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West Friendship: Alan Bandel, a gentle giant and Howard County Fair regular, remembered

With the new year upon us, we await new beginnings as we bid farewell to a gentle giant who left us in November.

Lifelong Howard County resident Alan Bandel died Nov. 2. He was known to so many in our area for his steady and earnest involvement in local clubs: the Glenelg United Methodist Church, the Lisbon United Methodist Church, the Antique Farm Machinery Club, the Howard County Farm Bureau, the Howard County Soil Conservation Board and the Howard High School alumni organization. Bandel’s life and work were representative of a love of farming, the land and all things rural.

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Bandel earned his doctorate in soil fertility from the University of Maryland in 1965. He distinguished himself as an authority and early proponent of “No-Till,” a farming technique once considered radical but now proven to improve crop yields, conserve topsoil and, most significantly, reduce chemical run-off, a factor critically important to Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

He was a fixture at the Howard County Fair each August, where, along with his brother Don, he would parade their lovingly restored John Deere tractors. One of our region’s greatest sons is gone but his legacy lives on in the deep roots of our town.

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Bandel leaves behind Marilyn, his wife of 60 years, his daughter Cheryl and son-in-law Scott, his son David and daughter-in-law Amy, his brother Donald and sister-in-law Anne, and four beloved grandchildren: Lydia and Braden Wingate and Jake and Jonathan Bandel. Condolences to Alan Bandel’s family from all in the community.

Area folks have spotted something special in our neighborhood. Local birder Lisa Colangelo notes a pair of bald eagles that appear to be scouring the area for a good nesting spot. Colangelo saw them on Jan. 7 “looking magnificent against the bright blue sky.”

Other reports include sightings at the Howard County Fairgrounds and the campus of the Antique Farm Machinery Club in West Friendship. Welcome newcomers, indeed.

Every 20 years, the bird clubs in Maryland conduct a Breeding Bird Survey. The current survey, documenting different species of birds that build nests and raise young in Maryland, will be conducted from 2020 to 2024. Colangelo participates in the endeavor and is covering the West Friendship area. If you observe any bird nesting behavior now or in the coming spring, contact her at lcolangelo@verizon.net.

The Spur and Stirrup 4-H used tack sale comes to the Howard County fairgrounds in West Friendship from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 1. Hundreds of new and used horse items for sale. Table rentals are available. Contact Allison Olson at 240-426-9860.

Special thanks to one of our region’s quiet angels. Suzy Hill has raised thousands of dollars for area charities, not to mention preparing and serving up Thanksgiving dinner for hundreds of shelter residents in November. Fitting, that Hill’s new year message is, “Loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on Earth.”

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