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Sampling the local music scene

The Frederick News-Post has a local music blog, “Frederick Playlist,” where we feature local bands and promote our own music events.  I’ve been shooting and editing video for the blog as part of our Playlist team, and it’s been a lot of fun to learn about live-streaming and professional videography while getting a glimpse of the Frederick music scene.

Here’s some of our work over the past year.

“Lost Keys” perform at the Frederick News-Post warehouse:

Read more…

Reaching people ‘where they are’

April was Minority Health Month. On three Thursdays during the month, we published my three-part series on health disparities among minority populations in Frederick County.

While interviewing local activists for this series, I heard the same phrase over and over again. To reduce disparities in health, they said, connect with people “where they are.”

For Dr. Julio Menocal, who treats uninsured patients who live on the Golden Mile, reaching people “where they are” means opening another office on the other side of the Golden Mile to make it easier for his patients to walk in. Read more…

Telling veterans’ stories

Since January, my colleague Nancy Lavin and I have published a story each month about the challenges that Vietnam veterans now face. 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, and the Department of Veterans Affairs marked that milestone with a day of recognition in March 2016.

Nancy and I found veterans who, decades after the war, are still bitter about the reception they received when they returned home. Others are making the most of lives scarred by post-traumatic stress disorder or Agent Orange exposure. But their families often seek to preserve their stories, and that’s where we’ve come in.  Read more…

The 2014 MDDC Awards

I entered a few of my stories at the Frederick News-Post into the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association’s 2014 editorial contest. Here are my winning entries:

Division B (dailies from 20,000 to 75,000), Investigative Reporting

First place: Fort Detrick’s $10 million fire
A welder’s torch may have sparked a fire that caused $10 million in damage at the world’s largest high-security research lab, still under construction at Fort Detrick, according to a report prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Division B, Feature Story: Profile

First place and Best In Show: 300 letters home
The newly-trained pilot was full of nervous excitement, flying his Navy dive bomber at the head of a formation. He peeled off from the group to land on the aircraft carrier below, but he was coming in too slowly.

Division B, Medical/Science Reporting

First place: Scientists: Ebola outbreak larger than estimates
Scientists from Fort Detrick say the number of Ebola cases in West Africa is much larger than official estimates indicate.

Division B, Environmental Reporting

Second place: In Frederick parks, a battle for conservation
Environmental stewards on the front lines of the battle against global warming’s adverse effects have a message for Frederick County: This is a time for action.

My latest series: Biological agents and toxins at Fort Detrick

This month, we published a four-part series I’d been pulling together for the latter half of 2014. It’s about the biological toxins and agents that researchers at Fort Detrick deal with every day, and what happens when human error inevitably interferes.

The series is based on documents generally referred to as “mishap” reports within the agencies, though these mishaps can expose researchers to deadly substances. In some cases, multiple people were potentially exposed to a substance because of one person’s mistake.

None of the federal labs involved were willing to let us take photographs in their buildings for this series, but we’ve been able to put some of the original documents online. You can read the series here:


Continuing coverage: the Ebola virus

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has generated plenty of news for us, despite the fact that we’re half a world away. My stories so far on the intersection of the Ebola virus, the Frederick area and Fort Detrick researchers:

July 31
Detrick scientists: Ebola outbreak larger than official numbers

August 14
USAMRIID researchers plan study for Ebola treatment

On Sept. 28, a physician who had been exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone was flown to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda via Frederick Municipal Airport.

September 30
Official: No problems in transfer of patient exposed to Ebola

October 1
Local officials had one-day notice before doctor exposed to Ebola flown to Frederick

October 2
Ebola vaccine processed at Frederick plant

October 8
Physician exposed to Ebola released from NIH

October 10
USAMRIID trains soldiers heading to Ebola-stricken Liberia

October 17
Dallas Ebola patient flies to Frederick; ‘resting comfortably’

Inspections, inspections, inspections

As part of our coverage of the Great Frederick Fair, I reported on food vendor inspections from the event last year. The Frederick County Health Department provided over 100 separate inspection reports that detailed food safety violations from neglecting to display a permit to leaving food out in the heat for hours.

A few of the reports are available online, in PDF form.

Great Frederick Fair vendors rack up hundreds of food safety violations
More than 80 percent of the food vendors at last year’s Great Frederick Fair used unsafe food practices, according to inspections by the Frederick County Health Department.

Tackling climate change in national parks

One of my recent features looks at how the environmental stewards in our nation’s parks are dealing with the reality of climate change.

The program mentioned in the story, the National Park Service’s Climate Friendly Parks Program, was inspired by loss:

When Glacier National Park was established in 1910, one of its most famous glaciers, Grinnell, covered more than 500 acres on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide. Today it covers barely 200 acres.

Just like the researchers, park rangers and visitors at Glacier have seen that change, those who visit and work in nearby national parks are watching their environment transform.

A battle for conservation
Environmental stewards on the front lines of the battle against global warming’s adverse effects have a message for Frederick County: This is a time for action.



Awards from the Maryland Delaware District of Columbia Press Association

A few of the stories I wrote for the Gazette in Montgomery County won awards today! Here were my entries and the commendations they receieved from the MDDC Press Association:

First Place, Continuing Coverage

“Aunt Hattie’s Place”

Aunt Hattie’s Place struggles with prospect of closure
At Aunt Hattie’s Place, a group home in Sandy Spring, the beds are empty. There are no more sneakers tucked under beds or clothes folded into drawers. The house, which once housed eight disadvantaged boys, is empty; with no money, the child care program has been suspended.

Critics fear state push to get children out of group homes
As Maryland works to move a record number of disadvantaged children out of group homes, local advocates say the initiative is going too far.

Founder of Aunt Hattie’s Place losing group home — and her own
A single candle burns in each window of Hattie Washington’s empty Sandy Spring house.
“It says I still have faith … that somebody will save us,” she said.

Second Place, Environmental Reporting

“Forest Glen Annex”

Army finds contaminants, not source, at Forest Glen Annex
Contaminants at the Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring continue to spread from an unknown source, according to new U.S. Army data released Thursday.

Residents reject Army fence for Silver Spring trail
Community members had a strong message for the authorities at the Forest Glen Annex: Don’t fence off our trail.

These Gazette stories competed with other Division D newspapers, non-dailies in Washington, D.C., Delaware and Maryland, for these awards.

My current employer, the Frederick News-Post, also won Newspaper of the Year in its division.

Thanks to MDDC for recognizing me and so many of my colleagues in this year’s awards!

Community reporting in Frederick County

Over the past two months, I’ve written lots of feature stories about people, places and things that are important to the Frederick County community. Some of my favorites:

The fate of post-race beers, traditionally served to Frederick Running Festival participants, may be up to state lawmakers.
The deep forests of the Frederick watershed conceal a secret network of paths seven times as large as the trails marked on official maps.
In the not-so-distant future, one invention will create high-paying jobs, increase farmers’ crop yields, keep high school students on track for college and inspire new businesses.