Training To Be A Diplomat? Attend Frostburg State

You just don’t become a diplomat. It takes special experiences and training.

It turns out that Frostburg State University’s Model Organization of American States course might be the perfect place to get started. Here’s my story that was published in the latest issue of Profile magazine, the Alumni magazine for Frostburg State University.

The story published with a Q-and-A with alumnus Justin van Fleet ’02, who personifies this course experience. You can read the complete Q-and-A on the Frostburg.edu website.

DIPLOMATS IN TRAINING: FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS MASTER DIPLOMACY IN D.C

By Charles Schelle

Across the street from the Washington Monument, Frostburg State University student CJ Barnett struck up a conversation with anyone he could see in the sunlit grand hall of the Organization of American States’ main building.

The mammoth room quickly became an intimate affair as Barnett, from Elkton, Md., worked to get to know other students so he could persuade them to take his side in the discussions to come. To the strangers he met, Barnett wasn’t representing FSU. He was representing the nation of Colombia, leading the delegation in this real-world diplomatic exercise, the 2017 Washington Model Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly for Universities.

“Talking to the people is honestly my favorite part,” the political science major said. “I’ve enjoyed every second of meeting with people from all different backgrounds, all different cultures.”

Not every student is so at ease in large social settings, but even if they have the gift of gab, they had better be prepared to speak about policy, too.

“It was a stressful nightmare,” political science major Cameron Shanton said, smiling as he recalled his first year at the Model OAS. “Slowly, you get used to it. It’s like being thrown into a massive social situation. Anyone would be uncomfortable. You have to speak in front of everyone and convince them of your viewpoint,” said the Thurmont, Md., resident.

Those nightmares quickly turn into a dream week for students. Public speaking is just one of the lessons learned during the weeklong simulation, promoting democracy through diplomacy. It’s the hallmark experience of the FSU Political Science 435 course, Model Organization of American States.

“You do everything a diplomat would do,” said A’Lexus Blue, who earned her political science degree in May. “That’s meeting with other members, talking about bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements.” The Accokeek, Md., resident said time was also required to discuss  United Nations documents and merge them.

The OAS, headquartered in the nation’s capital, is the world’s longest-running regional political union, promoting democracy and defending human rights among member nations in the Western Hemisphere. The event is coordinated with the Institute for Diplomatic Dialogue in the Americas and provides a simulated environment for college students to conduct diplomatic negotiations, as well as handle a surprise crisis scenario announced during opening day.

Barnett, Blue and Shanton were joined by students Jessica Johnson Clay of Cockeysville, Md.; Omar Taylor of Salisbury, Md., who also graduated in May; and Will Woodcock of Columbia, Md.

A Mental and Social Exercise

Being book smart will serve students well at the Washington Model OAS General Assembly. That knowledge has to be expressed in a friendly and strategic way at a dais or in one-on-one chats called unmoderated caucuses. The students had their own topics of concentration in committees that deal with democratization, poverty, human rights or drugs.

Political Science Professor Dr. Joan Serafin Andorfer has been the president of the Institute for Diplomatic Dialogue in the Americas since 2000, and serves as a co-organizer of the Model OAS. FSU has sent students to the Model OAS for more than 30 years. Andorfer has witnessed students blossom at the Model OAS, realizing their dreams by solving problems on their own.

“Our students see that they have talents that they didn’t realize they had, or talents they want to acquire,” Andorfer said. “They see there is a place in the world for them to make a difference. I try to teach that in the classroom, but until they actually experience it, they really don’t see how it can be so valuable.”

Before students arrive in OAS, they spend the semester learning about the history of the country they represent, researching modern-day policies of the country, preparing draft resolutions and learning how to conduct themselves in the meetings. It all can feel abstract until a student is faced with a microphone while surrounded by hundreds of peers, having to adjust strategy on the fly.

“Studying for Colombia and the various policies isn’t the hard part,” Barnett said. “The hard part is understanding how every single other state within the OAS is going to respond.”

“If you really have great ideas, you have to be able to communicate them in a language everybody can understand,” Andorfer said. “When they get here, they realize a misplaced comma can be diabolical to what they’re trying to achieve.”

A Global Perspective

FSU students in the class are seeing already how the course and trip will help them during their next steps.

Woodcock wants to attend law school and work for a nonprofit dedicated to protecting animals. He anticipates the Model OAS experience will help him bridge divides.

“It gives you a broader range of knowledge of where people come from, what they expect and what’s expected of them,” Woodcock said. “Hopefully, that will help me interact with people from different cultures.”

