Celebrate the 4th of July safely

The 4th of July means patriotism, cookouts and fireworks. You can handle patriotism with the best of them, but a few precautions will help keep you safe around the grill and fireworks.

Family cookouts are fun but they can also be dangerous. Thousands of people are treated for grill related injuries every year. Remember these safety precautions:

  • Keep children and pets away. Establish a 3-foot “Kid Free Zone” around your grill.
  • Use your grill outdoors only. Keep it away from your home, deck furniture and overhanging branches that might catch fire.
  • Remove grease or fat from the grill tray so it does not flame up.
  • Never leave the grill unattended.
  • Grilling and drinking alcohol don’t mix.

The 4th of July also means fireworks. But sparklers and other fireworks can cause serious injuries. Here are 5 tips for fireworks safety:

  • Sparklers cause most fireworks injuries. They burn at high temperatures and can cause severe burns. Do not let small children handle sparklers and dispose of burned out sparklers in a bucket of water.
  • Stay away from ground based “sparkler” devices. If one does not go off as expected, douse the device with water before approaching.
  • Distance is important at public fireworks displays. Do not get too close to the launch site in case something goes wrong.
  • Do not pick up fireworks debris at these displays.
  • Just like drinking and driving, fireworks and alcohol do not mix

All Patient First neighborhood medical centers are open from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day of the year, including the 4th of July. Patient First physicians are available to speak about injury prevention and treatment. Please contact David Clark at 443-577-2907 or email david.clark@patientfirst.com for interviews.

Chilly Treats for Every Summer Occasion

— After splashing in the pool, rooting on your favorite team or playing in the backyard, nothing beats the end of a long summer day like a cool, classic treat. So grab the kids, some bowls, spoons and the trusty old ice cream scoop – and dig in.

July is National Ice Cream Month, and aficionados agree that when it comes to the best tasting ice cream, “fresh” is the must-have ingredient. For nearly 80 years, Blue Bunny has been making premium ice cream using only the best, locally-sourced milk from within 75 miles and turning it into out-of-this-world ice cream in less than 24 hours.

Dial up your summer fun with the freshness of ice cream and fruit with these recipes, and find more recipes at www.BlueBunny.com.

Cherry Vanilla Crumble Squares

Prep time: 25 minutes

Freeze time: at least 8 hours

Makes: 9 servings

1 cup old fashioned oats (rolled oats)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 package (12 ounces) frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed and well drained

1/3 cup all fruit black cherry fruit spread

4 cups Blue Bunny Sweet Freedom Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream, softened

In medium bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar and butter; mix thoroughly. Remove 1/2 cup and set aside; pour remaining crumb mixture in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.

Coarsely chop cherries and transfer to medium bowl. Add fruit spread, stirring to blend. Pour over crust, gently spreading evenly in bottom. Spoon ice cream over top, gently spreading evenly. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Cover and freeze at least 8 hours. Cut into squares to serve.

Honey-Peach Frozen Yogurt Sundaes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

1/3 cup walnut halves

2 medium fresh peaches, sliced

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

4 scoops (1/2 cup each) Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt

2/3 cup fresh raspberries

In medium skillet over medium heat, cook walnuts until toasted, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool. When cool enough to handle, chop very coarsely. Set aside.

In same skillet over medium heat, combine peaches, honey, cinnamon and cloves; cook and stir until peaches soften. Cool several minutes before spooning equally over frozen yogurt.

Top each serving with about 4 raspberries. Serve immediately.

Cool Party Cubes

Prep time: 30 minutes Freeze time: at least 1 hour

Makes: 4 servings

2 squares (2 ounces) white chocolate baking squares

1/2 cup prepared vanilla frosting

4 Blue Bunny Premium Birthday Party Ice Cream Sandwiches

2 medium firm kiwi, peeled

1 3/4 cups halved small strawberries (or large strawberries cut into chunks)

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

3 tablespoons peach preserves (pineapple, mango or apricot could be substituted)

Grate or shred white chocolate with box grater onto large plate. Thinly spread frosting on one side of one ice cream sandwich, keeping remaining sandwiches in freezer. Press frosting side into white chocolate, spread frosting on unfrosted side, turn and press into white chocolate.

