Bridging the political divide

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Among common tips for staying friends with people or avoiding uncomfortable family dinners is to stay away from discussions about politics.

But Jim Carpenter and Natalie Abbas want to talk politics in a respectful and empathetic way. And the two — a Democrat from Frederick and a Republican from Myersville — want to help others in Frederick County have these discussions.

The two are part of Better Angels, an organization founded in 2016, to teach people how to talk politics.

Carpenter and Abbas join City Editor Allen Etzler to talk about having politically-charged conversations and give suggestions for how to handle some hot-button topics.

Then food and education reporter Katryna Perera joins producer Heather Mongilio to talk about her latest review at Cinco de Mayo, which has locations in Urbana and Middletown.

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How horses sparked protests downtown

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Horse-drawn carriages are a common site in downtown Frederick around the holidays.

So are the protests that accompany them.

The Frederick Board of Aldermen recently took up the issue of horse-drawn carriages again, this time looking at how often horses need to take a break.

City reporter Colin McGuire joins producer Heather Mongilio to talk about the history behind the horse-drawn carriages and the aldermen’s latest decision.

Then, food reporter Katryna Perera joins the show to talk about her latest food review.

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Frederick's interactive way of getting public comment

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The city of Frederick is beginning to create its comprehensive plan, and city officials want public feedback. 

There's a questionnaire on the city's website, but the city has offered a new tool as well in the form of an interactive map. Now, people can select an area on the map, such as a particular road, and submit a comment. Those comments are then sent to the planning department for review. 

Comments are then made public, so anyone, including producer Heather Mongilio, can look at them. Mongilio invited Frederick Mayor Michael O'Connor to talk more about the comprehensive plan and the interactive map. 

Then Mongilio goes to Brunswick, where she spoke with Councilman Nathan Brown about the movement to create a conservation district for its downtown. 

Finally, food and education reporter Katryna Perera comes into the studio to talk about her latest food review. 

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Farmers following in their family's footsteps

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The past few years have been rough on farmers.

Changing economics, weather and other factors have caused family-run farms — especially those in the dairy industry, — to sell land or the complete farm to make ends meet.

Even in Frederick County, the number of dairy farms are dwindling. In 1950, there were 1,369. As of Aug. 7, there were 60, according to the story reported by Kate Masters and Allen Etzler.

Masters and Etzler spoke to the next generation of farmers. The ones who are taking over the farms left in the county.

Etzler joined producer Heather Mongilio to talk about reporting the story and what he took away.

Then, Ben Sowers, co-owner of South Mountain Creamery, talks to Mongilio about taking over his family farm with his sister and his hopes for his children and his sister’s children.

Mongilio and county reporter Steve Bohnel also recap the latest on the two teenage brothers charged in the assault and death of a 59-year-old Mount Airy man at The Great Frederick Fair.

And finally, education and new food reporter Katryna Perera stops by to talk about a restaurant she described as an “Indian Chipotle”.

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Come for The Great Frederick Fair, stay for the cow birth

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It's the middle of September, the pumpkin spice latte has returned to Starbucks, and Maryland is experiencing the second coming of summer.

But in Frederick County, the middle of September means one thing: the return of The Great Frederick Fair. 

And the fair is great, in size alone. But to break it down a bit more, Frederick Uncut brings the guide to The Great Frederick Fair. 

First, crime and courts reporter Jeremy Arias joins producer Heather Mongilio to discuss ride safety. The rides at the fair are inspected leading up to the beginning of the fair, and, as Arias explained, possibly during as well. 

Then Mongilio and county reporter Steve Bohnel take on The fair. Together, the two discuss everything fairgoers might need to know, from parking to food.

At its core, The Great Frederick Fair is an agriculture event, and Bohnel and Mongilio, admittedly two city-bred reporters, witnessed the birth of Buttercup, a calf. 

Examining diversity in Frederick County Public Schools curriculum

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Desiree Tucker came to Frederick County for the opportunity to send her children to a better public school system. 

She and her husband moved from Prince George's County. He worried about their children attending school in a largely white county, but Tucker said it was similar to how she grew up. 

Her child went through kindergarten, and Tucker told producer Heather Mongilio there were some eye-opening moments when it came to the lack of diversity in the school's curriculum. 

Then education reporter Katryna Perera spoke with Board of Education member Michael Bunitsky about the Racial Equity Committee and ways that FCPS does and does not include diversity in the curriculum. 

