Dock of the Bay

Volume VI Number 3
January 22-28, 1998

  • In Annapolis, Countering the Klan: Community Sets Strategy
  • In Prince Frederick, Gambling for the Abused
  • In Crownsville, A Plan Gets Its Players
  • Chesapeake Debris from Susquehanna Surges
  • Way Downstream

  • In Annapolis, Countering the Klan: Community Sets Strategy

    To march in protest, silently demonstrate or do nothing at all. These were the choices posed by local officials, law officers and townspeople who gathered this week for a dialogue on ways to counteract a Feb. 7 rally planned by the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at Lawyers Mall in Annapolis.

    More than 150 people, including city officials, church members, and community organizers, gathered at Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street in Annapolis on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to offer suggestions and solutions that would serve as a response to the scheduled rally.

    Law enforcement officials were on hand for a question-and-answer period concerning safety measures and precautions that will be taken to prevent the Klan rally from turning violent.

    "If it gets out of hand, they've won," said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Larry Tolliver.

    The discussion, led by civil rights leader and former Alderman Carl O. Snowden, was a vocal one. Suggestions included:

    From many suggestions and opinions, the solutions were narrowed to a broad three: a march of protest directed at the Klan rally; a family night-unity rally; or a combination of both.

    After holding hands in a moment of silence to honor Dr. King, a prayer was said and the votes tallied.

    With 66 votes, the Unity Rally-Family Night was selected. The design will be determined by a steering committee of volunteers.

    Participants called the meeting a true display of the community working together for a positive outcome.

    Interested in contributing and or participating? Contact Asbury United Methodist Church at 410/268-9500.

    -Nathaniel Knoll

    In Prince Frederick, Gambling for the Abused

    "Bets down?"


    Gambling may be illegal in Maryland - at least for now. But the sounds of a casino filled the air at the Elks Lodge in Prince Frederick last weekend in a fund-raiser for Safe Harbor Abused Persons Shelter.

    "Funny money" in the form of $10,000 bills passed through the crowd like chump change. State Rep. George Owings dealt blackjack like Atlantic City's best. "I've been known to wheel and deal," laughed the delegate when asked about his skill.

    When it was over, nearly $5,000 was raised - and the money is still coming in.

    "We were hoping for several thousand from this year's fundraising, so we're very pleased," said Susan Hance, chairwoman of Safe Harbor's fundraising arm.

    Last weekend's Riverboat Casino Night Benefit completed a year-long fundraising effort for the five-year-old shelter. Safe Harbor Inc. also sponsored a summer cruise on the Bay and raffled off a cruise for two down the Mississippi on the Delta Queen riverboat. Raffle money swelled the casino night's take.

    With little overhead or administrative expenses, most of the money raised by Safe Harbor Inc. goes directly to Calvert County's shelter from domestic violence, where it's invested in breaking the cycle of violence.

    The first step in breaking that cycle, according to Safe Harbor director Judy Evans, is to get survivors of domestic violence "out, so that they can look at it." In their months at Safe Harbor, violence survivors - mostly women (though Safe Harbor always calls itself an abused person's program) and their children - get perspective and begin to gather the skills to rebuild their lives.

    "Most people are starting from ground zero with no income, likely no job training, and an average of 2.5 children, so it's difficult," Evans explains. "Many have no transportation, but we try to start with a car or employment, then find them a place to stay - and that's quite a task in Calvert County because there is not a lot of low- and moderate-income housing."

    But there's plenty of need - in Calvert and anywhere else, as the world has discovered in the two decades domestic violence has been made a public issue.

    Last year Calvert expanded its shelter, adding an annex to the original building, an historic school from the days of segregation converted to Safe Harbor in 1993. With the annex, Safe Harbor's number of beds expanded from 16 to 25.

    "We're enjoying a little elbow room since the annex opened in July," said Evans. "Before the addition, we were running 14 to 15 beds a day. Since the addition, we've been near capacity a couple of times."

    Calvert County supports the building and its staff, but furnishing Safe Harbor's addition and adding a security system fell to volunteers, who contribute about $30,000 a year. So $5,000 made a nice jingle in the program's coffers.

    And bought many a contributor a good time. For a $12 ticket, gamblers got snacks and $10,000 in play money which, if they played with luck and skill, brought them prizes as well as pleasure.

    "I won one of those new snake flashlights," said Safe Harbor director Evans. Others brought home certificates from local businesses, bottles of wine and feel-good books. The biggest winner of all was Julie Spano, who'll be traveling down the Mississippi by riverboat this spring.

    So why not gamble for a good cause? "With a specific purpose and proper controls, charity gambling on an occasional basis is a major fundraising effort," agreed Del. Owings, who otherwise calls himself no supporter of casino gambling.


    In Crownsville,A Plan Gets Its Players

    "I play well with others and don't run with scissors," wrote Billy Moulden on his application to help plan the future of greater Crownsville.

    That and a half-dozen years of serving in the trenches of community activism earned the school teacher from Sherwood Forest and two-time president of the influential Severn River Association not only a place at the table but a seat at its head.