Taylor, a law and society major concentrating in criminal justice, found it reassuring that students from the real Colombia indicated that he was on the right track with his resolution for judicial reform on drug use by expanding rehabilitation. He’s feeling optimistic, as he wants to go into a career involving international politics.

“It helps that I have some expertise in diplomacy,” Taylor said.

In the end, FSU as Colombia’s resolution passed 18-9.

The Model OAS experience is supported through Opportunity Grants, which are made possible through gifts to the FSU Foundation’s Annual Fund. To support experiences like this one, visit www.frostburg.edu/foundation/ways-to-give or call 301-687-4161.

 

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Sardi’s Chicken Looks To Expand to Hagerstown

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md.—Peruvian-American fusion restaurant Sardi’s Chicken is pecking away to open inside the former Pizza Hut at 100 Railway Lane in Hagerstown.

Sardi’s Chicken of Hagerstown LLC applied for a permit to remodel the hut-shaped building across from Massey’s Hyundai and Kmart, according to Washington County building records.

Beltsville-based Sardi’s started in 2008 and now has 10 Maryland locations, including one in Frederick plus one Pennsylvania restaurant in Philadelphia.

The menu includes chicken with Peruvian spikes, beef short ribs, marinated lamb chops, skirt steak, plantains and more. It’s a mix of Peruvian food, Southern food and as common with many modern Peruvian dishes, you’ll find a Chinese influence thanks to the Chinese immigration that Peru experiences. The Chinese-Peruvian dishes always make for a flavorful combination.

The restaurant’s catering business also catered President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball, according to the Sardi’s website.

An opening date has not been announced.

Chipotle Slated For LaVale, Maryland in 2018

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Rendering of Chipotle at Braddock Square Shopping Center in LaVale by firm AE7.

LAVALE, Md. — Allegany County can fill up on burrito bowls sometime in 2018.

Chipotle Mexican Grill will be opening in 2018 in the Braddock Road Shopping Center in Lavale, the company confirmed Friday, Aug. 4.

“It’s on the books, but we’re looking at next year,” Chipotle tweeted to me on its official account. “Check back in 2018 and we should have a better answer for you! -Becky”

This will be the first location in Allegany County for the Denver, Colorado, chain, that’s famous for burritos, lines of customers waiting to get their guac on and the occasional health scare that’s given the company fits.

The eatery will be located at 12101 Winchester Road, in the former U.S. Cellular location, in a shopping center that houses Tractor Supply Co., Kohl’s and others. Renovations of the shell building has been ongoing this summer.

Social media has been buzzing Friday since an architectural rendering of Chipotle at the shopping center was shared online. The rendering was included in a portfolio on the website of AE7, a Pittsburgh-based design and engineering firm contracted by shopping center developer H.L. Libby Corp., which owns Braddock Square. The rendering shows spaces for two other tenants as well.

Chipotle has operated since 1993 and has more than 1,500 locations, according to its website.

Students at Frostburg State University, where I’m employed, frequently ask about where’s the closest Chipotle. The answer was Morgantown, W.Va., Altoona, Pa., and Hagerstown, Md. With a location just 10 minutes away, expect this Chipotle to be buzzing   from August through May.

Hurricane Grill & Wings Coming to Hagerstown Kmart Plaza

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Hurricane Grill & Wings will be blowing into Hagerstown soon from Florida.

The website for Valley Plaza’s owners show the wings, burgers and beer restaurant will be coming to the former Cinqo de Mayo restaurant in front of Kmart and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. The shopping center also has a Tractor Supply Co., store. (The plaza is now actively trying to find a replacement for the aptly named Hard Times Cafe, too.)

Originally built as a Ground Round (oh, I feel old now), the new Hurricane Grill space has been a revolving door for over a decade.

Hurricane Grill & Wings is based in Fort Piece, Florida, which is on the Atlantic coast halfway between Cocoa Beach and West Palm Beach. I’ve dined at their Sarasota location that also went in a revolving space for restaurants at the Westfield Sarasota Square mall. It didn’t last long and closed only after. I ate at the Sarasota location and liked the outdoor element that could only work in Florida and the ambience matched the name and location. Will I feel like I’m in Florida there, sipping on a margarita in Maryland?

The big question is how long will this location survive? Not only did the Sarasota location close, but after I moved from Sarasota, Hurricane Grill opened in a former LeRoy Selmon’s in Bradenton, Fla. It had a kitchen fire and never reopened. It also had a construction lien placed against it.

Its Laurel, Md., location is already closed. However, the Elkton, Md., location is still open.

