March came in like a lamb, but how it will go out is up for grabs. What an unusual early spring we have experienced. Clusters of early blooming daffodils were in evidence all over town. Brilliant forsythia blossoms burst out before their time. Birds were heard chirping in the early morning hours all over West Friendship.

With Easter holiday coming up, this is the time for youngsters in the community to observe the birds in their backyard. And 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 go to 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.

Who saw Saturn, Venus, Mars and Jupiter at the same time in the night sky? Members of Joel Goodman's Celestial Searchers Club that's who. During the March 26 meeting, club members had the opportunity to observe Saturn which was rising in the east just after sunset. The young astronomers always welcome new members to the club which meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Art Room at Bushy Park Elementary.


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Questions? Email Goodman at StardocJG@aol.com.

All that jazz. Mark your calendar for April 12 at 7 p.m. when the Deanna Bogart Band will headline the Marriotts Ridge High School "Jazz at the Ridge" concert. The Marriotts Ridge Jazz Bands will perform along with Matt Wigler and the renowned Deanna Bogart. Tickets are $10 per person and available by contacting jazzattheridge@gmail.com. Don't miss this lively evening of jazz.

The Howard County 4-H Youth Program is offering a residential camp in Garrett County for campers ages 8-13 and to youth ages 14-18 to serve in leadership roles. The program will be held June 24-30 and emphasizes youth leadership, citizenship, environmental education and challenges of discovery. The camp offers arts and crafts, a challenge course, hiking, archery, rifles, outdoor cooking, canoeing and swimming.

Interested? Go to website for information and registration forms, at http://www.howard4-h.org.

For one local couple, "buyer beware" has never rung so true. All's well that ends well, but for these area residents, the turmoil they experienced during the past seven months was surely not worth the bargain they had sought.

The locals have been immersed in a stressful "we want our money back" scenario since last August when a driveway paving job turned into a bit of a nightmare. After months of experiencing a job which was never taken care of, endless telephone calls, dozens of written communications and a half a year of headaches, this neighbor wishes to convey to the community this simple message. Do not pay up front for the promise of a home improvement service.

The local woman admitted "I know better than this." Still, with earnest intent, she paid in advance for a job which was never begun. By now, the couple's money has been returned and the nightmare they experienced is now just a story to share. The ever upbeat resident wished to turn this sour tale into a sunshiny lemonade story with the hope that her neighbors would be cautious.

While spring cleaning, keep the Shepherd of the Glen Lutheran Church in mind. Organizers of the 17th annual media sale which is slated for mid September, are currently seeking donations of books, records, DVDs, CDs and videos for the annual sale. Just drop off donation in the plastic bench at the side door of the church at 14551 Burntwoods Road. Tax donation forms are inside the bench.

Don't forget to keep the Sunshine and Clovers 4-H Club in mind when spring cleaning finds you culling the basement, barn, garage or garden shed. The local 4-H kids have aligned with the great grandfather of two of the club members in a bicycle collection project.

Dakota and Raelyn Spahr's great grandfather Ernest Schrider, of Berkley Springs, W.Va., has agreed to repair and reclaim any bicycles the club membership collects. Schrider will deliver the refurbished bikes to kids in need in the Appalachian area. New and used bikes are great as are any old bike parts and new helmets. The 4-H club members will accept the bikes at the Howard County fairgrounds Saturday, March 31, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Signs posted as " Miles of Smiles" will direct donors to the designated collection area.

Mark your calendar for springtime delights which have been baked up by the members of Curves of Glenelg. On April 7, Hill, who owns the fitness business at 3900 Ten Oaks Road in Glenelg, will be among the hostesses serving up baked goods galore. The bake sale is set for 8:30 a.m. until noon and will include outdoor plants, Curves signature chocolate Bunny Boxes and an assortment of Easter candies. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Western Howard County Relay for Life Survivor Reception.

Don't forget that Saturday, March 31, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., is Daffodil Days at the Whipps Cemetery historic garden park in Ellicott City. Daffodil and hyacinth potted plants, refreshments, raffle for a native plant and support of this historic site are all part of the fun. Whipps Cemetery is at 3651 St. John's Lane, in Ellicott City.