Memorial Landmarks ~ Midshipmen Winslow, Pevzner and Pegram
On the Governor Ritchie Overlook, I stood shoulder to shoulder with retired Annapolitans. They waited for the Blue Angels to fly overhead; I waited for a breeze to stir the flags below, so I could snap a picture of the World War II Memorial for this weeks Destination: Chesapeake Country.
From the lifeless flags, my eye wandered to the still Severn River and the Naval Academy beyond, then back to the memorial and the gardens that surround it. To my right, the new Pearl Harbor Memorial stood like an ivory gravestone. To my left, shielded from the memorials by a hedge, I spied a circular slab of gray concrete, ringed by three dark little plaques.
I peered at the plaques, shielding my eyes to read the inscriptions. Each plaque bore a name and a set of dates:
- Midshipman 1st Class Lisa M. Winslow, 17 August 1972 5 December 1993;
- Midshipman 3rd Class Autumn Pevzner, 15 December 19735 December 1993;
- Midshipman 3rd Class Robin Sue Pegram, 13 March 19735 December 1993.
December 5, 1993, was the day after the annual Army-Navy game, held at West Point that year. Winslow, Pevzner and Pegram rode home from New Jersey in the Ford Bronco of fellow midshipman Brian Clark. All four mids belonged to the same company at the academy.
Winslow would graduate in June. A native of Bowling Green, Ohio, she majored in engineering and belonged to both the gospel choir and the womens glee club.
Pevzner was a model student who made the superintendents list and still found time to play varsity volleyball. She would turn 20 in two weeks.
The midshipmen reached Annapolis around six in the morning. A weekend of torrential rains and 46-mph winds had closed some local roads and felled trees, including an old willow growing in Pendennis Mount, beneath the Governor Ritchie Overlook. The willow had long been infested by termites, and its rotten, waterlogged trunk split down the middle. Half the tree fell across the southbound lanes of Route 450 where it intersects Brice Road.
Clark rounded the bend in the highway and slammed straight into the fallen willow. The three womens lives ended as the tree sheared the trucks top clean off.
That was Sunday. On Tuesday, hundreds of midshipmen walked hand in hand behind the hearse that carried Pevzners remains. The Navy band played a solemn hymn, and Pevzners mother and father watched their daughters body disappear into the ground of the Academy cemetery. Bilha Pevzner clutched the American flag that had covered Autumns casket. Bilhas husband, Igal, tossed a shovelful of dirt into Autumns grave.
Pegram was buried in the Academy cemetery on Wednesday. Winslows body was flown back to Bowling Green.
Brian Clark was released from University Hospital in Baltimore. He went on to graduate from the Academy, tossing his hat in the air not just for himself but also for his fallen friends.
Winslows classmates created a garden for her, Pegram and Pevzner the following May. They chose a spot in Pendennis Mount, beneath the Governor Ritchie Overlook, near where the old willow had fallen. Over 100 people attended the dedication, including members of Winslows family, the Academy superintendent and dozens of the midshipmen who had funded the garden.
Hidden behind a hedge of that garden are three plaques the three plaques I found Tuesday morning. Kneeling on the concrete, beneath bright blue skies while the Blue Angels roared overhead, I had wondered who they were these three young women who died nearly nine years ago.
Now I know. But Ill never know who they might have become.
Restore Wildlife Acre by Acre
|Plant it and they will come. The Colbeck brothers have made a business of restoring shoreline grasses. Wildlife returns to the buffers, and soil stays out of the Bay.
photo by Kevin Colbeck
The steps seem odd, hopping from hunting with a detour to the college lacrosse field to helping save the Bay.
But thats what Kevin Colbeck and his brother Chris, Virginias former assistant lacrosse coach, are doing at waters edge on their air-conditioned, 64-horsepower, four-wheel-drive tractors complete with CD players.