A 2015 restaurant news release said the Hagerstown franchise is owned by father and son Steve and Chris Girard:

“The Hurricane Grill & Wings brand is on the move, and we are proud that Steve and Chris Girard want to be a part of this exciting time for the brand,” said Martin O’Dowd, president of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “Hurricane Grill & Wings is growing rapidly, and the Western Maryland market is an area that we’ve long targeted for franchised growth.”

“With our vast experience in the franchise industry as multi-unit franchisees for other restaurant concepts, we knew that Hurricane Grill & Wings would be the best brand to add to our portfolio for their superior product and core values,” said Chris Girard, franchisee of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “We look forward to inviting the Hagerstown community to Live with Flavor® at Hurricane Grill & Wings.”

Hopefully the Girard family figures out how to avoid the issues (and a fire) that the other locations encountered.

— Charles Schelle

Belk Slated For Valley Mall in Hagerstown

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Look very closely in the second column: Belk Opening 2018

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Scroll too fast and you’ll miss it on the new Valley Mall brochure: Belk.

Belk’s name is tucked away on the second page of the new Valley Mall leasing brochure on the website of the mall’s owner, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust. Thanks to a reader for alerting me to the change.

The brochure simply says “Opening 2018.” Belk’s logo isn’t on the brochure, but it’s likely it could go in the former Macy’s space, but it’s still very possible it could go to Sears.

The smallest Belk is around 100,000 square feet. The shuttered Macy’s was around 120,000 square feet. Sears is 123,400 square feet. Last year, a leasing brochure showed that about half the space, or 52,325 square feet, would be available for lease.

The Washington County Board of Elections wants 20,000 square feet carved out of Macy’s for office space, leaving 100,000 square feet for Belk if the department store wants to open there. That seems easy enough. Good luck figuring out how to carve that space out if that happens.

Also, it is a coincidence that PREIT purchased the Macy’s space in April and now this brochure shows up a month later? Not really. In between, the International Council of Shopping Centers Retail Real Estate Convention (ReCon) was held in Las Vegas where stores, real estate developers and mall owners tried to make some deals.

Plenty of intrigue remains.

That brochure detailing that a store could lease half of Sears has disappeared from KLNB Retail’s website. However, Seritage’s quarterly reports show it still has rights to recapture half, but has not announced any plans for that space. The initial reports was that Sears wanted to test a smaller format. We haven’t seen that happen yet in Hagerstown.

Nothing has been filed under land records showing a sell or otherwise for Seritage in Hagerstown since it bought the Sears building.

Earlier this year, PREIT announced it would recapture three Sears locations and simultaneously announced retailers to replace those spaces. Hagerstown wasn’t one of those. Likely, because that Sears is not owned by PREIT. It’s owned by Seritage, who is leasing space back to Sears. That’s the company who found and brought BJ’s Brewhouse to the former Sears Auto Center. Seritage’s latest filing shows that BJ’s should be coming in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Baltimore Sun reported on April 1 that there wasn’t any new information on the Hagerstown Sears space. (However, that report overlooked the company’s quarterly report that showed the Cockeysville Sears will be partially replaced by a HomeGoods plus junior tenants and restaurants with most work done by the second quarter of 2018. The Bowie Sears Auto Center will also get a BJ’s Brewhouse.)

Here’s another issue for Belk: TownMall in Westminster. Belk only has two Maryland stores—the other in California, Md. TownMall was put into receivership, according to the Carroll County Times. That means a bank is in control of the mall, not a professional mall management company like PREIT, Simon, Westfield or Taubman. The court-appointed receiver, The Woodmont Co., is there to just keep things going until everything is settled. Woodmont’s website says it’s a receiver for 23 properties.

I’ve seen the after effects of malls placed in receivership and it’s not pretty. Some anchors and tenants have out clauses that can allow them to leave penalty free if certain actions happen (receivership, loss of X number of other anchors or if leasing falls below a certain percentage). Still, a store could close regardless of any penalty. If receivership drags on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Belk decides to close in Westminster if sales decline from a drop in foot traffic at the mall if other stores leave.

In fairness, while a store like Dillard’s left DeSoto Square mall in Bradenton, Fla., Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s stayed on through ownership changes and when the mall lost several national retailers. Macy’s would later close because a new store opened at The Mall at University Town Center. Closer to home, it’s a similar story at the Chambersburg Mall in Pennsylvania where certain anchors are able to hold on while the rest of the mall looks ghostly.

