Area gardeners cope with beetles, beetles everywhere

When Devra Boesch nears a peach tree in her yard, she notices some unusual sounds.

‘‘When I walk under the tree, I hear crunching and humming,” said Boesch, a master gardener in Middletown.

The sounds are coming not from the tree itself but from the legions of Japanese beetles covering it.

Boesch’s tree is not alone when it comes to the infestation of the metallic green and copper­colored bugs. The population of Japanese beetles in the area this summer is extremely high, experts say.

One theory for their high number is the use of Milky Spore. Years ago, a product using this naturally occurring bacteria was used to help prevent Japanese beetle infestation. Milky Spore was commercialized about ¹0 to ¹5 years ago in this area, said Nancy Adamson, a Maryland Cooperative Extension home horticulture expert.

But the Milky Spore product has a life expectancy and its ability to work fades over the years, Boesch said.

It needs to be replenished about every ¹0 years, Adamson added. So people might need to reapply it now.

The weather conditions last summer also explain the large number of Japanese beetles.

For white grubs, the larvae of Japanese beetles, to survive, moisture is necessary in the ground around the time the eggs are laid, explained Stanton Gill, the regional extension specialist in nursery and greenhouse management in central Maryland.

‘‘Last year there were record amounts of rain during the egg­laying period,” Gill said. The increased moisture helped a large number of grubs live.

Additionally, increased development in the Frederick area has augmented the number of beetles. Farm fields are being turned into lawns, giving the grubs places to mature, Gill said. Also, the grubs gain food sources from the landscaping added to the new communities.

‘‘Older communities, in general, have less [beetles],” said Steve Dubik, the Maryland Cooperative Extension horticulture consultant for Montgomery County.

Natural defenses against the beetles grow over time. Areas develop predators that consume the beetle larvae, and the soil builds up defenses. The new turf in the developments does not have these defenses and thus has a higher beetle population.

While buried underground, where they develop throughout the year, the larvae cause damage by ingesting the roots of plants and grass.

The adult beetles feed off the foliage of hundreds of plant species and fruits and consume en masse. The beetles come out at once, but some ‘‘act like scouts,” Adamson said.

Once a beetle finds a good food source, it sends out a pheromone, or chemical, to others to bring them to the area. The beetles devour the food source until it is completely ‘‘skeletonized.”

When trying to control beetles, it is more effective to try ‘‘to control the larvae in the lawn,” as opposed to the adult beetles, Gill said.

Milky Spore is one natural defense useful in controlling grubs, Dubik said. The product destroys the grubs while they mature.

The beetles will be laying their eggs for the next few weeks, so treatments should be effective until mid­September.

Japanese beetle traps are generally used to control the adult beetle population. The traps are designed to attract beetles. If placed properly, away from plants where they will become sidetracked, and emptied regularly, explained Gill, the traps can be useful. But the traps do attract beetles other than those already in a yard.

Otherwise, beetles on easily accessible plants can be hand­picked.

‘‘Just knock them into a jar or can half­filled with soapy water,” Boesch directed.

Overall, these four experts agree that controlling Japanese beetles in their white grub stage is the best method of treatment. They also agree that with the recent wet weather, residents in the area should expect large numbers of the beetles again next summer.


Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, August 4, 2005

Dozens of marbles champs heading to Middletown

U.S. championships set at local park this weekend

People from across the country are vacationing in Frederick County to practice for the ¹¹th annual U.S. Marbles Championship, scheduled for this weekend at the Middletown park.

The championship draws competitors from around the United States. And while anyone of any age is welcome to participate, the competition is top­level.

‘‘It is not a beginner’s tournament,” said Jeff Kimmell of Frederick, the tournament director.

Around 40 of the best marbles players in the country are competing in this event, and among those, around 30 are former national marbles champions, Kimmell said.

This is a challenging sport, and there is an art to it, he said. Players must hit a marble with a diameter of just 5⁄8 of an inch — a feat that takes much focus and concentration.

