Seahorse 'Memorial'

On behalf of the Seahorses By the Bay Committee, we would like to express our sympathy to the students of Calvert Middle School for the loss of Starfish, the beautiful seahorse statue they created that was stolen June 25. Their seahorse was one of 25 that are on display around the county as part of the Seahorses By the Bay Public Art Project, a children's art project that was developed as part of Calvert County's 350th anniversary celebration. All 25 of the seahorse statues were designed and decorated by our Calvert County kids. This project has been enthusiastically received by residents and tourists alike and has so dramatically showcased the creativity of Calvert County students.

Sadly, there has been no sign of Starfish, but we are heartened that no one seems to have let this incident dampen their enthusiasm for the project. Hopefully, everyone knows by now that one of the goals of the project is to raise money for the art programs in our local schools. Because of the disappearance of Starfish, that means one less statue to auction off this fall and fewer funds to go back to the schools.

To compensate for the loss of income to the project, we are establishing a Starfish Memorial Fund. All donations to this fund are tax-deductible and will go back to the school art programs. A cutout replica of Starfish will be erected the week of August 16. It will be placed at Adams Ribs restaurant, on the spot where Starfish was stolen, and will serve as a visual plea to the community to make a donation to the Starfish Memorial Fund.

All memorial donations can be sent to Seahorses By the Bay, Box 99, Dowell, Md. 20629. Checks should be made out to "Seahorses By the Bay." Please make a notation somewhere on the check that the funds are for the Starfish Memorial.

Again, on behalf of the Seahorses By the Bay Committee, we are saddened that the creative expression of one of our Calvert County schools was so thoughtlessly stolen. We would like to thank all the people who have expressed their support for the project and their outrage over the loss of Starfish. Everyone has expressed their shock that someone would steal art created by our Calvert County kids. As Elizabeth Tarmmell, one of the students who helped decorate Starfish said, it just makes us all so mad to pass the spot where it disappeared and be reminded of the loss. We do hope that this incident has not dampened the enthusiasm for public art projects. This project has brought a tremendous amount of joy to the community and has demonstrated the importance of creating and displaying art for the enjoyment of the public. We will not let one incident sully an otherwise terrific project and a wonderful community. To learn more about the seahorse project, go to and click on the seahorse icon.

Stacey Hann-Ruff

Seahorses By the Bay Committee


Pipeline Hazard

On July 31, on the BBC World News broadcast, there was a report of a terrifying gas pipeline explosion near Brussels. The gas pipeline was similar to the one that runs through Calvert County from Cove Point. In spite of the 11 pages of pipeline accidents with fatalities and injuries listed with the National Transportation Safety Board, nothing is more gory and horrifying than the account of this explosion published by CNN on the Internet: 15 known dead and 200 injured; debris and human bodies scattered over a 500-meter radius; fireballs leaping dozens of meters in the sky; little grains of scorched earth raining down; looked like a war zone with people fleeing into fields and bodies found later hundreds of yards away; worst disaster in many years.

Recent gas pipeline disasters in our country include: New Mexico -- August 2000, 11 killed, many injured, crater 86 feet long and 20 feet deep; Corpus Christi, Tex. -- much fear among the residents, no known dead (from Corpus Christi Times).

Our county government seems to have a greater concern for problems that Wal-Mart might create than the possible serious danger from the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility, with the many, many enormous tanker loads of fuel and the 36-inch-diameter pipeline through this county.

The LNG facility and the huge pipeline were constructed in the early 1970s and were abandoned for about 20 years. How can Dominion Inc. employees concerned with the pipeline state that it is 100 percent safe after the length of time it has been underground and abandoned? Are they simply expressing their hopes that the pipeline is safe, or have government inspectors and inspectors not employed by Dominion performed thorough tests to confirm safety?

The current easement is poorly maintained by Dominion and needs to be fertilized and kept clear of scrub growth and small trees to make it possible for inspectors to detect a leak. The easements cannot be used by the property owners who have to pay taxes on them while Dominion makes a huge profit using them.

Not long ago, there was a gas leak in a small gas pipeline owned by the Washington Gas Company near Barstow. All of the safety crews and others concerned were quite uncertain about the outcome until it was corrected. It seems the Homeland Security color code may be changing to orange quite often as a result of the terrorists changing their methods of trying to kill as many people as possible, especially Americans. Experts in terrorism seem to believe terrorists will be concentrating on nuclear plants, gas facilities and pipelines, airports, large gatherings of people and targets that would cause the most damage. . . .