Perera joins Mongilio to talk about reporting the story after speaking with Bunitsky. 

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Parents voice concern over teacher staffing

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[Editor’s Note: Frederick County Public Schools was invited to take part in this podcast discussion, but no representative was made available. A request for written comment went unanswered.]

School has yet to start for the students at Parkway Elementary School, but it is the parents, and some kids, that have butterflies over the upcoming school year. 

Due to low teacher staffing, Frederick County Public Schools had to choose between classrooms with one teacher to approximately 30 kids or multi-grade classrooms. The schools went with the latter. 

At Parkway, there are only nine teachers this year, down from 12 the previous one. 

Producer Heather Mongilio spoke with education reporter Katryna Perera about what multi-grade classrooms are and why parents feel uneasy about the decision. 

Then three parents of Parkway students join Mongilio to talk about how the decision will affect them. 

Representatives from Frederick County Public Schools were unable to comment by deadline Monday.

Finally, features reporter Kate Masters joins Mongilio to speak about TLC's "90 Day Fiancé," which features a Frederick resident. Masters and Mongilio also speak about Burger King's Impossible Whopper and whether people can tell the difference between a beef and a plant-based burger.

Overcoming ('American Ninja Warrior') obstacles

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Tristan Poffenberger's "American Ninja Warrior" dream ended not with a bang but a splash during the Baltimore city finals. 

The 19-year-old finished 14th in the qualifying round, also in Baltimore, but the third obstacle in the city final proved too challenging. Poffenberger is one of the handful of Frederick County residents to take on the obstacle courses over the years. 

And he told Frederick Uncut producer Heather Mongilio and Sports Editor Josh Smith that he hopes to come back next year. 

Poffenberger spoke with Mongilio and Smith about his two runs and what it took to get on the show. Poffenberger also shares his story about growing up with parents who had trouble with substance use and how that led to "American Ninja Warrior."

Later, features reporter Kate Masters joins Mongilio to discuss how Frederick's city ordinance makes it difficult for breweries and distilleries to have entertainment. 

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Community gardens around the city help address food insecurity

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Connie Ray, program manager of the Frederick Food Security Network, and Hood College student Heidi Gonzalez Ramirez spent Monday morning digging holes.

The two were helping to build a greenhouse that will be used as part of the Frederick Food Security Network. The network uses produce from community gardens around the city, including those at The Frederick News-Post, to help provide fresh fruit and vegetables to those living in food deserts.

Ray and Ramirez joined Frederick Uncut producer Heather Mongilio to talk about the Frederick Food Security Network, community gardens and a new cold storage room through a grant from the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek.

Later, features reporter Kate Masters joins Mongilio to talk about her two-part series on statues in Frederick. Masters wrote about fashion designer Claire McCardell, whom people can thank for ballet flats and pockets on dresses.

A statue honoring McCardell is planned. This week in 72 Hours, Masters looks at other well-known statues around the area, including trying to figure out what the statue outside Frederick City Hall is called.

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Making movies accessible

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When Trudy Suggs, her husband and four children go to the movies, they have three options. 

They can use glasses that provide captions, use a screen that reflects captions projected from the back of the theater or go to an open captioned screening, where captions are part of the film. 

Suggs and her family are part of Frederick County's deaf community, and she spoke with producer Heather Mongilio about the how the local movie theater works to be accessible to the deaf community. 

Then News-Post reporter Becky Duke Wiesenberg, who wrote the story, spoke with Mongilio about why she wanted to report on the deaf community and how she found the Frederick Deaf Moviegoers on Facebook.

Later, Mongilio discussed the latest with the research halt at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. 

Then, Mongilio and News-Post reporter Hannah Himes traveled to Urbana where they spoke with the O'Hopp family about two giant pumpkins they are growing. 

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City alderman aims to address vacant buildings

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Walking in downtown Frederick, vacant buildings are likely on only a few people's minds. 

People stop at the local restaurants, peruse merchandise in store windows or grab a drink at one of the bars. 

But people stop their downtown stroll at 3rd Street, where a patch of vacant storefronts discourages people from continuing down Market Street, city Alderman Ben MacShane said. 

MacShane and Frederick Uncut producer Heather Mongilio walked around downtown Frederick looking at buildings that quickly gained new tenants and those that have sat empty for a year or longer. 