‘‘It’s like playing pool with your thumb,” Kimmell said.

But because it is so precise and difficult, it’s pretty amazing to watch and to do, he added.

The players have to deal with backspin and sidespin, among other things. It takes years of practice or playing to become good.

‘‘It’s a tough game to learn how to shoot,” said Jess Kimmell, Jeff’s father and a participant in the competition.

The age of the participants varies greatly. While the U.S. Marbles Association sanctions both the U.S. Marbles Championship and the National Marbles Tournament, the National Marbles Tournament features only players ages 8 to ¹4. The U.S. Marbles Championship is for those older than ¹4 — including adults — or those under that age who are national tournament champions, said Debra Stanley­Lupic of Reading, Pa., winner of numerous marbles competitions.

The players are separated into male and female divisions.

Each player practices differently to prepare for the event. Jeff Kimmell started training in mid­June, playing for a few hours a day. Others concentrate on the shots that are the most difficult for them.

‘‘But the people in this championship are already top­level shooters, most with five to 20 years of experience,” Jeff Kimmell said. ‘‘It doesn’t take them as long to fine­tune their game.”

The game of choice at this event is a variation of the game Ringer. In the game, the first player to knock seven of ¹3 marbles out of a ring wins.

In the U.S. Marbles Championship, several innings of Ringer are played, so that the first player to knock 50 marbles out of the ring wins.

A normal game of marbles can take three minutes, while one game in the championship could take 30 to 45, Stanley­Lupic said.

Jeff Kimmell has been trying to encourage the growth of the game. He has petitioned that marbles be made an Olympic sport. He also is a marbles coach who is teaching a class at the Frederick County YMCA and hopes that many new people will become interested in the sport.

Marbles is really starting to grow as a sport, Jess Kimmell said. There is a lot of talent. ‘‘Next year, hopefully the tournament will be bigger and better.”


Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, August 4, 2005

City residents bond at special ’70s night

Brunswick was busy Saturday night. Not only was there a concert by a local band, but also a ¹970s family dance night at the volunteer ambulance company.

Some participants dressed in ’70s attire — tie­dyed clothes or peasant shirts and jeans — and danced to hits from Aretha Franklin, the Village People and the Bee Gees. Others sat in folding chairs or chatted in the warm air.

The goals of the evening were threefold, said Beth Johnson, one of the event’s organizers.

First, organizers wanted to unite the community and encourage people to come into the Brunswick town center. As part of the city’s ongoing coordinated efforts, the business owners wanted to increase business and bring more life into the town.

It is an activity to ‘‘meet and greet other people,” said Nelson Smith, the assistant chief of the Brunswick Ambulance Company.

The second goal of the event was to recruit ambulance volunteers.

The company needs more emergency medical technicians. They used the time and location of the ’70s family night to hand out educational packets on fire safety and EMT training, as well as to recruit new people to volunteer, said Clair Ebersole, president of the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance Company.

The third reason for the affair was to gain money for the local Shafer family.

The Shafers wanted to raise money to buy Zachary Shafer, a young autistic boy, a wrist transmitter bracelet. This would help his family keep track of him and keep him safe.

The bracelet, a tracking device and receiver, costs $¹,500. The money was to be raised through donations, Johnson said.

Any money raised over that amount was to go to the Park Heights Cemetery, a local cemetery in need of care, Smith said. The cemetery is in need of maintenance and repair, as it has been neglected in recent years.

The event raised around $770, not including donations sent directly to Care Trak for the bracelet, and Johnson is still receiving calls regarding additional donations.

Smith said the July 29 death of Johann Von Ballmoos, an autistic 9­year­old boy in Frederick, helped draw attention to the cause. The child had wandered from his home and was found dead a few hours later, submersed in a neighbor’s swimming pool.

Though Saturday’s event was planned at least a month ago, it was unfortunate that the boy’s death coincided with this event, Smith said.

However, that incident effectively illustrated the dangers to autistic children.

The turnout for the event was not high, less than 50 people, but early on in the evening Johnson said, ‘‘There are already more [people] than I thought would come.”

