They said it in 2016, Part 1
As we look ahead to what 2017 will bring in Charles County, we reflect back on what happened here in 2016, reflected in quotes and pictures captured by our editorial staff during the year. This is the first of a two-part series.
“Hopefully he’ll be a running back or something. Otherwise,
I’ll call him Boomer.” James Counce III of Waldorf, talking about the birth of his son, James Counce IV, the first baby born in Charles County: Jan. 1, 2016.
“It seemed like all of the commissioners latched onto this air conditioning thing as a priority and an emergency
and that we have to do it right now. How many years has that shelter been there, for 40 years, and it hasn’t had air conditioning in the summer.”
Michelle Quig- ley, a Charles County veterinarian, referring to a joint meeting between all three Southern Mary- land boards of county commissioners addressing ongoing issues at the Tri-County Animal Shel- ter. The commissioners voted to fix the shelter’s HVAC system, but Quigley insisted other issues needed to be addressed first.
“Everywhere that I go people are in awe of my father as a man and musician. He has been someone that has been so present to the world, a living legend while he was alive and he’s certainly continuing that legendary persona after his death. It was always exciting to see my father on television and to walk the red carpet with him but as a daughter, my father was married to the music.”
Sheila Raye Charles, daughter of legendary musician Ray Charles, addressing a group at a Celebrate Recovery event at New Life Church in La Plata. Charles was there to talk about overcoming drug addiction.
“I’m angry now. My emotions, I couldn’t deal with before. Every time I would think about it or try to put it to rest. Now, my anger is energy. I want to make a change. I’m not the only person going through this. It’s not fair to the families to have to be reminded. We can never put our lives back, and just when you think you have it, then a reminder comes up every five or 10 years.”
Linda Duncan, daughter of Geraldine Williams, referring to the state of Maryland’s parole process that allows those who have been convicted of murder to receive a reduced sentence based on good behavior. Duncan was working to enact a law that would require convicted murderers to serve their full sentence and be electronically monitored upon release.
“It’s been truly amazing to finally achieve what I started so many years ago.”
Bertha Cooks, 72, upon receiving her associate’s degree from the College of Southern Maryland. Cooks first began college more than 50 years ago.
“I used only books, because things on the internet aren’t always true.”
Brandon Tip- pett, fifth grader at Potomac Heights Christian Academy, talking about the research sources he used for his award-win- ning science project.
“In real life, you don’t always get rewarded for doing the right thing; sometimes you get punished. I believe in teaching them to do the right thing because it is the right thing.”
School board member Mark Crawford, during a discussion of Positive Behavior Inter- vention and Supports [PBIS], a system of instructional supports used in Charles County Public Schools to prevent disci- plinary issues from oc- curring in the classroom by rewarding positive behavior.
“Today is not a good day, because our homeless families will have to return to the woods. But we are extremely grateful; this would not have been possible without all of the donations we received. We were able to keep them out of the weather for six days, because of people’s support. It was a blessing.”
Arline Arnold of Arnold House, discussing donations that allowed the group to temporarily house homeless individuals and families during Winter Storm Jonas, which brought more than 20 inches of snow to the region.
“That day had to happen, because sometimes, to get attention, you have to make a move. The drivers are suffering horrifically, day in and day out, under the current system.”
Keith McGirt, school bus driver, discussing a “sick out” bus drivers held Dec. 22, 2015.
“If that base were to relocate it would be devastating to our state, our county, our town.”
Sue Greer, past-chair of the Charles County Chamber of Com- merce, talking about Na- val Support Facility Indi- an Head.
“I’m not going to be a victim. I’m taking it to church, that’s why I got it.”
La Plata resident Lydia Vita on why she bought a handgun and applied for a concealed carry permit.
“Welcome to my special election,”
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) called an off-the-cuff meeting with residents of Cobb Island and asked them to vote on a bridge design for the new Cobb Island bridge.
“Our strength as a nation should be realizing what we share in common rather than emphasizing what distinguishes us.”
