For more than 35 years, our community has watched as Gail Bates served our region locally, countywide and, for the past 11 years, in the Maryland House of Delegates. On July 16, Bates announced her bid for the Maryland Senate, District 9, during a reception in western Howard County.

Gail Bates has been a longtime friend and neighbor here in West Friendship. For more than 35 years, our community has watched as Bates served our region locally, countywide and, for the past 11 years, in the Maryland House of Delegates.

On July 16, Bates announced her bid for the Maryland Senate, District 9, during a reception in western Howard County. Bates is married to David Bates, mother of Robert and Dwight Bates, and the proud grandmother of three.

Bates joins two other West Friendship politicians, Allan Kittleman, who has announced his bid for Howard County executive, and Trent Kittleman who recently announced her bid for the Maryland House of Delegates, District 9A.

Addie and Elena Betro want to know, "Where's Waldo?" The sisters are enjoying summer reading this month and even more the challenge to find Waldo who has been hidden in more than 10 local businesses. Only one week remaining for kids in the area to fill out a Waldo passport with stamps from the businesses where Waldo is hiding.

Erin Matthews, owner of Books With A Past, still has blank passports for youngsters to retrieve and fill with stamps. Matthews reminds Waldo hunters that the little guy stands only 6 inches tall. Seven-year-old Addie and 9-year-old Elena are ready to go on this scavenger hunt.

St. James United Methodist Church congregants in West Friendship are pleased to welcome a new pastor. Pastor Katie Saari is originally from Bloomington, Ind. She attended seminary in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2012.

The community is invited to attend services at St. James and meet the new pastor during regular Sunday service at 9 a.m. each week. Additionally worship service in the Chapel in the Woods is held on July 28, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25, at 9 a.m.

Grilled chicken, tasty salads and desserts, and a sea of telescopes were the name of the game on July 13 when the Celestial Searchers Astronomy Club enjoyed the annual Star-B-Q at Alpha Ridge Park in Marriottsville. Celestial Searchers founder Joel Goodman was on hand along with members of the Howard Astronomical League.

It's hard to recall that just a year ago, many in West Friendship were immersed in heavy duty clean up detail following the ravaging winds of the 2012 derecho. Fast forward to July of 2013 when area yards and gardens are filled with a most amazing and splendid display of hydrangeas and lilies. Many have noted that the bloom this year has been the most spectacular in decades.

Mother Nature is full of surprises.

Another family opportunity at the Shrine of St. Anthony.

Grandparents are invited to bring their grandchildren of all ages, for a special Mass on July 26 at noon in the Shrine Chapel. The shrine is celebrating with a service for grandparents, living and deceased. A free cookout follows the service.

The Shrine of St. Anthony is at 12290 Folly Quarter Road. For information or to make a reservation, call 410-531-2800.