Geri Reynolds, Brunswick’s recreation coordinator, said organizers plan to hold similar events the fourth Saturday of every month.

‘‘We’re trying to raise money, raise awareness and to have a good time,” Johnson said.

Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, August 4, 2005

New program offers prescription help to uninsured

A new program being launched in Frederick today is designed to help those with no or little insurance obtain prescription drug coverage.

Community Health Charities of Maryland has joined with Partnership for Prescription Assistance Maryland to open the Maryland chapter of the program in Frederick.

A similar chapter was opened last week in Baltimore.

‘‘Over the next year, chapters will be established in all 50 states,” said Patricia Vido, the marketing and development manager for Communities Health Charities of Maryland.

‘‘Community Health Charities of Maryland is the state’s largest federation of health-related agencies,” Vido said. There are 92 statewide, regional and national member agencies, including businesses, health programs and educational outreach programs.

CHC is a nonprofit umbrella organization for a number of health charities, said Frank Howard, the director of partner development for Partnership for Prescription Assistance — PPARx — Maryland. It provides health education and services to the public.

The organization brings together various groups involved in healthcare, patient care and community outreach.

These groups work in cooperation to provide access to both private and public assistance programs for those who are uninsured or underinsured, Howard said.

In Maryland, 500,000 people — or 1 in 10 people who are not seniors — do not have insurance, Howard said. In order to get medicine, people use state or other programs. But PPARx is free and is deeply discounted.

The program helps participants enroll in assistance programs, access medicines for free or at a low cost and learn how to contact government programs for which they may qualify.

Advances in medications mean that people are living longer, Howard said. People will take medicines instead of dealing with surgeries and recoveries.

‘‘We know the value of good health and the importance of medications in saving lives and curing or lessening the impact of acute and chronic illnesses,” said Wayne Harrell, president and chief executive officer of Community Health Charities of Maryland. ‘‘Sadly, we also know the enormous difficulties faced by some families and individuals in obtaining these medications.”

Many people can benefit from this program, depending on factors such as age and income. The criteria for being underinsured vary and fluctuate based on the individual.

It takes 15 minutes for applicants to find out if they qualify by answering questions, found by either calling in or going to the organization’s Web site, Howard said. Of those who contact the agency, 68 percent ‘‘are assessed as qualifying for one or more assistance programs.”

Howard encourages people to spread the word about the PPARx program, because one never knows who might need prescription medicines and aid to get those medicines. ‘‘The more we get the word out, the more we can help people in need.”

For any questions about the program itself or guidelines to qualify for assistance, visit the Web site or call 1-888-477-2669.


Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, August 18, 2005

Coalition plans public forums to spotlight city election issues

Various groups have formed a coalition to discuss issues affecting Frederick today — issues that group members feel should be addressed by the city’s next mayor.

The Frederick City 2005 Candidate Forum Coalition plans forums that will discuss issues including voter registration, homelessness and many other topics, coalition members said in an Aug. 11 press conference announcing the group. The forums will be open to the public.

‘‘We are not here because we want to endorse any political party or any candidate for the upcoming election,” said Guy Djoken, Frederick County NAACP president and chair of the Candidate Forum Coalition. ‘‘We are just trying to find a channel by which our constituents will be able to address some of the issues that are very serious to us.”

The Rev. Brian Scott, executive director of the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, named a number of topics.

‘‘Some of the issues that clients that knock on our doors each day are facing are portable housing, health care, access to various services, equal opportunities for all,” Scott said.

The voter forum is a nonprofit organization made of groups including the NAACP, fraternity Omega Psi Phi, the Religious Coalition and the Interfaith Housing Alliance.

One of the coalition’s goals is to bring in a diverse group of people to discuss issues that affect people from the entire spectrum of the community.

‘‘Nobody has all the answers, but we must unite and work together” in order to gain a better understanding of what can be done to help solve the issues, Djoken said.

