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Maryland

It’s all good news: 22 Maryland stories that lifted our spirits, gave us hope and made us smile in 2022

They used to call newspapers “the daily miracle” and The Baltimore Sun’s reporters, photographers and editors can attest that this is still true far too often. But amid the busy scramble of breaking news, we often pause to look up and take in the wonder around us, eagerly noting the people who are making our little corner of the world better, bit by bit. In 2022, we saw that along a wintry highway, in an emergency room, in neighborhoods and in the sky miles above the Earth. And what we witnessed was good news. For us all. Here are 22 Maryland stories that lifted our spirits, gave us hope and made us smile.

— Michelle Deal-Zimmerman and Sanya Kamidi

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Once a dump, Baltimore’s ‘magical’ Camp Small transforms street trees into lumber

For decades, Camp Small has been a dumping ground for Baltimore’s tree waste. But as part of a zero waste initiative, Baltimore has been recycling felled street and park trees to make usable products, including Camp Small’s premier output: lumber.

Nick Oster, operations specialist at Camp Small, carries a board cut from an ash log. Camp Small, the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks wood waste collection area, is where logs and brush are recycled into wood products for city projects and for residents to purchase. The boards Oster is cutting are part of a test run for the newly constructed dehumidification kiln, a future source of locally produced wood for furniture makers in the city. December 7, 2021.

Ellicott City couple makes a call for help and Baltimore bakery rises to the occasion to feed drivers stranded on snowy I-95

An Ellicott City couple stuck for hours on snowy interstate spots a Baltimore company’s truck. They make a call and a Charm City institution rises to the occasion. The rest is a story that’s better than sliced bread.

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Ellicott City couple Casey Holihan and John Noe were among hundreds of drivers stranded in January on Interstate 95. They distributed bread to fellow motorists after receiving the blessing from H&S Bakery owner Chuck Paterakis.

Bald eagle pair return to Baltimore for fourth straight nesting year as population continues to grow in Chesapeake Bay region

Perched on a tree branch, high above the cars rushing past on Baltimore’s Frankfurst Avenue, a solitary bald eagle sizes up its potential nest. The eagle and its mate returned last winter to Masonville Cove in Fairfield for a fourth consecutive year, having successfully raised three eaglets the previous nesting season.

A bald eagle surveys the landscape at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge. Eagles are abundant at the refuge with several nesting pairs visible from Wildlife Drive.

An emergency room trip almost canceled a Baltimore couple’s wedding. But Ascension St. Agnes Hospital nurses made it happen.

Tony and Neunutae Bell had been counting down the days until their wedding. But a few days before the planned courthouse nuptials, Tony found himself in the emergency department at Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital. The couple was ready to call off the wedding. But once Erynn Bossom, a nurse manager on the neurology and stroke floor, found out, she started to put a plan into motion.

Tony and Neunutae Bell smile after signing their marriage certificate in Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital. Tony was admitted to the hospital after having a seizure and the two didn't want to lose out on the wedding date of a lifetime, Feb. 22, 2022, so the staff worked together to plan a wedding in less than 24 hours.

They’re used to guarding the exhibits at Baltimore’s Museum of Art. Now, they’ve curated one.

The 17 security guards serving as guest curators for an exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art vividly remember the first time a painting or sculpture began to “talk” to them. That experience was the impetus behind “Guarding the Art,” which ran from March 27 through July 10 this year.

Baltimore Museum of Art security guard Kellen Johnson speaks about the Max Beckmann painting he selected for “Guarding the Art,” titled “Still Life with Large Shell.” As a musician, Johnson said he was thrilled to learn that both of Beckmann’s wives were musical. The exhibition of work selected and curated by 17 of BMA’s security guards from the museum’s collection ran from March 27 to July 10, 2022.

Hollywood comes to Pikesville: Laura Lippman’s ‘Lady in the Lake’ films in quiet, leafy Baltimore suburb

It took ashtrays made from spun sugar to create the illusion of glass that could shatter. It took yards of black fabric covering windows to make a sunny day look like night, and it took a vintage Dodge Polara with 1965 Maryland license plates to travel back in time. All were on view on Midfield Road in Pikesville earlier this year during the filming of a TV adaptation of “Lady in the Lake,” the Baltimore-based novel by local author Laura Lippman.

Extras stand by to watch the filming of "Lady in the Lake" in the 200 block of East Redwood Street, near a camera operator perched on a ladder next to a second ladder supporting the camera. The block is decorated for Christmas for the filming of the Apple TV + series based on the mystery novel by local author Laura Lippmann.

In tightknit Belair-Edison, a nonprofit makes it easier for people to make the neighborhood their home

Denitra Braham is used to getting calls asking about properties in her neighborhood. As the executive director for Belair-Edison Neighborhoods Inc., she has the unfortunate responsibility of breaking the news to those who want to purchase them: It’s a neighborhood where residents often own their homes for decades.

John Watkins, homeownership and real estate investment manager with Belair-Edison Neighborhoods Inc., walks up steps that preserved the original wood in the basement of a rowhouse, which was being renovated at the 2800 block of Kentucky Avenue on Feb. 8, 2022.

