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'Blue Bag Betsy' dresses the part in teaching how to recycle


Your elementary school children know Department of Public Works' "Blue Bag Betsy" -- they met her in school, wrapped in blue recycling bags.

The attire, which began as a Halloween costume, became part of Betsy McMillion's elementary school presentations, a recycling fashion statement as she visits the schools, initiating recycling programs.

Through the children, Betsy has been teaching county adults how to recycle.

I experienced the effectiveness of her teaching last spring, after my son, Sam, saw her presentation on the "Six Ring Program" at Dunloggin Middle School.

The program encourages children to cut apart the plastic rings of soda six-packs and bring them to school for recycling.

At a Memorial Day party, Sam let me know most emphatically the error of my ways, and then cut the plastic into pieces.

"When the Department of Public Works decided to teach the public about recycling, we first came up with educating the kids," Betsy says.

"Kids gently remind their parents to rinse out the milk from milk bottles and remove the tops from plastic bottles."

Area schools approach recycling individually.

While Dunloggin Middle's Penny Zimring began the six-pack ring project, Worthington Elementary School started a mixed paper recycling project for the office, creating a system that soon was being used through the school system.

Teacher Cory Geisler and parent volunteer Debbie Tipton advocated the project.

Rockburn Elementary School was one of the pilot audiences for the Recycling Rangers Club, which teaches the kids to practice the "Four R's" Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Respond.

Staff member Susan Hanshue was active in Recycling Rangers.

Elkridge Elementary School and Rockburn Elementary School initiated such strong recycling efforts that the Department of Public Works gave each school an award in May.

Betsy continues to work with the schools, particularly with the youngest children.

She'll be teaching Waverly Elementary kindergartners Sept. 26. She also teaches the children in Department of Recreation and Parks' after-school programs.

In addition, she'll speak to civic groups and seniors, forging links with all community members which want to hear her message.

And although she has volunteers working with her, she needs one more volunteer: someone to create a display to use at Miller Road or Elkridge Library.

@4 You can reach Betsy McMillion at (410) 313-6445.

Ginny Baier, our local watercolorist/writer, has been interviewed Cable Channel 8 recently in a five-minute "Performance Profile" segment.

The spot will be played at the hour or half-hour throughout the broadcasting day, most often at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Ginny is a member of the Howard County Center for the Arts and a resident artist at Mill River Galleries in the historic Dickey Mill in Oella, where her work is on display.

Her most recent magazine article, "The Color White," is in the fall issue of Watercolor Magazine, which should soon be hitting the newsstands.

You're invited to visit Ginny at her studio at Mill River Gallery in Oella, or call her at 750-2759.


Here's a note from a fresh fruit and vegetable lover to all the wonderful produce stands dotting the roads of Ellicott City: Thanks for the corn, tomatoes, blackberries and peaches.

Permanent stands include Harbin's, a fixture on Route 99 at Bethany Lane, which sells local fruits and home-grown vegetables, honey and fresh eggs.

Baugher's is now on New Cut Road, after a move around the corner to escape traffic problems.

And Dampman's sits on Route 99 farm property, requiring us suburbanites to drive back onto the farm, partaking of the rural environment while we fill our cars with fragrant cantaloupe and peaches.

As long as I can remember, these stands have been selling vegetables.

Then there's Clark's corn stand on Route 108.

On Route 103, Baugher sells home-grown fruit Saturday mornings from the driveway of his home, where you see fruit ripening on the trees.

Not only do these stands dispense flavorful produce, but they also dole out hints on preparing the food and apologies for the occasional corn worm.

Everyone is always sorry when peach season is over, but now it's on to the pumpkins, cider and apples.


Because of the Labor Day holiday, Jean Leslie's neighborhood column is appearing today rather than Monday as usual.

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