‘‘As a nonprofit agency, we want to be as inclusive as possible and encourage as many people to come out,” Scott said. ‘‘And the purpose of the forum is to listen and have the candidates have the opportunity to share their concerns about pressing issues in the community.”

James Upchurch, president of Interfaith Housing Alliance, said the forums would also enable candidates to express their viewpoints.

‘‘We think it’s important that we have this dialogue and that the forum give an opportunity for our constituents to understand where the candidates are on these issues,” Upchurch said. ‘‘We want to have the public be able to come forward on these issues and others and simply hear from our prospective leaders. How are you going to recognize this problem? How are we going to have a city with more equity and justice in the future?”

Marcus Williams, social action committee chair for Omega Psi Phi, said the coalition is intended to increase voters’ communication.

‘‘What this is all about is we need to start talking to each other,” he said. ‘‘We don’t communicate. More of us need to join in the conversation.”

Though the coalition hopes to become a long-term operation with different missions over time, its current goal is to get through the City of Frederick election, scheduled for Nov. 1.
‘‘This is just the beginning,” Djoken said. ‘‘And I really hope the coalition we are forming is going to really succeed and help the community.”

Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, August 18, 2005

Montessori school to open late

A delay in inspections at Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School’s new building means that instead of starting classes today, as other schools in Frederick County will, the school will open a few days later.

The school moved from Monocacy Boulevard to Dill Avenue during the summer, said Marita Stup Loose, communications specialist with Frederick County Public Schools, but the new facility is not yet ready for students.

The delay is due to routine inspections, said Stacey Miller, a parent volunteer and facility project manager for the school. A new sprinkler system had to be installed on the first floor of the building, and a new fire alarm system was installed throughout the building. These systems have been tested throughout the week.

The school had to push back its final inspection until Friday, and if everything goes well with the inspections for the use and occupancy permits, the school will open on Monday, Miller said.

Monocacy Valley is the first charter school in Maryland. It opened in August 2002.

Students from anywhere in Frederick County may attend, but no public transportation is provided to the school.

Monocacy Valley holds nearly 250 students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. The school uses the Montessori style of education — classes include students of various ages and include a lot of hands-on activities.

The students are held to the same achievement standards as all other public school students, Loose said, but it is a semi-independent school, with its own governing body.

Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, August 25, 2005

Group focuses on youth

Youths in the Frederick area had a chance to experience duckpin bowling, munch on pizza, laugh with others their age and take home donated school supplies during a back-to-school night at Frederick’s Village Lanes Bowling Alley Friday.

The event was organized by members of the FOCUS (Foreseeing Others’ Concerns, Understanding Situations) Foundation. The informal organization was started by a group of men who wanted ‘‘to do different things, mainly for the youth,” said Rob Bowins, FOCUS Foundation treasurer and the organizer of Friday’s event.

‘‘The night is about bowling, pizza, fun and fellowship,” Bowins said.

Children ranging in age from 5 to 18 were among those bowling duckpins that night. Many people came with their families, and most knew each other through church groups.

The mission of the FOCUS Foundation is to give back to the community. The organization takes donations and is sponsored, in part, by church groups, so that it can have events such as the bowling night.

The organization is open to all people. However, so far it has expanded mostly through word of mouth, and the outreach is limited, Bowins said.

This is the third year that the group has done the bowling back-to-school night. Each year, at the end of the two hours allotted for bowling and eating pizza, the FOCUS Foundation hands out school supplies, including pencils, folders, dividers and binders.

Bowins said though the group has been in existence for more than four years, the first few years were a growing process. The group now holds events three to four times a year, including summer events, such as a golf outing. ‘‘We’re always looking for different ideas and groups to assist,” Bowins said.

The FOCUS Foundation recently started working with the Big Brothers⁄Big Sisters of Frederick County, in the hopes of mentoring children on the agency’s waiting list. The members are also hoping to hold a basketball clinic in October.

‘‘It’s a great thing they’re having for the kids. To get them out there together, give them something to do,” said Angela Fossett, a relative of a group member and a bowling participant.

About 50 people attended the bowling event, with more filtering in throughout the evening. So many children attended that the FOCUS Foundation had to order more pizzas and buy more school supplies to hand out.

Asyah West, 13, said she heard about the event through her church. She said she was having a lot of fun, and she would definitely go to another event organized by the FOCUS Foundation.

Jackie Thompson, wife of a FOCUS Foundation member, said she and other relatives attended to offer support for the organization.

‘‘It’s a really good thing they’re doing here, giving back to the community,” Thompson said.

Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, August 25, 2005

Security guard shot at Fairmount Heights nightclub

County police officer placed on leave after firing at suspects

A female security guard was shot during an early Tuesday morning altercation at a Fairmount Heights nightclub and a Prince George’s County police officer has been placed on administrative leave after firing several rounds at the suspects.

Two groups of men got into a verbal altercation shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday at the Ebony Inn, located in the 5300 block of Sheriff Road. The altercation escalated into gunfire, resulting in the shooting of a female security guard by a stray bullet to the lower part of her body, according to police.

Police are still investigating the number of people involved in the initial conflict, said Pfc. Larry Johnson, a county police spokesman. He did not know how many people were in the club.

The security guard, whose name has not been released, was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Though her current status is unknown, the injury was “not life threatening,” according to police.

Cpl. Raymond Harris, a 19-year veteran of the Prince George’s Police Department assigned to the Bureau of Patrol, was in plain clothes near the front door of the nightclub when the shots were fired. He fired several rounds from his police department-issued weapon at the suspects, but it is unknown whether the shots were effective. Harris is on administrative leave pending the investigation as required by departmental procedure.

None of the suspects have been identified. They were last seen driving a white or champagne colored late model Cadillac SUV with gunfire damage to the rear windshield heading into Washington, D.C. Police are still investigating which shots damaged the vehicle, Johnson said.

The shooting is still under investigation by the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Special Investigative Response Team. Anyone with additional information should contact the Special Investigative Response Team at 301-856-2660.

Originally published at The Gazette. Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Community takes measures to reduce pollutants in northeast branch of Anacostia River

Stormwater management tools put in place in Edmonston

Several bioretention facilities were constructed over the last three months to reduce runoff and pollutants entering the northeast branch of the Anacostia River in Edmonston.

The work was done by the University of Maryland, College Park’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership and the city of Edmonston.

Engineers Without Borders primarily works abroad, but this time the group decided to partner with the University of Maryland, College Park’s A. James Clark School of Engineering to work on a problem a little closer to home.

The Anacostia is a highly polluted river, in large part due to urban runoff, the storm water draining from cities into the river, according to the National Resources Defense Council, a not-for-profit environmental protection group. The project team, consisting of students, faculty advisers and various professionals, designed a bioretention system and implemented it in a park owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission near Edmonston’s Decatur Street, which will be the first “green,” or fully environmentally responsible, street in Maryland.

The bioretention facilities take runoff water, in this case from parking lots and roads, and naturally treat it, said Kristen Markham, 21, one of the project leaders and recent UM graduate, who is returning in the fall for graduate school. The team designed trenches where the water could travel into the 15 feet by 30 feet bioretention area. There, the storm water goes through several natural filtering systems, including several layers of soil that help the water flow quickly, gravel, rocks and plants. Each technique naturally filters out pollutants.

While the budget for the project has yet to be finalized, the total was close to $8000, Markham said. Most of the cost was covered by the $5,000 grant the team received from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Engineers Without Borders raised the remaining amount of money through fundraisers and donations to College Park’s chapter by putting on presentations for different departments at the University and corporate sponsors.

The bioretention facility is part of the “green” agenda in Edmonston. It’s “an initiative we have to do town business as sustainably as possible,” said Mayor Adam Ortiz. “To do what we do already in a better way. To be better stewards of our environment.”

Ortiz said the bioretention facility diverts storm water from the parking lot and road near the Edmonston Recreation Building into a natural filtration system.