Return to freezer; repeat with remaining ice cream sandwiches. Freeze at least 1 hour, until solid. (May be kept covered in freezer overnight.)

Thirty minutes before serving, cut kiwi into thick slices, then cut slices into quarters. Place in medium bowl along with other fruit. Heat preserves in microwave-safe bowl, just until melted (20 seconds in a 1250 watt microwave), breaking up large pieces of fruit. Pour over fruit and toss to coat; chill 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove prepared ice cream sandwiches from freezer, cut each into bite-size squares; arrange with glazed fruit in 4 dessert bowls or plates.

Fruit Salsa Sundaes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

1 cup fresh pineapple chunks

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

6 medium fresh strawberries, diced

1 large kiwi, peeled and diced

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

4 small firm bananas, cut in half lengthwise

8 1/3 cups Blue Bunny Premium Banana Split Ice Cream

Fat-free whipped topping, optional

Chocolate sprinkles, optional

4 maraschino cherries, optional

In medium skillet over medium-low heat, cook pineapple and brown sugar just until pineapple is softened, 5 minutes. Add strawberries, kiwi and cumin; cook several minutes until fruit is heated through.

Arrange 2 banana halves in each of 4 dessert bowls; top each with 2 scoops ice cream. Spoon glazed fruits equally over ice cream. Garnish with whipped topping, chocolate sprinkles and a maraschino cherry, if desired. Serve immediately.

Close Contest Slips Away

— Bowie led early on Wednesday night, but Akron slowly crept back passing the Baysox late as Bowie fell 6-2 in the second of four games at Canal Park.

For the Baysox, the lead could have been more early. They registered three hits without a run in the first as 1B Trey Mancini was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. In the second, 3B Drew Dosch singled home two runs to give the Baysox a 2-0 lead. They left two more in scoring position though to end the frame. The Baysox had a 2-0 lead on seven hits in two innings.

Baysox starter Parker Bridwell was overpowering at times. After working three hitless innings he battled through the fourth. He allowed a solo home run to Akron’s Ryan Rohlinger to open the frame but struck out the final two batters of the inning to keep it 2-1 Bowie.

Bridwell then fanned the side in order in the fifth inning for five consecutive strikeouts. He equaled a season-high with nine strikeouts in the game. It was a 13th time in 15 starts he allowed three earned runs or less.

Akron tied the game in the sixth inning on a two-out RBI-single from CF Destin Hood. Then in the seventh inning, LF Bryson Myles hit a flyball triple down the right field line off of reliever Gene Escat and later scored on a soft single up the middle from C Jeremy Lucas.

With Akron atop 3-2, the RubberDucks notched three unearned runs for ample insurance in the eighth inning.

Baysox 2B Corban Joseph was 3-for-4 in the game with a double. Bowie had four players register multi-hit games. It was the second night in a row but just the sixth time all year that Bowie outhit an opponent but lost. The Baysox scored two runs on 12 hits.

The Baysox continue a four-game series in Akron with RHP Joe Gunkel getting the starting nod. Coverage will begin 20-minutes prior on 1430wnav.com and the Tune-In Radio App by searching Bowie Baysox.

Bowie returns home for a Fireworks Extravaganza on Saturday, July 4th as the Erie SeaWolves come to Prince George’s Stadium. Be a part of the best Fireworks Show of the Season! Get tickets via phone at 301-805-6000 or online at baysox.com.

Maryland strengthens effort to keep retailers from selling tobacco to minors

— Though it is illegal to sell tobacco products to youths under 18, in the past two years, Maryland has seen a troubling increase in the number of retailers selling tobacco products to minors – in violation of federal, state and local laws. Underage access to tobacco products is unacceptable in Maryland.

To assist retailers across Maryland with complying with youth access laws, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has launched a “Responsible Tobacco Retailer” campaign. In the coming days, all licensed tobacco retailers in Maryland will be receiving in the mail toolkits that include information on tobacco sales laws, to educate store owners and to assist them with employee training. The kits also include stickers, magnets, window clings and posters for use in retail environments.

