Thursday, February 25, 2010

City of Bowie Warns of High Winds

The City of Bowie issued the following alert at 5:00pm today.

High winds with gusts up to 60MPH possible tonight and tomorrow.
Power outages are possible. Residents should secure lightweight items that
may become airborne in the wind, such as lawn furniture and trashcans.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seen Around Town #5

We previously posted this picture of a prank seen on Stonybrook Drive. According to an article in the Bowie Blade, someone driving by dialed 911 because they thought that there was a real emergency, and the fire department responded. If I thought that someone was really stuck in the snow like this, I think I might try to pull them out myself before dialing 911.

I stopped in at MOMs Organic Market again last Saturday, and the parking lot was packed once again. I overheard a customer say to one of the cashiers something like, "I'm so happy that you're here in Bowie!" There seems to be a lot of excitement about the new Bowie store.

I also noticed that the McDonald's building is now gone from Hilltop Plaza. The restaurant closed the location last November.

Volunteers shoveled the sidewalk along Old Chapel Road in Bowie on Saturday. Parents and some children from Whitehall Elementary School and Samuel Ogle Middle School participated.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bowie Briefs #7

Student Dies at Bowie High School
A Bowie High School football player, Jonathan Nolon, died Thursday afternoon in the school's gym after running laps. The cause of death is not yet known. Additional details can be found by following these links: Gazette/Bowie Star article, Washington Post article, Fox News article, WJLA article and WJLA video. A Facebook page called Prayers for Jonathan Nolon was created for friends to share their thoughts and memories.

Bowie Woman is Contestant on Reality Television Show
Shawne Morgan of Bowie joined with her friend Monique Pryor to compete in this season of the CBS reality TV show The Amazing Race. Additional details can be found by following these links: Washington Post article and Gazette article. The pair's bios are available on The Amazing Race Web site.

Bowie Artist Featured in Gazette Article
Bowie artist Gina Reininger was featured this week in a Gazette/Bowie Star article. Reininger prefers working with chalk pastels. The Belair Mansion, the Belair Stables and the Bowie Train Station Museum are just a few of the subjects for her many drawings, and the Old Line Bank in Glenn Dale recently purchased eight of Reininger's pastels featuring various locations in Bowie. Reininger was featured as the artist of the month at the Bowie Senior Center last November. Examples of Reininger's work, including a drawing of the Belair Mansion, can be seen by following these links: Art N Deed and the Prince George's Artists Association.

City of Bowie Estimates Latest Snow Removal Tab
The City of Bowie may pay $600,000 for the snow removal associated with the last two storms, according to Bowie City Manager David Deutsch. Additional details can be found in a Gazette/Bowie Star article. David Deutsch reported to the City Council on January 4th that $192,600 was spent on the big storm from December 19th and 20th, and he reported that $90,000 was spent on the storm from January 30th/31st. A previous attempt to procure federal funds to cover costs for the December storm failed. I imagine the City will attempt to recoup costs for the latest series of storms, although each storm may be considered a separate incident.

Bowie Training Center Auction Delayed for Fourth Time
Magna Entertainment, the current owner of the Bowie Training Center, successfully delayed the auction of Pimlico, Laurel Park and the Bowie Training Center. The auction is now scheduled for March 25th. Although the three properties are being auctioned off as a package, at least one of the bidders has no interest in keeping the Bowie Training Center. Additional details can be found in a Daily Record article.

Where in Bowie? #4 - Answer revealed

In a previous post, I asked where this picture was taken in Bowie.

This was the most challenging Where in Bowie post yet. The first three featured pictures in common locations in Bowie. This spot is a little off the beaten path for most people. As a result, Bowie Living didn't receive any guesses at all.

This Where in Bowie picture features a 1930s to 1950s era F.E. Myers well water pump located on the property of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church off Annapolis Road in Bowie. The pump sits in the woods to the right of the road leading around the church. It's more easily seen with the snow on the ground, but I first spotted it back in January before Bowie received the recent series of snowstorms.

My daughter was the only person who could correctly identify the location. I spoke with a few people who pass by the pump on a regular basis, and they never realized the pump was there.

The pump is located about 25 feet from the road.

The pump is visible just off the road leading around the church.

Another view of the road leading into the church. The top of the pump is visible over the snowbank. The Rectory can be seen on the hill to the left.

A closer look at the pump. It says:

A closer view of the Rectory.

The Chapel

A view of the historic cemetery at the church. According to the church's history page on its Web site:

Names prominent in the history of Prince George's County and the Bowie area in particular are readily found in the records of Holy Trinity Church and our cemetery: Ridgley, Lancaster, Duckett, Hall, Belt, Addison, Claggett, Lansdale, Bowie, Tasker, Darnell, Ogle, and many others.

