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Young Maryland voter maps women’s campaign to vote
       SUFFRAGE — In representative government, the right to vote in electing public officials and adopting or rejecting proposed legislation.
 
 
      In the year 2019, presidential hopefuls — including five women so far — are lining up like beauty pageant contestants to win our attention and perhaps our vote.
     With over 80 million women registered to vote, winning women’s votes is key to winning the election.
     One hundred years ago, no women ran for president. The male candidates — among them Warren G. Harding, James Cox, Eugene Debs, Parley Christensen, Aaron Watkins, Leonard Wood, Frank Lowden, Hiram Johnson, A. Mitchell Palmer, William McAdoo and Franklin D. Roosevelt — hardly bothered to appeal to women.
     At that time, just 19 states and territories gave women full or partial suffrage. Wyoming was the first state to grant women full voting rights. Back in 1869, the new state’s first legislature passed a woman’s suffrage bill, so by 1920 Wyoming women had voted in a dozen presidential elections.
     “One man thought it right and just to give women the vote. Another said he thought it would be a good advertisement for the territory. Still another voted to please someone else,” state historian Charles Giffin Coutant reported at the time.
     One hundred years ago, in March of 1919, Maryland women and many of their sisters across the country were protesting, marching, lobbying and going to jail for their right to cast a ballot.
     Every step of the way, woman met resistance.
     Opponents often argued that a woman’s place was in the home. At least some men worried they would be emasculated by sudden expectations that they should cook, clean and care for children. 
     The women faced opposition from their own sex, as well. In Baltimore, anti-suffrage women worked closely with national groups, saying that women were “not equipped physically or mentally to meddle with any degree of success in politics and problems of government.”
      Nonetheless, the women persisted.
      The suffragists among them campaigned peacefully; more militant suffragettes took direct and violent action.
      Suffragettes such as the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, founded by Alice Paul in 1913, organized demonstrations and picketed the White House. They used militant tactics including obstructing traffic and inciting riots. When arrested, they refused to pay fines and were sent to a workhouse. They then protested by waging a hunger strike. Officials, in turn, force-fed them through tubes. 
 
Women Prevail — Without Maryland
      Slowly, suffrage prevailed. In the summer of 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, the federal Women’s Suffrage Amendment. It made women voters in two short sentences: “The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
      But until 36 states — three-fourths of the 48 states at that time — ratified the amendment, it meant nothing but the hopes of all those waiting. 
      Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan were the first states to ratify the amendment.
      “The timing was not ideal,” explains Kacy Rohn, Maryland historian of women’s march to suffrage. “Many state legislatures had already adjourned and were not due to reconvene for two years. Suffragists, therefore, began a major organizing effort to try to get governors around the country to call special legislative sessions to take a vote on ratification.” 
       With time running short for the amendment to be passed in time for women to vote in the 1920 presidential election, Maryland suffragists urged Gov. Emerson Harrington to call a special session. Suffrage organizers traveled statewide during the summer and fall of 1919, visiting legislators and raising public support to bring the Assembly into session. 
       Harrington refused.
       Thus, Maryland would have only one chance, the regular session beginning January 1920, to pass the 19th Amendment.
      The politically savvy suffragists rallied forces, lobbying, coordinating rallies and testifying in Annapolis in support of its passage.
      To persuade Maryland lawmakers — all men — to approve the amendment, women gathered on the steps of the State House in Annapolis on February 20, 1920. Statewide suffrage leaders spoke amidst an upbeat atmosphere that included a band.
      Despite the suffragists’ efforts, the Maryland legislature voted against ratification that day. Long opposed to the expansion of voting rights, most Maryland legislators — especially Democrats, who held the governorship and both houses — argued that it should be up to the states, not the federal government, to decide who should have the right to vote. 
      Indeed, they passed a resolution declaring the 19th Amendment an act of overreach by the federal government that Maryland would oppose.
     “They even went beyond this to pass an additional resolution supporting the travel of seven anti-suffrage legislators to West Virginia to try to convince their legislature to reject the amendment as well,” Rohn says “This delegation failed in their mission. West Virginia voted to ratify.”
     Tennessee, the 36th state, made the 19th Amendment the law of the land. A 24-year-old legislator named Harry Burn cast the deciding vote, crediting his mother with switching him to yes.
      Maryland’s anti-suffragists held out past ratification. In October of 1920, anti-suffragist judge Oscar Leser contested the legality of two women registering to vote in Baltimore. His case eventually landed at the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1922 ruled that the 19th Amendment had been legally adopted, closing the door for future challenges.
     Maryland did not vote to ratify the amendment until 1941 and did not certify it — the process whereby an archivist receives the required number of authenticated ratified documents and makes a formal proclamation — until 1958.
      Maryland’s recalcitrance mattered little on November 2, 1920, when some 28 million American women —about half the eligible number — voted in the presidential election.
 