A Belk spokesman told the CCT on Thursday they’re not looking to leave Westminster:

Belk, another large department store that anchors TownMall, is similarly well situated, according to Andy Izquierdo, vice president of communications and community relations for Belk Inc.

“The Belk store in the TownMall of Westminster is doing well, so it is business as usual,” he said. “We have no plans to exit the Westminster market.”

No retailer or spokesman will say anything that could hurt sales and nobody announces closures until they actually close or legally have to announce a layoff. Still, I’d have to believe that store should do well regardless of what happens with the in-line tenants.

No building permits are on record for the Hagerstown Belk, yet. Stay tuned.

— Charles Schelle

This post has been updated.

Hagerstown Macy’s Building Sold To Valley Mall Owner

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — The owner of the Valley Mall outside of Hagerstown, Md., has purchased the former Macy’s building.

A landholding company for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust called PR Valley Anchor M- Limited Partnership, bought the shuttered Macy’s building attached to the Valley Mall for $2.5 million on April 7, according to a deed filed in Washington County.

The building was originally a Hecht’s department store that opened in 1999. Hecht’s was a Baltimore born retailer later owned by May Department Stores. Hecht’s and May Department Stores was acquired by Macy’s parent Federated Department Stores in 2005. The following year, Macy’s replaced Hecht’s name on its buildings, as it did with many other department stores it acquired.

The move gives the mall operator direct control over what goes into that space by being the sole owner. Sometimes malls can have messy relationships with shuttered anchors, with the anchors preferring to sell and market the property themselves to recapture some profit. That could cause a multi-year vacancy.

In March, the Washington County Board of Elections received approval from the Washington County Commissioners for a 20,000 square-foot space in the 120,000-square-foot building, according to a Herald-Mail report. That also shows that the former Macy’s will likely be carved out into multiple spaces for stores, offices and other uses.

 

Getting Your Steps In For Pics

Some days we al need a little extra motivation.

Fortunately my Fitbit tells me I need to get off my duff and do some walking. It’s also a good reminder that I need to go outside and take some photos students around campus.

There are only a handful of days when you can get those great marketable shots because of how the semester falls here in Western Maryland. The trees don’t bloom until a couple weeks before classes end. By that time, the April showers are in full effect.

The summertime turns the campus into a ghost town. A handful of classes are held with a couple providing opportunities for shots, typically off campus. Otherwise, FSU is your summer camp headquarters for anything from basketball, marching band, STEM students and orchestra.

In the fall, you have to hope the leaves turn and stay before the wind gusts blow away your chances of autumn shots. In the winter, finding a day where there’s enough snow on the ground for students to play in without having classes canceled is a game of chance. Too much snow means employees, including myself, can’t come to work.

Last week, we had a few good days. One perfect day happened to be the final day of classes. Our Upper Quad had just about everything I was looking for: a sleeping student and the university’s Rock Climbing Club finding new ways to exercise. Topped it off with two students relaxing with Starbucks at the Echo Circle and I called it a day.

 

College Engineering Project Opens, Closes Windows With 3D Printers

It’s best to have students to share their work in their own words when possible.

Just the way they talk, their presence and what they do can resonate a lot more than a feature story or a video narrated by someone else.

One mechanical engineering student at Frostburg State, Levi Hartsock, clearly explained his team’s creation — an automatic power window for the home with rain or wind detection.  They even came up with a name: Window Wizard! While the invention itself is rad, the highlight is that components were made using 3D printers at the university.

Levi needed minimal coaching on what to explain, but he did so with charisma and ease. It’s a treat doing these types of videos. All I do is tell the student what chunk to explain next and then stop. It helps prevent rambling and makes editing easier, too.

It also showed that we should do more videos with mechanical engineering majors. They work using CAD programs that can animate their design. One student spent nine hours animating an entire home with this CAD program to show all windows closing on their own. I took his video and popped it in AfterEffects to add rainfall to drive the point across, too.

Personally, I’d like this personal prototype window for my apartment right now. I can’t tell you how many times I leave the windows up for air while I leave for work and a surprise rain storm decides to water my floors.

Torrid, NTB File Building Permits for Valley Mall

160520_logoWASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Trendy full-figure clothing store Torrid and car repair shop NTB have both filed building permits for new stores at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Md.

Torrid’s permit shows the store expects to have 10 employees and will go into the former CJ Banks space in the JC Penney wing. CJ Banks transformed into a Christopher and Banks a few doors down last year.

An opening date has not been announced. The store’s careers website shows Torrid is accepting applications for a manager, a full-time assistant manager, a part-time assistant manager and store associates.