A sign provides some of the history of the church. Mareen Duvall's well known descendants include President Barack Obama, President Harry S. Truman, Vice-President Dick Cheney and billionaire investor Warren Buffett. A future post will include more information about Mareen Duvall.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

MOMs Organic Market Now Open in Bowie

MOM's Organic Market held a grand opening last weekend for its 6th store at the Hilltop Plaza in Bowie. The crowds showed up, and parking spaces were hard to find. Click here for the related company press release, store hours and directions.

The store is stocked with packages containing all the buzzwords and phrases you would expect to see in an organic grocery store: certified organic, no preservatives, no chemical additives, gluten free, wheat free, all natural, dairy free, vegan, kosher and meatless. Popular organic brands are available including Kashi, Cascadian Farm and MOM's own brand.

MOM's sells much more than fresh organic produce. Available for sale are dairy products, bulk foods, cereals, bread, baked goods, prepared foods, chips, cookies, ice cream, frozen foods (including pizza and other entrees), pet foods (including refrigerated chicken and beef offerings), health and beauty products and household cleaning products.

The employees are super friendly, and even the store manager, Nick, helps carry bags out to customers' cars.

MOM's has a mission to "protect and restore the environment," according to a mission statement on its Web site, and the press release announcing the opening of the Bowie store includes the following details about the new location.

MOM's mission is to protect and restore the environment, and the newest store was designed with that purpose in mind. Like all MOM's markets, it is fueled by 100% wind power. It also features highly efficient closed-door coolers with L.E.D. lighting; eco-friendly counter tops crafted from renewable bamboo and sunflower hulls; and energy-saving reduced wattage lightbulbs overhead. Underfoot, the site's original terrazzino flooring has been recycled, giving it a new lease on life at MOM's.

I was on my own for dinner last night, so I decided to check out MOM's selection of prepared foods. I chose a Buffalo Wing Sandwich.

I also bought a Chick Peas Salad. I'm not sure who determined that this 7 oz salad contains 8 servings. I pigged out and ate all eight servings.

Wait a minute! Check out the inside of my Buffalo Wing Sandwich. I don't think anything inside this sandwich ever clucked! It's best not to look at the faux meat. It did taste like Buffalo Wings, and I'm sure it's more healthy.

And for dessert...

I also picked up some organic produce, including my favorite apples - Fuji.

And some of MOM's own milk...

And all the way from Skagit Valley, Washington, Fruitful O's for the kids...

6824 Race Track Road, Bowie, MD 20715

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Schools Open in Prince George's County

Schools opened in Prince George's County on Wednesday. It was the kids' first day back to school since Friday, February 5th.

Two school buses got stuck in the snow on Wednesday, including a bus bound for Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie that was delayed for 45 minutes. Read the details in this Washington Post article.

It appears that City of Bowie crews have been busy clearing snow and widening streets near the Whitehall Elementary School. This equipment was seen in action near the school in the Whitehall neighborhood.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where in Bowie? #4

The Where in Bowie posts are meant to challenge readers to identify a location in Bowie pictured in the post. I put a lot of empty space at the end of the post to keep the comments out of sight until the reader scrolls down.

Where in Bowie is this?
Click here for the answer.

No School Tuesday

Prince George's County Schools announced late this afternoon that schools will be closed again on Tuesday despite the fact that some parents received robo-calls on Sunday announcing that students were expected back on Tuesday.

The parking lots at Whitehall and Rockledge elementary schools in Bowie were finally cleared today, but the grounds still aren't in good enough shape for students to return. The sidewalks leading to Whitehall Elementary School and the path from Old Chapel Road remain covered in snow, and the sidewalk around the bus loop has only been partially cleared.

The road leading to Whitehall Elementary School (seen in the picture above) was cleared on Sunday, and the bus loop and parking lot were cleared today. Some people reported that the plows could not handle the frozen snow Sunday that had been sitting for more than a week, and a backhoe was brought in on Monday to handle the job.

Woodhaven Lane is clogged with Whitehall Elementary School car-line traffic on a good day. There's no doubt that drop-off and pick-up times will be a mess when Prince George's County Schools finally open.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Snowstorm Chronicles - More Post-Storm Scenes

More post-storm scenes from around Bowie.

Seen Sunday on Superior Lane


Crews continued to remove snow from Route 197 on Sunday near the Bowie Town Center. Most lanes on Route 197 in Bowie are now clear of snow.

Prices resumed falling at Walmart Sunday. The store closed Friday after the County declared the building unsafe due to fears that the heavy snow on the roof might cause a collapse. A crew with a crane worked to remove snow from the roof as customers shopped inside.