The Rev. Delman Coates speaking at the Charles County NAACP’s Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast about how to grow as a nation and appreciating each other’s differences.
“There is too much debate in our country about division, confrontation and exclusion. Exactly the opposite of what Dr. King wanted.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) at the NAACP’s MLK day breakfast. Hoyer talked about his interpretation of King’s ideals and how im- portant it was to vote.
“Anytime you’re looking at above 15 inches, you’re looking at a top 10 snowstorm that is affecting this area,”
NOAA Meteorologist Andrew Snyder. Snyder warned citizens in Charles County to prepare for the his- toric snowstorm that hit.
“We literally got the drone two weeks before Christmas and the pilots designed it all. The camera that is attached to the drones can pick up on bodies in the water faster than the human eye can,”
Filer said. “It was a concept that we had and we didn’t know if we could do it and these guys were able to.” John Filer, chief of emer- gency services said after Charles County EMS performed the very first drone test in Cobb Island.
“I’ve got a chance to talk with them all and heard all their stories. And it’s very touching in some instances. All they want is for you just to hear them, to hear their story. For someone to sit down and just listen to them, and just hear their hearts crying and what’s on their mind, what got them to this point. And then our job is to find out how we can better serve them and help them.”
Margaret Payne, communi- ty services manager for Lifestyles, on helping the homeless.
“Businesses, business owners and their employees are the fabric of our community. Collectively, you raise our community up and raise it forward.”
Sue Greer as she steps down as chair- woman at the Chamber of Commerce’s 60th anni- versary reception.
“He reads all the time, all the time. He knows words I’ve never heard before. He’s a smart kid, and we’re very proud of him.”
Kim Galegos, discussing her son, John Hanson Middle School student Nicholas Galegos, the winner of the Charles County Spell- ing Bee.
“This is something that should not have happened to my family. I do not want my grandson’s death to have been in vain. I want him to be remembered, and I don’t want this to happen to another family.”
Vontasha Simms, testifying before a General Assembly committee in support of HB 574, the J’Aire Lee Workgroup bill. Simms’ 3-year-old grandson died in May after his mother suffered a psy- chotic episode, pushing him in a swing outdoors for 40 hours.
“A graduation rate of 92.36 is really good, but not enough. We want all our students to graduate with a high school diploma.”
Superintendent Kimberly Hill discussing the improvement in Charles County graduation rates.
“My mom did one push, one breath, and then she can’t do it, so I came up to my mom and said, ‘I’ve got this. I just took a CPR course,’ and I started doing CPR until the police arrived.”
Keymar Green, 15, on performing CPR after his younger brother stopped breathing. Green was awarded the Civilian Life Safety Award by the Charles County Board of County Commissioners.
“I’m happier right here snorting solder.”
Waldorf resident Jim Hill of VVT Amplifiers on why he spends his time building the guitar amplifiers while his son, Daniel, runs the business.
“It isn’t like the movies, the war. GIs were as scared as anybody else. And the Germans weren’t mean. German soldiers were just the same as we were.”
Retired Army Sgt. Michael J. Bartolomeo, 99, of La Plata on his combat experience in WWII.
“I learned to look at my challenges and say, ‘You can’t beat me down, no, not today, not ever.’”
James Walls discussing his experiences as a College of Southern Maryland student with autism spectrum disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.
“It was fun. You don’t often get to hit your teacher with a pie in front of the school.”
Jamie Kost, after delivering a pie to the face of English teacher Christina Burroughs as part of a school fundraising event.
“There’s a dearth of black male role models for students in the schools, and I hope this event will help change that.” Janice Wilson, president of the Charles County NAACP, which organized its first Read Across Charles County event in cooperation with the school system.
“The children don’t even realize they are learning, they think it is just play. That’s our job as educators, to take the instruction and make it fun.”
The Goddard School owner Akhil Govil during an open house at the school.
“It keeps the farm in the family and the family in the
Cindy Bliss on turning a tobacco barn on her family’s La Plata farm into a wedding and event venue, Bliss in the Barn.