During the tour, MacShane talked about a proposed ordinance that would create a registry for vacant buildings. 

Later in the episode, features reporter Kate Masters joins Mongilio to talk about the upcoming edition of 72 Hours. 

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New city of Frederick logo sparks backlash

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The city of Frederick unveiled its logo over the past month and a half. When the city posted it to its Facebook page July 2, backlash was swift.

Commenters described the logo as looking like a wounded duck or something their children did in kindergarten. Others questioned the money the new design cost and why the city chose an out-of-state firm.

New-Post reporter Jeremy Arias joins Frederick Uncut producer Heather Mongilio in the studio to talk about the new logo, the backlash and steps moving forward.

Then Frederick Alderman Roger Wilson speaks with Mongilio about the process and lack of public input into the new logo.

Later in the episode, Mongilio speaks with Go Team Therapy Dogs handlers about bringing their trained therapy dogs to the Frederick County Courthouse.

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Moon landing inspires Frederick County man to join NASA

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Man landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago. 

Mike Menzel, then 9, watch as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon's surface. He was a child of the Space Age, he told reporter Hannah Himes, and the moon landing helped inspire him to go into a space-related career.

"As I said, I was a child of the space program," he said. "I wanted to be, when I was growing up, I knew I wanted to be an astronomer or an astronaut or some kind of engineer that designed spacecraft[s]."

Menzel now works for NASA. 

Himes spoke with Frederick Uncut producer Heather Mongilio about interviewing Menzel. Her story will come out later this week. 

Later in the episode, Mongilio toured the new Mission of Mercy mobile dental clinic and spoke with Dental Director Roslyn Kellum. 

Then, sports reporter Greg Swatek joins Mongilio to speak about the late Don Boyer, longtime track and field coach at Middletown High School. Swatek will talk more about Boyer on The Frederick News-Post's podcast, The Final Score. 

Features reporter Kate Masters then joins Mongilio in the studio to talk about 72 Hours. 

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Bringing a shuttle to the Golden Mile

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A physician on the Golden Mile wants to bring a shuttle to the area to help people get better access to health care and to basic needs.

The Golden Mile circulator, yet to be named, will be paid for by Dr. Julio Menocal, who owns a practice on Baughmans Lane. The shuttle will likely start in November and run twice a day.

Menocal first started thinking about a shuttle system about five years ago. He will meeting with members of the Golden Mile Alliance and county staff this month about his plans.

Menocal spoke with producer Heather Mongilio about bringing a shuttle to the area, why it is needed and what gave him the idea.

Later in the episode, features reporter Kate Masters joins Mongilio to talk about the upcoming issue of 72 Hours. Masters spoke about a cat cafe coming to Frederick, as well as new legal changes that allow distilleries to sell cocktails.

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Reaction to Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering

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Depending on whom you ask, the nine Supreme Court justices dealt Maryland a blow Thursday when they decided that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over gerrymandering.

The Supreme Court decided Thursday, in a 5-4 vote, that they could not decide if the map of the 6th Congressional District in Maryland or a map in North Carolina was unfairly drawn to give an advantage to one political party over the other.

Walter Olson, a Frederick County resident who served as co-chair of Gov. Larry Hogan’s Redistricting Reform Commission, was in Washington, D.C., for the decision and called it “disappointing.”

“I’m going to say that we are all losers because a fairer system benefits both parties,” Olson said.

Olson spoke with Frederick Uncut producers Heather Mongilio and Allen Etzler about the Supreme Court’s decision and what it means for the state.

“If it weren’t for the states behaving so badly on this, we wouldn’t be here talking about remedies,” Olson said. “So really, even though Congress is where I would like to point, the real ultimate failing is that of state legislatures who are being self-serving, both when they draw their own legislative districts, as plain a conflict of interest as they can be stepping into, and also when they devise districts in the U.S. House of Representatives in order to pursue politics as they do.”

Later in the episode, Etzler and Mongilio speak with Paul Milton, the new editor of The Frederick News-Post. Milton reflects on the importance of journalism and the role of community newspapers.

Then, features editor Mallory Panuska joins the producers to talk about the upcoming issue of 72 Hours, including a preview of an article by county government reporter Steve Bohnel on some of the local dive bars.

