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Observers from Alexis de Tocqueville to Nikolai Krushchev have commented on the robust public discourse of the United States. Charles County is no exception to the rule that our language is often colorful and is always opinionated, direct and on target. Here are a few of the best quotations of 2013, the voices that drove the public’s discussion last year.



January

“When you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, give us a call. We don’t mind; in fact, we like coming out and finding out it’s nothing.”

Charles County Sheriff Rex Coffey (D), encouraging residents to call police if they see suspicious activity



“It reminds our citizens that their voice does count. It was a great sense of relief to know that these citizens’ voices were finally heard, and I guess also that I didn’t let them down.”

Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles), following the announcement that the state was no longer considering Waldorf as a location for a planned juvenile detention facility



“Most people put them in their pocket, and they have a rattle at the end of the year because they don’t plant them. It’s unusual for someone to take me at my word and plant them.”

Ronaldo Vega, director of design of the 9/11 memorial in New York City, who gave Marbury resident Hilda Barnes acorns that she planted



“We’re a business. Like any business, we have to find a way to remain viable in these economic times. I can only encourage you to please use your post office. We’re there for you for service, for your business.”

Cheryl French, U.S. Postal Service Waldorf officer in charge, at a meeting to discuss changes to operating hours at the Nanjemoy Post Office

February

“It’s a good, vibrant parish. It’s an amazing thing and has a history of being that way.”

The Rev. Mark Smith, pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, which is celebrating its 250th anniversary

March

“Here’s a kid instead of moping, he deals with the cards he was handed. He’s just trying to do what other kids are trying to do.”

Scott Willis, about Dayton Webber, a teenage amputee and hunter



“The nurses seem to think he remembers me and knows that I’m in there because whenever I talk to him, his heart rate will go up.”

Karen Shifflett, about her husband, John, in a coma following an auto accident



“It doesn’t matter your size. It doesn’t matter what person you are. You have to show these students that you are dedicated to them.”

Ericho Little, director and founder, at the 10th anniversary celebration of High Road School in La Plata



“I guess we’re so successful because I just got one myself last week.”

Coffey on the effectiveness of the county’s speed camera program



“When you are taking what isn’t enough and reducing it, then it’s not meat, it’s not fat anymore. You are really down to the bone. ... This money isn’t going to frivolous purposes. We are getting value out of every single penny,”

Robin McKinney, director of the Maryland CASH campaign — Creating Assets, Savings and Hope for Maryland’s Working Families — about how federal cuts could affect those who are working to help organizations such as LifeStyles



“Attn: promoters. Come to Charles County — bring us your drug dealers, drug users, bring the guns and violence, bring fighting and hang around after the party is over and damage our communities and by all means commit some crimes. Make sure that our sheriff’s deputies spend time dealing with all of this hassle when they could be patrolling tax paying citizens’ neighborhoods. Too bad for Charles County — politics got in the way today.”

Charles County commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D), in a Facebook post in response to county-proposed legislation cracking down on large dance parties stalling during the 2013 General Assembly session



“For her to basically say that because the bill was not going to move forward, that we should invite all the drug dealers, drug users, so on and so forth, to our community, I thought that was absolutely crazy. Politics weren’t [involved] in it. It was about process. … I don’t play these games. I don’t have time for all this drama.”

Del. Sally Y. Jameson (D-Charles), in response to Kelly’s Facebook post

April

“Fingerprints are not incriminating unless you’re a criminal.”

Darrell Linville, upon retiring after almost a 50-year career as a fingerprint expert



“Given the opportunity to show that we can handle it, I think the students would rise to the occasion.”

Henry E. Lackey High School student liaison Taylor Wade during a Charles County Board of Education discussion of the school system’s cellphone policy



“We watched with dismay as a sprawl development lobby of land speculators ... together with the support of four members of the seven-member planning commission hijacked what had been an open and transparent comprehensive plan process. You four then did a very un-American thing. Bowing to BGI, you threw away the compromise scenario that was forged at great taxpayer expense, countless staff hours and over a year of public input. And for what? To promote an extremist plan that caters exclusively to land speculators.”

