Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Offutt Island, a pristine piece of Potomac changes hands

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The next time you hike the Billy Goat Trail at the C&O Canal National Historic Park in Potomac, head south from the Old Anglers Inn and walk along the riverside path. From the path, you can easily identify Offutt Island by its sandy beach and dramatic cliffs.

The heavily forested private island was recently donated, anonymously, by its owner to the Potomac Conservancy, the nonprofit that advocates for the health and beauty of the Potomac River and its tributaries.

‘‘It’s very exciting to us,” said David Dadurka, conservancy spokesman. ‘‘It’s a 10-acre island with rare plants, a very rich ecological environment. There’s a range of habitats on the island, and that’s something we want to preserve.”

More than a dozen state-listed rare plants exist on the island, he said.

While kayakers sometimes stop by, visitors are not encouraged.

‘‘The island is in good shape because it’s relatively untouched. It has two uninhabitable cabins and a rudimentary it was once used as a retreat,” he said. ‘‘We’ll spend the next couple of months evaluating public access to make sure it’s preserved.”

The island was one of the few that still remained in private hands in the Potomac River Gorge, a 15-mile ecological corridor that runs from Great Falls to Georgetown.

To learn more about the island, go to or call 301-897-8570.

Become a newKid on the Block

The Mental Health Association of Montgomery County is recruiting new volunteers for its ‘‘Kids on the Block” program that performs skits about bullying and other issues for preschool and elementary school children. Volunteers receive a full-day training and rehearse the scripted skits for several weeks before performing in local schools.

No acting experience is needed. The next session takes place in early August. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, have transportation, and be available to perform once per week for a minimum of one year. Call 301-424-0656 ext. 130 or e-mail for more information.

Congrats to...

*Adrienne Ma, a 2007 Winston Churchill High School graduate, and Ethan A. Kraus and Nadav O. Rindler, both 2007 Thomas S. Wootton High School graduates, on receiving National Merit Scholarships.

*Alison Catherine LaFleur, of Potomac, on making the spring dean’s list at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. She is a 2006 graduate of Winston Churchill High School and the daughter of Richard and Janet LaFleur of Potomac.

*Keara Dowd, 16, of Potomac, on receiving a 2007 Rensselaer Future Leaders Award from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The McLean School junior was one of 30 young women across the country recognized for her strong academic standing, excellence in math and science, and school and community leadership.

*Zack Loss, 19, of Bethesda, on making the spring dean’s list at the School of Communications at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. He is a rising sophomore majoring in journalism and political science.

‘Nunsense’ wins kudosfor Potomac actors

The Potomac Theatre Company is celebrating winning the Ruby Griffith Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Musical for its production last fall of ‘‘Nunsense.” The award recognizes excellence in amateur theatre production.

Har Shalom opensschool registration

Congregation Har Shalom’s Religious School is now registering children in kindergarten through second grade for both members and nonmembers. Located at 11510 Falls Road, Har Shalom is a Conservative, egalitarian congregation where girls and boys are educated equally and receive the same training for Bar and Bat Mitzvah.

For further information, call Education Director Linda Lipson Love at 301-299-7087, Ext. 7 or e-mail her at

Walk the canal for fitness

The Fifty Plus Lifelong Fitness Association, a nonprofit fitness club, will host a walk Saturday along the C&O Canal in Potomac.

The walk takes about an hour and all ability levels are welcome.Walkers meet at 7:45 a.m. at the parking lot across the street from the Old Angler’s Inn, 10801 MacArthur Blvd. There is no cost to join. For information, call 240-632-8355 or 301-530-5991.

We salute...

All of the 2007 graduates of the U.S. Service Academies from Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District. Among those are Air Force Second Lieutenants Erin Fitzpatrick, of North Potomac, and Weiss Nusraty, of Potomac, and Naval Ensign Jennifer Rowan, of Potomac.

The Gazette wants you to remember that this column is for you. Send press releases, news tips and other information to Peggy Vaughn by phone to 301-280-3007, by e-mail at, by fax to 301-670-7183 or by mail to 1200 Quince Orchard Blvd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878