Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 41

October 10-16, 2002

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Articles for this Week:

Appreciation ~ John Klocko: Anne Arundel County Councilman, Family Man, Mountain Biker

On Saturday, October 5, 45-year-old John Klocko should have been biking brutal Utah mountain trails, exhilarated with the rush of blood and the thrill of sheer ascents and descents.

That’s what he loved about his favorite recreation, competitive cross-country biking, he told Bay Weekly back in 2000 [“Lawmakers at Play”: Vol. VIII, No. 35].

In Utah, he was about to reap thrills on mountains bigger than he’d ever attempted, pushing himself to his limits in his enjoyment of a vacation gift from his family.

Instead, on a faraway interstate, a young man fell asleep at the wheel, catapulting into Klocko’s rented van. John Klocko — Anne Arundel County councilman, family man, lawyer and mountain biker — died instantly.

As the news spread throughout Anne Arundel County, hearts bowed under the weight of irony and heads bowed in grief. At the Davidsonville Area Civic Association Candidates Forum October 7, the gathering stood in silent mourning for John Klocko.

Eight of the gathering were politicians, two rivaling for Klocko’s job as councilman for Anne Arundel’s sprawling Seventh District. In the election of 2002, John Klocko could allow others to stay up late to woo voters. Freedom was a word that resonated with Klocko, both as a political concept and a personal experience — and he had been freed by term limits.

But fate twisted, and John Klocko was present in this gathering as a memory vitalized by grief. Throughout the evening, candidates and citizens remembered him as they knew him best. Here are some of those memories.

State senator Bobby Neall shared a party and a district with Republican Klocko.

“The nature of the job of state and local government is making things better for people, so that’s what you spend your time doing. John made a real difference in the lives of his constituents. One way was playing a leading role in securing the new library dedicated for Crofton a couple weeks ago,” said Neall, who’s running for his first election as a Democrat.

Neall’s feet hurt — it was nine at night and he’d been wearing the same shoes since 4:30am — and his voice held a wistful touch.

The district John Klocko had served for eight years is the largest in the county, beginning above and west of the South River in his home of Crofton and sprawling east to Mayo and south to Rose Haven. When he was elected in 1994, South Countian Virginia Clagett, now a delegate, had held the seat for 20 years. Much was — and still is — made of the Seventh’s diversity of interests, but Klocko vowed to represent the whole district.

He lived up to that vow, according to Pam Bush, who is a professional advocate for our rural legacy as well as an active public citizen. At the Davidsonville candidates forum, where her interest was land preservation, Bush’s thoughts traveled back to John Klocko’s early years as a councilman.

“I had worked closely with Virginia, and I called John when he was first campaigning,” Bush remembered. “He called me back personally. I was and stayed impressed. It was amazing to me just how much he cared about land-use issues.”

Klocko’s votes on the county council underscored Bush’s point. He went through the county’s General Development Plan with a fine-toothed comb, offering some 50 changes to control development through the first quarter of the century. He was not only attentive to his job, he was not afraid to take the unpopular position. He took stands, for example, against huge sprawling churches in rural areas, and against big-box development, including Wal-Mart in Parole.

“I learned a lot from John,” Bush said. “He did what he thought was right. He was truly involved in public service.”

Defeated Republican county executive candidate Tom Angelis, another citizen at the forum, spoke, too, of Klocko’s devotion to his diverse district.

“Valor,” said Angelis, satisfied that he found the right word to describe his friend and colleague. “He served his entire district with valor.

“Both he and I went out on a limb to get the first irrigated recreation field in Anne Arundel County,” remembered former county parks and recreation director Angelis. “The fields had never been irrigated before, except by volunteers. We had to see County Executive John Gary and the council on it. It was expensive, but the money needed to be spent to make the fields continually playable.”

The most poignant memory of all came from the man who hopes to inherit John Klocko’s job, Republican candidate Ed Reilly. “John really had a baby face. Youthful, energetic, thin, athletic: That’s how I’m going to remember him,” said the man called ‘Big Ed.’

John Klocko leaves behind his wife, Karen, and daughters Caroline, MaryKatherine and Elizabeth.

Visitation is Friday, Oct. 11, from 2-4 & 7-9pm at Evans Funeral Home, Rt. 450 and Race Track Rd., Bowie, followed by a funeral Mass Sat. at 11am at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Rt. 424, Crofton, w/reception from noon-2pm at Crofton Country Club.