Mapping Maryland’s Long March
     The 91-year campaign of Maryland suffragists and the intransigence of their elected representatives is a story as close as your fingertips thanks to the Maryland Historical Trust and the dedication of a graduate intern. 
      That’s Rohn, who got the job of locating the more than 50 sites of significance in Maryland’s campaign. The steps of the Maryland Statehouse where women protested for their rights remain. But many of the other sites no longer stand.
      While you may not be able to physically visit these spots, you can follow them online at ­bit.ly/SuffrageMap. That is the project Rohn took on in 2016 for the Maryland Historical Trust. 
      “I have a political organizing background,” said the University of Maryland dual community planning and historic preservation major. “So when I heard a hint that my project as a graduate internship would be women’s suffrage, I got excited.
      “My assignment was to find the specific sites,” she said. “I used available research: census documents, local newspapers, records, city directions and a PhD dissertation by Dr. Diane Weaver: Maryland Women and the Transformation of Politics.”
     The research of Augusta Chissell, a leader of the Colored Women’s Suffrage Club in Baltimore, stood out in particular. To prepare women to vote, Chissell authored the column A Primer for Women Voters in the Baltimore Afro-American. So impressed was Rohn that she has nominated Chissell to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.
     To preserve the progress of suffrage, Rohn created a map highlighting the movement’s landmarks and historically important dates. It combines narrative text, images and multimedia content.
     The story begins with Margaret Brent, who in 1648 petitioned the Maryland Assembly in St. Mary’s City for the right vote. She was not granted her demand but earned herself the title of first woman suffragist in the country. 
      For two centuries, suffrage activity was stifled due to an unreceptive political climate. The tale resumes in the latter half of the 1800s.
      In Baltimore in 1867, Lavinia Dundore founded the Maryland Equal Rights Society. 
      In 1889, Caroline Hallowell Miller gathered members of her Sandy Spring Quaker community as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The group joined forces with the National American Woman Suffrage Association to send Maryland delegates to attend national suffrage events. 
      The National American Woman Suffrage Association held its annual convention in 1906 in Baltimore at the Lyric Theater, one of the places where history was made.
      At the convention, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton and Julia Ward Howe encouraged the next generation to take up the cause.
      “Some of these women died without seeing their goal realized,” Rohn says. “They urged the next generation to get involved.”
      “I am here for a little time only, and then my place will be filled as theirs [suffragists before me] was filled. The fight must not cease; you must see that it does not stop,” Susan B. Anthony, then 86, told the 1906 Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
      Many did take up the challenge, and their influence is still felt.
     “The League of Women Voters was born out of the women’s suffrage movement, and the realization that simply having the right to vote does not mean that you are innately prepared to exercise that right,” says ­Ashley Oleson, administrative director of the Maryland League of Women Voters.
       “The League was created to ensure that every voter, female and male, would have access to the polls and access to candidates’ positions on the issues so they could make informed decisions at the polls.”
      The League celebrates 99 years of Making Democracy Work this year, as women celebrate a century of suffrage.
      On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, honor the Marylanders who fought to ensure all citizens could vote: Cast your ballot.
 

Separated from Earth by four billion miles, the ­New ­Horizons spacecraft explores the outer limits

     Stakes were high and tension palpable New Year’s Day at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, as Sarah Hamilton and her colleagues waited for a long-distance radio transmission confirming either a successful mission or a failure.
      About 10 hours earlier, the New Horizons spacecraft — launched 13 years ago on a mission to Pluto and beyond — had flown past a 20-mile-long object called Ultima Thule (pronounced Ultima too-lee). From four billion miles away, it takes hours for the signals to reach earth. In Mission Control and in the auditorium at APL, people waited for New Horizons to phone home.
 
Space Science
       Hamilton, an aerospace and software engineer living in Crofton, had tended to the New Horizons spacecraft since 2005, a year before its launch.
      She knew from experience that the best-laid plans could go bust in an instant. 
      On her first assignment at the Johns Hopkins lab, the University of Maryland graduate worked in Mission Control for a NASA space probe called Contour. Its job was to gather data while flying by comets. Like the New Horizons spacecraft that would follow, Contour was designed to receive a set of commands from Mission Control, execute them, then radio back to confirm the commands had been followed.
      In August of 2002, nine weeks after Contour’s launch, the Mission Control team sent it a set of commands that would initiate an engine burn and send the spacecraft into a solar orbit.
      “You could feel the tension in the room,” Hamilton remembered, as the team waited for a call home that never came. Sometime after contact was lost, telescopes detected debris where Contour should have been. The mission was a near total loss.
      Missions into deep space remain, like Apollo 1 through 13, acts of faith. Humans from planners to designers to engineers, fabricators and programmers do everything they can to create machines to act as mobile eyes and ears millions of miles distant. Then they launch their creation. If the launch is successful, their baby travels far beyond human reach over huge distances of space and time where they can guide it only by remote-control.
      Four infrastructure subsystems control New Horizons and its seven onboard instrument systems, cameras and other sensors. All these systems need to be told what to do; Hamilton builds and tests the strings of commands to accomplish these goals. 
      Every couple of weeks, a new set of commands is sent to New Horizons; then comes the tense waiting out the hours it takes the commands to arrive, and the hours it takes the spacecraft to respond that all is well.
      New Horizons had survived 13 years and four billion miles in space, but disaster was never out of reach. 
 
Mission: Pluto
     In July of 2015, New Horizons approached its first mission objective, an encounter with Pluto. Ten days before the fly-by, a routine command sequence had been uploaded. Then listeners in Laurel waited for hours for the signals to make their round trip. 
      To paraphrase, New Horizons said, “my main processor is overloaded, I have switched to my backup processor, and I’m running in safe mode.”
      The spacecraft was communicating and functioning at a basic level. But in 10 days, when it reached Pluto, it would need to be fully functional.
      There was no such thing as turning around and going back for a second pass. If they weren’t ready when they flew by Pluto, the mission would fail.
       Memories of that fateful message are still vivid for Hamilton. 
       “When the processor overloaded on July 4, I was at home checking my work email for confirmation that the fly-by sequence was safely onboard the spacecraft, stored in memory,” she recalled. “I had a bad feeling when the email didn’t arrive. I was in shock as if time was standing still when I first heard the news. I said goodbye to my family as they headed to the fireworks.”
      “The team was amazing. It was July 4, but the mission was still priority one, regardless of any plans people might have had. Everyone did what needed to be done.”
      It took three days and nights, but the problem was fixed, the fly-by was a success, and we now know more about Pluto than we ever did.
      A bumper sticker on Hamilton’s car reads My other vehicle explored Pluto.
 
Onward to Ultima Thule
      After the Pluto mission’s outstanding success, the spacecraft remained in good health with ample fuel and power. A new target was needed, and though Ultima Thule had not been discovered when New Horizons was launched, it was now the choice, a billion miles and three and one-half years away. Hamilton went to work on the command sequence to send New Horizon to its new destination.
 
