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Leonardtown grad, Wizards Girl turned yoga instructor has local following

Lee-Ann Michelle

Lee-Ann Michelle, a Leonardtown High School graduate and former dancer for the Washington Wizards, is now teaching yoga classes remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eleven years ago, when we were still able to go outside, county resident and Leonardtown High School graduate Lee-Ann Doncevic (now, Lee-Ann Barber) earned a spot on the NBA Washington Wizards’ dance team, the Wizard Girls (now the coed Wizard Dancers), and a previous This ‘n’ That writer covered the story.

Now, from a Philadelphia suburb, she’s helping those of us stranded at home enjoy some exercise.

Barber is now living in Drexel Hill, Pa., and works full time for the nonprofit American Association for Cancer Research, but in her spare time she teaches yoga, having started her own studio, Two Hearts Dance and Yoga.

And, with COVID-19 closing down yoga and dance studios, Michelle has been able to teach some old friends through online classes.

“I’m doing it during lunch breaks, early mornings, evenings,” she said in a phone interview last week. She has been teaching private lessons, small classes and large classes, and she said she’s had quite a few former classmates from Leonardtown High tune in.

Barber said yoga came organically to her during her dance career, which she started in Pennsylvania but continued at Gracie’s Guys and Gals in Hollywood for eight years when her family moved to St. Mary’s, eventually teaching classes there in 2005 and 2006.

“That’s where I started it all,” she said. Barber continued dancing and teaching dance, dancing for the Wizards for three seasons. During that experience, she said the group did a lot of community outreach.

“One of the things people might not know about the NBA is they do so many things for the community,” she said, and the Wizards Girls performed for several charities.

Barber was also featured in a few commercials for University of Maryland University College, now University of Maryland Global Campus, over the past few years.

Now, with a master’s degree in business and degrees in criminology and dance, she’s using her spare time to spread the benefits of yoga and dance.

Yoga has “so many benefits, both physical and mental,” Barber said. “It helped me gain more flexibility for myself, helped me find the balance that I needed.”

She’s hoping to continue the online classes even after studios reopen to keep her instruction accessible to everyone.

“I’m still hoping to have that virtual component, maybe even creating videos that are prerecorded,” she said. “I’m very fortunate that St. Mary’s people have made me a part of their physical activity.”

Barber's Zoom and Instagram live class schedule can be found at www.twoheartsdanceandyoga.com/classes.

Ballots roll out

Mail-in ballots for the 2020 primary election have been sent out by the local board of elections. Ballots must be filled out in black ink, and do not require two stamps, as they may say on the ballot. Postage is prepaid, and they must be mailed by June 2.

Also, remember to sign the back of the ballot’s envelop before mailing it in. Ballots can be mailed to the board of elections using the return envelope included, or dropped at the board of elections in Leonardtown by 8 p.m. on June 2. The Hollywood firehouse will function as a limited in-person voting center on Election Day, Tuesday, June 2.

Craft show canceled

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department has canceled the 2020 Spring Craft Show which was scheduled to be held on June 5.

“After a lot of thought and discussion about the safety of the craft vendors, the shoppers, and our membership … we considered the pros and cons of proceeding with the Craft Show,” a release from the Ladies Auxiliary says. “Although disappointed to do so, we have decided to cancel the 2020 Spring Craft Show,” a release from the group says. “We realize that for some of the vendors the cancellation does cause a financial loss and we are sorry for their loss.”

The Ladies Auxiliary’s 2020 Fall Craft Show is scheduled to be held on Nov. 22, and the 2021 Spring Craft Show is scheduled to be held on March 28 next year.

Comment sought by Navy on rebuilding Pax seaplane basin

The U.S. Navy is planning to rebuild the East Seaplane Basin at Naval Air Station Patuxent River and is seeking public comments on this undertaking. The property, which dates back to when the base was originally constructed, was one of three seaplane basins built on the base when the U.S. Navy tested and operated seaplanes.

Seaplanes have since phased out since World War II, and carrier-based planes are now the norm. The Navy now does not operate any seaplanes.

The East Patuxent Seaplane Basin is now used for occasional munitions offloading operations, and the other two seaplane basins for port operations and recreational boats. The basin repairs include the removal of an unused seaplane ramp that is currently in poor condition, with “significant deterioration in the intertidal zone,” according to a release from the base.

“While the ramp is a historical resource, there are three other seaplane ramps of the same design in the other two basins on the Base. One of these other ramps is still functional for recreational boats,” the Navy release says. The Navy has determined the project will alter historical characteristics of the seawall and will have an adverse effect on historic property per the National Historic Preservation Act.

Those with questions or concerns about the East Basin Seawall Project can contact Craig Lukezic, cultural resource manager, at craig.lukezic@navy.mil.

Pedestrian fatalities down last year

Although vehicle crashes on Maryland roadways killed 3.7% more people in 2019 than the previous year, pedestrian fatalities declined by 7.5%, according to the state’s department of transportation, with 123 last year compared to 133 in 2018.

The 2019 data, released earlier this month by the Maryland Department of Transportation also shows a year-to-year increase in bicyclist fatalities, from six in 2018 to 10 in 2019.

“Please remind your loved ones to wear their seat belt, don’t speed, and don’t drive impaired or distracted,” MDT Secretary Greg Slater said in a news release “These four actions could have saved the lives of hundreds of Marylanders who died last year.”

The 2019 data was announced at a time when vehicle traffic volume across Maryland was down as much as 45% as drivers heeded Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) stay-at-home order, which has since been lifted. At that time, truck traffic was down by about 22%.

Highway safety officials say despite the overall decrease in traffic volume, dangerous driving behaviors have not taken a back seat. According to Maryland State Police, 69% of speeding citations issued from March 16 to April 17 cited drivers exceeding posted speed limits by 20 mph or higher. More than 375 citations noted speeds of 90 mph or more.

To prevent crashes, the release says drivers should buckle up, make a designated driving plan, drop their cellphones, share the road with cyclists and pedestrians and slow down.

Health department calling? Or not?

The St. Mary’s County Health Department recently sent out information on contact tracing calls, noting that the health department will not ask for your Social Security number, credit card number or immigration status.

If you receive a call from the health department, take it seriously. Contact tracers are working to find out who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they are interviewed so the health department can find out who may have been exposed. Those people who were likely exposed are then asked to isolate themselves.

Those who may have been exposed are not told who exposed them.

If you get a call from the health department, they may ask where you have been in the past few days and ask for names and contact information for people you may have come in contact with. They will not ask for personal information or charge a fee.

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