“It’s a natural, passive way to treat runoff water that has pollutants,” Markham said. “It goes back into the river a lot cleaner than it was before.”

The students worked with Dana Minerva, executive director of the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership, to complete the project. Minerva helped the team contact people and organizations to work with on the project.

The entire project, from deciding to work with the Anacostia to its completion, took only six months, including getting approval for the project, meeting with officials, getting a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and implementing the design.

“This project is important because it shows that we can control storm water,” Minerva said. “We just need to have that great combination of idealism and practical implementation that the students showed in designing and building this bioretention project.”

“It’s a very exciting project,” Minerva said. “It is a model for others.”

Originally published at The Gazette. Thursday, June 11, 2009

Glenn Dale teen reflects on leadership roles at DeMatha

Graduate captained ‘It’s Academic’ team, organized anime convention

Determination and spirit are two things that bring many students to the culmination of their high school careers: graduation. But these traits are especially true of Kyle Jamolin, an 18-year-old who took on a major leadership role throughout his time in school before graduating from DeMatha Catholic High School on Friday.

Jamolin, of Glenn Dale, joined the anime club, for students with an interest in Japanese cartoons, during his freshman year because it was an interest of his. By his sophomore year, he was interested in participating in more activities at the Hyattsville school, including a jazz group, mock trial and quiz bowl.

“I think he did virtually everything you could do at DeMatha,” said Dr. Daniel McMahon, DeMatha’s principal.

Jamolin’s desire to become a lawyer helped him decide to join mock trial in the 2006-2007 school year, when he stood as a witness, and his team made it to the semi-finals in the 7th Judicial Circuit Mock Trial Competition.

“He has determination,” said his mother, Bea Jamolin. “He wanted to be a lawyer since he was a little boy, and that hasn’t changed.”

Jamolin is working toward this goal next year at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is planning on majoring in government and politics and pre-law.

Jamolin’s goal has been encouraged through his participation on “It’s Academic,” an academic quiz show with high school students.

“It helped me think on my feet,” Jamolin said. “It’s all about timing and coordination and teamwork.”

Over the years, Jamolin has taken on more leadership roles. Not only did he become the captain of the “It’s Academic” team but he also became the president of the anime club and attended a Global Young Leaders Conference in the summer of 2007.

“I think his biggest contribution has been his day-to-day leadership,” McMahon said. “He expanded the reach of what DeMatha does.” In his role as president of the anime club, Jamolin organized DeMaKon, an anime convention hosted by DeMatha that was held for the first time in January.

“When you think about DeMatha, you think about sports teams or music programs competing with each other,” Jamolin said. But DeMaKon was about bringing people together to experience as a group something they all like individually.

Jamolin considers the DeMaKon convention his greatest accomplishment. Other local area clubs and former members of the DeMatha club were invited to participate, and a number of panels were set up to discuss various aspects of anime.

In addition to anime, Jamolin loves other comic books, and said he has been inspired by his favorite superhero, Batman.

“He’s not like other superheroes,” Jamolin said. “He’s the most well known who doesn’t have superpowers. He trained himself to be perfect in any way.”

This diligence and self-motivation has manifested itself in Jamolin’s actions, his mother said.

“Once his mind is set, he makes sure he does things well,” said Bea Jamolin.

This is seen, and heard, in Jamolin’s experience with music. When he was just starting to play the piano at around age 7, you didn’t have to tell him to practice, he would just do it on his own, she said

In school, Jamolin played for the jazz ensemble as a keyboardist in a jazz combo, and in a jazz quintet.

“He has self-direction,” she said. “He tries his best to get what he wants, in school and anything that he dreams of.”

McMahon, the principal, found Jamolin to be one of his most memorable students. “I think that [Jamolin] will not only excel as he goes into the world,” he said. “I have a notion he’s going to travel. He has boundless energy and a real appetite for learning other cultures. He’ll get out and do something on an international scope. And whatever he does, it’ll involve drawing people together for common goals.”


Originally published at The Gazette.