After a serious eastern earthquake, soggy Hurricane Irene and individually challenging personal disasters, we can surely use some captivating activities and loads of good news. That's just what we have in store.

As usual, our young people are leading the way in the good news department. Alex Dunbar is pleased to share the news that his artistically talented youngest daughter, Kristi Dunbar, entered her pencil portrait of her late sister, Caitlin Dunbar, in the Howard County Fair's Home Arts competition. Kristi won first place in the teen pencil drawing category. She also won Champion and Best in Show. Congratulations, Kristi. Artistic talent is a wonderful outlet for the artist and a blessing to others.

Do you think things are tough now? Think back to the Civil War days and count your blessings. Do you have a Johnny Reb or Billy Yank tucked away on a branch of your family tree? Find out. The Maryland Historical Society in affiliation with the Maryland Genealogical Society, will present a workshop, "Researching your Civil War Ancestors," Saturday, Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The program features three outstanding speakers on different aspects of the subject followed by individual research assistance and document downloads by the experts for attendees. A Continental breakfast and lunch are included. Be sure to register early as there is an additional $10 fee for those who don't. Learn more at http://www.mdhs.org/events e-mail estafford@mdhs.org or call 410-685-3750 ext. 337.

Abby Long celebrated her 14th birthday Sept. 5 in Arkansas where she is excited to be attending a Christian boarding academy. The pretty coed is making lots of new friends and loving her new school. Abby is eager to be more independent, but also looking forward to coming back to Clarksville occasionally to visit family and Maryland friends. Best wishes, Abby. Have a wonderful year and send e-mail once in awhile to let us all know how things are going.


Submit a Letter to the Editor for the Laurel Leader, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times

If you'd like to attend a big yard sale or you're thinking about having a yard sale, Saturday, Sept. 10 might be a good date to select. The River Hill Community Yard Sale is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participating streets will be marked with red balloons.

River Hill High School alumni continue to excel. Five former River Hill students competed in the Drum Corps International World Class Finals Aug. 13, in Indianapolis, following a full performing season. The teams traveled across the country and rehearsed all day all through the summer with temperatures topping 100 degrees in many cities. After each evening performance, they ride a bus through the night or sleep on a gym floor and rise each morning to do it all over again. It's a grueling activity.

Evan Berry, Mike Furst, Mike McNeil, Kendra Orcutt and Nik Sinha, all brass players, were members of the 2011 Cadets Drum Corps and won first place at the DCI Finals. Bass drum player Trevor Chevne another River hill alumnus, was a member of the Carolina Crown Drum Corps, which took fourth place. This is a tremendous accomplishment for all these young musicians and it would probably never have happened if not for the invaluable experience gained in the fledgling River Hill marching band. Way to go!

The Howard County Office of Aging, Dept. of Citizen Services will present the third annual WomenFest, a wellness event for women, Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Gary Arthur Community Center, in Glenwood. It's free.

Participate in demonstrations and sit in on seminars. Free blood pressure, body mass index, foot, glaucoma, glucose, cholesterol and HIV screenings will be available. Visit more than 40 vendors and exhibitors or enjoy free entertainment throughout the day. Lunch will be available for purchase. For more info call 410-313-5440 or e-mail glenwoodsc@howardcountymd.gov.

Think positive and enjoy your week.