Calvert County does not need more LNG facility structures and another huge pipeline. The people in this county already have too much danger to deal with. If the gas facility is expanded with many more tankers coming to Cove Point and another huge pipeline in this narrow county, Dominion is doubling the chances for many more people here to be blown to bits or seriously injured.

Calvert County residents who do not want this additional danger should write or call the county commissioners and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to let them know how you feel, since the Dominion application may be filed soon.

Phyllis Johnson


SMECO Candidacy

I am a candidate in the Sept. 1 election for the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative Board. In the years 2002 and 2003, I was the only challenger in the annual election. This year, I am, once again, the only challenger.

Why isn't anyone else running?

It is very difficult to beat the incumbent. There are 15 elected members on this board, with five up for election each year. The last time any sitting board member lost an election was in 1996. If you don't count the few times when a sitting member voluntarily gave up the seat, that is 35 straight wins for incumbents.

About 1,700 members out of the 130,000 customers do the voting. This results in 850-plus members (less than 1 percent) electing the board.

At last year's annual meeting there was a vote authorizing the board to consider mail-in ballots. This approach would open up the process tremendously, but the present board has chosen not to exercise this option. As I did in the last election, I support the effort to expand the voting. I need your voice to press this issue.

Why am I running? I am a strong believer in democracy, community involvement, personal responsibility and local direction whenever possible. In its own way, SMECO provides those things.

I would like to bring some fresh perspectives to SMECO board decisions. There are many business people on the board. Adding board members with technical and utility experience provides proper balance. Since deregulation, it is extremely important that management stick to our prime goal as a public utility, providing reliable electric service at reasonable rates.

My qualifications include 30 years of large-scale utility experience with the telephone company, 11 in Southern Maryland. I have a technical degree from Georgetown University. I served in the U.S. Army. My final tour was as a platoon leader in Vietnam. I have the interest and background to provide a significant contribution to the board. I have demonstrated the ability to work well with others.

The concept of the co-op means we are in this together. SMECO needs to work with its customer members in a way that benefits all of us. The members need to assist SMECO wherever possible. The employees need to work efficiently; they are working for their community, families and friends. This allows all of us to enjoy our reasonable rates and some control over those rates.

I have run for the last four years. I don't give up easily. I have established a base of 600 to 700 voters. I need a few more.

Ask yourself, are you willing to elect someone with a practical and technical utility background? Are you willing to elect someone who also appreciates the importance of a strong electrical utility supporting our businesses and homes?

Please vote for me at SMECO headquarters in Hughesville on Sept. 1 between 3 and 7:30 p.m. Food and refreshments will be available starting around 5. The annual meeting will start at 7:30, finishing with many prizes for the attendees.

I thank you for your interest and look forward to seeing you at the annual meeting.

Mike Thompson

St. Mary's candidate for SMECO Board of Directors


Successful Chautauqua

"Chautauqua 2004: The American Environment, Voices and Choices," entertained many of us who were treated to free performances at McDonough High School and under the stars at the College of Southern Maryland La Plata campus.

The audiences were enlightened, inspired and educated as they listened to historians portray Theodore Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau, Father Andrew White and Rachel Carson. Interesting questions led to lively discussions following each character's presentation, allowing for lots of audience interaction from both young and old alike.

This was CSM's fifth year to host Chautauqua, which is annually presented by the Maryland Humanities Council at only six sites around the state. CSM was especially pleased this year to see that people had traveled from throughout Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia and even as far away as Massachusetts to enjoy this free entertainment.

Much of this year's Chautauqua success at CSM can be credited to the support of many community partners. Thank you to all who posted fliers, printed calendar items or encouraged friends and family to join them at Chautauqua.

Appreciation is especially extended this year to the Maryland Independent, Parent Line, Borders Books and Music, the Charles County Department of Facilities, the Wicomico Scenic River Commission, the Calvert Marine Museum, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Claudia's Steakhouse at Hawthorne Country Club and the Maryland Humanities Council. Community members benefiting from the generosity of these partners are Suzanne Steward of Accokeek, Carli Griffin of Huntingtown, Vicky Trego of Sunderland, Jean Tierney of Newburg, Virginia Schadt of Waldorf, Judith Levanthal of Accokeek, Alvin Brown of Chesapeake Beach and Jane Knox of Solomons.

The winners of Parent Line's and CSM's coloring contest were Katie Chan of Lexington Park and Monica Garza of Hughesville.

Thank you again to all, and we look forward to seeing you next summer under the big tent next July when the Maryland Humanities Council will host Chautauqua 2005: Behind the Lines.

Tim Keating

Dean, Arts and Sciences

College of Southern Maryland

La Plata