The Final Approach
      As the moment of the fly-by approached — 12:33am EST on New Year’s Day 2019 — the energy level at the applied Physics Lab ramped up. For Hamilton, it was the climax of 14 years of work. Longer still for some on the program.
      “This mission has always been about delayed gratification,” Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator, told the assembly at the pre-fly-by briefing on December 31. “It took us 12 years to sell the spacecraft, five years to build it and 13 years to get here.”
     On December 20, Hamilton uploaded the final command sequence for the fly-by. Twelve hours later, New Horizons responded that all was well. From December 26 to 31, the navigation team reworked their calculations for a critical parameter, the time of arrival at Ultima Thule.
      Hamilton and the Missions Operations team were sending this new data to the spacecraft. The corrections were only in the two-second range, but when you’re traveling nine miles a second and aiming to fly by an object only 20 miles long, that two seconds can make the difference between a perfect picture and a blank frame.
      On the morning of Sunday, December 30, the last command sequence was sent. Then Hamilton and her cohorts began to wait for the call home. 
     On New Year’s Eve, she brought her family to the main auditorium to celebrate the new year, the mission and — they hoped — success.
      That night, there were two countdowns: one to midnight, and the other leading up to the fly-by at 12:33am.
      It might have been hard for Sarah to explain to her daughters, ages seven and five, what all the excitement was about. But she gave them the key message: “I like my job, I love going to work. You can be anything you want to be and have a job you love, too.”
        Then most everyone went home to get some rest before the next morning revealed whether this 30-year quest was a failure or a success.
 
New Year’s Day
       The auditorium was subdued as the New Horizons team, their friends and families and reporters stared at the large screen focused on the Mission Control room, waiting for that phone call home. Suddenly, the auditorium went quiet as we sensed a change in the demeanor of the people in the control room. It was happening.
      At their computers, controllers narrated their reports — in technical jargon, of course. After one group reported its status as “nominal,” the crowd’s voice rose.
      “We have a healthy spacecraft,” Missions Operations Manager Alice Bowman reported. Then the crowd went wild. Me, too.
      Hamilton didn’t have to wait so long. “I was watching the telecommunications subsystems engineers,” she told me. “When I saw them smile, I knew we had data coming back, and the spacecraft was okay.”
      New Horizons had extended human reach four billion miles into the universe.
 
 
Learn more about the New Horizons mission and the Ultima Thule fly-by in the PBS science series NOVA; Season 46, Episode 1: Pluto and Beyond. Check your local listings or On Demand, or watch it online at www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/video/pluto-and-beyond. 

Allison Colden tweaked oyster reef balls to help break up dead zones

      A fiction writer imagining a character destined to become a key figure in Bay oyster restoration could save much time by basing the depiction on real-life Allison Colden, a fisheries scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 
     From an early age, Colden seemed destined for a role in Bay restoration. Growing up in Virginia Beach, she gravitated to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, learning about the Bay and the problems it is facing. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Virginia, majoring in biology while doing field work on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. For her PhD at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (part of William and Mary), she researched how to construct oyster reefs for maximum production. Next, foreshadowing the political aspect of Bay restoration, she spent a year on Capitol Hill as a NOAA fellow for a California congressman, advising on fisheries and natural resources policy. Then, in January of 2017, after a year with a Virginia nonprofit estuary restoration group, she joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as a Maryland fisheries scientist specializing in oysters.
     She does some work on other fisheries — notably crabs and striped bass — but most of her time goes to our favorite bivalve.
     “I’ve been fixated on oysters for a long time,” she told me as the 60-foot Foundation workboat Patricia Campbell, moved up the Severn River to begin an oyster restoration experiment.
     “Every research paper I worked on in college turned out to be about oysters. By the time I entered grad school I knew I wanted to work on bringing this important species back.”
     Joining Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave her opportunity for hands-on science. “As much as I respect and admire my academic colleagues, I realized it took more than publishing papers to effect change,” she said. 
      Now an Annapolitan, she’s never far from the Bay.
      “Every day my husband and I take our Australian terrier Bismarck on a walk along Back Creek,” she said. “Being able to work for positive change is important to me as a citizen of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.” 
 
Hands-on in the Field
      In April 2018, the Patricia Campbell was underway to drop concrete reef balls into the Severn River to test one of Colden’s oyster-directed hypotheses: Could “man-made oyster reefs with vertical structure agitate currents and break up dead zones?”
     It’s long been known that weather can affect dead zones; turbulent weather stirs up the water column, distributing oxygen-rich waters throughout. Could added structures do the stirring?
      The hope was this stirring would mix the oxygen-rich water on the surface with the oxygen-depleted water on the bottom, thus lessening the dreaded dead zones that plague our waterways every summer.
     These vertical structures were concrete half-balls about two feet across. The ship’s crane easily lifted the 240-pound balls and precisely placed them about a mile up from the Route 50 bridge in an area known as the Winchester Lump.
     This experiment was about water stirring, but reef balls make good oyster habitat, too. So why not try to grow more oysters at the same time? The balls were preloaded at the Foundation Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side with almost a million oyster spat. An instrument pod to measure certain key water parameters, like stirring, was also lowered to the bottom. The pod was to be retrieved in a few weeks. In the fall, Colden and the team of scientists would return to the new reef to check on the progress of the oyster spat.
 
