Imagine getting a letter from your employer saying, sorry, but we overpaid your pension and now you owe us $37,331. That's what happened to former Anne Arundel County Fire Chief Roger Simonds, who recently received a letter from the county that said it goofed by paying him too much.
County Personnel Officer Mark M. Atkisson said that the county realized the error when Simonds resigned in March and that he has up to five years to pay the money back. But the county won't be seeing a check anytime soon. The former chief has appealed the case to the Board of Appeals, and a hearing is scheduled Aug. 25.
The dispute comes after the chief was forced out by County Executive Janet S. Owens, who had coaxed him out of retirement to take the position five years ago.
Vitale Named to Md. Panel
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R) has appointed Anne Arundel County Council member Cathleen M. Vitale (R-Severna Park) to a four-year term on the Maryland Critical Area Commission.
The commission oversees development and land use around the Chesapeake Bay and the waters that flow into it. The organization's goal is to protect the bay and its wildlife.
"I am honored that the governor felt that my knowledge and commitment to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries would be an asset to the commission," Vitale said in a statement. "I look forward to joining the other commissioners in the endeavor to protect our natural resources."
Female Fire Officer for City
In a city full of history, the Annapolis Fire Department made a bit of its own recently when it named its first female fire officer.
Kelly F. Martin, an emergency medical services lieutenant, was promoted to the rank of fire lieutenant, according to Acting Chief Michael P. Lonergan.
"Kelly has worked hard as both a paramedic and as a firefighter," Lonergan said earlier this month.
Indeed, her ascendance to fire lieutenant came after more than a decade with the department. In that time, Lonergan said, she has received letters of appreciation, commendations and unit citations.
Martin joined the department in 1992, when she was hired as a firefighter/cardiac rescue technician. She graduated from the Baltimore City Fire Academy and was assigned to both an engine company and paramedic duties, and then went on to become licensed as a paramedic.
In 1998, Martin was promoted to the rank of firefighter first class. In 2003, she was promoted to emergency medical services lieutenant.
Although she will remain as a supervisor in emergency medical services, she will also be responsible for supervising firefighters and fire suppression activities.
She is married to Lt. Joseph F. Martin III, who is also a supervisor with the department. They have three children: Taylor, 14; Ashley, 7; and Olivia, 2.
Is It 'Frankenfish'?
The fish in Rick Elder's cooler was sedate, ignoring even the earthworm Elder had thrown in there as a snack. There was no hint of the ferocity attributed to northern snakeheads, the invasive species recently turning up in the Potomac River.
"I don't know if he's not hungry," Elder said, peering at the 18-inch-long creature with a covering of camouflage-like green spots. "I don't know if he's still shocked."
Elder caught the fish Saturday in a creek near the Virginia shore. It wasn't too far from where other anglers have caught snakeheads in the river. He was casting with a plastic worm, letting it flip across the water's surface, when the fish hit.
"As soon as I flung it in the boat, I could tell it was one of these snakeheads," said Elder, 25, who has fished the river for about 13 years.
If the fish is confirmed to be a snakehead, it would be the 17th caught in the Potomac this year -- each one another sign that the "Frankenfish" that first showed up in a Crofton pond two years ago might be here to stay.
At press time, Maryland Department of Natural Resources police had not visited Elder to confirm that the fish is a northern snakehead. A spokeswoman for the department said it was having trouble reaching Elder, who lives in Bowie.
But, on Monday, Elder called The Washington Post and invited a reporter to see the creature, which he was keeping in a few inches of water in a cooler by the family pool.
It had all the hallmarks of the voracious fish: a wide mouth, a long cylindrical body, and fins on the bottom that function like legs when the snakeheads take short jaunts over land.
The day before, Elder said, this fish had moved four feet across his yard. He described its movement as being a bit like a snake's slither, but with a difference: "He kind of gets a little hop to him," when the walking fins kick in.
On the day a reporter visited, the suspected snakehead would not walk: When set in the grass, it just lay there. But despite the fish's apparent stage fright, Elder said he was still very happy with his catch. He was considering keeping it in an aquarium or mounting it, though it seems unlikely that the state will let him do either. Snakeheads are usually taken away for study.
"Now that I've got him," Elder said. "I feel like I've got a prize possession."
Washington Post Staff Writer Eric Rich contributed to this report.