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West Friendship: Fifth-grader wows crowd in West Friendship Elementary Spelling Bee

"Simulcast. S-I-M-U-L-C-A-S-T. Simulcast." That's the way it sounded when West Friendship Elementary fifth-grader Hanna Al-Kowsi wowed not just her mom, Tracey Davidson, but her teacher, Beth Cayer, and the entire audience gathered at the West Friendship Elementary Spelling Bee in late January as she correctly spelled the winning word.

Now it's time for Hanna to practice her spelling even more as she preps for the county-wide bee. Sponsored by the Howard County Library, the all-county Bee will be held at Reservoir High School March 9. Hanna will be in competition with students in grades 4-8, who have, like her, won the competition at their individual school. Congratulations to Hanna.

Troy Drake had me at "green cleaning". But when I heard about dusting ceiling fans and cleaning the glass panes on french doors I was sold. When I heard Troy's explanation of the 52-point spring clean which is described on his company's web site as "spring cleaning on steroids," I knew I had come to the right place.

Local resident Troy has opened one of West Friendship's newest businesses called "You've Got Maids." Troy's office is in the West Friendship Neighborhood Center at the intersection of routes 144 and 32. Drake is enthusiastic about his new venture which is a professional maid service utilizing a non-chemical approach to cleaning.

For anyone who suffers from reactions to chemical fumes, the idea of clean, green and no fumes is a blessing. The great thing about Drake's business is the option to use services on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even just a one time session. Troy is in the works planning additional services including lawn care, snow removal services, leaf removal, power washing and even car washing.

It's always a great joy for me to mention new businesses in West Friendship. Especially when they are run by a true "homegrown" like Troy. He graduated from Glenelg High School in 1998. He went on to earn his degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus with a Summa Cum Laude attached to his accomplishments. Troy and his wife Emily are the delighted parents of their active and adorable 1-year-old son, Luke, who is the first grandchild of Kathy and Kenny Drake.

If your list of spring cleaning tasks is looking a little daunting, give Troy a call at 443-266-7472, email him at or go to the website at

While we may not have had the good fortune to observe the Aurora Borealis and Northern Lights last month, those in the Celestial Searchers Astronomy Club had the opportunity to observe and handle meteorites from space which according to club founder Joel Goodman are more than 4 billion years old. Never a dull moment for members of the young astronomers club.

My friend Bette Hoover is a delight. First of all she has a name like my favorite old-school screen star, Bette Davis. Secondly, 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 from 6 to 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 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.

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