Nanjemoy environmentalist Ted Baker addressing the Charles County Planning Commission during a public hearing to get reactions to the draft comprehensive plan



“It is not smart growth putting 75 percent of our growth in the development district and ignoring the need for the infrastructure, such as roads. Those who insist we give up our jobs and property values are out of step with the citizens of Charles County.”

Balanced Growth Initiative lobbyist and former delegate Murray Levy speaking to the planning commission during the public hearing mentioned above



“There are no secrets in the sheriff’s office, so we are open to any kind of looking into us that you feel is necessary. Only thing I’ll say is be careful what you ask for. You might find out that we’re understaffed, we’re underbudgeted.”

Coffey, in response to Commissioner Debra M. Davis (D) asking whether the sheriff’s office would be open to an external audit.

May

“I don’t think they’re cute anymore.”

Karen Bolling of Port Tobacco about the infestation of inch worms on her trees



“When you love your home and then it’s taken away from you, you almost long to get it back.”

Frank Sinclair one year after his family’s Dentsville home burned down



“The reason we got through it is because of our family, community and friends.”

Lori Sinclair of Dentsville, on moving into a new house after her family’s home was destroyed in a March 2012 fire



“I don’t make a lot of traffic stops because if I did make a lot of traffic stops, I would never get where I’m going. That’s how bad people drive around here.”

Coffey, while discussing an accusation that he got out of his police cruiser to berate a motorist for speeding and following him closely



“The immediate impact is on the employee. They’re being forced to stay home one day a week.”

Gary Wagner, public affairs officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac, who was also furloughed one day a week for six weeks in the summer



“I feel like I’ve been leading the combat experience because our board members and volunteers have been working so hard.”

Lawrence Abell, Maryland Veterans Memorial Museum president and Vietnam War veteran, during the opening ceremony of the museum

May

“Religiously, it is a sin. Through my prayer with God, spiritually, I’m all right. I’ve never met someone who loved me so much. Is that right or wrong? Well, God is allowing it to operate. You can’t get me on that one.”

Ceandra Scott speaks about her relationship with fiancee Brandi Prioleau and her struggles to reconcile sexuality with religious beliefs. The two women got engaged shortly after the passage of Question Six last November and will wed in 2015.

June

“We bonded a lot as a teenager and a mother. I lived my dream through my daughter.”

Helene Simpson, president of Southern Maryland Trail Riders, about her daughter’s dream of owning a horse



“[The town of Indian Head] is Charles County’s best kept secret. Being a community police officer with a community that cares is awesome.”

Community Police Officer Lee Elliot



“I agreed with the geographical portion of redistricting, but I think we could have made greater accommodations for the juniors once redistricting took place in the 2014-2015 school year.”

School board member Michael K. Lukas after the school board approved high school redistricting

July

“This has been my career for 47 years, and I thank the public, and I thank all of the teachers, our children and everybody. It’s been my honor to serve them. ... I didn’t do any of it by myself.”

Charles County Superintendent of Schools James E. Richmond on his retirement from the school system



“I didn’t feel like part of [Yasmine’s] birth, and it put me on a path to being a doula.”

Yvonne Brown, member of Southern Maryland Birth Workers



“I wanted to shake the hand of the guy who had put his life on the line for me. I would not be here today if it weren’t for him.”

Ed Long speaks about Rick Miller of Texas. The Vietnam veterans reunited after 43 years



“You’re thumbing your nose at the state plans and goals for smart growth. You haven’t made the state happy. You shouldn’t be [ticking] off ... the people that you need the support from. When did you ever get in a fight with mom and dad, and then go right back and get $20 from them? It’s going to be these projects that need to pass the test. It’s decision time.”

1000 Friends of Maryland Executive Director Dru Schmidt-Perkins addresses a group of citizens at a meeting concerning plans for light rail service. Schmidt-Perkins was cautioning the county to toe the line when it comes to devising an environmental policy that sates the state’s wishes.



