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Help second-graders develop a ­lifelong love of the printed word

       When did you learn to read?
       That lifelong magic happens very young, at five or six. Young as it is, seven may be too late. The high school dropout rate for kids who haven’t learned to read at grade level by the third grade is 40 percent higher than for those who do.
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Our roads have sweated through a real workout, and it shows

       Cutting salt use on roads 30 percent without compromising motorist safety.    That’s the target state, city and county road crews were shooting at.
        So what’s with all the large amounts of residual salt on our roadways? How does that square with the salt-reduction program?
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Repair on budget and early
       If you’re an Annapolis driver, you’ll be happy to hear that the repair work on the Weems Creek Bridge has been completed two weeks early. If you’re a Maryland taxpayer, you’ll be glad to know the work was finished on budget at $120,000.
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This time of year, a bird can’t be too particular

        I had followed the young hawk as it hunted along the Wildlife Drive at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. It would sit on a low branch and look intently into the grasses below, then suddenly drop down. On this drop, it came back to the perch with a shrew.
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Here’s how to water and repot them

     Orchids are so popular nowadays that they are being offered for sale not only in garden centers but also in drug stores and grocery stores as well as big box stores. 
        As houseplants, they have the advantage of producing flowers over a long period of time. They tolerate shade and perform well even when abused. They are also light to ship.
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This time of year, a bird eats what it can get

      Great blue herons in the Chesapeake Bay area do not migrate in the winter. They struggle to find food when the waters freeze. They will look to areas of flowing water and sometimes stake out grassy fields to catch mice and small birds. 
      Herons from the snowier north usually migrate to warmer climates.
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With bonus parking tips for the ­legislative session

      Parking in Annapolis is always a challenge. We are a city constrained by water, historic districts and two college campuses, all limiting the creation of more parking space. The modern solution is to make what parking is available easier to use, and these days that revolves around the internet, our computers and our mobile devices.
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Fourth-grade student artists tell it four ways

       Kathy Wolfstone-Smith took an artistic gamble last summer. 
      Wolfstone-Smith, who teaches arts and humanities at Shady Side Elementary, asked the Captain Avery Museum to display her students’ work.
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A “little taste of summer" drops anchor at the Baltimore Boat Show
      Why wait until spring to indulge your inner boat fanatic? Head to the 2018 Baltimore Boat Show to see what’s in store for this summer’s boating adventures.
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Most Baltimore orioles head south … Not this one

     This Baltimore oriole failed to migrate. Orioles usually fly down to Central and South America and winter in the warmth. Occasionally a bird will stay behind and tough it out in the cold. I think this is the second year for this bird to winter-over; one of its stops is my backyard in Riva.
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