“I don’t want to rain on that parade, but it is totally being driven by income taxes.”
David Eicholtz, county direc- tor of fiscal and administrative services. Eicholtz was discussing the county’s surplus and how it was coming from income taxes, which is abnormal. He expected a drop, but the county remained in the black.
“It’s not my expectation as the board of county commissioners to tell the health department what requirement would need to be in place.”
County Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D) when discussing the county’s pending food truck zoning text amendment. Stewart and Com- missioner Debra Davis (D) got into a disagreement when discussing the role the commission- ers would play.
“I feel as though there is a loophole in the process that isn’t serving our constituents or us.”
Commissioners’ Vice President Debra Da- vis (D) taking issue with the changes the General Assembly made to county legislative requests say- ing the results were not what citizens asked for.
“I think the intentions were good, but it didn’t work. Not saying that economic development won’t happen in the county, but there are other spaces where employment is available.”
Planning com- mission member Nancy Schertler talking about the Indian Head Tech Park.
“You all use it. It is in pretty sad, sad shape.”
Del. Sally Jameson (D-Charles) said in reference to the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memori- al Bridge at a legislative breakfast at Middleton Hall.
“These things will make kids nuts in a heartbeat. Not only nuts, but violent nuts.”
DeForest Rathbone, mem- ber of Parents Affected by Addiction, when talking about medical cannabis. The county approved a zoning text amendment permitting medicinal cannabis cultivation, processing and distribution weeks later.
“In essence, you sacrificed twice. You sacrificed with your service to our nation and you sacrificed when you came home. I’m glad that all these years later, all of you who did serve are finally being recognized.”
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) speaking at a Vietnam veterans wel- come home ceremony.
“His eyes were clear, wings were fine, and we took him up on top of a little hill and released him, and he flew into the woods.”
Shannon Edwards, Gentle Hands Animal Rescue, on rescuing a bald eagle found tangled on a farm.
“Jimmy Carter loved woodworking. I’m in there working, doing little odds and ends … and the President came down … and he said, ‘This is great, man. I’ll tell you what, you go upstairs and sit at my desk, and I’ll work down here.’”
Bill Hester, a museum exhibit designer for the Department of Veteran Affairs, on his experience as a cabinetmaker at the White House.
“What’s wrong with hearing the public? That is what democracy is all about. Are they willing to debate with us?”
Ben Afroilan, a South Hampton resident, ex- pressing his grievances with the planning com- mission over a lack of public hearing before a new subdivision being built nearby was approved.
“The data is good and we don’t mind providing the data. But a lot of those offices do not carry the weight of the office I have been elected to.”
Sheriff Troy Berry (D) when asked to compare the duties and needs of his staff to other county organizations.
“Some of them just like to feel the wind on the face and the feet thumping behind them. That’s the moment we’re all here for.”
John Sprague, a member of Athletes Serving Athletes, describing the feeling of helping with special needs run in 5k and 10k marathons.
“Just talking to other people, it seems like the county didn’t know anything about it. It seems that there’s a possibility, with the way the system works, is that you don’t necessarily have to let the people know.”
Joe Sobnosky, head of the Pinefield Civ- ic Association, satisfied a heavy haul through the neighborhood was prevented, but still disappointed in the process.
“We do not appreciate being treated as common criminals, like we are neglecting our children, because nothing could be further from the truth. We have every right under the law to homeschool our children.”
Sarah McMillan, homeschool parent, on changes to the homeschool review process.
“I was shocked. I thought we were on our way to a meeting, and so I was really focused on that meeting, and wow. I was really surprised. They got me good.”
St. Mary’s School (Bryantown) teacher Tri- cia Morrison, on the sur- prise announcement that she was named one of the Archdiocese of Washing- ton’s Golden Apple Award winners.
“He was just an amazing kid. One of the biggest things about James was he always gave to others. He was growing
his hair out so he could donate it to Locks of Love.”