“DNA represents the modern-day fingerprint, a little bit better, though, a little more exacting.”

Charles County State’s Attorney Anthony B. Covington (D), praising a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a 2008 state law permitting the collection of DNA samples from people charged with serious crimes



“We are looking forward to working with them to bring a first class All-Star experience to Southern Maryland. They are committed to helping us make this celebration one of the biggest and most distinctive events to ever come to our area.”

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs General Manager Patrick Day, on the team hosting the All-Star game festivities for the first time



“Whether you’re educated in Charles County or Chevy Chase, you deserve access to the best education that money can buy.”

2014 gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) during a campaign event in Waldorf



“It really looks fabulous. My husband and I would be happy to take any of you there by boat because, again, there is no public access.”

Newburg resident Nancy Shertler, on the restored beach at the southern edge of Swan Point in Issue, during a meeting with Charles County’s state lawmakers



“I just tried to stand there and relax and stare into the stands, and the only things I concerned myself with was trying not to give away the fact I could see and all that good stuff and let people move me around and try not to anticipate their guidance. I just tried to relax and make my face relax.”

Actor Tommy Dolan, on how he played the role of the expressionless lead in the Port Tobacco Players’ version of “Tommy”



“They’re really joining together, and that’s one of the great things is that our community is a community that really works together to promote each other.”

Leonardtown Business Association Vice-President and owner of Fenwick Street Used Books Joe Orlando, of the town’s First Friday celebrations



“[Bluegrass] took the place of country music, I guess. It has fiddles and lots of guitars and bass, banjo, like old-time country music. It’s pretty upbeat, I’d say. It’s old-time country.”

L’il Margaret’s Bluegrass Festival organizer Joseph Goddard describing the genre

August

“They’re going to be shocked, surprised, startled, terrified. They’ll laugh.”

Actor James LePore, who played the lead role of Sidney Bruhl in Newtown Players’ “Deathtrap,” on what audiences could expect



“Does she have the best scream or no? It literally is blood-curdling, bone-chilling. Best screamer ever.”

Actress Stacy Oosterink, describing fellow actress Joanne Fuesel’s reaction when she finds a dead body in Newtown Players’ version of “Deathtrap”



“One of the guys threw him overboard in celebration, and he said he went all the way to the bottom and almost drowned because he had all those damn wrenches in his pockets.”

Jim Langley, describing a terrifying moment experienced by his father, Pepper Langley, while powerboating in Southern Maryland in the 1950s



“We’re traditional family style, which means large platters, large portions. That’s where we’re a little bit different. Everything is home-made from our desserts to our marinara sauce. And you know what, who doesn’t love Italian?”

Executive Vice President of Earl Enterprises John Thall, on opening Buca Di Beppo’s 96th store in Charles Towne Center



“There was literally a piece of wood strapped to my leg. Definitely [it threw me off] because jokingly it was not a sanded piece of wood, so I have a bunch of splinters in my leg. Did it keep me more alert? It did. I did not fall asleep on stage like I’m wont to do.”

Actor Timothy Joyce, on how he pulled off the role of hobbling Constable Dogberry in the Newtowne Players’ production of “Much Ado About Nothing” on the State House Green in Historic St. Mary’s City



“It could be delta blues. It could be Chicago blues. It could edge more toward rock and roll, which is most of the blues now. It could edge more toward country and western, gospel. It’s something different for everybody. But I can guarantee that anybody who listens to it is going to be a fan.”

Southern Maryland Blues Festival Promoter Don Hooker, on the various forms of bluegrass music



“Back then it didn’t seem like there was as big of draw to it just because they didn’t have the talent. It wasn’t that big of a sport around here. I know for the longest time the only thing anyone cared about in this area was the Redskins.”