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Earth Journal ~ Autumn Sounds

It’s too early. I’m sure it’s too early. But just before 5:30 the afternoon of October 7, I heard an unmistakable squabble. Heard it before I saw it. Tundra swans, two dozen and more, banking at the salt marsh by Herring Bay, before heading east across the Chesapeake. A vee of Canada geese came on five minutes later. The geese were muted compared to the swans, who were noisy as a crab feast at summer’s end.

This summer’s end finds no squeal, laugh, hoot or chatter over a table piled with crabs in my neighborhood. Nor for several years past. Too much work, we women declared. We were right, but something’s missing now. Back when we served up stuffed Maryland stuffed ham; sesame noodles; roasted garlic cloves; dirt — a dessert served in a flower pot; cherry tarts; cakes; when we kept three crab cookers busy all afternoon; when we charged $12 for a bottomless beer cup and all you could eat — this is the time of year we celebrated.

All the neighbors and their relatives came out on a day much like today, cool and sunny, with blue-skies over wind-swept clouds. Perfect. A day much like today but noisy with the calls of humankind rather than tundra swans and Canada geese. Maybe we were just too noisy to hear them.

— Sonia Linebaugh

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Who’s Most Beautiful of Them All?

In times like ours — when wanton acts of human violence strike in ways that used to be reserved for lighting bolts hurled by angry gods — a thankful job is worth taking. Hence it was once more this year that I joined a fellowship of newspaper people — Marty Madden from the Calvert Independent and Joel Davis from the Recorder — with 2001 winner Ruth Reid in choosing Calvert County’s Maryland You Are Beautiful winner.

This year we weighed the altruism of 15 do-gooding citizens, the collected blanketeers of Project Linus, one dog — and a handful of middle-aged volunteers who’ve proved themselves mightier than the state of Maryland.

“We’re certainly not making such tough choices,” said Herman Schieke, speaking for himself and Calvert County Department of Economic Development, which administers Calvert’s branch of the statewide program, explaining why the four of us got the job.

It is indeed hard to rank the good works of rescue workers, Eagle Scouts or 92-year-old crocheters of “handmade hugs” for 100 sick children. Or even Casey the Wonder Dog, who, with owner Michael Bachelder, eases loneliness and depression among nursing home and hospital patients.

Still, we invested our vote in Friends of Calvert Cliffs State Park, a working, middle-aged corps that’s done long-standing service not only to one person or group or even just to Calvert County, but to all of Maryland and the world beyond.

“We’re better known far and wide than here in Calvert County,” said Mike Burns, who was having trouble talking through his smile the October day he accepted the award the Friends had oft been nominated for and had finally claimed. “National Geographic named us one of the top fossil hunting spots in the world.”

With its 13 miles of trails and 500-foot-long stretch of Bay beneath the historic Calvert Cliffs, the 1,500-acre park hosts 70,000 visitors a year. But were it not for Burns and the five or six other Friends, its gates would long ago have been padlocked.

Friends of Calvert Cliffs State Park Mike Burns and Connie Darago (foreground) get Maryland You Are Beautiful recognition from state program chair Floraine Applefeld (right foreground) at meeting of Calvert County Commissioners (rear) Bobby Swain, Linda Kelley (partially obscured), David Hale, John Douglas Parran and Barbara Stinnett.
That was back in 1990, when, after a sharp budget cut, Maryland Department of Natural Resources declared there was no money to keep Calvert Cliffs open. Classified as a minor park, Calvert Cliffs shares a Natural Resources ranger team based in Point Lookout, at the end of St. Mary’s County, with three other state parks.

“The Friends have maintained the park over all these years and they consistently do what they say,” said Ranger April Havens, who nominated them.

Working under a memo of understanding with the state department, the Friends have not only kept Calvert Cliffs open for a dozen years, they’ve improved it in dozens of ways — starting with bringing in water and toilets. With little money — and that they collect themselves from $3-per-car admission fees — they’ve made do with the old-fashioned wisdom of reusing and including.

“I can’t believe I’m still doing it after all these years,” said Friend Connie Darago. “But I am. Just last week I was down in a ditch sweating with 16 people on our United Way workday.”

Including means recruiting and organizing volunteers like those to pitch in on much of the heavy work. This year, Justin Leonard of St. Leonard earned his Eagle Scout rank by organizing a team of 32 helpers to build a pavilion at the park’s rustic campsite, a 400-hour project. The Scouts not only raised the money for the project, but they had enough left over to endow the pavilion’s upkeep.

Last year, four Eagle Scouts built a raised boardwalk over 140 feet of bog. Helping them were a couple of extraordinary volunteers, a team of draft horses. “It was done so as to have the least environmental impact on the park,” said Darago.

Other reliable volunteers include Kiwanis Clubbers, Latter Day Saints and students.