Murphy’s Law
      Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Who hasn’t experienced it?
      In the biological and environmental sciences, Murphy’s Law can call on the forces of nature to humble up even the best-planned experiment. In this case, it was the record-breaking rain. All that fresh water pouring down lowers the salt content of Bay water. Fish can swim to areas of higher salinity. Oysters don’t have that luxury; they can be stunted or die if the water isn’t salty enough.
      The deluges also had other effects. Freshwater sitting on top of saltier water creates a boundary that discourages mixing of the water column, exacerbating dead zones. There was also a significant algae bloom, a mahogany tide, in the river this summer. Such blooms cause dead zones.
       The reef ball instruments recorded a four percent increase in mixing of the water column due to the reef balls. Still, the effect on the biology of the river was less clear; Colden suspected the algae and the fresh water would greatly affect the ecosystem of the river.
      To get the final word on that, she would have to wait for the return trip to the reef balls.
 
Return to Winchester Lump
      The April trip to place the reef balls had been a pleasant day on the water; the trip in late November to check the progress of the oysters was anything but. After several delays due to gale warnings and rain, the day of the trip was cold and cloudy. The only person who seemed properly dressed for the weather was the dry-suit-clad diver who would attach lines and floats to the submerged reef balls so they could be hauled up and examined.
       The balls emerged from their seven-month soak yielding expected but still disappointing news. There was plenty of life on the balls, but no oysters; rain and algae had done them in.
       All was not lost, however. The concrete was covered with false mussels. These are also filter feeders, which contribute to water quality, but they tend to be transient. Also present were worms and hydroids, a colonial animal like coral. We even found a naked goby fish.
      “We showed the reef balls can increase water column mixing and can decrease dead zones,” Colden explained in our followup interview. “We also learned that water depth matters, and in the future we might want to try the technique with a shallower bottom. We also learned that even with a low-oxygen, low-salinity environment, we can have life. It’s just different life.”
From electric to plug-in to hybrid, there are more ways than ever to drive clean
    By now, we all know about the ­Toyota Prius.
    I’m talking about the world’s best-selling gas-electric hybrid: a car that uses both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. You can drive it just like any other car yet use much less fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that today’s Prius gets 52 miles per gallon in a mix of city and highway driving, compared to 32 miles per gallon for the similarly sized, similarly powerful, gas-fueled Toyota Corolla.
     But if you’re aspiring to use less gasoline in the new year, the Prius is just one of many options. As an automotive journalist based in the Annapolis area, I’ve had a chance to try out a host of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles and other fuel-thrifty models. For nearly any automotive need, there’s a car that minimizes or eliminates gasoline consumption — in many cases, without even calling attention to itself.
     Let’s go over how these cars work, some important factors to consider about them and some of the best models to buy. 
 
Electric Cars
      Some people see electric cars as glorified golf carts. Others picture a $100,000 Tesla. But a wealth of electric vehicles, known as EVs, exists between these extremes. Most of today’s models accelerate with speedy silence and can travel well over 100 miles per charge. 
     The primary hurdle to an electric car is the range. Range has improved dramatically in just a few years. For example, today’s Nissan Leaf goes 150 miles per charge, more than twice the 73 miles for the original 2011 model, for a similar base price of around $30,000.
     Using a 240-volt car charger, available for home installation and in some public locations, you can achieve about 20 miles of range per hour’s charge in the Leaf. You can even plug into a standard 120-volt outlet to charge four miles of range per hour. That’s not going to help you on a road trip, but it means many commuters can easily recover overnight. Some public stations include fast-charging, which in the Leaf gets you 90 miles of charge in 30 minutes. (I use the Leaf as an example because it’s the best-selling, affordable electric car, but other models have similar specs.)
     Speaking of expense, purchase prices are another common concern. Even the least expensive EVs are often above $30,000, and these tend to be compact economy cars. Luxury models, meanwhile, combine sporty performance with eco-friendly fuel savings, but even the cheapest of those (the Tesla Model 3 sedan) starts at nearly $50,000.
      That said, a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles removes some of the sting. Then there’s the operating expense: BGE customers typically pay about 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity, which works out to less than $2.50 per 100 miles on most all-electric cars.
     Among all-electric cars, the Leaf and the Volkswagen e-Golf stand out for blending range, comfort, and value, starting at about $30,000. The Chevrolet Bolt brings more interior space and a 238-mile range for about $5,000 more. Tesla’s lineup offers phenomenal performance and a high-tech vibe, and prices align with similarly sized, similarly powerful luxury vehicles.
 
Plug-In Hybrids
     If you just don’t feel comfortable with an all-electric car, or if you want a broader selection of models, a plug-in hybrid may be just the thing.
    With a plug-in hybrid, you charge up a battery with electricity from the grid, but you also have a gasoline engine on board to help if your juice runs out. Nearly every market segment offers a plug-in hybrid, everything from affordable compact cars to minivans to luxury cars.
     Plug-in hybrids don’t provide the same electric-only range as a pure EV, due to smaller batteries. Some also need the gasoline engine to accelerate speedily or cruise on the highway. But many plug-in hybrids offer enough range for all-electric commuting or errands, with a gasoline engine that can kick in when you need to go farther or haven’t had a chance to recharge.
     As with electric vehicles, the purchase price can be high. But also like electric vehicles, federal tax credits are available (up to $7,500, depending on the size of the battery).
    An outstanding new plug-in hybrid is the Honda Clarity midsize sedan, a model that combines space-age styling with everyday comfort and quietness, plus an EPA-estimated 47 miles per charge. Prices start at $33,400, and it’s eligible for the full $7,500 tax credit.
     If you need more space, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is another standout. This seven-passenger minivan can carry your family an estimated 32 miles before burning any gasoline. Prices seem high at $39,995, but here, too, you can claim the $7,500 tax credit. Factor in the tax credit and the hybrid’s many standard luxury features, and it’s roughly the same price as a comparably equipped gas-only Pacifica van.
     Brands from Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Toyota to BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo all offer plug-in hybrids. Check them out. 
 