Odd, too, that the name Annapolitan Kevin Colbeck chose for his eight-year-old buffer-planting business harkens back to his first love, hunting. But Southern Maryland Gun Club, Colbeck says, bothers tree huggers, so the business goes by its initials: SMGC.
Its a path Kevin Colbeck best explains.
Colbeck says he grew up hunting. His favorite spot was in Southern Anne Arundel County, on Mill Swamp Road off Route 2, south of Birdsville. But Birdsville was not living up to its name, either. The quail he loved to hunt were disappearing.
Plant grass, advised Paul Peditto, now director of Maryland Department of Natural Resources wildlife and heritage division. But not zoysia, Kentucky bluegrass or fescue sold for suburban lawns. The quail need native grasses to live in and eat. Colbeck planted the grasses on his land. The birds came back.
The results were, he says, spectacularly beautiful. Soon people were asking him to share his secret. Thus he found his calling.
In the five months of 2002 alone, the Colbecks have planted some 800 acres: 400 acres in Pennsylvania along the Bays mother river, the Susquehanna; 350 acres in Maryland, largely on the Eastern Shore; and 30 acres in Delaware. Today Kevin plants around Broomes Island in Calvert County; tomorrow both brothers work in Delaware.
Some 20 landowners this year have hired the Colbecks to come planting. Those landowners, in turn, are subsidized by the federal government for planting trees and native grasses. For the 10 to 15 years of a contract, the land is removed from agricultural production.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program limits each state to 100,000 acres. In October, 1997, Maryland became the first state to join that federal program to protect waterways of state and national significance.
Some 41,000 acres, representing 3,400 contracts, are planted in Maryland, according to Dianne Scott, director of the Farm Service Agency for Caroline and Talbot counties on the Eastern Shore, where most of Marylands eligible land exists. Highly erodable land must be within 300 feet of a wooded wetland or a flowing stream.
The benefit is twofold. First, birds and wildlife return to the grass and woodland buffers. Second, because the federal program targets highly erodable waterfront land, soil erosion is reduced, and along with it the flow of pesticides and herbicides into the Bay. Riparian buffer zones can reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients reaching streams and rivers by as much as 90 percent.
It caught on like wildfire, Scott says. Its easy to do, and it looks great.
Success amounts to long hours for the Colbecks, who have 100 acres to plant before May 31. Not that theyre complaining.
Sometimes, Mother Nature cuts them a break. On rainy days, we sleep a lot, Colbeck says.
And when the sun shines, theyre doing work they love. Some people put on a business suit and go to work and make a lot of money talking about saving the Bay, says Kevin Colbeck. Were out there doing something about it every day.
Lost Fort Now Found
|Underwater archeologist Steve Bilicki, above, shows off the side-scanning sonar used to help find shipwrecks and building remains underwater. Left, divers from the Maryland Historical Trust search the Severn River off Horn Point.
I think weve found it! underwater
archeologist Steve Bilicki breathed into a cell phone from his research vessel on the afternoon of May 14, 2002.
It is Fort Horn, built in 1776 to protect Annapolis from the British fleet. The fort has long been thought to have stood on a low bluff at the end of the Horn Point peninsula in Eastport. Bilickis new survey confirms his suspicions that the fort is now beneath shallow waters off the point.
Bilicki used self-propelled side-scanning sonar similar to the sonograms used by pediatricians to look at fetal activity in utero to trace the forts outlines through the murky water. He then slipped into the water with a magnetometer to sniff for sediment left by the iron-bearing stone used in the forts construction.
Im 75 percent sure were looking at the south wall, the turret and the trench, Bilicki said.
Its so exciting to find something we figured was lost, said Peg Wallace, chairman of the Annapolis Maritime Museum. I burst into tears when I heard we found it.
33rds Race at Starting Gate
Dotty Chaney promised to carry family values with her when she drives up the road to the General Assembly next January. That, apparently, was music to the ears of the several hundred supporters gathered on a chilly May evening at Chaneys historic home, Brick House Farm, to inaugurate her candidacy.
|South County Democrat Dotty Chaney is running for General Assembly in the newly drawn district 33B.