Also, NTB has filed a site plan for a location along Valley Mall Road and Massey Boulevard for a spot beside Chuck-E-Cheese and Burger King.National_Tire_and_Battery_Logo.jpg

NTB, formerly known as National Tire and Battery, helps replace the shuttered Sears Auto Center where a BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse will be built. Job openings have not been posted for the Hagerstown location.

Both store openings were first reported on this blog in May 2016.

Making Math Fun Again: Dead Poets Society Breathes Life into Math at Frostburg State

Background:

It can be challenging to find a compelling story about your blue chip majors like mathematics and one academic club at Frostburg State puts a face to numbers.

We tend to think of majors like mathematics in a vacuum, almost how your mother would ask, “Well, what are you going to do with an English degree?” Someone ignorant, partially incredulous. These majors are typically coupled with another major, especially for future teachers and engineers.

Mathematics faculty brought a chapter of the Dead Poets Society to Frostburg State University after hearing about it at a conference. The club shows that something as complex and difficult for most of us can be socially invigorating and inspiring. Plus, the club atmosphere is great about breaking down barriers.

As Assistant Professor of Mathematics Justin Dunmyre explains, the movie “Dead Poets Society” isn’t exclusively about poetry — it’s about finding your passion. And that’s what this club does, but with a math bent. (I still have to watch this classic, which I’m ashamed to say because I am a big Robin Williams fan.)

It was critical that this story included video storytelling to show how happy and engaging the students are with the faculty, puzzles and yes, Rock Band —a story with images showing much more than students quixotically inspecting a worksheet.

Frostburg State University Dead Poets Society Breathes Life and Fun into Mathematics
Originally Published: 02/22/2017

Frostburg State University Dead Poets Society Breathes Life and Fun into Mathematics

Oh Captain! My captain! Rise up and hear the excitement over mathematics among friends.

You can hear the laughter and debate each Monday coming from Room 247 in the Gira Center for Communications and Information Technology. That’s where a new academic club at Frostburg State University called the Dead Poets Society seeks to make math a social experience. Brain teasers, puzzles and even the video game Rock Band are all part of the equation that solves for fun.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Justin Dunmyre says the club shares its name with the movie starring Robin Williams. Math plays a storytelling role in the movie.

The move is about celebrating one’s passion, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Dunmyre says.

Mathematics major Sarah Sparks of Sykesville says the club helped her feel more connected with the campus as a transfer student coming from Carroll Community College.

I really didn’t know anybody. I really didn’t have any friends. Coming to the math game nights that we were having at the time, it got me interacting with other people in my math classes and got me interacting with other people in general,” Sparks says. “I think it’s really important to kind of take a break from the math that’s stressing you out during the semester and doing math that’s just for fun.”

Mechanical engineering major Demetrick McDonald of Randallstown says the puzzles and math problems help him reset during a grinding semester.

“Doing these challenges and these brain teasers are just a way to distract my mind, but it’s a constructive distraction,” McDonald says. “It’s a distraction from everything that I am doing, but it’s constructive in the sense that I’m using my brain to still answer questions and different things, not to mention I get to sit down and have time with all my friends and hang out and crack jokes.”

Frostburg State started its own chapter in the 2016 fall semester. The initial chapter started at Berry College in Georgia. Dunmyre describes the club as an underground national movement.

The club was created as a service of the Department of Mathematics, a way for students to connect with faculty and their peers. Dunmyre attends each meeting, along with the department chair, Associate Professor Dr. Marc Michael, and Assistant Professor Dr. Sarah Dumnich.

“I found out about it at the National Meeting of Mathematicians, and it sounded like a really good way of just building a math community,” Dunmyre says.

Dead Poets Society also kills the notion that math is not solved aloud.

“The hardest problems require communication between people,” Dunmyre says. “Just getting a community together is really important.”

The puzzles and questions cater to a variety of levels and majors. One night could feature a brief worksheet of questions testing math and logic. Another night might feature matchstick puzzles or the game Knights and Knaves. When students really need a break from brain teasers, they get together to play Rock Band, a video game, one night each month.

“The idea by doing different activities is to get lots of different people interested and involved – not just people who are excited about math,” Sparks says. “It’s just another way for people to socially interact and kind of let loose in this environment where we get to interact with each other.”

The Dead Poets Society at FSU is open to any student and features a diverse mix of majors with puzzles and questions for all levels. Meetings are held at 5 p.m. each Monday in Gira Center Room 245.

For more information about the Dead Poets Society, contact Justin Dunmyre at jrdunmyre@frostburg.edu.

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.