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West Friendship: Stranger helps keep woman alive during moment of crisis

By Lisa Peklo, 410-531-3516 lpeklo@cs.com

February 11, 2012

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Blanche DuBois knew all about the "kindness of strangers." After the happenings in the early morning hours of Jan. 24, so too, does West Friendship's Denise Oursler.

Denise's daughter, Jill Haas, had just left the Oursler home on Route 144 to wait for the school bus with her daughter, Manor Woods Elementary School third-grader Ashley Haas. Grandmother Denise was not at home that morning as she was undergoing hip replacement surgery that very day.

As she awaited the bus with young Ashley, Jill experienced a seizure. Little Ashley had the presence of mind to run to the family home and call the 911 emergency number. About the same time, the Manor Woods Elementary school bus driver happened on the scene. The able and conscientious bus driver who wishes to remain anonymous, (as true good deed doers often do), calmed the situation, appropriately tended to Jill along with local emergency personnel and soothed all the young charges on his bus route. Jill has since recovered from her medical emergency, Denise is in good recovery from her hip replacement surgery and young Ashley has been hailed by her family members as one brave girl.

What Denise wants to convey to the community is the great essence of gratitude she has to all the "strangers" who pitched in with such kindness.

"People just reached out," Denise said. "It is so wonderful to be in a community where folks help the way they did that morning."

Denise is still reeling from the good feeling of knowing that there is such an abundance of good will in this community. Oursler can not say enough in praise of the faculty and staff at Manor Woods Elementary. Indeed a bit of serendipity comes forth in the fact that her granddaughter Ashley's principal at Manor Woods, James Weisner, was the West Friendship Elementary fifth-grade teacher of Ashley's mother, Jill, many years ago.

Congratulations to the new officers of the West Friendship Livestock 4-H Club who were announced during the club's annual Family Night Jan. 15 at the Howard County Fairgrounds.

Club reporter Katie Coles shared news of the evening which included the installation of the 2012 officers. The roster includes president Jeffrey Woodbury, vice president Eric Fiege, treasurer Charlie Coles, recording secretary Caroline Beall, corresponding secretary Laura Thomas, reporter Katie Coles, historians Nathan and Rachel Thomas and Breanna Yencha, parliamentarian William Fiege, recreational leaders Chris Buckley and Emma Woodbury and greeters Jonathan Pysh and Justin Woodbury.

The 4-H members and their families enjoyed a delicious meal and were honored by special guests Howard County Extension Agent Sheryl Bennett Dowdy, who was accompanied by her husband, Brian, and daughter, Kendall. Honored guests also included former member of the Howard County Council Charles Feaga and his wife, Barbara.

I heard from my favorite naturalist, Kate Tufts, last week. According to Kate, as of Feb. 3, the daffodils were poking their heads up at her property. Kate observed birds carrying nesting materials to their chosen sites too. This time of year is just right for observing the beauty of the birds in our region.

And for Kate, who is an avowed bird enthusiast, this is a great time for kids in the community to show off their artistic prowess by entering the Howard County Bird Club's third annual Student Birding Art Contest. The art contest is open to Howard County students ages 9-13. Prizes include backpack containing a pair of Eagle Optics binoculars and field guides.

If you would like to draw or paint your favorite Maryland bird, then visit the club website at http://www.howardbirds.org and follow the cues to the contest rules and entry forms. Entries will be accepted until May 31, 2012.

Ed Lilley and the crew at the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation are getting ready for Mardi Gras. It's not too late to join the fun of the sixth annual Mardi Gras Magnifique benefit Feb. 19, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at The Rumor Mill Fusion Bar and Restaurant in historic Ellicott City. Music by the Cypress Trio Cajun Band and a New Orleans style three course lunch are part of the festive event.

If you would like to support the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation's worthwhile programs while enjoying a splendid Mardi Gras celebration, then go to the website at http://www.ecrestoration.org, call 410-303-2959 or come to the Howard County Tourism Welcome Center at 8267 Main St., in the historic district of Ellicott City to purchase tickets.

Here is a sweet opportunity for locals that's got a good buzz to it. The Howard County Beekeepers Association will host a series of classes devoted to teaching all the simplicities and intricacies of home bee keeping. The classes will be held at the Howard County fairgrounds on five Tuesdays, 7-9:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 21 and continuing with classes on Feb. 28, March 6, 13 and 20. The March 27 class is billed as a field trip. If you would like to learn about beekeeping, go to the club website at howardcountybeekeepers.org where one can register online.

A few timely reminders. Bette Hoover invites the community to join her in an evening of sacred music. Bette is a world traveled, peace activist who seems to have a handle on serenity. If you would like to meet Bette and also enjoy an evening of meditation and chanting come out to Hoover's idyllic Eden Valley Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m., for an evening of calming meditative music and fellowship.

Comfortable clothes and a blanket to sit upon are recommended. Guests are invited to bring a percussion instrument to join in the evening of music and learning. Eden Valley is at 5085 Green Bridge Road in Dayton. Rufus Juskus will lead the musical chants.

Questions? Call 410-531-5610.

The Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club will hold a meeting Monday, Feb. 20 in the dining hall at the Howard County fairgrounds. The evening begins with a social at 7 p.m. followed by the business meeting at 7:30 p.m. New members are always welcome to join this local club which holds the history of West Friendship as its core.

Roy Gregory Auctions will hold a sportsman auction at the Howard County fairgrounds in West Friendship Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. Decoys, Winchester commemorative models, Bows and Bow cases and sportsman cabinets are just a few of the rugged items up for sale. Go to the website at gregorysauctions.com to view a full listing of the auction block items.