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Celebrating Pride in Frederick

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A large crowd filled Carroll Creek Linear Park on Saturday, with many on hand dressed in rainbow colors as they celebrated Frederick Pride.

Frederick Pride, an annual event, celebrates acceptance and inclusivity for those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. This year was also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Frederick Pride is a day of celebration, but the LGBTQ+ community in Frederick continues to face issues. Kris Fair, chair at The Frederick Center, joined Frederick Uncut producer Heather Mongilio and city editor Allen Etzler to discuss how attitudes toward those in the LGBTQ+ community have changed since the first Frederick Pride, then called Picnic in the Park to protect those who attended.

Although there have been great strides, Fair said the Frederick community still has more work to do.

“I would argue that nobody in this country, no city in this country, no matter how diverse, is there yet as far as truly protecting LGBTQ people,” Fair said. “So it’s our job to go out and find better and more affirming ways of doing it.”

Later in the episode, features reporter Kate Masters speaks with Mongilio about a burlesque studio in Boonsboro and whether that would be possible in Frederick.

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Fire destroys townhome on Carrollton Drive

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A fire broke out in seven town houses in the 500 block of Carrollton Drive in Frederick shortly before 9 a.m. June 7. Eighteen people were displaced, and the town houses considered a total loss.

The Red Cross, as well as a local church, is assisting the displaced residents. News-Post reporter Rebecca Duke Wiesenberg joins producers Heather Mongilio and Allen Etzler to talk about the fire.

Mongilio also spoke with Sarah Davis, disaster program manager with the Western Maryland chapter of the Red Cross. Davis discussed how Red Cross is helping those displaced by the fire.

Later, Mongilio and Etzler discuss Mongilio’s story with News-Post reporter Jeremy Arias on how doctors and police officers give death notifications before talking about Etzler’s upcoming cover story for 72 Hours’ Pride edition.

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LYNX celebrates its second year

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Linking Youth with New Experiences (LYNX) at Frederick High School connects students with opportunities, such as internships or learning new skills that they might not have with traditional high school education. 

LYNX celebrated its second year, and education reporter Katryna Perera attended both the ceremony and a classroom experience where she spoke with students, Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban and the chef leading students through how to cook a three-course meal. 

Perera and Frederick Uncut host Heather Mongilio welcomed LYNX advocate Beth Sands into the studio to hear more about the program.

"Every student at Frederick High School is a LYNX student," Sands said. "They don't have to apply to be a LYNX student. The minute they walk into those doors as freshmen, they're LYNX students."

Later in the episode, Mongilio speaks with features reporter Kate Masters about her story on a guitar shop in downtown Frederick, as well as what is coming up in the latest edition of 72 Hours.

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Frederick's connection to the second-largest Ebola outbreak

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The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing the second-largest outbreak of Ebola.

As of June 1, the World Health Organization confirmed 1,900 cases with 1,245 confirmed deaths.

An international response team from Battelle’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Integrated Research Facility traveled to the DRC to help train local responders on testing Ebola samples. The team also goes to Liberia to work on ongoing clinical trials.

Bonnie Dighero-Kemp and Gregory Kocher join producer Heather Mongilio in the podcast studio to speak about their work with Ebola.

Fort Detrick’s connection to Ebola extends back to the late 1970s, when Ebola was discovered. Later in the episode, Dr. John Dye, with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, joins Mongilio to talk about the hemorrhagic fever and the advances USAMRIID has made.

Finally, Cols. Nancy and Jerry Jaax, who worked for USAMRIID in the 1980s and were featured in Richard Preston’s “The Hot Zone,” now a National Geographic Channel show, will speak with Mongilio.

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Remembering Heather Williams and discussing abussive relationships

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Friends and family described Heather Williams as a kind-hearted person who would help anyone.

On May 2, Williams, of Jefferson, was found deceased at her boyfriend’s home. Her boyfriend, Chris Lee Myers, 39, of Jefferson, was arrested and charged in her death.

Producers Heather Mongilio and Allen Etzler spoke with reporter CJ Fairfield about a vigil she attended for Williams.

At the vigil, Fairfield spoke with Williams’ parents. Her father encouraged people to donate to Heartly House in Williams’ memory.

Williams’ friend Jordan Abel spoke about her own abusive relationship and how Williams helped her leave it.

Later in the episode, Abel speaks with Mongilio and Etzler about her experience with domestic violence and ways people can help survivors.

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