Workers take a break from removing snow from the Walmart roof.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Snowstorm Chronicles - The Aftermath

I gave yesterday's blog post a title of The Snowstorm Chronicles - The End. That was 50% wishful thinking on my part and 50% being afraid of going overboard on the snowstorm coverage. However, the story continues.

Most people went back to work Friday, but the roads still weren't in good shape. People had miserable commutes going to and from work. Many side streets are just wide enough for one car, and State roads continue to suffer from missing lanes and disappearing lanes. Travel on the highways is generally good, although I did get stuck in traffic Friday morning when the right lane of the Inner Loop of the Beltway in Virginia disappeared for about a mile near Route 50.

The Bowie Walmart was closed sometime Friday after the County declared the building unsafe due to possible structural problems with the roof. There were reports of the roof sagging due to the heavy snow. The store was still closed as of 1:30pm on Saturday the 13th. I overheard a rumor that the roof collapsed, but people were working inside the building Saturday afternoon, and I saw no evidence of a collapse.

The following Twitter tweets were published by Mark Brady, Public Information Officer for Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department on his Twitter page:

Friday, February 12th
  • 1:10pm: Bowie Wal-Mart evacuated while PGFD checks on a sagging roof.
  • 1:26pm: Bowie Wal-Mart is purely precautionary. No imminent danger of roof collapse. Purely precautionary.
  • 1:32pm: Bowie Wal Mart has a water leak issue - no collapse issues at this time. PGFD units are going home - shopping to resume shortly.
  • 7:16pm: Bowie and Capital Plaza Wal-Marts experience roof problems due to snow overload. Call before you go Saturday to make sure they are open
UPDATE: Walmart open on February 14th

Sign posted on one of the doors at the Bowie Walmart.

The Best Buy in Bowie remained open Saturday while a crew cleared snow from the roof.

A worker removes snow from the roof of the Best Buy in Bowie.

Route 450 West at Route 193 on Saturday morning. The right lane is not plowed.

Old Route 450 between Church Road and Route 197 on Saturday morning. The right lane is only half plowed.

Crews work to open more lanes of traffic at the intersection of Route 197, Kenhill Drive and Loudon Lane.

Traffic creeps along Route 197 South approaching Mitchellville Road due to snow clogged lanes and a malfunctioning traffic light. Drivers waiting to turn left onto Mitchellville Road weren't getting a green light Saturday afternoon.

A Prince George's County plow clears snow in the Woodmore North neighborhood Saturday morning.

A plow removes snow from the parking lot at Benjamin Tasker Middle School Friday morning. Kenilworth Elementary School and Benjamin Tasker Middle School were cleared of snow by Friday afternoon. The parking lot at Whitehall Elementary School remained snow covered Saturday morning.

The Allotta family staged this "accident scene" at their home on Stoneybrook Drive. That's Allotta fun!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Snowstorm Chronicles - The End

Although there is a chance for additional snowfall next week, we seem to be over with the big snowstorms in Bowie - for now. I hear a lot of people talk about the blizzards that hit Bowie this season, but I think technically the last storm was the only snowstorm that can be considered a blizzard. Schools have been closed all week, and the Federal government was closed for an unprecedented four days.

I can't believe that we didn't lose power during the blizzard, and I think kudos should be given to BGE and all involved in the Bowie Electric Reliability Action Plan (BERAP).

The blowing and drifting snow made it tough to take an accurate measurement of the snow from the blizzard . This measurement of 8 inches seemed to be the average.

Our street was continuously plowed throughout the last storm, and we woke up Thursday morning with a clear street.

Many residential streets in Bowie were down to bare pavement after a day in the sun. Pictured here is Woodhaven Lane.

Some residential streets in Bowie could be better. This is a picture from Kitmore Lane.

Some sections of Belair Drive could use a little more work. Birds are using this slushy puddle as a birdbath. The section between Annapolis Road and Kenhill Drive was in rough shape.

Kenhill Drive is in great shape.

Visibility at some intersections is blocked by snowbanks. Here is the view looking right on Old Chapel Road from Woodhaven Lane.

The condition of County roads in Bowie was much better from their pre-blizzard state. Old Chapel Road was down to bare pavement in most spots, with an occasional spot of snow.

State roads in Bowie seem to be down to bare pavement as well, but you still have to be careful of the disappearing lane syndrome. You can see in this photo on Route 450 East that the right lane suddenly disappears in front of the library.

I took this "baseline" shot of the picnic table in our backyard around 5:00pm Friday evening, February 5th - before the last two storms.

