Long-Awaited Community Center Opens with Gym, Dance Studio, Computers

After years of construction delays, the Fort Washington Forest Community Center officially opened September 27.

New Fort Washington Forest Fitness Center
New Fort Washington Forest Fitness Center

The new community center includes a full-sized gymnasium, a weight room, a dance studio, a computer lab, an arts and crafts room, multipurpose rooms, and a teen lounge. Attached to Fort Washington Forest Elementary School, the community center is within easy walking distance of Piscataway Hills, directly across Indian Head Highway (MD 210) at 1200 Fillmore Road.

Basketball players enjoy new gym after grand opening
Basketball players enjoy new gym after grand opening

Classes currently being offered at the center include basketball, zumba, sewing, jewelry, computers, senior fitness, tae kwon do, spin, and a wide variety of dance.

The center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Xtreme Teens only from 7-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 301-292-4300 or see the center’s web site.

Shoreline Cleanup Removes 1,000 Pounds of Trash, 6 Tires

The Piscataway Hills shoreline is now more beautiful than ever, thanks to the 25th Annual Potomac River Cleanup.

Mike Kutzleb (right) and other volunteers load the 48 bags of trash and other debris they cleaned up into a trailer for disposal.
Mike Kutzleb (right) and other volunteers load the 48 bags of trash and other debris they cleaned up into a trailer for disposal.

Thirty volunteers from Piscataway Hills gathered at 9 a.m. on April 6 at Lot 39 Waterfront Park to pick up trash along Piscataway Creek. Working well past noon, the volunteers collected 48 bags of trash and six tires. At 20 pounds per bag, plus the tires, the workers pulled approximately 1,000 pounds of trash from the shore- line, estimated cleanup cocoordinator Debbie Kutzleb.

The cleanup included all the shoreline along Lot 39, along with about half a mile along the adjacent National Park Service property. Dave Lishin, the other cleanup co-coordinator, also picked up three bags and seven tires on the Accokeek side of Piscataway Creek.

Shoreline areas that had been cleaned in previous years had relatively little trash, allowing the cleanup effort to focus on additional stretches that needed attention. It was apparent to the volunteers that the annual cleanup has been steadily improving the condition of the Potomac River and its tributaries.

Beautiful spring weather aided this year’s cleanup effort, and the volunteers received coffee and donuts to keep up their strength during the work period, and were rewarded with a cookout at Lot 39 afterward.

The Potomac Cleanup is run by the Alice Ferguson foundation, which also runs the Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek. The 2013 cleanup included 633 sites reporting from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, according to the Foundation. A total of 14,586 volunteers picked up 312 tons of trash, including 193,800 beverage containers 27,400 cigarettes, 27,200 plastic bags, and 1,314 tires.

Yikes! A Snake!

By Debbie Kutzleb

Why are so many people afraid of snakes? Is it because a snake (the devil) tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, or have we been trained to fear snakes by Hollywood and childhood stories? Most of us have heard stories of dramatic snake encounters where someone was surprised by a snake; almost stepping on a snake; finding a snake in the garage; seeing a snake while canoe- ing or fishing . . . While such stories can be entertaining, they also reinforce our fear of snakes. The truth is that there are very few species of poisonous snakes in the U.S. and most people have no personal adverse experience from a snake encounter—other than fear. Snakes have been revered and worshiped in mythology around the globe in India, Africa, Australia, Europe, and North American Indian societies. Pharaohs of Egypt wore snakes on the headdress with the belief that they were protective. Greeks thought snakes had healing powers, and American Hopi Indian mythology describes a “yellow-snake-with-rattles” suddenly becoming the loveliest and fairest of maidens.