Melissa Carpenter, fifth grade teacher at William B. Wade Elementary School, describing student James Maples, 10, who was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street in a crosswalk in April.
“At the age when most people wanted to play with dolls, I wanted to play ‘school,’ and I had to be the teacher.”
Sonia Blue Jones, principal at Mattawoman Middle School and Charles County’s 2016 Principal of the Year.
“I learned his daughter died of a brain tumor and they left poop on the moon.”
Anthony Duncan, 9, student at Dr. Samuel Mudd Elementary School, when asked if he learned any surprising facts while researching the life of NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong for a “Living History” presentation.
“The dogs have some medical issues but are overall relatively healthy. None had been vaccinated and there were no medical records, none were spayed and neutered, and there’s a lot of dental disease. We tended to the immediate needs right away such as the
runny eyes, upper respiratory [issues], shaving them because you can see how badly their fur was matted with dog and chicken feces. The skin of the dogs was inflamed under- neath and there were also lesions on their paws from walking around on the feces for so long so we gave them manicures and pedicures.”
Cindy Sharpley, Last Chance Animal Rescue director, after volunteers brought 50 of 300 seized Pomeranian dogs from Wicomico County to its
“I truly appreciate the student who asked why the Jews were picked on for so many years. That was an important question because the Holocaust didn’t just happen overnight and her question showed that the students really got my message about never again allowing discrimination to prevail.”
Holocaust survivor and retired NASA engineer Peter Gorog after speaking with students at a Holocaust remembrance event at the College of Southern Maryland.
“They’re just extremely grateful that God put me there at the right place, at the right time. I still have to pinch myself; I can’t believe I did all that. I don’t have any paramedic training or anything. I kind of giggled and told my husband, ‘I guess all those survival shows I watch paid off.’
Angel Nelson, 34, of Indian Head who used a belt as a tourniquet to help save a man’s life after he accidentally shot himself in the leg in a Dollar Store parking lot.
“Ryan is very loving. He loves to hug people. He doesn’t have any stranger-anxiety. He might not know you, but he’ll grab you and squeeze you, hug you and kiss you.”
Michael DePaulo, school resource officer at La Plata High School, on his son Ryan, 6, who was one of about 150 documented cases worldwide when he was diagnosed with Pitts-Hopkins syndrome.
“This is not just my cultural and traditional clothing, it is also my religious clothing. Denying me the right to wear this is denying my religious freedom.”
Dylan McCabe, a North Point High School graduate, who successfully appealed a school administration decision to not allow her to wear her ceremonial Navajo attire at graduation.
“My parents say that my first day home from kindergarten, I was talking about school and said that I wanted to be a teacher.”
Jillian Durr, third grade teacher at Dr. James Craik Elementary School, who was named Charles County’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.
“It really made me realize that everyone can program, and not just smart people like Albert Einstein.”
St. Charles High School student Robert Smith, during a talk on the integration of comput- er science into the school curriculum.
“I’ve been in the legislature for 22 years now and I see more problems in Maryland and Southern Maryland than any other time. We need young people working on these problems.”
Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles) speaking at the College of Southern Maryland’s Social Entrepreneurship Challenge award presentation.
“Food trucks do have some of the same things restaurants have. People love food trucks. And for those who have never experienced them, get out and check them out. Give us a shot.”
Chef Lawrence Cheeks making a case for food trucks in Charles County. The commissioners later approved per- mitting process for food trucks.
“Charles County is developing too rapidly for me. One day I’m driving and saying ‘Wow, they cut down a tree.’ The next day I’m driving and saying ‘There’s something already built.’”
Takako Mato on how rapidly Charles County develops from day to day.
“I feel I have the luxury of not having a gun ... It’s right at the bottom of my list of things I need to worry more about. I worry more about a knife, a dog. Trust me, I’ve been chased out of gardens before, and it’s not too much fun when you’re going over a fence.”
Det. Constable Antony Harlow of Cambridgeshire, England, who visited the sheriff’s office with other constables.