And here is the picture of our picnic table after the most recent storm. A total of 33.5 inches of snow fell in the six days between the the time that I took the first and last photos.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Snowstorm Chronicles - Unplowed Roads Commentary

I was listening to WTOP on my way into work this morning, and a woman from Bowie's Sherwood Manor neighborhood called in. She said that her neighborhood streets had still not been plowed as of Tuesday morning, and she had to walk through high snow to get out to meet a friend. She contacted the City of Bowie about the condition of her street, and the City "pointed the finger" at Prince George's County. She called the County, and a rude person on the other end of the phone hung up on her. She felt frustrated and helpless. It had been about 65 hours since the snow stopped falling in Bowie, and her street was still not plowed.

I felt bad for the caller, but I was confused by the negative tone that she took regarding the response by the City of Bowie. Sherwood Manor is not within the City of Bowie municipal limits. The residents do not vote in City of Bowie elections, and they do not pay the extra taxes that City of Bowie residents pay for City of Bowie services. Although the caller implied that the City was shirking a responsibility, the City properly informed the woman that Prince George's County is responsible for clearing the snow from her street. I'm not sure what else she expected the City to do.

The City published an alert on its Web site Monday morning that included the following text:

Plowing services are only provided to those residents who live within the municipal limits of Bowie. Neighborhoods such as Fairwood, Camelot and Sherwood Manor are not in the City limits. Your services are provided by Prince George's County. You can reach them at 301-350-0500 or email

A short time later, WTOP followed up that story by interviewing Susan Hubbard, the Public Information Officer for the Prince George's County Department of Public Works and Transportation. I was really turned off by the interview, and I thought it was a terrible public relations effort.

Local government must practice a delicate balancing act during weather emergencies. The reality is that there may be thousands of "squeaky wheels" wanting to be greased, but operations can't be redirected every time a citizen calls with a complaint or a request. On the other hand, feedback from the public must be taken seriously, and the people need to know that the government respects them and is working toward a resolution to their problems.

By coming on WTOP, Hubbard's goals should have been to show that she understood the issues facing the snowbound residents, set expectations for when roads would be cleared and provide some transparency into the effort the County is making to clear the streets so that the public could be assured that progress was being made. It was an opportunity for her to reach out to some Prince George's County residents and to possibly reduce the call volume on the Department of Public Works and Transportation hotline.

One of the WTOP interviewer first asked Hubbard how Prince George's County's snow removal efforts were coming along. She replied that the crews were doing a "phenomenal job". If her goal was to connect with the people who couldn't get out of their driveways and people that were concerned about the treacherous conditions on Race Track Road, phenomenal was not the word to use. It is true that the snowplowing crews should be given praise for their long hours and huge efforts, but I thought Hubbard lost credibility with the people that knew that the driving condition on the County roads truly sucked.

Later in the interview, Hubbard said that there is no need to let the County know about streets that aren't plowed. She said that the County already knows which streets are plowed and which streets aren't plowed. In other words, please stop bothering the County with your calls. I suppose it's impossible for the over-tired plow operators to lose track or make a mistake. Contrast Hubbard's statement with the following excerpt from a City of Bowie alert released last Sunday.

Throughout the storm we have had city officials out assessing the progress and directing crews to problem areas or to streets that have not seen a plow since Friday night. We will continue to do that, but you can help us by letting us know of areas that have not been plowed.

Please email You can just put your street name and "not plowed" in the subject line. Feel free to add other details in the body of the message.

Given the record amounts of snow that fell from the sky in Bowie and Prince George's County over the last week, it's reasonable to expect that the road conditions will be bad until at least next week. It's also reasonable to expect local government that works with you.

Old Chapel Road on Tuesday morning. The snow cover left by the plows has been packed down by traffic. It's extremely bumpy, and traffic is forced to go slow.

The Snowstorm Chronicles - Overlapping Storms

Snow storms have a life cycle that goes something like this

  • The forecast
  • The hype
  • The mad rush to the grocery store
  • The snow
  • The canceled plans
  • The clean-up
  • The fun
  • Reminiscing
The life cycle for the last storm is not yet over. Schools are still canceled, some of the roads in Bowie are a terrible mess and kids are sledding and digging snow tunnels.

The storm life cycle for the next storm is already underway. We heard about the new storm before the snow stopped falling on the last storm, and people can't talk about the old storm without mentioning the expected snowfall for the new storm. The forecast calls for 10 to 20 inches of new snow, and the heaviest snow is expected to fall in Maryland's Interstate 95 corridor. Winds are expected to be heavier in the new storm than they were last weekend. Power outages are also anticipated.

The mad rush to the grocery stores has started as well. The shelves are bare because products have not yet been replenished from last week's run on the grocery stores, and people are now stocking up on supplies in anticipation of the new storm.

We stopped by to pick up a few items from the Market Place Safeway tonight.

The Produce Department - no broccoli, among other items.

Running low on milk.

Not many eggs left

Not much meat, unless...

...unless you like Smoked Turkey Necks (left) or Pigs Feet (right). You better hurry. They only have one left of each!