Hockey fan Matt Arter, on the lack of interest in the Washington Capitals in the late 1980s



“From the very beginning, I ... thought that this was one of those things we’d never have to fight because I thought it was common sense, not putting a liquor store near a high school. We just don’t want to believe that this is over.”

Middletown Woods resident Annette Johnson, on the liquor board’s decision to approval a liquor license for a store near Westlake High School



“It’s amazing how the law never seems to work for our citizens. Does it meet the letter of the law? Perhaps. But did it meet the spirit of the law? Heck no.”

Charles County commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) on the approval of the liquor store 506 feet from Westlake High School



“Especially under all the circumstances, like the bad economy and not getting any new help, we were very satisfied. Of course, it’s hard to satisfy me. It’s a good thing, so we’ll take it any way we can get it.”

Charles County Sheriff Rex Coffey (D) on statistics that showed crime in the county dropped 10 percent in 2012



“I don’t think he was afraid to die if it was in an honorable manner, and that’s what happened.”

Christine Honeycutt said of her son, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Terry “T.J.” Edward Honeycutt Jr., at the dedication ceremony of a building named in his honor at Naval Support Facility Indian Head



“You’re getting ready to change my lifestyle, that I’ve known for 2½ decades, forever.”

Ron Ansell said about the possible widening of Ocelot Street in the Hampshire neighborhood



“John Thomas Parran recognized the importance of baseball in Charles County’s history and played a role in making this stadium a reality. ... From baseball’s past to tonight’s present and future. They built it, and they came.”

Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said in a ceremony dedicating Aug. 20 as John Thomas Parran Day at Regency Furniture Stadium



“We marched from the beginning to the end, and we were so excited we marched again.”

Doris Cammack-Spencer of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington



“They said I was enchanted by the ghost of the person who lived there. ... He was a farmer.”

Chuck Finch of Finch Family Farm in Helen, who started farming as a child at the family house



“We’re not out there beating people over the head with the Bible, but they know what we believe because they’ll say, ‘They’ve treated me with such respect, and nobody has really done that for me.’”

The Rev. John Lewis describing the role of Point of Change Jail and Street Ministry in giving offenders a new lease on life



“I don’t think property rights and business are necessarily opposites. They’re not mutually exclusive. Is this plan balanced? More or less. At the end of the day, plans, like anything else, can be amended. It’s never completely final. If it’s not balanced, there will be time to fix it should that become apparent.”

Charles County Planning and Growth Management Director Peter Aluotto sharing his thoughts on the passage of the 2012 Comprehensive Plan



“The major changes in the plan are taking a large area of the county once designated as agricultural … and calling for it to be residential. Growth is great … but this plan, this is a draft plan, and at a minimum the plan they forward [to the state]. The ‘pitiful’ comment was about my personal feeling about this being the wrong direction.”

Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Rich Hall explaining comments he made on Facebook about the Comprehensive Plan after learning of its passage earlier in the month



“We have an African American community, and these are the businesses they’re putting in, and that has the appearance of racism. Whoever is making these decisions assumes that’s what the African American community needs. The issue is putting this next to the community. No one asked for this, and there’s no value.”

Del. C.T. Wilson explaining his rationale for calling the shops in a Waldorf strip mall, including the controversial Cheers liquor store, “racist”



“Just because you have an aggressive dog doesn’t mean you can’t work with them. ... Growling, snapping? People are misreading signs. With the right guidance, [dogs] are actually more adoptable.”

Diana Miller, who runs S&D K9 Rehabilitation, a program at the Humane Society of Charles County that works with dogs to make them more adoptable



“I personally don’t think I’m exceptional, but apparently some people think I am.”

Bob Petrash, 89, an active emergency medical technician since 1988, on being given an Outstanding Service Award for his dedication to volunteering



“Truly, this is the one time when the school board, the school system and teachers are on the same page.”

Third-grade teacher Joseph McMahan on teacher evaluations

September

“People want to blind themselves from it ... but we still have vestiges lingering from the past. That’s the discussion we need to have, and we need to address these laws that make it easier and easier to do wrong and get away with it. That’s what we need to fix.”