“When you have 10 kids, you’re going to have descendants.”
Lincoln assassination historian James Taylor quipping about Thomas Jones having descendants in Southern Maryland.
“If you’re blaming a food truck for your demise, I think you were probably tanking anyway.”
Planning Commissioner Angela Sherard talking about food truck detractors blaming their failing restaurants on food trucks.
“We don’t talk, and that’s problematic. Maybe they do communicate. Maybe I’m just the one being left out.”
Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles) talking about the state of affairs between the Charles County delegation and himself after he was not elected chairman.
“I feel like students have so many ideas, they just don’t know who to tell, and they’re not outspoken. I’m outspoken, and I like for my voice to be heard.”
Da’Juon Washington, student school board member.
“I chose to shave my head so I can help people who don’t have the choice to shave their heads, and to make a difference. Maddie Grace Warrior Princess was a very close friend of mine … and so this is for her as well.”
Kaden Robinson, 11, discussing why he had his head shaved at the “Bald for a Cause Southern Maryland” event, which raises money for childhood cancer research. Madison “Warrior Princess” Major, 10, died in 2015 following several bouts of leukemia.
“When you open up that door of the opposite sex in the bathroom, it opens up all doors.”
Crista Fawls discussing the school system’s policy of allowing transgender students to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity.
“I feel his spirit is very alive here today. I know in my heart that here is where it belongs.”
Judy Ressallat, the niece of fallen WWII hero Capt. Joseph “Ron” DeRonima Jameson, of Bryansroad as she presents his purple heart to his namesake American Legion, Post 238.
“The kids that need to be reached the most, are often the hardest to get to. Never miss the opportunity to impart some wisdom.”
State’s Attorney Anthony Covington (D) at a NAACP town hall meeting focused on preventing youth from entering the criminal justice system.
“This one we’re especially proud of. Darin embodies the finest qualities that we want from our law enforcement officers.”
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) as he awards sheriff’s office deputy Pfc. Darin Hemn the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for saving the life of a 10-day-old girl who was choking on a chunk of baby formula.
Archbishop Neale School Principal Linda Bourne gives English teacher Christina Burroughs a second helping of pie (in the face), along with National Junior Honor Society President Jamie Kost and social studies teacher Chris Thomas. Burroughs was voted the teacher students would most like to see get hit with a pie in the face as part of the school’s fundraiser for Christian Relief Services.
The Lancaster neighborhood in Waldorf covered in a blanket of snow after Snowzilla in early 2016.
On Saturday, during a Vietnam veteran welcome home service for Vietnam War veterans at the Maryland Veterans Museum in Bel Alton, Charles Williams, an army officer during the Vietnam War period, receives a medal from Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson.
On Saturday, April 9, Jack Sprague, center, and his team of wingmen, including, his father, John Sprague, right, finish their 10 mile run despite the snow as part of the St. Charles Running Festival.
On Saturday, Farming 4 Hunger’s first ever Volunteer of the Year Award recipient Rico Nelson, left, Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Farming 4 Hunger founder Bernie Fowler Jr. and Stephen T. Moyer, secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, discuss the issue of hunger in Southern Maryland at Serenity Farm Inc. in Benedict.
Maryland Championship Wrestling member Bruiser greets the Regency Furniture Stadium crowd before his match against The King Saturday evening in Waldorf. The event was the first time the Blue Crabs stadium hosted a pro wrestling event, and featured former WWE superstars Billy Gunn and X-Pac.
Monique Pierre, a Calvert County resident, gets a hug during the second annual Tri-County Memory Walk on Saturday as she remembered her fiancee, Douglas Beazley, who died from a drug overdose on June 17, 2015.
Emergency responders survey the damage after a white pickup crashed through the wall of Korner Liquors in Waldorf Monday morning.
College of Southern Maryland graduate Sarah Boltz of Charlotte Hall is greeted by her 3-year-old daughter, Kylie Boltz, before the start of commencement exercises.