The notion of treading lightly on the earth means the Friends are active reusers, as the park’s playground shows. Built in four days by 800 volunteers with a grant and design from Maryland Department of the Environment, it’s made entirely of old tires — even to the park dragon.

As the Friends celebrated, they looked to the future. Next year or the year after, they plan a mile-long, handicap-friendly exercise loop in memory of Anne Roxey, a Friend who died in 2001 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Besides Anne, who continued on the board to the end, only one original member, John Kirkwood, is inactive. The remaining Friends of Calvert Cliffs State Park are Ray Glover, Danny Huseman and Tim Roxey, Anne’s husband.


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What Would You Do with $10,000?

What would you do with $10,000? Margaret Lee Sheckells of Shady Side used it to pay the bills. Deale businesswoman Claire Mallicote gave it all to her parents, who locked it in a safe. You, too, could win $10,000.

How, you ask?

Buy a ticket for the Rural Heritage Society’s raffle, and you may walk away a grand prize winner.

Thirteen years ago, members of the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society found the exact property they were looking for to call home. It had a spacious view of the West River, a crisp green lawn and a small-town history worth recreating. The catch?

A $90,000 mortgage.

Though the amount was hefty, society members thought the Captain Salem Avery House was worth every penny. They decided to pay the bills in a creative way — one that linked the society with its surrounding community. They held a truck raffle.

The first raffle in 1992 was a success, raising over $15,000 for the non-profit historical organization, and it became an annual tradition. Every fall since then, the society has hosted a community event to raise money and announce raffle winners. Sunday, October 13, marks the third annual West River Heritage Day Oyster Festival, a day of music, games, and plenty of mouth-watering oysters.

“We get wonderful support,” said Mavis Daly, a former co-president of the society. “There are people who buy tickets every year without fail.”

After several years of giving away trucks, the society switched to cash prizes. Raffle tickets cost $10, with only 2,000 to be sold.

Sheckells, who won the prize after her mother, one of the founders of the society and an eager raffle ticket seller, passed away, is pleased about the locality of the winnings.

“It was nice that [the grand prize] has stayed in the community,” she said.

Who would know better than Claire Mallicote, of Mali Discount on Deale-Churchton Road. She has sold three winning tickets throughout the years, including her own in 1998.

“I buy 15 to 20 tickets every year for different people,” she said.

The Captain Salem Avery House, located off of Shady Side Road, dates back to 1860. Captain Avery was a fisherman who raised his family in the house for 30 years, earning his living from the wealth of the Bay.

After the Rural Heritage Society purchased the property, it expanded the sunny yellow house to include a library and office. It also restored the old part to its original 142-year-old state, complete with enlarged black-and-white photographs and ornate wooden furniture. Mannequins donning 19th century fashions stand unassumingly around the rooms, and even the aged Avery family Bible is intact and on display.

The museum is open to visitors every Sunday from noon to 5pm, including this week when local performers, including Them Eastport Oyster Boys, Janie Meneely, and Ship’s Company Chanteymen, Miriam O’Connor and the Mountain Oyster Boys, sing Bay-related songs and tell stories. ($3 entry w/children under 12 free; raffle tickets sold until the drawing.)

— Sarah Williams

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Way Downstream …

On the Eastern Shore, Queen Anne County is the first to sign the Eastern Shore 2010 document, agreeing to guide at least half of new development into locally designated growth areas by 2005. The document calls on other counties and towns to work cooperatively toward shared goals …

In Virginia, the fishing industry is fretting over an outbreak of a mysterious new disease on the coastal clam farms similar to the familiar culprit that devastated oysters, MSX. They’re calling it QPX — the X is for unknown — and biologists said that it has the potential to be serious...

Also in Virginia, the Army Corps of Engineers has reversed itself, agreeing now that Newport News needs a massive 1,500-acre reservoir after saying earlier that construction would seriously damage wildlife and wetlands …

In Afghanistan, China is the first country to donate animals to Kabul’s war-devastated zoo. Last week, a cargo plane arrived from Beijing bringing two lions, two bears, two pigs, two deer and a wolf. “With these animals, we are conveying our best wishes for everlasting peace, prosperity and well-being,” said the message accompanying the creatures …

Our Creature Feature comes from London, where TV chef and fish expert Rick Stein is on a crusade to slow the decline of the world’s fisheries. Stein wants people to switch from the most popular species — like salmon, cod and shrimp — to lesser-known seafood.

He mentioned one — eel — that is relatively abundant in Chesapeake Bay but seldom desired by crab- and oyster-loving folks. “There are loads of other fish that are just as good, which are often cheaper,” he said, “but people don’t know about.”

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Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly