December 11, 2017
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  • What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
    What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
  • What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
    What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
  • What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
    What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
  • What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
    What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
  • What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.
    What a year it was — it seemed as if every season in Pasadena throughout 2017 brought its share of both triumphs and challenges.

It All Happened In 2017

Dylan Roche
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December 5, 2017

A Look Back At Our Top Stories Of The Year

Students, lawmakers, business owners and volunteers in Pasadena had a busy 2017. As the months rolled by and one season gave way to another, the stories kept circulating around town about hands-on community members who were making a difference. Whether it was winter, spring, summer or fall, Pasadena consistently remained a place where something exciting was happening. Let’s take a look back at some of the top moments of the year.

Winter

At the beginning of 2017, everyone was talking about the $1.16 billion operating budget and $238.6 million capital budget proposed by Dr. George Arlotto, superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. The biggest news that directly affected Pasadena was $15.27 million for the construction of a new High Point Elementary.

“It’s exciting that children will be immersed in 21st-century classrooms,” said Principal Timothy Merrit, who indicated that “it’s been a journey” to get the funding for High Point’s 1973 facility to be replaced and updated with the latest technology.

While those families celebrated, others over in Boulevard Park caused a stir when they found out a neighborhood property called “the compound” was being eyed as a location for a sober living home. “I am very passionate about recovery, and I am very passionate about helping people find a new way of life,” said Angel Traynor, the director and founder of Serenity Sistas recovery home in Annapolis, who was hoping to branch out into Pasadena. “I am also passionate about my community, being Anne Arundel County.”

Boulevard Park residents unanimously opposed the project, citing safety of their children, personal security and impact on property values as chief concerns. Although Traynor would eventually withdraw her proposal because she did not receive the necessary funding, the debate surrounding the sober living home prompted Councilman Derek Fink to draft legislation dictating the number of people residing in a home.

Over in the Deerfield and Chesterfield communities, residents were concerned to hear that Two Farms Inc. sought a zoning reclassification from residential to commercial with the plans of building a gas station at the intersection of Mountain Road and Edwin Raynor Boulevard. Doug Hollmann, administrative hearing officer for the county, ultimately rejected the rezoning request, concluding that the property is and always was meant to be zoned residential, and the residents who pushed back against the zoning change declared victory. “This was a huge win for people of any area versus development,” said Jessica Ewing from Chesterfield.

While Boulevard Park, Deerfield and Chesterfield dealt with controversy, nobody had qualms with the accomplishments that some of the local students were enjoying. Chesapeake High School extended their unmatched dominance in Maryland cheerleading, winning the program’s 11th state title by topping a field of 11 4A/3A teams in the state championship meet at Harford Community College.

The winter season also saw teams of 105 students from Northeast and 91 students from Chesapeake take part in the Cool Schools Challenge. Northeast raised $11,793 and was ranked as the seventh overall school in terms of fundraising, and Chesapeake raised $5,688, all for Special Olympics Maryland. The students capped off the fundraising effort by plunging in the chilly waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Spring

Nearly six months after the death of civic leader John Spiker, family and friends gathered at the Riviera Beach Memorial to pay homage to a local hero who dedicated more than a half-century to firefighting — including time with the Riviera Beach and Lake Shore volunteer fire departments — as well as numerous other volunteer projects.

“I cannot think of anything that man didn’t have his hands into,” said Jane Huffman, a longtime friend and fellow volunteer. “Almost every day, we uncover something John did that no one knew about. He just did it. He was that amazing.”

The month of March also saw local parents stepping up to take charge of a longstanding issue at five Pasadena schools — unpalatable drinking water affecting a collective 5,000 students and teachers at Chesapeake Bay Middle School, Chesapeake High School, Bodkin Elementary, Lake Shore Elementary and Fort Smallwood Elementary. Parents were concerned that the water coming from drinking fountains was discolored and odorous, so they petitioned to get water coolers provided in the schools.

In early April, Pasadena was abuzz with excitement as Pasadena Baseball Club and Lake Shore Baseball celebrated Opening Day with parades and games.

Off the baseball field and over at Kurtz’s Beach, local restaurateurs and the Lake Shore-Severna Park Rotary were kicking off the eighth annual Crab Soup Cook-Off, which raised scholarship funds for graduating seniors at Pasadena and Severna Park schools.

Spring concluded with big news in politics. After years of debate, the county council voted in favor of a fully elected school board. Also, County Executive Steve Schuh released a $1.5 billion Fiscal Year 2018 (FY2018) budget proposal that offered tax cuts, increased education spending and a commitment to public safety and quality-of-life endeavors.

Summer

Summer started with a bang as graduating seniors from Chesapeake and Northeast enjoyed such rites of passage as prom and graduation. The Pasadena Business Association honored a select group of prestigious graduates — along with eighth-graders and fifth-graders — with scholarships in recognition of their hard work and perseverance in the face of obstacles.

Not everything in summer was as happy and carefree as the end of the school year. Following a dog-on-dog attack in July, Councilman Derek Fink introduced Bill 59-17, known as Lilo’s Law, which aimed to allow Animal Control to “impound or destroy” vicious animals and establish a dangerous animal registry.

In July, Pasadena was sorry to say goodbye to one of its prominent figures — Joyce Clocker, matriarch of the Clocker family, which has owned Angel’s Food Market since the 1960s. “When she passed, the thing that came up over and over again is that nobody had a bad word to say about her,” said Walt Clocker, Joyce’s son who runs the store today. “She never had a bad word to say about anyone else. Anytime someone would do her wrong, she would turn the other cheek, and she never harbored ill will. She was really remarkable in that respect.”

With summer in full sway and the school year seemingly eons away, students still found ways to stay busy and active. For small children, summer 2017 was the summer of the Kindness Rocks trend, which encouraged young crafters to decorate stones with inspiring messages and uplifting designs, then hide them around town for others to find.

In late July, the Northeast High School ProStart Culinary Team, led by family and consumer sciences teacher Lenore Martin, participated in Governor Larry Hogan’s Buy Local Cookout at the Government House in Annapolis. One of only two high schools to participate, Northeast made pistachio-crusted rockfish with tomato concassé, fulfilling the event’s challenge to find creative ways of using Maryland-grown or Maryland-raised products.

Fall

As summer transitioned into fall, Recovery Anne Arundel held its second annual International Overdose Awareness Day, drawing people from all across the county to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to drug addiction. The night was a chance for those in recovery, such as Chris Pedersen, to reflect on their journey. “The power in that event is amazing. Overdose Awareness Day, Recovery Walk and Hoops for Hope are all doing great things to reduce the stigma,” said Pedersen, who now serves as director of operations at Evolve Life Centers in Pasadena. “With this event and all of the other events, we want to get active users to stop thinking that recovery is a death sentence.”

As the school year commenced, Chesapeake High School did the honors of inducting the first four members of its Wall of Honor, which memorializes outstanding alumni from throughout Chesapeake’s 40-year history. The inaugural members were Martin Bentz, Christine Calvert, Amy Eveleth and Jeff Fraley.

“The premise behind the Wall of Honor is not just what they accomplished in the time they were here but in the time since,” said Principal Steve Gorski. “Their time here lays a foundation, but after that, they can establish themselves in successful careers or their own businesses or other ventures. … I hope students will look at them and say, ‘I want to be on that wall one day.’”

A major focus of the 2017-2018 school year within the Chesapeake cluster, as determined by the principals toward the start of the school year, will be a campaign to encourage mindfulness with cellphone use. “People would be surprised to know just how much we see at the elementary level,” said Rachel Amstutz, principal of Bodkin Elementary School. “We see sexting. We’ve had kids who are cutting because someone dared them over cellphone communication. We’re seeing really mean statements and demeaning language.” Don’t Press Send will involve activities throughout the school year to educate children, teens and their parents about the harmful effects of cyberbullying.

Meanwhile, Northeast students and their parents were dealing with concerns over lack of sidewalks on Duvall Highway, which has a shoulder to one side but is absent a barrier on the other side. Children who walk to Northeast High, George Fox Middle or High Point Elementary find themselves dangerously close to traffic.

Councilman Derek Fink would like to see sidewalks added to Duvall Highway, but even though he has discussed the possibility with County Executive Steve Schuh, no change is imminent.

“We’d like to have sidewalks there. It’s a very time-consuming project because you have to get the right-of-way from homeowners,” Fink said, pointing to another sidewalk project on Pasadena Road that has been in the budget for several years. “When you do sidewalks, you’re going in six feet or five feet, and that’s property that would have to be purchased.”

Only time will tell whether sidewalks are installed along Duvall Highway, but elsewhere in Pasadena, another group of activists cheered their success in having the Maryland Department of the Environment agree to install air monitors at Riviera Beach Elementary to assess levels of sulfur dioxide downwind of the Herbert A. Wagner Generating Station on Fort Smallwood Road.

The month of October concluded with major accomplishments for many students. As in years past, Senator Bryan Simonaire encouraged young people from all over Pasadena to enter the Young Heroes essay contest. The submissions encompassed a diverse range of their authors’ peers who overcame enormous odds. “After hearing these stories by their classmates, they realize they can also make a positive impact in their school, community and family,” Simonaire said. “It is my hope that these students will now look for new opportunities to help others in our community.”

Finally, Chesapeake got the best of Northeast in Dena Bowl XLI. The Cougars deployed their running attack effectively, taking advantage of passing opportunities and turning in a suffocating defensive performance to win in a shutout, 17-0. This put Chesapeake back at 7-3 overall after a 2-8 season a year ago, and back in the playoffs for the second time in three years.

November brought the start of the holiday season ushered in by the Pasadena Business Association’s annual Caring & Sharing Community Harvest Parade, which featured 52 floats and walking units entered by businesses, nonprofit organizations, schools, sports teams and other groups. Canned goods and other nonperishable foods were collected along the route, and this year’s biggest donors were Lauer’s Supermarket & Bakery, which sold an estimated $6,000’s worth of food at cost to customers interested in donating, and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, which collected 13 large brown paper grocery bags and 10 cardboard boxes of nonperishable foods from among its congregation.

Throughout November and into December, the weather grew steadily cooler, but activities around Pasadena didn’t lose any steam. The Chesapeake girls field hockey team ended the season by winning 2-0 against C. Milton Wright in the state championship, earning their second consecutive state crown.

And finally, what would the holiday season be without the annual Pasadena Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which was held on Tuesday, December 5? (This issue of the paper went to the printer before the tree lighting, but you can check out our coverage of the festivities at www.pasadenavoice.com.)

That’s a wrap, folks — let’s hope 2018 proves to be just as exciting!


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