Hybrids
     Maybe all this talk of plugging in your car seems like a hassle, or your home doesn’t have a plug within reach. Or maybe you’d like to spend less.
     You wouldn’t be alone. That’s why standard hybrids (such as the Prius) remain more popular than their plug-in counterparts. The Prius and several strong competitors all start below $25,000 and can top 50 miles per gallon.
     In a standard hybrid, the electric motor helps propel a hybrid car so that the engine doesn’t need to work as hard — and therefore burns less gas. The gasoline engine also helps recharge the electric batteries when they get low, which is why you never have to plug it in. On the other hand, you’ll burn some gasoline on every trip.
      A wide variety of vehicles are available as hybrids. Toyota and its Lexus brand alone offer 12 distinct models, ranging from the subcompact Toyota Prius C ($21,530) to the Lexus LC 500h luxury sports coupe ($96,710). Price premiums for hybrids have also decreased over the years, making them sounder decisions for your wallet along with the environment. 
     The Prius has a useful blend of roominess and fuel economy, while several competitors — the Honda Insight sedan, Hyundai Ioniq hatchback and Kia Niro crossover-wagon — bring quieter rides and more user-friendly interiors for even less money. 
     Among larger models, Toyota and Lexus often make the most economical options. The midsize sedan class, though, has an uncommon number of excellent options.
 
Efficient Gas-Only Cars
     If your budget doesn’t support a hybrid, or you’re not finding one that you like, numerous gas-only cars also offer standout fuel economy.
     A popular trend pairs a small engine with a turbocharger, which kicks in with extra boost if you need to accelerate hard. That means that you get the efficiency of a small engine when you drive gently, but sufficient power when you need it. Many Honda vehicles, among others, do quite well with this approach — provided that you avoid aggressive driving with a lead foot.
    While that advice applies more to turbocharged cars and to hybrids, it’s an easy way to save fuel whatever you’re driving. The more you can stay off the gas pedal, the longer you’ll go before you need to buy some more. 
 
 
Brady Holt, of Riva, is an automotive reviewer and journalist. 

Clear your calendar for these holiday traditions

What: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
       Cool Factor: Feeling apprehensive about dragging your entire family out to a holiday theatre performance? Take our advice and bring them all to see the seasonal antics of the Herdman family in this production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on the book by Barbara Robinson. These delinquent children somehow end up center stage at the local church Christmas pageant and teach their community a little something about the magic of the holiday. Even better for your family, it’s free.
       See It: Dec. 6-9, 7pm, Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, Severna Park, free: 410-647-2550.
 
What: Colonial Players’ A Christmas Carol
      Cool Factor: The spirit of Christmas is the wonder in a child’s eyes when Scrooge talks to her waiting in line with parents for a ticket to Colonial Players’ Annapolis holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol. It’s another child’s giddy excitement when Ebenezer pulls him from the audience to dance as he joyfully transforms from cold-hearted humbug to warm, genial benefactor.
         In 1981, local actor/director Rick Wade tinkered with a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic. When Colonial Players offered to stage it, according to Wade, “More than a few people thought it would quietly fizzle out as a one-year experiment. Annapolitans, bless ’em, took the play to their hearts.”
      Speaking of tradition, Wade’s daughter Sarah directs this year’s production, after growing up with the show in several roles over the years. She leads a cast of more than 20: Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Fezziwig, the townsfolk, the ghosts.
      The gifts don’t stop with the final performance. A large portion of the proceeds goes to local charities so the spirit of the season can reach beyond December.
       See It: Dec. 6-16; tickets are sold out, but standby tickets are offered first-come-first-served 30 minutes prior to each show: www.thecolonialplayers.org.
 
What: Muddy Creek Gifts From the Arts
        Cool Factor: See the creative wonders artists in Southern Anne Arundel County — including art teachers and their elementary school students — have imagined and made. Then use their inspiration to create your own art in the Studio Intrepid. The holiday show and sale features original paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, glass, woodwork, wearables and raffles for arty baskets and student masterpieces.
       See It: F 11am-6pm, Sa 10am-6pm, Su 11am-5pm thru Dec. 9, 161 Mitchells Chance, South River Colony, Edgewater, free: www.muddycreekartistsguild.org.
 
What: Living Christmas Tree
       Cool Factor: For more than 30 years, Riverdale Baptist Church has celebrated the season with a 30-foot-tall living Christmas tree decorated with thousands of synchronized lights plus 70-some human ornaments: choir, orchestra and a heart-warming play, all rising 10 levels on a wooden platform to spread the good news. Come early to see the live nativity. 
       See It: Dec. 8 & 9: Sa 1:30pm & 6:30pm, Su 1:30pm, Riverdale Baptist Church, Upper Marlboro, $12 w/discounts, rsvp: www.livingtreetickets.com.
 
 
What: Lighted Boat Parades
       Cool Factor: Chesapeake Country loves showing off its boats, and decorating them for the holidays is a good excuse to get back on the water, even on a chilly night. See boats of all sizes and shapes in Eastport, Deale and Solomons. The Eastport parade has been nominated for the third time as one of the USA Today 10 Best Readers Choice Holiday Parades in America.
       See It: Saturday, December 8, Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade: Lighting the Annapolis harbor for 36 years, this glittering parade features nearly 40 illuminated boats in two fleets: one circles in front of Eastport, City Dock and the Naval Academy seawall; the other cruises the length of Spa Creek. Arrive early for a spot along the Annapolis waterfront. 6-8pm, from Eastport Yacht Club to Naval Academy seawall: www.eyclightsparade.org.
        Saturday, December 8, Solomons Boat Parade: This lighted boat parade, part of the weekend’s Christmas Walk activities, starts at 6:15pm, visible from Back Creek to the Patuxent River walk: www.solomonsmaryland.com.
       Wednesday, December 19, Deale Parade of Lights: Decorated boats cruise Rockhold Creek. 6-10pm, staging at Hidden Harbor Marina, Happy Harbor and Shipwright Harbor ­Marina, rsvp to enter boats: 410-867-3129.
 