Charles County State’s Attorney Anthony B. Covington discussing the greater significance of accused Florida killer George Zimmerman being acquitted in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin



“We know there are pockets of extreme poverty in our community ... and we have most of the resources right in our community to solve the problems. It’s not going to be solved overnight. We’ve dealt with it historically in a Band-Aid way. We needed a comprehensive program that we could measure.”

Commissioner Davis during an event intended to drum up support for the Vision 2020 program, a countywide anti-poverty effort



“[It’s] a bunch of BS. I’m really upset because here it is, 2013, and they’re saying that my address is wrong, and I have to change it. It seems pretty bold for them to decide that. ... And I have to change the address even though I live in this house.”

Waldorf resident Norman Hill vents his frustration upon learning that he must change his address after having inhabited his home for several years. Hill’s Autumn Hills home was given the wrong address by the developers



“There’s 49 percent of the members that feel like there’s some issues, which warranted the vote of no confidence, but I would say the majority of the membership says we do have confidence in Sheriff Coffey, and my job as the president, regardless of how I feel, is to represent the views of the membership.”

Charles County Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. John Elliott, after the FOP voted down a motion of no confidence against Coffey, 128-122



“Many police agencies across the country have lost pay and benefits. I’ve made sure we haven’t. This was orchestrated by a few, and it failed, and we need to put this distraction behind us and get back to crime fighting... I’ve absolutely given my all, and I’m hurt by it.”

Coffey, following the FOP vote



“Folks outside the investigative arm were not as cooperative as they have been in other cases, and I will say I was disappointed in that.”

Covington, on whether the sheriff’s office was cooperative during the investigation into a county correctional officer who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a child



“Land use is local. It is our responsibility to our citizens to represent our taxpayers and give them the voice that they need at this local level. My letter would have been a little stronger because I would have simply wrote on a sticky that land use is local. Mind your business.”

Commissioner Davis during the discussion on how the county should respond to a letter from Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary James. T. Smith on his criticism of the county’s comprehensive plan



“This story has a happy ending. But it’s not an ending. It’s a new beginning.”

Asimina Gressis on reuniting with her half-siblings after 50 years



“Capoeira is a different animal. It’s free-flowing. New moves are being created on a daily basis. The history about capoeira is about freedom. It’s not about structure.”

Matt Strobel, capoeira instructor



“War, to me, I’ve learned that since I came out of it, it don’t mean nothing to nobody else but myself [and other veterans]. We fight because we have to fight. Either you fight or else get killed because you can’t go nowhere. That’s how it is. Terrible.”

Bernard Lorence, World War II veteran and French Legion of Honor medal recipient



“We don’t tell [the restaurants] what to serve. What we tell them is, ‘You serve the items that you feel will represent your business and what you feel will attract people to come to you later.’ [And] the food is wonderful.”

St. Mary’s Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Bill Scarafia, on what he tells restaurateurs before the Taste of St. Mary’s



“The locals have already accepted us with open arms. They’re very friendly and excellent people, and they like what we’re doing even though we know we have to improve. We’re happy to be here.”

Ruddy Duck Seafood & Alehouse co-owner Carlos Yanez, on the reception he’s received by the locals after opening his second restaurant in Piney Point



“This role is beautiful. This role is going to become my signature role because it’s so much fun. The lines are so great and so beautiful. I just love doing it. It’s like I was born for this role. All the monologues I have will now become my audition monologues when I go audition [for other roles].”

Actor Sid Curl, on playing the amped-up Mr. Baker in New Direction Community Theater’s “Come Blow Your Horn”



“It’s not just about the wine. It’s just a lot of positive energy. Even with rain I’ve still had people say they’ve still had a good time.”

Executive Director of Historic Sotterley Nancy Easterling, on why the Riverside WineFest at Sotterley Plantation is so popular

October

“I want to make Maryland famous for oyster and grits. Why not?”