“We encourage all tobacco retailers in the state to display these materials in their stores, as well as to train employees on the law and how to comply with it,” said DHMH Secretary Van Mitchell. “Together, we can stop the sales of these harmful products to our youth.” Additional information on the campaign and materials may be downloaded from the website www.NoTobaccoSalesToMinors.com.

“The sale of cigarettes to minors is a serious issue and the Comptroller’s Office is committed to supporting local health departments, law enforcement and DHMH in their efforts to combat this problem,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot. “My field enforcement agents are working aggressively to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children by cracking down on cigarette smuggling, which costs our state significant revenue and makes cigarettes more accessible to young people.”

“DHMH’s unprecedented outreach to the retail community shows a real commitment to bring retailers into compliance and to ensure that the laws of Maryland are understood and being followed by retailers and employees,” said Ellen Valentino, Executive Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association, a retail organization representing convenience stores and service stations.

According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, every day more than 1,300 people die in the United States due to smoking. Nearly 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 18 and 5.6 million children alive today will ultimately die early from smoking if more is not done to reduce current smoking rates. Tobacco use among youth increases the likelihood for lifetime nicotine dependence, loss of income, and premature death. There is also increased risk for lung cancer, oral cancer, bladder cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and increased infant mortality.

While many retailers remain compliant in checking IDs and in refusing to sell tobacco to minors, an increasing number are not. During DHMH inspections conducted randomly across Maryland from October 2012 to September 2013, nearly one in four tobacco retailers checked were found to have sold cigarettes to minors. Subsequent random inspections conducted in 2014 found noncompliance rates over 31 percent.

As a result, increased checks are now under way to help retailers follow all laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors. Compliance checks utilize authorized, underage youth inspectors following strict, federally designed protocols. Retailers must:

· Check government-issued IDs of any customer under the age of 27 who is attempting to purchase tobacco products;

· Ensure the ID shows that these customers are at least age 18; and

· Refuse to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.

Retailers found violating youth access laws will be referred to the Maryland Office of the Comptroller for administrative hearings that could lead to suspension of their state tobacco licenses.

America’s favorite fast food chain is…

— Not everyone likes Chick-fil-A’s politics, but they sure seem to like the food.

It’s the highest ranking fast food restaurant in the U.S. for customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report 2015.

The chicken restaurant was the subject of controversy and protests a few years ago after its CEO made remarks that offended the LGBT community.

But that hasn’t stopped fans from flocking to its restaurants, and giving it high marks for customer experience.

“It is laser focused on a particular product,” said Forrest Morgeson, director of research at ACSI. “It focuses on one thing and does it exceptionally well … and that is chicken sandwiches.”

This is Chick-fil-A’s debut on the list and its score is the highest ever achieved in the category.

Chipotle Mexican Grill also made its introduction in this year’s survey, and took home second place.

Fast-food hamburger chains seem to be losing some luster with McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s all experiencing a drop in customer satisfaction from 2014. McDonald’s came in last place of all fast food restaurants.

“All those companies down at bottom [of the list] have been around for a very long time, they just aren’t as fresh any more in the mind of the consumer, just not exciting,” said Morgeson.

Consumers are also increasingly becoming more dissatisfied with pizza chains, according to the study. Little Ceasars, Domino’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut all suffered a 5% or more drop in satisfaction.

In the battle of the coffee giants, Dunkin’ Donuts came out ahead of Starbucks. Dunkin’ Donuts’ customer satisfaction increased 4%, while Starbucks experienced a 3% drop.

“They are expanding into new markets … reaching new consumers” Morgeson said about Dunkin Donuts. “They have freshened up their brand a little bit and improved their perception of quality and are still price competitive.”

Customer satisfaction in the fast food industry took a step back last year. The average score among fast food companies is down nearly 4% from 2014. Courtesy of staff, speed of checkout or delivery, food quality and order accuracy worsened this year compared to last year.

While satisfaction with the restaurant industry has waned, the survey found Americans still eat out an average of four times a week.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index included responses from more than 5,000 individuals and ranked the food established from a scale of 1 to 100.