Cheering on the prominent Democratic activist and supporter were the party brethren whod already traveled the road on which Chaney was setting off. Senate President Mike Miller, Sen. Robert Neall, delegates Virginia Clagett and George Owings III, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens, North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer: They all knew that what Chaney said now had little to do with whether shed join them next year as an elected public official. What she does between now and November would make the difference.
Chaney, who has never been elected to public office, acknowledged as much. The challenge ahead of her, she said, was really getting to know the people of the sprawling 33rd legislative district. Once they get to know me, theyll love me, she said.
Chaney is one of the first candidates registered to run in the redistricted 33rd. With most districts in this decades redistricting map likely to stand, the district will meander east of the Patuxent River from Gambrills to Severna Park to Crofton with a new stretch to Muddy Creek Road down to Route 258.
Its southern reach takes in Chaneys home between Route 4 and Route 408.
The new 33rd is so big and odd a district that its been divided into two parts. The larger 33A will elect two delegates; the smaller 33B will elect one. Chaney is running in 33B.
Far to the northwest in 33A, Gambrills Republican Vicky Overbeck is another early starter. Like Chaney, she has never held elected office.
|Gambrills Republican Vicky Overbeck seeks a seat in district 33A.
In the stately chambers of the nations oldest serving capitol, incumbents usually have an edge over such challengers. But in this time of redistricting, the status quo can run out. Of the three delegates now serving, two have already announced they will not run for reelection to the House.
The most conservative of the trio arguably of the House Del. Robert Baldwin, is retiring after two terms.
After two years in the House, Del. Janet Greenip hopes to advance to the Senate. To reach those chambers, shell have to take the seat now occupied by Robert Neall, a former Republican who spent a dozen earlier years in the House and four years as Anne Arundel County executive before his appointment to the Senate in 1996.
Still considering options is Del. David Boschert, the old 33rds longest serving delegate, with 20 years in the House.
A third candidate, Steve Rizzi, has announced his run in a field that could get as crowded as the Preakness.
Each in her own way, Chaney and Overbeck know the game theyre getting into.
Chaney, a speech pathologist, served on the Anne Arundel Board of Education and on many other civic and charitable boards. Shes also held many offices in the Anne Arundel County Democratic Party. And shes run for County Council.
Overbeck has worked in the General Assembly for nine years as a legislative aide.
I understand how the system works, Overbeck says. Ive been helping constituents in other areas for a long time, and I now want to help the area where I live.
The 33rd, especially up Overbecks way, is Anne Arundel Countys fastest growing area. It will lead the way in facing development challenges that will come to us all, so we watch with special interest.
In Las Vegas, the locale of some of Americas most ghastly growth, Marylands smart-growth, anti-gambling Gov. Parris Glendening co-hosted a Democratic Governors Association fund-raiser this week at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. It was doubtful that many slow-growth folks were on hand: Tickets to hear a discussion called Building Better Communities went for $10,000 and $50,000
In Virginia, a plan to test Asian oysters in Chesapeake Bay has been put on indefinite hold after Virginia scientists issued an 11th-hour warning. The Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences that even chemically sterilized, some of the one million Pacific ariakensis oysters might reproduce with unpredictable consequences
In New Mexico, the city of Santa Fe began giving away 10,000 low-flow toilets this week on a first-come-first-served basis. TV spots advertising the giveaway featured water droplets doing the limbo to this lyric: How low can you flow?
Our Creature Feature comes from the University of Kentucky, where new research shows that fat male spiders might be failing in love. Thats because despite having eight legs, they are less likely to succeed in climbing high in trees where females spin their nests.
Then again, the male spider doesnt want to be too puny. Thats because female spiders are known to pounce on and kill would-be suitors who come calling.