What: Shells & Bells
       Cool Factor: Sleigh bells and oyster shells: Christmas has come to Annapolis.
      Celebrate the season at Shells and Bells a party with front-row seats to the Eastport Yacht Club’s Parade of Lights. You’ll watch the twinkling procession from the comfort of a heated tent on the top tier of the Annapolis Charles Carroll House.
      “There’s so much to look forward to,” said Kaitlin Davis from Shells and Bells. “But the best part is, it’s for a great cause.” 
       Proceeds from ticket sales, live auction and raffle benefit the Chesapeake BaySavers, an Annapolis environmental nonprofit working toward a healthier Chesapeake Bay.
      The Shells and Bells reception begins with cocktail hour 5-6pm for donors and VIPs. After that, the doors open to all ticket holders.
       All drinks and food are included in the price of your ticket. 
      See It: Dec. 8, 6-10pm, Charles Carroll House & Gardens, Annapolis, $125, rsvp: www.shellsandbells.org.
 
What: Family Train & Toy Show
      Cool Factor: See networks of trains and tracks, old and new sets and accessories in standard O and S gauges, repair and replacement parts and test tracks, all laid out by The National Capital Division Toy Train Operating Society.
      See It: Dec. 9, 9am-3pm, Earleigh Heights VFD, Severna Park, $5 w/discounts: 301-621-9728.
 
What: Holiday Cheer 2018
       Cool Factor: Kids and teens steal the show with musical numbers and special guests in The Talent Machine’s annual holiday production, featuring special guests Santa, elves, Rudolph and Frosty.
      “After 25 years, we are excited to be showcasing a brand new set,” says The Talent Machine’s Kim O’Brien.
      “Expect something close to a Broadway-level show,” says Tami Howie, lawyer by day and parent of three Talent Machine performers. “The older kids mentor the younger ones and take them from being timid to becoming a huge personality.”
       See It: Dec. 14-16 & Dec. 20-23: F 7:30pm, Sa 2pm & 7:30pm, Su 2pm & 6:30pm, Key Auditorium, St. John’s College, Annapolis, $15 w/discounts, rsvp: www.talentmachine.com.
 
What: Santa Speedo Run 
       Cool Factor: Baby, it’s cold outside, and Chesapeake Country is trading coats for Speedos.
      The 12th annual Santa Speedo Run is a chilly Main Street tradition to spread holiday cheer to local children in need. Since 2006, hundreds of Santas in speedos have donated more than 5,000 toys and books to make kids smile during the holidays.
      Along with your unwrapped toys, bring your sneakers, swimsuit, a bag to put your clothes in while running, a copy of your registration email and other Santa Claus gear.
      Doors open at 10am at O’Briens on Main Street. Run or watch from the sidelines. After the mile run, the after party begins at O’Briens. Enjoy live music, crazy costumes, and maybe even the fellow in red himself …
      Pro tip: wear your Speedo under your street clothes for a quick strip down when it’s time to run. Register early to be guaranteed a spot.
      See It: Saturday, December 15, toy donation box sets up at 10am, check-in 10-11am, race 12:15pm, Annapolis, rsvp: www.santaspeedorunannapolis.com.
 
 
What: Christmas Cantata at Grace Brethren
      Cool Factor: Looking to rekindle your feelings of hope this holiday season? Find it at this musical celebration that combines choir, orchestra, soloists, praise band and video to create a musical journey of the miracle of Christmas.
      “We chose this upbeat, contemporary musical to lift our spirits as we consider the wonders of the Christmas season and the joy that fills our hearts as we reflect on God’s provision for us,” says John Bury, worship director. “During the 10:45am service we will also offer a special time for our children grades 1-4, as they also seek to experience the joy of this special season.”
      See It: Dec. 16, 8:15am & 10:45am, Grace Brethren Church, Owings, free: www.calvertgrace.org.
 
What: Annapolis Arts Alliance Holiday Shop
      Cool Factor: Visit a pop-up shop in downtown Annapolis, where 20 artists of the Annapolis Arts Alliance bring their wares to you for your holiday browsing (and buying). Jewelry and accessories, ceramics, herbalistics, paintings, homeware, wearables.
      See It: Tu, W, F noon-7pm (till midnight during Midnight Madness events), Sa 10am-7pm, Su noon-7pm, thru Dec. 23, 232 Main St., Annapolis: www.annapolis-arts-alliance.com.
 
What: Lights on the Bay
      Cool Factor: An annual Chesapeake favorite, Lights on the Bay is now under the helm of the Anne Arundel County SPCA. “This event is a tradition for generations of families. Children who once went with their grandparents, now go with their own kids,” says Anne Arundel County SPCA president Kelly Brown. See Sandy Point State Park transformed into a drive-thru holiday experience. New displays are added every year, and many marriage proposals happen here. Check the website for special discount nights, such as Military and First Responder Night, Ugly Sweater Night and more.
      See It: Nightly 5-10pm rain or shine, thru Jan. 1: Sandy Point State Park, $15/car, $30/van or mini-bus, $50/bus (check online for various discounts): www.lightsonthebay.org.
 