While ancient mythology is hardly a reason to abandon a fear of snakes,
the truth about snakes may help “set you free” of fear. Within the United States, approximately 7,000–8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year, and about five of those people die. In Maryland there are 27 species of snakes, only two of which are poisonous: the Copperhead and Timber Rattlesnake, and there are no Rattle- snakes anywhere near Piscataway Hills. Contrary to popular opinion, there are no Water Moccasin / Cotton Mouth snakes in Maryland. Copperheads account for more cases of venomous snake bite than any other North American species; however, their venom is the least toxic, so their bite is seldom fatal. According to Maryland Poison Control Center, only two to six people are bitten in Maryland by poisonous snakes each year, and when bitten even when untreated, death is very, very rare. Compare snake bite fatalities with other risks facing Marylanders. Each year in Maryland, 500 people die in traffic accidents; 70 drown, and 50 die from fire injury. If the fear of snakes was rational, who among us would have the courage to leave the house? In the famous words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

In the seven years I’ve lived in Piscataway Hills, I’ve seen dozens of snakes while working in the garden, paddling the creek, or tromping in the woods. Most of them have been Eastern Rat Snakes or Northern Water Snakes, but I’ve been lucky to also see a Northern Rough Green Snake, Common Ribbon Snakes, Eastern Garter Snakes, and Northern Brown Snakes, and have been especially pleased to have seen an Eastern King Snake. Although other neighbors have reported seeing Copperheads, I have never witnessed a Copperhead in Piscataway Hills. Why am I so sure? I’m usually looking for any creature great or small, and Copperheads are easy to identify. Compared to most other Maryland snakes, Copperheads are stocky, heavy bodied snakes. They have a distinctive brown hour glass pattern, and like all poisonous viper snakes, their head is significantly broader than their neck. Copperheads often have a copper colored head and can be brown, yellow brown, pale tan, or grey.

Enough already about a snake seldom seen. Regardless of the species
of snake, all snakes are beneficial and rarely a pest in Maryland. Without snakes, it’s likely the woods would be overrun by rodents: moles, voles, mice, and rats. A single rodent-eating snake (Eastern Rat Snake) can wipe out a rat family in a matter of weeks. Rodents (particularly mice) are the source of spirochetal bacteria that is the cause of Lyme disease. That’s right, deer are not the source of Lyme disease; they are merely the last host in the life cycle of Lyme disease- infected ticks and play no role in infecting ticks with Lyme disease bacteria.

Besides helping control Lyme disease (too bad snakes don’t eat deer), snakes are great garden creatures. They don’t dig holes, although they can often be found in holes dug by other animals. Several small snakes can control the grasshopper population in a small garden, and the best cure for a chipmunk infestation is a snake. Unless harassed, snakes don’t make noise, and usually the only evidence of snakes in your garden is an occasional snake skin.

Snakes do not carry or transmit rabies, fleas, mange, or skin fungus,
and generally do not transmit diseases, although there are rare cases of salmonella infections from handling snakes. So next time you see a snake, don’t pick it up. Instead, give it a wide berth as they are mostly afraid of humans, and give thanks for all the good it does for our ecosystem.

Boy Scout Troop 1572

By Ian Wilmoth

Boy Scout Troop 1572, located nearby in Clinton, is a very active organization. The Boy Scouts welcome boys from 11 to 17 years old to join in camping, hiking, biking, backpacking, serving the community, and becoming prepared for anything life can throw at them. Last year, Scouts from Troop 1572 went whitewater rafting, kayaking, and camping at Solomon’s Island, placed luminaries at Antietam National Battlefield, and camped in the snow at Harper’s Ferry! Very recently, many members of Troop 1572 who were 14 or older made the trip to the Philmont High Adventure Base in New Mexico for a week of backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. Past high adventure trips include canoeing in Maine, biking the C&O Canal towpath, and scuba diving at Florida Sea Base.

Cub Scout Pack 1572 is a very active Pack located in the same place as Troop 1572. Cub Scouting allows boys from 7 to 10 years old to participate in family camping, pinewood derby races, and learning about the outdoors. Each age group has its own Den. Recent pack activities include snow tubing at Liberty Mountain Resort, family camping at Solomon’s Island Naval Recreation Center, and cleaning up the biking trail at National Harbor with the help of the Troop.
Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting hold plenty of adventure!

