Did the Grinch steal Halloween this year?

That's the question some perplexed Howard residents were asking this month as they drove past the house on Fall Moon Ride in Clarksville that has delighted passersby with its elaborately macabre Halloween displays.

Jim Beadel, whose fanciful decorations the past five years have earned his abode the nickname "Halloween House," decided this fall to skip his homage to the ghoulish holiday.

"It's just not fun anymore," said Beadel, 47, a corporate security manager.

Why does he now dread Halloween? For just one reason: the teenage vandals who in recent years tried to steal and demolish his displays.

Last October it got so bad that Beadel set up wireless motion sensors and slept in his car to catch any ne'er-do-wells.

"Why am I chasing 13-year-olds around anywhere from 11 o'clock to 4 in the morning?" he said. "It's ridiculous. Where are the parents?"

Beadel was so frustrated with unruly teens that he decided this year not to put up his tableau, which includes about 40 carefully designed skeletons dressed as poker players, football players and even a postal worker (Her name? Anne Thrax, of course). He said his family has easily spent thousands of dollars on the display over the years.

On Saturday, Beadel put up a sign in his front yard explaining that he didn't have the energy to face the vandals again.

"Everybody is disappointed. It makes us feel bad about it," he said. "But I just can't spend another month sleeping in my truck."

Quinter Changes Plans

Del. Neil F. Quinter (D-Howard) has decided not to run for a seat in the U.S. Congress and instead will seek re-election to his Maryland General Assembly position, creating a possible Democratic primary with County Council Chairman Guy Guzzone (Southeast).

Guzzone, a two-term councilman, announced last month that he will run as a Democratic candidate for the District 13 seat now held by Quinter, who had formed a campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-3rd District). Cardin is running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated when Paul S. Sarbanes (D) retires next year.

Earlier Guzzone was expected to run for county executive to succeed James N. Robey, who is leaving office because of term limits. Guzzone said the demands of caring for his elderly parents and young children prompted him to seek what he said was a less demanding job as a member of the House of Delegates.

Quinter said Tuesday that he has urged Guzzone to run for reelection to his County Council seat. A potentially contentious Democratic primary, Quinter said, "doesn't seem consistent with the prioritization of his family and bowing out of the executive race."

Guzzone said this week that he's glad Quinter understands his personal situation but added: "He's created this situation. That's where we are."

Guzzone said that he will appear on the District 13 Democratic ticket with incumbents Shane E. Pendergrass and Frank S. Turner.

County Sends Cars to Mississippi

Howard County is donating a fleet of 16 cars to law enforcement agencies in Mississippi that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

"This is the right thing to do, and I'm glad Howard County has the ability to help," Robey said in a statement. "Were the situation reversed, I'd like to think that another locality would do the same for us and our community."

The cars, Ford Crown Victorias, were identified by the county as surplus because they have all traveled more than 100,000 miles. But county officials said the cars -- most of which are 1999 models -- remain in serviceable condition and could be used for a number of years.

The county estimated that all the cars together would have sold for less than $38,000.

"The value of these vehicles to the law enforcement agencies in Mississippi and the people they serve far exceeds the minimal amount of money we could expect to gain from their sale," Robey said.

Sparky Has a New Friend

Looks like James N. Robey and Fire and Rescue Services Chief Joseph Herr have a new friend. And yesterday, he was expected to drop in at Laurel Woods Elementary School.

His name is Ready Eddie. He has sunglasses, spiky hair and large yellow sneakers, and he's the latest mascot of the Fire and Rescue department, joining Sparky the Fire Dog.

But Ready Eddie's focus will be emergency preparedness, so his school visits will likely educate students on the importance of stocking up on flashlights, water and portable radios in case of floods, snowstorms and power outages.

Preservation Society Honors Three

A retired state lawmaker, a developer and the owner of a historic home will receive preservationist-of-the year awards from Preservation Howard County. This is the fourth year the nonprofit group has recognized people for their efforts in protecting the county's heritage.

James Clark Jr., a farmer and president of the Maryland Senate in the early 1980s, was chosen for his longtime work in land preservation on the state and local levels.

Developer Lambert Cissel renovated a general store along Route 144 in Lisbon that may date to the early 19th century. Now the building at 16005 Frederick Rd. houses commercial office space.

Walnut Nursery owner Al Smith restored Longwood, the 19th-century home of Gustavus and Mary Warfield, prominent early residents of Howard. The mansion, along Route 97 in Glenwood, was open to the public this fall as the annual show house and fundraiser for Historic Ellicott City, Inc.

Skeletons playing poker are just one scene that had decorated the front of Jim Beadel's Clarksville house.Ready Eddie, right, and his boss, Howard Fire and Rescue Services Chief Joseph Herr.