‘A new window on the universe’ is about to open wide: Excitement building at Baltimore institute for the James Webb Space Telescope’s observations

For the astronomers at Baltimore’s Space Telescope Science Institute, seeing a background of galaxies from behind the world’s most powerful telescope this year was anticipated. But for the engineers, focused for so long on building the telescope, it was a “wow moment,” said Lee Feinberg, Webb’s optical telescope element manager for over 20 years.

Ground system engineer Ethan Yerger peers at screen with computer graphic of Webb telescope in background at Phil Sabelhaus Flight Control Room during a visit of Space Telescope Science Institute inside JHU's Applied Physics Laboratory on March 31, 2022.

On first Mother’s Day in majors, Orioles’ Félix Bautista credits mom’s motivation for getting him there

This year, Félix Bautista finally established himself as a major league weapon. His mother, Polonia Bautista de la Cruz, always saw it coming. “After 10 long years in the minors, every now and then, it kind of felt like he was close to giving up,” Polonia said. “But I kept motivating him to keep going and to keep fighting hard and working hard for this because he did want it.”

Orioles relief pitcher Félix Bautista (74) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on April 13 at Camden Yards.

Balls and beautillions, long a tradition of the marrying Black middle class in Maryland, carry on with a new purpose

While many teens mark their entrance into adulthood on a graduation stage or at a school prom, a group of Black Marylanders has its own traditions. Beautillions began as a way to introduce young people to potential spouses, but today the events have evolved into building professional networks and long-lasting social circles.

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Kai Hammond and his date, Iyana Brumfield, dance at the Jack And Jill of America’s Columbia, Maryland, chapter 21st Biennial Beautillion, on April 23, 2022, at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott.

With Paul McCartney headed back to Baltimore, one Beatles fan remembers when ‘lightning’ struck during the band’s 1964 visit

What in the world was George Harrison, one of the four members of the most legendary rock band of all time, doing at school on East Northern Parkway one morning at the height of Beatlemania? With the late star’s bandmate Paul McCartney set to appear at Camden Yards earlier this year, it seemed a fitting time to ask.

Mary Meyer Berends, 75, recalls the thrill of seeing George Harrison stand in the doorway of her typing and shorthand class during a brief tour of Mercy High School on Sept. 14, 1964. The visit took place the day after The Beatles performed at the Civic Center. A plaque above the water fountain where Harrison took a drink commemorates the “only known visit by a member of the group to an American high school during the height of Beatlemania.”

Jonathon Heyward named BSO music director, becoming the only Black conductor to helm a major U.S. symphony orchestra

Jonathon Heyward knows that Black conductors remain few and far between. He frequently thinks of such predecessors as Henry Lewis, who before his death in 1996 was widely considered the first Black conductor of a major American symphony. “One of the most important ideas in classical music is that anyone can be a part of this art form. That is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly,” Heyward said as he prepared to start a new job in Baltimore.

The BSO introduces Jonathon Heyward as the symphony’s 13th music director. July 21, 2022.

‘There’s only one crab guy on TikTok’: How a young Maryland waterman is helping redefine an aging profession

Luke McFadden is breaking the mold in an industry that these days is dominated by older white men, most of who followed their fathers into work on the water. Instead of selling his crabs to wholesalers or carryout restaurants, he launched his own business and sells directly to customers — who often come his way after stumbling upon the videos he posts on TikTok.

Waterman Luke McFadden pilots the FV Southern Girl out of Bodkin Creek at sunrise July 1, 2022. McFadden has gained more than a million followers on TikTok for his videos showing life working on the Chesapeake Bay.

‘Free your heart’: Parents of the late Maryland football player Jordan McNair forge bond with fired athletic trainer

Three years after the death of Jordan McNair, a text from trainer Wes Robinson started an unlikely partnership with McNair’s parents, Tonya House and Marty McNair. They had an emotional meeting last year, then worked together on state legislation to improve emergency planning for sports games at middle and high schools.

From left, Wes Robinson, former head athletic trainer for University of Maryland football, and Martin “Marty” McNair, father of late football player Jordan McNair, hug following the Jordan McNair Foundation’s Baltimore City Wide Football Clinic at Morgan State University focused on heat injury. Jordan McNair died of heatstroke following football practice at UMD in 2018.  Wes Robinson, one of the trainers who treated Jordan, was later fired for failing to recognize the severity of his heatstroke. McNair and Tonya Wilson, Jordan’s mother, have both forgiven Robinson and included him in the work of their foundation. Aug. 6, 2022.

Singer Eva Cassidy didn’t live to see her enduring success; Annapolis finally honors her

Eva Cassidy might be the most famous musical artist to ever live in Annapolis, but it took 26 years and a mural dedication for the city to mount a tribute concert in her honor. Acquaintances, co-workers, friends, family, bandmates, roommates and even ex-boyfriends all were among the attendees at the dedication in August of “Maryland Songbird,” a portrait of Cassidy painted on a Cathedral Street building in Annapolis.