 
–Kathy Knotts, Shelby Conrad, Krista Pfunder Boughey and Jim Reiter
The Anne Arundel Food Bank’s new face looks to get the ­non-profit new space
      No one has ever become poor by giving.
–Anne Frank
 
        Susan Thomas is breaking in some new shoes, walking a path blazed by Food Bank founder Bruce Michalec. 
       Thirteen years ago, Thomas volunteered at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. Two months into her new position, Michalec ran into health problems. He needed help.
      Eager to give back to the community, Thomas stepped up to learn the ropes from the creator himself. 
      Thomas, though, is no stranger to charitable work.
      She started as a teenager, volunteering as a candy striper at North Arundel Hospital. She also volunteered with Happy Helpers for the Homeless around the holidays. 
      She took notice of the Food Bank and volunteered to answer the phones. One month later, she was offered a job.
       “At the time, the staff consisted of four employees: a driver, bookkeeper, administrative assistant and executive director,” Thomas reminisces. “It was a very close group, and I really liked being part of a team that made a difference in someone’s life.”
       Thomas’s involvement steadily grew, as she added grant writing and bookkeeping to her responsibilities.
      “This is a unique job,” Thomas says. “I knew the harder I worked, the more people we would be able to assist and the more services we would be able to offer.”
       When Michalec retired in January after 30 years of service, he passed the baton to Thomas.
       Her first few months were fraught with troubles. For 14 years, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank worked out of the old Crownsville Hospital kitchen. The sprawling building had plenty of storage and massive freezers to keep perishable food — perfect for a growing pantry. However, their tenancy was uncertain. Then, the roof caved in.
      “We’ve had volunteers come out to patch the roof from time to time,” Thomas says. “But these buildings are very old. We don’t want to spend $100,000 for a new roof.”
       Thomas now has another reason to hold off on the roof repairs: The hospital grounds are for sale. 
      The Chesapeake Bayhawks have their sights set on that property. The Annapolis-based, semi-professional men’s lacrosse team is making moves to turn the grounds into a new stadium with parking and practice fields. Thomas says the Bayhawks are still willing to grandfather the Food Bank into its design plans. But that will take too long.
      “There’s no reason to wait,” Thomas says. “Our goal is to remain on the hospital grounds — but build a whole new space.” 
      They’ll need the room. Last year, the Food Bank handed out more than 260,000 pounds of food. 
      To get the building they need, Thomas is working with the state for a mix of grants and capital bonds. In combination with fundraising, they’ll need government help.
      Thomas hopes that the state will give a 100-year lease on the Crownsville hospital property. She’ll need a senator and delegate to back the plan; who depends on the November elections. Once she’s got backing, she’ll need to meet with Gov. Larry Hogan.
       Of the old building, Stuart Cohen, three-year volunteer truck driver for the Food Bank, says, “we are definitely lucky to have it. But it’s a huge undertaking to maintain. It’s not built for constant truck traffic, either.” 
      Christine Pokorny, a long-time volunteer at the Food Bank, looks forward to keeping up with “growing need in Anne Arundel County. A new space will make us much more effective,” she says.
       Part of growing with the times, Pokorny says, is Thomas herself. “I was really happy when Susan took over,” the volunteer says. “She has a terrific vision for the future, and she wants to try to reach new people in new ways.”
       With a brand new building, Thomas and her team would finally be able to focus on their programs and community — rather than struggling to keep a roof over their heads. 
 
A Remarkable Time
      “This is a really remarkable time,” says Anne Arundel Food Bank Chairman J.J. Fegan. 
       In the nine years Fegan, a local realtor, has led the board, he’s seen demand surge through the Food Bank’s sliding doors.
       “We live in one of the richest counties in one of the wealthiest states in America,” Fegan says. “Too many kids are going to school hungry, and I want to help give back.”
      Michalec felt the same. 
      A champion of charity, Michalec spent more than 30 years building what is now the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and a community around it. 
       The operation began inside a church with Michalec distributing a small federal surplus of food to families in need. Over time, he expanded the Food Bank into a countywide program that gives away more than $1.25 million in food annually. 
       As well as food, people needed resources. Ever responsive, Michalec rose to the need. 
      “Every time I gave away a bed or a wheelchair,” Michalec told Bay Weekly in 2014, “it was like giving people food because they would have been using food money to buy it otherwise.”
      The expanded Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank remains the only free place to go for food and other resources like appliances, furniture, medical equipment, nutritional supplements, personal hygiene products and even vehicles.
        Expansion has meant more programs. So far this year, Thomas has given out 150 bicycles to underprivileged kids. 
       Thomas’ team has broadened its Backpack Buddies program. They used to help almost 1,500 students by sending home backpacks full of food for the weekend. Now they assist more than 5,000 kids. 
       Individual donations, mostly through food drives, account for about 20 percent of the quarter-million pounds of food distributed by the bank to individuals, families and food pantries throughout the county. “The remainder,” Thomas says, “we receive through partnerships with local stores and Feeding America vendors.”
       With greater need and the prospect for a new space, more volunteers will be needed. The Food Bank already gets some help from correctional center work programs. Thomas has three to five inmates who help with daily packing and moving. She gets helpers from the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Center and United Way of Central Maryland. But with growing need comes greater responsibility. 
      More volunteers are needed right now, Thomas says, because the Food Bank is “headed into our busy season.” The back-to-school rush begins this hectic period, which grows into Thanksgiving food drives, then holiday gift donations.
      “We’re growing and we’re adapting. We’ve got this new power at our disposal, and we can use it to give more to our community than ever before,” Thomas says of the future.
      Drop off donations Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm at the Food Bank. For large donations or to become a volunteer, call the office: 410-923-4255, 120 Marbury Dr., Crownsville, www.aafoodbank.org.

