and 17th official Arts and Entertainment districts, named by the Maryland State Arts Council. Developers who make room for artists to live and work are exempt from certain property taxes. Arts businesses skip admissions and amusement taxes. In Annapolis, the program is supposed to help market Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and propel the opening of Bates Magnet School for the Arts in 2010. Fifteen other statewide arts districts in Maryland include Baltimore City’s Station North and Highlandtown, Berlin, Bethesda, Cambridge, Cumberland, Denton, Elkton, Frederick, Hagerstown, Salisbury, Silver Spring, Snow Hill, Prince George’s County’s Gateway District and Wheaton …

One of the world’s oldest space centers is tucked away along Virginia’s lower Eastern Shore. Now, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, or MARS, at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility, may become as common a name in Americans’ minds as Cape Canaveral. Orbital Sciences Corporation, based in Dulles, Virginia, has chosen the Virginia island for the development of its Taurus II rockets, which will launch the Cygnus spacecraft following the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2010.

The first launch of the Taurus II is scheduled for late 2010 to deliver the Cygnus, developed jointly between Orbital and NASA, to the International Space Station. Thereafter — if all goes well — Orbital will launch as many as eight flights a year to the ISS by 2012 from MARS.

In Calvert County, SPOT — Stop Pet Overpopulation Thrift Store — has moved into new digs. Its new location in the old St. Leonard Post Office is a move uptown in more ways than one: the new store has indoor plumbing, air conditioning and, at least for now, no resident groundhog. Sniff out a bargain at 4860 St. Leonard Road. All proceeds benefit low-cost spay and neuter services and help rescue unwanted pets. Open Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm. Donations accepted Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; www.spayspot.org

On Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ annual General Assembly scorecard, legislators’ environmental scores slipped this year.

The average Senate score in 2008 was 59 percent, down from 69 percent last year. Green votes ranged from Global Warming Solutions, which failed, to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which passed. In our area, Sen. Mike Miller earned 89 percent; Sen. John Astle, 86 percent; Sen. Roy Dyson, 62 percent; Sen. James Ed Degrange, 50 percent; Sen. Bryan Simonaire, 27 percent; and Sen. Janet Greenip, zero.

In the House, scores dipped down to 54 percent from 80 percent in 2007. Delegates voted on the Governor’s EmPOWER Maryland bill, Critical Areas Act and the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund, among others. In our districts, high scorers included House Speaker Mike Busch, 90 percent; Del. Theodore Sophocleus, 89 percent; Virginia Clagett and Mary Ann Love, 88 percent; and Sue Kullen and Steve Schuh, 80 percent. Mid-range scorers were Bob Costa at 50 percent and Nicholaus Kipke at 40 percent. Scraping the bottom on conservation were Del. Ron George, 33 percent; James King, 27 percent; Tony McConkey, 17 percent; Tony O’Donnell, 12 percent; and Don Dwyer, eight percent.

Lower scores may reflect 2008’s bigger green test, said Conservation Voters’ executive director Cindy Schwartz. Read on at www.mdlcv.org

Our Creature Feature is an odd tale about the melon-headed whale, a strange mammal that looks like a giant torpedo with a head the shape of a rounded cone. Normally, they’re found in the earth’s tropical waters; you can see them in Hawaii and the Philippines. But twice since last week they’ve been found dead or dying in our part of the world, first at Assateague and then Sunday near Pungoteague Creek in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay.

It is a mystery on many fronts. The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team thought the first discovery was a pygmy killer whale, given the resemblance. Melon-headed whales are rarely seen, alive or dead, in U.S. waters, and fewer than 20 have washed up, primarily in Florida and Texas. One was found in Maryland 24 years ago. An autopsy revealed no clue as to why the melon-heads are dying. “To have two of this rare species strand in Virginia within a week is highly unusual,” the aquarium said in a statement.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.