1) Chick-fil-A — 86

2) Chipotle Mexican Grill — 83

3) All Others — 81

4) Panera Bread — 80

5) Papa John’s — 78

5) Pizza Hut — 78

5) Dunkin’ Donuts — 78

8) Subway — 77

9) Domino’s — 75

10) Little Caesars — 74

10) Starbucks — 74

10) Arby’s — 74

13) Wendy’s — 73

13) KFC — 73

Civil Legal Aid in Maryland – The Facts

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr. once proclaimed, “Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building, it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists…it is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.”

This sentiment remains true today in Maryland, as the income gap between rich and poor continues to grow ever wider. Without a doubt, civil legal aid is needed now more than ever. We can speak about the need for more civil legal services for Maryland’s low-income residents, but the real underlying need is for people to be educated on what civil legal aid can do to help address fundamental legal issues most of us will face in a lifetime. Marylanders – at all income levels and in all professions – need a better understanding of what civil legal aid does, who it helps and why there’s such a significant need in our state.

A key to education is debunking common misconceptions. Here are five common myths our organization – Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) – often hears.

MYTH No. 1: Everyone has access to a lawyer through the public defenders office.

In truth, only those charged with criminal offenses in the U.S. have the right to a lawyer under the Constitution, not those involved in civil disputes. In Maryland, individuals involved in most civil matters must represent themselves in court if they cannot afford a lawyer, even when fundamental rights such as maintaining a home or child custody are at stake.

MYTH No. 2: Those who represent themselves are just as successful as those who have a lawyer.

This is a myth because we’ve seen that Marylanders who are involved in civil lawsuits are 6.5 times more likely to succeed if they have representation, according to a survey by the Task Force to Study Implementing a Civil Right to Counsel in Maryland. A whopping 80 percent of low-income Marylanders involved in civil lawsuits represent themselves in court. To these individuals – there are organizations that exist specifically to help you, including Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service.

MYTH No. 3: Civil legal aid programs place a financial burden on the State of Maryland and its taxpayers.

On the contrary, legal assistance to low-income Marylanders is a significant economic boost to the State. In fact, civil legal aid in Maryland creates $190 million per year in total economic impact, including $12.6 million in economic stimulus to the state, $3.7 million in state expenditures saved, and $882,096 in tax revenue, according to the Maryland Judiciary’s Access to Justice Commission.

MYTH No. 4: Lawyers don’t have time to dedicate to helping those who can’t pay.

Maryland lawyers have a professional responsibility to render pro bono legal service. In fact, they are encouraged to fulfill an aspirational goal of 50 hours per year for full-time lawyers, and are required to report on their pro bono activities annually. According to a study by the Access to Justice Commission, 57.37 percent of full time lawyers have participated in pro bono work over the past eleven years and 22.2 percent meet the aspirational goal of 50 hours a year

MYTH No. 5: The civil legal system is only for people who are suing for personal injury, property damage or contract violations.

False. Civil cases go well beyond personal injury, property damage and contract violations and impact a significant number of individuals. Civil legal aid keeps families in their homes by preventing foreclosure or resolving landlord-tenant conflicts, opens an estate for a grieving widow, keeps families together through custody agreements, helps terminally ill individuals draft planning documents, among other personal circumstances.

Marylanders do not need to navigate the civil legal system without help. There are numerous service organizations throughout Maryland that offer free or low cost civil legal aid, programs and services. The Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC.org) is a valuable resource – and provides a comprehensive list of service providers in the state. Visit the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLSlaw.org) website to find out if you qualify to be matched with a volunteer lawyer. If you’re a lawyer looking to help this cause, MVLS is a great place to start.

It Wasn’t Common Core or More Money—Here’s How I Learned to Truly Value My Students

— The summer after my first year of teaching was a relief. And a surprise. Upon receiving the results of my students’ language arts tests at the state, district and local levels, I found that my good intentions as a teacher did not equal student success.

I Went Searching for Answers

I looked for books, articles and research that would help me teach my mostly African-American students better. I expected the search to yield better practices and instructional strategies.

Instead, I discovered something more disturbing: My teaching was fueled by perceptions of what my students should be—compliant and ready-made, with great study habits and a love for reading—rather than who they actually were.