Guests gather for the dedication of a new mural of the late singer Eva Cassidy on West Street in Annapolis on Aug. 21, 2022.

Tomatoes in the bullpen: At Camden Yards, an Orioles tradition comes alive again

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The origin of the tomato plant in the bullpen extends far before any current Orioles reliever was born, back when the competitive spirit of manager Earl Weaver met the expertise of groundskeeper Pasquale “Pat” Santarone in the 1960s. Now, all these years later, the tomato plant has returned to a Baltimore baseball stadium for the first time since Santarone retired in 1991 — shortly before Camden Yards opened.

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Earl Weaver and Pat Santarone, right, display a couple of stadium tomatoes grown with the aid of racehorse Spectacular Bid's manure. Baltimore Sun file photo August 1979

‘Do you want to be great?’ Morgan’s Magnificent Marching Machine gets first new band director in almost 50 years.

Jorim Reid Sr., the new band director at Morgan State University, said he wants to usher in a new era while respecting the groundwork laid before his arrival. Making Morgan State history, he named four drum majors this year, one of whom is Morgan State’s first-ever female drum major, Angel Mitchell.

Dr. Jorim Reid, right, the new band director at Morgan State University, conducts band rehearsal Aug. 31, 2022.

‘The power of this place is undeniable’: Harriet Tubman School reopens as cultural center, museum in Columbia

It’s been 60 years since Bessie Bordenave graduated from the Harriet Tubman School in Columbia, but the place still feels like a part of her. Bordenave, president of the nonprofit Harriet Tubman Foundation, has worked with many others in the county to preserve the school’s legacy for two decades. In September, under blue skies, the building officially reopened as the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, dedicated to highlighting the history of Black Howard County residents.

In the Ophelia Barnes Exhibit Hall, Kori Jones, the new Harriet Tubman Cultural Center manager, explains the Era of Civil Service theme at the new Harriet Tubman Cultural Center in Columbia. The Harriet Tubman School opened in 1949 as Howard County's only all-Black high school until it was closed through desegregation in 1965 and subsequently used for more than 50 years by the Howard County Public School system. In 2015, a MOU was executed with HCPSS to transfer ownership of the school building and the property to the county to be preserved as a historic, educational and cultural center. More than $9.3 million has been invested in the project since 2017. Sept. 13, 2022

In Under Armour program targeting young, Black creative talent, interns design basketball uniforms of the future

Two decades from now, women’s basketball players might bound across plexiglass, LED-powered courts wearing high-tech, compression-legging uniforms that monitor health and won’t clog landfills. The ideas, developed by four Under Armour summer interns during a diversity initiative the Baltimore-based athletic apparel brand launched in June, remain highly conceptual. But then again, the futuristic designs are not so far-fetched, said Lisa Collier, Under Armour’s chief product officer.

Jourdan Banks, Under Armour director of human resources for product, looks at the work of UA summer interns who designed a collection for women’s basketball in the future through the BLK FUTR Program. 
Sept. 1, 2022.

Busted shoes, raw nerves and Red Robin: The stories behind Justin Tucker’s pursuit of Ravens history

All these years later, after 351 field goals and 410 extra points over 11 regular seasons in Baltimore, after an additional 14 field goals and 27 extra points over five postseasons, Justin Tucker still remembers his first. “Yeah, that was a 46-yarder,” the Ravens kicker recalled. The most accurate kicker in NFL history hasn’t missed many since.

The Ravens' Justin Tucker kicks a 21-yard field goal with Jordan Stout holding against the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter Dec. 24, 2022, at M&T Bank Stadium.

‘Decided to fix it ourselves’: How Carver students, alumni, faculty plan to rehab a vacant Baltimore rowhouse

The house sat vacant on Presstman Street across from Carver Vocational-Technical High School for as long as Sterling Hardy could remember. Meanwhile, inside the classrooms of Carver, students were developing skills in carpentry, electrical work and masonry daily. It occurred to Hardy that those skills could be used to improve the surrounding neighborhood, while also giving students more hands-on experience working at a real job site.

Cameron Fletcher, a 10th grader, practices on an electrical work board as he learns rewiring for lighting. Carver Vocational-Technical High School students and instructors show visitors their training classrooms, where they learn construction skills that they can put to use in the nonprofit Requity Foundation’s renovation of a vacant town house across the street from the school. Nov. 15, 2022.

Joe Jackson has been the Santa Claus of Wyman Park for three decades. It’s a Baltimore family tradition.

For 32 years, Joe Jackson has donned the signature suit, beard, hat and glasses as the Santa Claus of Wyman Park. The suit dates back to before Jackson, 58, took on the jolly obligation. His mother, Marcie Jackson, sewed the suit for her late husband, Nick Jackson, in her kitchen with some friends from bridge club nearly 50 years ago.

Joe Jackson, the Santa of Wyman Park, speaks with Abel Oswalt, 5, as he continues the tradition of giving out gifts to the neighborhood children. Jackson’s mother made the Santa suit 48 years ago for his dad. He has appeared as St. Nick for 32 years. Dec. 17, 2022.

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