Debbie Reynolds, overall winner of the St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival cook-off



“We’re recovering from the 20 percent cut, and now this is no paycheck for who knows how long.”

Rosemin Daya of Waldorf on the government shutdown



“The bullets and bombs had no names on them. They didn’t care who we were. All of us have one thing in common: the word veteran.”

Vietnam War veteran and College of Southern Maryland’s Veterans Organization President Mike Moses about the formation of a local chapter of the National Association for Black Veterans



“They are [the ugly stepsister], except they are so versatile. You can eat them so many ways. You can cook them in every way you can imagine.”

St. Mary’s Oyster Festival’s Administrator Karen Stone, describing the shellfish



“This accent took a little practice. I blended in some other influences and made sure it wasn’t silly-sounding. It’s very throaty. We didn’t want it to be too much like Dracula’s accent.”

Actor Kirk Kugel, who tried close to 40 approaches to master Van Helsing’s accent in Newtown Players’ “Dracula”



“I’m not good with accents so it would drift in and out of Transylvania and into Russian, and a couple times I heard a Scottish accent in there. I had more problem with the teeth because a couple times they wanted to slip. I set [the bar] very low, but it’s set now for anyone to jump over it.”

Actor Jeff Larsen, who plays Mr. Paravicini in Twin Beach Players’ Halloween-themed version of “The Mousetrap,” on the obstacles he had to overcome.



“At first I was like, ‘Oh snap, they can see everything. [An audience member] even stepped on my dress a bit, but once I got into my character I forgot they were there. I knew not to look back that way [at the audience members].”

Actress Jazzie Gray, on how she focused in the close-cramped quarters of St. Mary’s College’s of Maryland’s “The Container”



“One of the main exercises in theater is to remain in neutral face where you have no expression whatsoever, and you try not to break that.”

Actress Kaitelyn Bauer, on playing an expressionless ghost in Port Tobacco Players’ “The Woman In Black”

November

“Pirates are cool. They find treasure and take it from other ships, and they don’t have to wash up.”

Antonio Hardy, 8, at Pirates at the Center event in Waldorf



“We tried to make it a well-rounded group with artists who have been doing this for 30-odd years or more and also go with some new and up-and-coming artists. [Co-chair Karen Chambers and I] knew a lot of people we wanted to invite, and we asked our artists who would be good people to bring in, and then we just looked at the art community. We wanted to get an eclectic group of people. It’s not art we normally have here.”

CalvART Gallery President Mimi Little, on how artists were selected for its invitational



“That city was ablaze. You would have thought he would have seen the smoke, but he rides right into the city that is feeling the full force of most of the 200 loyal marines that are pillaging and burning the state.”

Historian Mike Dixon, who lectured on “Newspapers, Mail & Communications during the War of 1812”, on a stagecoach driver who went to extremes to deliver the mail



“He has actually brought absolute perfectionism and professionalism to this performance. He doesn’t treat us like we’re a community orchestra. As far as he’s concerned, we could be the St. Petersburg Symphony, and he holds us to the same standards.”

COSMIC Symphony President Jackie Hahn, referring to conductor Vladimir Lande as COSMIC and Ballet Caliente prepared to stage “The Nutcracker” at Huntingtown High School



“They’re affordable events, and if you have a kid studying American history, it’s a great opportunity to see some things that are right in your backyard. “[And for kids who aren’t studying history] there are a lot of cookies and guns and reenactors and fire.”

Charles County Holiday Trail Organizer Katie Zabriskie, on why the event might be good for children

December

“I’ve seen 4-year-olds in a minivan act better” than politicians in Washington.

Brendan Galligan, chairman of the New Jersey chapter of the Modern Whig Party



“They said, ‘We want you to be the ghost,’ and I said, ‘Oh my word.’ “They said, ‘You’re going to be way up on top of this huge platform and have this big huge lit-up dress.’”

Actress Camryn Lockhart, on her duties in the role of Christmas Past in the The Port Tobacco Players’ “A Christmas Carol”