I cherished my own middle-class culture and customs above theirs. I did not value the culture of the students I taught.

I assumed that teaching from a quality curriculum and expressing a fondness for my students would result in their achievement and dedication. I was wrong.

Those actions communicated respect and duty, both important courtesies, but neither was deep enough to drive student achievement and transformation. Extended time in school, testing, and even culturally responsive instruction only work well when each effort is powered by a deep and abiding value of students’ lives and cultures.

Many Junes have passed since that first one and each summer got better when I committed to seeing the reality of my students’ lives.

I Went Into Their Communities

Visiting students at their places of comfort was always a joy.

I would see a struggling English student differently after she belted out a solo in church. The interactions between my boys became clearer to me after seeing the pecking order on the blacktop.

Classroom management is different with a student after you have cheered for them next to their parents at a championship football game. Great teaching is dependent upon the ability to match what you know about students to the skills and knowledge they need to learn in order to make a positive impact on the world.

When I really understood my students’ passions and perspectives, I began to create bridges between their daily realities and their future possibilities.

Their Interests Became Mine

The smile on a child’s face after you remembered their latest fantasy football triumph is enough to get into teaching alone.

It was through listening to endless “he said, she said” drama that I learned how storytelling could impact reading comprehension. They applauded my effort. I risked my pride to devise zany ways, like singing, to engage them and make the content they had to read and discuss relevant to their lives.

Sometimes it landed perfectly, other times, it flopped. My students were happy I tried. I went out of my way to show them that their experiences, preferences and culture would not be locked out of instruction.

If you want to know your students’ culture, books can help, but listening to, conversing with and really observing your students can get you to the truth of who they are quicker than anything else.

Self-Disclosure Was Part of the Bargain

One summer, I watched the movie Freedom Writers and by next fall, every student of mine had a journal. Those journals were sacred to me. As I read and commented on their thoughts, they began to write more and more, and as I became interested in their lives, they became interested in mine.

I began to make self-disclosure a part of my new classroom practice. The children knew about my wedding plans, my joy at the birth of my first child and my undying love for the Buffalo Bills.

That’s the thing about students—they might forget your lessons, but they will never forget your interest. To this day, I am fascinated with children.

Once the summer melted into winter, wins in the classroom became a bit more spaced out. When you are unable to motivate a child to complete an assignment or behave in a way that helps them succeed, when you can’t reach a parent with a working number, the Common Core will not help. Neither will more money or another irrelevant professional development.

It is at that moment that you need a why to go on that is birthed from a desire to value students. This why allows you to do uncomfortable things in the service of improving student achievement and life outcomes for black and brown faces.

As you get closer to the history, culture and experience of black and brown students, you inevitably value the resiliency that runs throughout their history. It changed the way they looked to me, because I was truly seeing them for the very first time.

Thus, the power of value is really this: it has the potential to transform the very identity upon whom it is given.

Josh Parker is a compliance specialist in the Office of Title I of Baltimore County Public Schools and is the 2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Maryland Judiciary warns of new jury duty scam

— The Maryland Judiciary wants to warn the public about a new, more sophisticated scam that has been reported in southern Maryland, but also may be happening elsewhere throughout the state.

In the most recent telephone scam, the caller claims to work for the court and is calling about failing to appear for jury duty. People who have been called say the caller is persuasive and convincing. The caller asks for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal information and attempts to persuade the individual targeted to use a PayPal account to pay a “fine.” The caller uses the names of real court officials, including the Clerk of the Court, and provides a bogus email address and phone number with real or real-sounding names. The number is not an official government telephone number, but callers to that number get a recording that claims they have reached the warrant division of the Sheriff’s Department.

These calls are scams. Courts do not call or email people to obtain payments or personal information. If you get such a call, hang up. Do not make any payments by PayPal or share any personal information. If you have received a call about jury duty, contact the Circuit Court in your jurisdiction. The Clerk’s Office in Charles County, where several reports of this scam have occurred, is working with local law enforcement. Contact information for courts is available on the Maryland Judiciary website’s courts directory.