The angry letters went unanswered. Protestations at a Town Council meeting were also unsuccessful. So Paul Messinese said he took the logical next step.
The 37-year-old Chesapeake Beach resident climbed onto the roof of his house early Sunday, vowing not to come down -- even to sleep or use the bathroom -- until after voting in the town election ended at 7 p.m. Tuesday. His purpose was spelled out on the 17 tan-colored signs next to his makeshift bed on the roof.
"I WILL STAY ON MY ROOF UNTIL TUES TO MAKE PEOPLE AWARE OF HOW MAYOR DONOVAN HAS TREATED MY FAMILY," the signs read. "WHY DID HE TREAT US THIS WAY? WHO WILL STOP HIM FROM TREATING YOU THIS WAY?"
Messinese, a sheet metal worker, said the town owes him $4,500 for damage caused by a sewer overflow in December 2002. He said the town had begun to reimburse him when Mayor Gerald W. Donovan found out about the incident and stopped the payments.
"The mayor didn't care about me," said Messinese, crouching on the edge of his roof Monday. "The way he treats people is just wrong."
Donovan said he could not comment on the matter because it might end up in court.
The publicity stunt came in the midst of the town's first contested mayoral race in 16 years. Donovan, who had not faced an election challenge since 1988, spent the two weeks leading up to Tuesday's election stumping hard to beat his opponent, Joseph Wayne Johnson.
"It's definitely been the talk of the town," said Chesapeake Beach council member Pat "Irish" Mahoney as Messinese stood on his roof and waved an American flag.
Drivers slowed as they approached the house and gazed at the man on the roof and a display in front of his house that showed photographs and letters explaining his dispute with the town.
Messinese also posted a blue "JOE JOHNSON FOR MAYOR" sign on his roof, although he said he was expecting Donovan to prevail at the polls.
Still, he thought his rooftop protest would force Donovan to reimburse him after the election.
"I bet you he will take care of it," he said. "He wouldn't dare say no now."
Living and sleeping on the roof isn't as hard as it might seem, he said. His wife and daughters bring him turkey and bologna sandwiches. A one-liter Coke bottle serves as a makeshift urinal.
Even nature seemed to be smiling on the endeavor, he said.
"So far I haven't had to do number two," he said late Monday afternoon.
Calvert Flu-Shot Clinics
The Calvert County Health Department is offering flu vaccination clinics for high-risk people tomorrow and next week.
Flu shots will be given to Calvert residents 65 and older from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Calvert Pines Senior Center in Prince Frederick and the Southern Community Center in Lusby. Those seeking the shots will have to show proof of their age and residency. There is a $10 fee, or Medicare Part B is accepted.
On Monday and Tuesday, there will be flu-shot clinics at the Health Department office in Prince Frederick for high-risk people ages 2 to 64. The clinics are scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. both days. There is a $10 fee for adults and no fee for children.
Those at high risk are people with serious, chronic medical conditions; women who will be pregnant during flu season; and children 18 months to 18 years old who are on therapy for a chronic long-term illness.
From noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Calvert Pines Senior Center, there will be a clinic for Calvert residents in any of the three high-risk groups -- people 65 and older, children 6 to 23 months, and people 2 to 64 with a doctor's letter or prescription.
For updates on the flu clinics, visit www.calverthealth.org or call 410-535-5400 or 301-855-1353.
Navy Commerce Effort Renewed
The Patuxent Partnership, along with the Maryland Technology Development Corp. and the Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft Division, recently announced the renewal of the Navy Aviation Technology Commercialization Initiative.
The $1.26 million initiative facilitates the transfer of technology being developed by the Navy into the commercial sector. It supports both the development of air warfare technologies for the commercial market and the development of commercial technologies to meet Navy needs. Program funding was announced by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Maryland's Democratic senators, Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski.
Applications for the support from the commercialization fund are reviewed by representatives of the Maryland Technology Development Corp., the Patuxent Partnership and the air warfare center, headquartered at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Companies and entrepreneurs can obtain more information by contacting Steve Fritz at 410-715-4166 or Martin Fairclough at 301-866-1739, or by visiting www.marylandtedco.org.
The Patuxent Partnership was formed in 1995 as a consortium of technology companies, universities and Navy representatives in Southern Maryland. The organization is involved in technology commercialization and workforce and business development.
Charles Seeks Anniversary Help
The Charles County commissioners are seeking volunteers to help plan the county's 350th birthday celebration in 2008. The only qualification for serving is "the drive to make the celebration a success," the commissioners said in an announcement.
People interested in serving on the planning committee or event committees may provide their name, address, phone number and e-mail address to the county Public Information Office, by mail to Charles County Government Building, PO Box 2150, La Plata, Md. 20646, by fax to 301-645-0580, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 19.
For more information, call Joanne Roland, director of tourism, at 301-645-0558.
Genealogy Center Opens
Hundreds of millions of names -- part of the world's largest collection of genealogical data -- are now accessible from computers at the newly opened White Plains Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Although the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is the main repository of the genealogical information the Mormon Church has collected, more than 3,500 branches of the main library -- known as Family History Centers -- have been opened around the world. At the centers, church members and others can search the records for their ancestors, according to Tanya Hughes, the church's spokeswoman in Charles County.
The Family History Center is open to the public free of charge. Researchers will have access to data found on microfiche, microfilm and the Internet.
The center is staffed by volunteers. While they don't do research for visitors, Hughes said in an announcement, the staff members will answer questions about the facility's operations, research techniques and how to use the center's resources.
The Family History Center is at 4560 Padgett Rd. in White Plains. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.