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Volume xviii, Issue 18 ~ May 6 to May 12, 2010

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Strawberries Mark the Season

Get your share of Maryland’s 440 acres of berries

Strawberries have been added to asparagus on the marquee of Dick and Jane’s Farm Market on Rt. 2 at Harwood, making an offer too good to pass up. Farmers’ Markets will have them, too — if you come early. Provident home gardeners are eating them, too.

Strawberries are the first fruit of spring, accompanying the asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, salad greens and spinach already breaking our winter fast. Because of the warm spring, strawberries are already being picked at farms around the state. Usually, they ripen nearer the end of the month.

Maryland farmers harvest over 440 acres of strawberries with a value of well over $2 million.

“Spring marks the time when the first harvest of Maryland-grown, early season crops start making its way to farmers’ markets, groceries, roadside stands and restaurants,” says Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance.

To select sweet Maryland strawberries, look for a full, red color, bright luster and firm, plump flesh. Strawberries do not ripen after being picked, so choose fully ripe berries. The caps should be bright green and fully attached.

–Sandra Olivetti Martin

Your Ride Over the Bay Should be Smoother

West-bound Bay Bridge redecked

There is still no magic wand to wave over the back seat to quell the incessant are we there yets. But at least we can give you good news about the oft-dreaded Bay Bridge crossing.

The Maryland Transportation Authority reports the redecking of the west-bound lanes of the Bay Bridge has been completed, a milestone in the four-year construction project needed to extend the life of the bridge.

The suspension-span and through-truss (where drivers can see structural steel overhead) was redecked with 300 precast concrete deck segments. Construction took place mainly at night, but noisy and sometimes bone-jarring steel roadway plates were placed in the lanes during daytime use. Those plates were expected to be removed by Memorial Day. But crews beat that deadline by a couple of weeks, taking the last one away in the wee hours of May 2.

It’s close, but it’s not done yet. Throughout the summer, crews will continue finishing work, including deck grinding and grooving that will make the ride even smoother for all who cross the Bay. MDTA promises that the work will be done during limited daytime and overnight hours to minimize travelers’ pain.

The Bay Bridge Preservation Project, began in December 2006, includes redecking, new railings and overhead lane signals, spot painting and electrical upgrades. The project should finish this fall.

-Margaret Tearman

Look Who’s Won a New Web Site

Robert A. Pascal Youth & Family Services Center Wins Chance for Charity

The Robert A. Pascal Youth & Family Services Center in Severna Park is getting a new web site — thanks to everyone who voted for the Center in the Chance for Charity contest organized by Annapolis-based Grasmick Web Design.

“We asked people to log on to a website we created for the contest and either submit a charity or vote for one of the charities already listed,” explains company owner Matthew Grasmick

The contest ran for six weeks, beginning in March. Fifteen charities entered, and several hundred people voted. The Pascal Center came out on top and will be getting a timely new web page worth $5,000 on the web market.

“Our first website was created back in 1998 by a client who wanted to repay us for her success in one of our programs,” says Adel O’Rourke, Pascal Center’s executive director. “We’ve tweaked it along the way, but now Matt has wonderful ideas for us, and we can’t wait to get started.”

The new website will direct people looking for counseling services to the Pascal Center and will provide information on the programs offered, including substance awareness, anger management, DWI, children of addicted families and individual and family therapy.

Grasmick hoped the contest would help local charities expand their reach and find support in tough economic times.

“I founded Grasmick Web Design on the principle of supporting local businesses with quality Internet services,” Grasmick says. “Supporting local charities is an extension of that principle. A great web site can make a world of difference to a charity.”

The Pascal center’s new web site should be up and running sometime this summer. Follow the progress at

–Margaret Tearman

This Week’s Creature Feature: Beauty and Beasts

Anne Arundel Countians ponder their animal magnetism at the first annual
Do You Look Like Your Pet Competition

Fifty-five Marylanders visited Quiet Waters Park May 2 in hopes that they would be told they looked like a dog. A cat. Even a rabbit.

The people were participating in a new kind of beauty pageant, Anne Arundel County’s first annual Do You Look Like Your Pet? Contest. The brainchild of County Executive John R. Leopold, the contest judged which countians bore remarkable resemblances to their pets.

Lee and Shady.

“I came up with the idea because I thought it would be fun. And it was,” says Leopold. “I’ve often thought that pet owners do resemble their pets. I don’t know what that says.”

The executive, who has two pets, put his theory to the test by holding a contest.

Basil and Hunter.

Contestants first had to pass a preliminary round, submitting a photograph of themselves and their furry twins to the county website for judging. The cream of the crop were invited to the finals at Quiet Waters Park, where judges Leopold, Anne Arnudel County Parks and Recreation administrator Franklin Chaney and chair of the Animal Welfare Council Wendy Cozzone determined which pairs shared a passing resemblance and which pairs were separated at birth.

“The pictures speak volumes. In most cases they really did look like their pet,” says Colleen Joseph, special assistant to the director of Parks and Rec. “One gentleman had a grayish goatee and so did his dog.”

One oddity that the judges and Joseph noticed was the predominance of dog contestants. Anne Arundel Countians believe that they have doggie doppelgangers.

Murray and Charlie.

Hanna, Chester and Muddy.

We had seven cats, one rabbit and the rest were dogs,” says Joseph, who worked behind the scenes.

“Next year we hope for a larger variety of animals,” says Leopold, whose cat Francois and black lab Dora had to sit out the contest, as their person was judging.

Winners were selected in age groups — 13 and up or 12 and below — in Cat, Dog and other category. Thirteen winners were selected overall with two grand champions ruling the day.

Hunter Haines and dog Basil triumphed in the ages 13 and over category, while Hanna Tobin and her pup Chester beat out the competition in the 12 and under bracket. Better luck next year, cat lovers.

Noreen and Jelly Belly.

The contest, which coincided with the SPCA’s Walk for the Animals, drew 10,430 people to Quiet Waters for a day of animal love, fun and fundraising.

Make your suggestions for next year at 410-222-1821.

–Diana Beechener
Find the Charms of Calvert County

2010 Visitors Guide makes it easy

Calvert County wants to prove to you that it tells no lies in styling itself the Charm of the Chesapeake. Its free 2010 Visitors Guide, a 27-page full-color brochure, introduces you to county attractions, beaches, campgrounds, boating, marinas, charters, outdoor recreation, historic churches and wineries. A calendar of major special events is included in the print version; online the calendar is continuously updated.

The easy-to-read guide features a comprehensive listing of Calvert’s charter fishing fleet. If you’re piloting yourself, it will help you find a place to dock at one of the county’s 16 public marinas.

All that walking, boating, learning and sipping will leave you hungry. Turn to the guide for a menu of dining choices, listed by location, from crab houses to pizza to fine dining on the waterfront.

With so much to see and do, you may decide to turn a day trip into an overnight adventure. The Visitors Guide leads you to Bayfront cottage rentals, bed and breakfast inns and chain hotels.

The map-sized guide is easy to stow. Get your copy at Maryland Welcome Centers, Calvert County Visitors Centers, local Calvert County businesses or directly from the Department of Economic Development: 410-535-4583;

–Margaret Tearman

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