Come to one of Troop 1572’s meetings! They are held every Wednesday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., except the last one of the month, at St. Mary’s Church Hall, 13407 Piscataway Road, Clinton, MD 20735
Troop 1572’s website: http://bsatroop1572.scoutlander.com/

Come to one of Pack 1572’s meetings! The entire Pack meets once a month at St. Mary’s Church Hall, 13407 Piscataway Road, Clinton, MD 20735.
Each Cub Scout Den holds 2 additional meetings a month.
Pack 1572’s website: http://pack1572.scoutlander.com/

Rabid Raccoon Attacks Piscataway Hills Resident in Driveway

racoon
Raccoon with glowing eyes just before attack

Kris Ran Court resident Pat Myers was about to close her garage door at about 8:30 p.m. on June 26 when she saw an animal run in. She looked closer and saw the glowing eyes of a raccoon.

Not alarmed by seeing a raccoon in the evening, she pulled out her camera and took its picture. But then it started walking toward her and Pat ran toward her car in the driveway.

“The raccoon then ran after me—very fast—and before I could get the car door open, it jumped on me, scratching and biting me on both hands and legs,” Pat wrote later in a Facebook post. “I screamed and was able to throw it off, but it jumped right back on me, biting me more. Finally, I was able to get in the car and roll up the window and back out.”

Neighbors Virginia and Earl Parsons heard Pat’s screams and ran over to help. They warned other neighbors and called 911, while Pat drove to pick up her daughter, Valerie, from a music lesson and then to Fort Washington Hospital.

The hospital staff said that a scrawny, aggressive raccoon was probably rabid. Pat had numerous bites and scratches on both her arms and legs and on her back, but she didn’t need stitches. She received a tetanus shot, a rabies immune globulin shot in her arm, and two rabies shots in addition to the ones on the wounds. She had to go back for a shot in the arm at three, seven, and 14 days later. The treatments were successful and Pat has fully recovered.

A County animal control officer responded the same evening to the neighbors’ 911 call. She took a report and searched for the raccoon without success. Animal Control set a trap the next evening, and something ate the bait overnight and escaped. Mike Reamy on Piscataway Court spotted a raccoon shortly afterward, but animal control officers doubted that it was the same one, because it had not acted aggressively.

The incident caused considerable concern for several days on Kris Ran Court and Pine Road, especially since the rabid raccoon was never caught. However, animal control officers assured residents that a raccoon in apparently such a late stage of rabies would die within a few days.

Kayaking Companions Sought

Kris Ran Court resident Stephanie Yankey enjoys our community’s access to Piscataway Creek and the Potomac River, but she doesn’t like to go out in her kayak alone. So she is seeking other Piscataway Hills residents with kayaks or canoes to join her in weekend or evening boating outings.

“I just don’t like to go by myself,” Stephanie said recently, explaining that boating in groups of two or more is better for both safety and companionship. It’s more fun, she said, to have someone “to go with and talk with.”

Stephanie keeps a kayak at the canoe rack at Lot 39 Waterfront Park and hopes that regular boating trips will encourage more people to make use of the amenity. She believes the $20 annual storage fee for PHCA members is well worth the cost.

Anyone who is interested in getting together for boating excursions can contact Stephanie. Those without a kayak may be able to borrow one.

Lost Dog

A small friendly black male dog with a little brown on mussel and legs, curled tail, and peaked ears followed Gwynn Roberson home and he is in her house. He has a blue cloth collar but no tags or identification. If this is your dog or you know who he belongs to, call Gwynn.

PHCA Wine Tasting and Jazz Festival

The PHCA Wine-tasting event WILL BE HELD today from 4:00 to 6:00 pm but has been moved to an indoor location because of the weather. It will be held at the Kutzleb home, at the last house on the left at the end of Piscataway Drive.

Entrance Cleanup 4/13 @ 1PM

It would be appreciated if you could send a broadcast to the Hillers to notify them of a clean-up day at the sign on Saturday 4/13 at 1:00 pm. Everyone will need to bring their own tools and trash bags (rake, hand spade, weed pullers, pruners, lopers to cut bamboo, etc.).

Thanks for your help,
Gail