    "If you're a land use planner, I probably know who you are by face and have been in meetings with you," said Moulden, explaining the other qualities that recommended him for his new, unpaid job.

    "I have a half dozen years of experience in the Severn River Association and also am a member of the Severn River Commission. I sat on former county executive Bob Neall's Open Space Committee several years ago. I guess my know-how and knowing who's who were qualities the county executive and the select committee thought would be useful on this small area team."

    Thus spoke Moulden, who will chair the Crownsville Small Area Planning Committee, the first of 16 community councils to be constituted under the county's planning process. The Crownsville region covers the central portion of Severn River on the south side, from the headwaters almost to the Rt. 50 bridge.

    "Small Area Planning is uncharted water for Anne Arundel County, but I can't imagine a better group of committed citizens to not only represent their neighborhoods but to blaze a trail for the entire county," said County Executive John Gary of his choices.

    The other committee members are -

    The 18 were chosen from 35 applicants.

    Expected to be named this month are the members of five more Small Area Planning Committees: Annapolis Neck, Broadneck, Crofton, Edgewater/Mayo and Severna Park.

    The Small Area Planning Committees are the front line of the county's 1997 General Development Plan, which was several years - and many battles - in the making. In the committees, citizens apply the plan's principles to their own communities.

    In Moulden's words: "The big thing we'll bring to the party is people who have on-the-ground experience. We know this area like the back of our hands so we can review ideas and make suggestions as to how they fit the geography of where we live."

    Work starts in February, with a get-acquainted dinner scheduled for Feb. 5 at Anne Arundel Community College and the committees' first training session set for Feb. 18.

    Planning for the rest of the county will continue over the next two years, as citizens apply to join 10 more committees.


    Chesapeake Debris from Susquehanna Surges

    First, watermen running oyster boats reported whole trees floating down the Bay. Some moved their vessels to the protected waters of the Potomac rather than coexist with the debris.

    Then Bayfront property owners found remnants of the mess on their beaches: stumps, buckets and even old shoes from Pennsylvania.

    Old hands knew immediately what was up: The Connowingo Dam was being opened again.

    When waters rise, crest gates on the Connowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River dam are opened to relieve the flow. Waters rise every winter and spring. Some gates have been open through most of early January, with a peak of 19 opened on Saturday Jan. 10, according to Michael Wood, spokesman for PECO Energy Co., which owns the dam.

    "It was a beautiful weekend and we hosted hundreds of visitors who love to come and watch the birds and hike along the river and watch water surging through the dam," he said. "It was more of a beautiful scene than any trouble."

    Property-owners along the Bay might disagree that the limbs and garbage along their beaches makes a beautiful scene. Down the debris comes, despite giant rakes situated in front of Connowingo's turbines to halt it.

    The higher the flow, the more the debris. Water flowing past the dam ranges from a low of 5,000 cubic feet per second in summer's dry months to the vast flood tides that flowed in January, 1996, when ice jams in the Susquehanna had the utility scurrying to keep open gates, Wood said.

    With flows of over 800,000 cubic feet per second, more than 40 of Connowingo's 52 crest gates were opened two years ago. When flows peaked on Jan. 10 this year at 341,000 cubic feet per second, 19 crest gates were opened.

    The ideal flow for electricity generation is 80,000 cubic feet per second. "If we could keep it at that level all the time, electricity would be cheap, but the river won't cooperate," said PECO spokesman Wood.

    John McSparran, chief engineer at the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, noted a positive effect of the dam: collecting sediment in its pools that otherwise might end up in the Chesapeake Bay.

    McSparran also offered some consolation for Baysiders bedeviled by presents from the Connowingo: Not as much gets through the dam as in the past.

    "But during high flow," he added, "it's sometimes hard to keep under control."


    Way Downstream

    In Washington, the advocacy group American Forests is using famous people and great events to promote the sale of trees. Seedlings from a tree in the background of the Gettysburg Address are being sold and so are sprouted trees from the properties of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and country singer Trisha Yearwood ...

    The Sea of Galilee brings biblical history to its fight against nutrient pollution. Researchers from Israel and Australia have proposed a $2 million study to gauge the severity of the sea's problem which, like the troubles of Chesapeake Bay, is caused heavily by farm runoff ...

    From Florida comes disturbing manatee news. The Department of Environmental Protection officially concluded last week that manatees are dying faster than they reproduce. Manatee deaths have increased by an average of 5.8 percent since the '70s, including 240 last year. But manatees are replenishing themselves with a birthrate that is between two percent and four percent. To prolong the species, Florida is taking steps that many boaters don't want: more speed limits for boats

    Our Creature Feature this week comes to us from Thailand, where being a "monkey's uncle" might put you in line for some cash from your nephew. Amid Thailand's currency collapse and stock market travails, some entrepreneurs have taught their monkeys to pick coconuts.

    Pigtailed macaque monkeys have showed such aptitude that several hundred of them are now steadily employed snatching ripe coconuts from tall trees. No word on a rumor that some of the swifter monkeys have filled out applications for work on a banana plantation.

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