Nationally certified red-carded firefighters go wherever it burns hottest

       Montana. Colorado. Texas. California. In all those hotbox states and more, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Services are sweating to control fires that have already burned more than five million acres of land and wrecked thousands of homes and businesses.
        Nationwide, says Monte Mitchell, Forest Service state fire supervisor, we’re part of a “dynamic system where when one geographic area has shortages, other states and federal units can provide those resources to fill in the gaps.”
       One hundred and twenty Maryland Forest Service firefighters and other volunteers train to fight those ferocious opponents. These “red-carded personnel are nationally certified to perform on an incident,” Mitchell says. “Forty-hour courses give them their basic firefighter and basic wildland and fire weather training and tactics.” 
      Topping that is an eight-hour physical field day.
      “They go out and construct fire lines with hand tools, they’ll use pumps, they’ll set up hose lays, they’ll be introduced to all the different tools that you use in wildland firefighting,” Mitchell says. 
     Through all this, their most important tools are their bodies.
     “There is a physical assessment that you have to meet, and that’s more of an exam,” says Justin Arseneault, project forester with the forest service. “Every year before firefighters get sent out, we take a work capacity test to make sure that our physical fitness is sufficient to handle the types of duties that we might be called to do.”
      Part of the test is walking three miles within 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.
      In Maryland, each crew of 20 people is divided into three squads under a crew boss. Each squad has its boss, three fellers who operate chainsaws and the rest firefighters, Mitchell explains. 
      Once in action, volunteers must be ready for whatever is to come in the 14 to 16 days of assignment.
     “Initial attack is responding to new wildfires as they occur and for the first 24-hour operational period taking the necessary actions to contain and suppress the wildfire,” Mitchell says. “All of the engine and dozer crews Maryland has mobilized are experienced firefighters. But newly trained firefighters can assist with initial attack operations under the supervision of experienced firefighters.”
      Once a fire is fought down, “we’ll make sure that portions controlled but still smoldering are fully extinguished so that they don’t accidentally escape containment,” Arseneault says.
      Maryland volunteers also might work on smaller active fires, “to cut fire lines, brushing out a path where there’s no fuel for the fire to run into so it will extinguish itself.”
     In July Arseneault was sent to Montana, California and Colorado. This month he heads to Texas to help with more fires.
      “It’s a dangerous environment, and we take every precaution that we can to mitigate the hazards that are there,” Arseneault says.
      “There are a lot of fires, like the fires in California, where homes are being threatened, and it can be very humbling to help. Being exposed to those people that are just so grateful that you’re there really makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile.”

Way Downstream …

Way Downstream comes from Ocean City, where the federal court case over the right of women to go topless may be bare-ly beginning. 

Let us first unveil some facts: Last summer, Ocean City approved an ordinance forbidding women to cast aside their swimsuit tops. 

In January, five women — among them Megan Bryant, of Lothian —- filed lawsuit in a Maryland U.S. District Court challenging the ordinance as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

“This lawsuit is about confirming the legal right of women to be bare-chested in public in the same places men are permitted to be bare-chested in public for purposes other than breast-feeding,” the complaint reads. 

The suit observes that it’s normal for men to go shirtless, an “act associated with power, strength and freedom.” 

In the pokey ways of federal civil suits, it was Ocean City’s duty to respond six months later. 

On July 27, the town filed a defense asserting that the women’s Equal Protection Clause argument is faulty because that provision doesn’t say that things that are different should be treated the same. 

The filing refers to the “indisputable difference between the sexes” and the town’s interest to protect public sensibilities, asserting that bare breasts in public “may not be offensive to everyone” but remain “unpalatable” to society. 

The naked truth is that no decision is expected for some time, perhaps not until chill winds have people so bundled up that there’s no way to discern the difference between women and men. 

         On July 26, the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River opened its gates due to flooding and high river flows. By July 29-30, tree limbs, sea grass and trash had reached Spa Creek by way of the Severn River and piled up on the waters of Annapolis Harbor. 

The City of Annapolis’s harbormasters worked hour after hour to clean up the disaster. Now the city is asking volunteers to help haul the mess out.  

“The debris took up almost the whole harbor this morning,” Annapolitan Joe LaScola told Bay Weekly. “But these guys are getting it done. 

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this in 40 years,” said LaScola, a daily visitor to City Dock. 

Team Rotary RAAMs Polio raced across America with local support

The race to end polio has stretched farther than Race Across ­America’s 3,000 miles, all around the world. It has lasted longer, 39 years instead of a week. But this year’s race brings the killer closer to eradication. In its third year racing, Team Rotary Race Across America’s Polio raised an all-time high of $1 million to destroy the dread disease in its last strongholds, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Team Rotary RAAMs Polio reached new personal bests in both time and sponsorship. As well as raising more money for polio vaccinations, the four international RAAM racers reached Annapolis less than seven days after setting out from California.

Two racers from Austria, Ruth Brandstaetter and Markus Mayr, and one racer from Germany, Kurt Matzler, joined Tulsa’s Bob McKenzie in the United States for the race. McKenzie has ridden in Race Across America with Rotary for three years running. “I tell the team every year in Oceanside that we’ve already won because we have provided immunization for the kids against polio,” McKenzie says.

Rotary, an international organization, has been focused on eradicating polio since 1979, thanks to John L. Sever. In 1979, the year when the final case of polio was diagnosed in the United States, Sever was both a Rotarian and head of the National Institutes of Health’s infectious diseases branch. Awed by the conquest over smallpox, Rotary International president Clem Renouf challenged Sever to find Rotary an equal task. Sever suggested polio as the Rotary target.

The challenge succeeded. Incidences of polio around the world have decreased by 99.9 percent. As the vice chair of the Rotary International PolioPlus Committee, Sever is after the last of the germ. Low vaccination rates and unexpected occurrences still keep the disease alive. Ukraine, for example, was declared polio-free in 2002 — until two cases were reported there three years ago. Only 50 percent of that nation’s children had been vaccinated against polio. The disease won’t stay down if people are not vaccinated against it.

Local Rotary clubs have supported the campaign since its beginning. For this year’s Race Across America, the Rotary clubs of Parole, Annapolis and North Shore contributed, raising $4,000.

“The club tries to contribute $2,500 to the PolioPlus campaign each year,” said Bob Smith, president of the Parole Rotary Club. This year, the contribution went higher, thanks to the additional efforts of the Annapolis and North Shore Rotary clubs.

It cost $60,000 in equipment and maintenance for Team Rotary RAAMs Polio to compete. In their arduous race, they were able to raise enough money to deliver more than 1.6 million polio vaccines.

“It’s pretty spectacular when you think about it,” Smith says.