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It was a long, strange year according to Tim

December 31, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

January

Jan. 1 - Keeping with a tradition that dates back to the discovery of clinically defined insanity, 150 people dive into the Potomac River in the annual Humane Society Polar Bear Plunge.

Jan. 5 - After automated deer checking proves to be harmful to business for the mom-and-pop groceries that formerly served as checking stations during hunting season, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces the stores will be encouraged to host "big deer contests."

Jan. 7 - Washington County lawmakers meet with the public to assure everyone that people's issues, not politics, will be the driving force in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly's 2006 session. One of those issues will be concerns about staffing levels at Maryland prisons, which correctional officers say have dropped to unsafe levels.

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· A drunken brawl breaks out at a South County grocery after a hard-of-hearing mom and pop thought the DNR said it was supposed to host a "big beer contest."

Jan. 10 - In keeping with the mantra of putting the people ahead of politics, Maryland Senate President Mike Miller opens the 2006 legislative session by declaring "Independence Day" from Republican tyranny, promising an override of Republican vetoes and threatening to whip any Republican from Leonardtown to Hagerstown, after which "we're gonna be singing 'Happy Days Are Here Again.'"

Jan 13 - Maryland physicians meet in Annapolis to discuss their agenda, which includes limits on medical malpractice suits, tort reform and sedatives for Senate President Mike Miller.

Jan. 15 - Addressing the concerns of correctional officers, Gov. Robert Ehrlich announces generous salary increases for the Division of Correction's estimated four remaining prison guards.

· The serious, consequential election year heats up with the announced Senate candidacy of Daniel Vovak, who dubs himself "The Wig Man" because he campaigns wearing a white, Founding Fathers' style hairpiece.

Jan. 18 - In Annapolis, a bill to legalize slot machine gambling is submitted for the fourth year running.

The official name of the slots bill: The "Public Education & Bridge to Excellence School Construction Act."

Jan. 21- A 71-year-old Martinsburg, W.Va., woman with the alias "Grandmom" is arrested on charges of attempting to sell crack cocaine.

· The Maryland General Assembly files a "Horizontal Bridge to Ecstasy & Working Family Economic Alleviation Act," which would legalize prostitution.

Jan. 22 - Washington County Republicans vote against an increase in the state's minimum wage because it would allow the county's poorest to buy a tankful of gasoline for only six hours worth of work.

· Bedlam breaks out in a Martinsburg retirement community when "Grandmom," sentenced to community service, gets the bags containing crack mixed up with the bags containing Meals on Wheels.




February

Feb. 1 - After spending a year on a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Police Chief Arthur Smith returns to his position in Hagerstown.

· After a breakout of equine herpes in Maryland, the owners of Charles Town (W.Va.) Races & Slots quarantine their barns from incoming horses.

Feb. 2 - In a surprise move, Hagerstown Mayor Richard Trump resigns office without offering a reason. In an ominous sign for the future, Councilman Lew Metzner says, "Without there being a leader, the five (council members) will have to lead now."

Feb. 4 - Expanding on the reasons for his resignation, Dick Trump cites irreconcilable differences in dealing with a difficult city council. Police Chief Smith quietly renews his Afghani visa.

· Charles Town Races quarantines its barns from equine hookers.

Feb. 6 - Maryland moves to ban "Internet hunting," a practice that allows a person on a Web site to use a remotely controlled gun to kill game. In the meantime, lawmakers introduce the "2nd Amendment Expansion & Freedom of Economic Opportunity Act" to legalize armed robbery.

· The Washington County Commissioners balk at a proposed $13 million expansion of the Washington County Free Library until they have the chance to look up the meaning of the word "book."

Feb. 13 - More than a dozen people apply to be considered as the next mayor of Hagerstown, but a significant number are ineligible for various reasons, including the fact that they did not realize they actually had to live in Hagerstown to be mayor.

· A 71-year-old Martinsburg woman is said to be recovering from back surgery after a junkie accidentally steps on some crack.

· After a spirited competition, 21-year-old Carrie Shank triumphs in the Miss Washington County pageant and is immediately sworn in as mayor of Hagerstown.




March

March 1 - In her first act as mayor of Hagerstown, Carrie Shank thanks the council for its support and promises "I won't let you, or the citizens of Hagerstown down." Yet some council members grow suspicious when Mayor Shank proposes a series of tax credits for Wesel Boulevard car dealerships.

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