Jerry Spessard has been managing the finances of the 207-year-old Hagerstown Town & Country Almanack for 19 years. But he’s afraid that, if sales of the folksy book don’t pick up, it may not be around a few years from now.

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Maryland began reporting HIV infections in 1994. These numbers show  cumulative HIV cases, by county, reported through Sept. 30, 2003.

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On a slightly drizzly morning Sept. 14, about 1,200 bikers converged on the Harley- Davidson/Buell store on Baltimore’s Pulaski Highway. They had come to participate in the third annual "Ride to Remember," an hour-long trip around the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) that the store organized to raise money for the Heroes of Flight 93 Fund.

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Located at 7409 Baltimore Avenue, Kings Park Café offers a nice change of pace from the standard college town eatery fare. While the café does serve college staples such as subs, wings and pizza, it’s the Mediterranean offerings that will keep you coming back.

As soon as you walk in, the vaguely Arabic music and wall decorations let you know that you’re in for a different experience, while the neon signs, big screen TV and standard deli atmosphere let you know that it won’t be too different. The clean and well-maintained 40+-seat Café is a vast improvement over the dingy Penguin Bar & Grille that formerly occupied the location.

The service was very nice and fairly quick – it took 5 minutes to get our appetizer and roughly 10 more to get our meal. Everyone in the restaurant had a smile on their face and was quick to make friendly conversation and suggestions as we ordered. The only down side to the atmosphere was the seating: those who would rather not squeeze into the small tables and chairs should probably get take out or delivery.

Appetizers like grape leaves, hommos and baba ghanouj are a far cry from the standard fried fare you get at most College Park restaurants (Don’t worry if the dish names are unfamiliar; a helpful picture menu above the counter will help you choose). I particularly recommend the falafel, which is served hot and crispy with a tangy sauce that doesn’t overpower the vegetable patties. For big groups or parties, the Kings Park Combination is a great deal: $14.99 for five appetizers of your choice.

For a Mediterranean main course, you can choose from a variety of platters, kabobs (beef lamb, chicken or veggie) and pita bread sandwiches such as gyros. The Shawarma in particular features beef, lamb, or chicken served in a soft, warm shell of pocket bread. The meat is tender and spiced, but not too spicy, and the smooth and flavorful sauce adds to the taste. Platters are served with the standard, heavily seasoned fries and a good selection of fresh vegetables. There’s even a pickle spear to complete the dining hall sandwich line feeling.

From the salads, the tabouleh was fresh and juicy, but featured a little too much parsely for my taste. It was definitely different though, and served in a portion big enough to be a meal on its own. For dessert, the baklava is an exceedingly sweet, flaky pastry that was sticky with honey. It was a little tough to cut with the plastic utensils, but so good that you wouldn’t mind eating it with your hands. For the less adventurous, you can choose from chicken/beef salads or cheese cake for dessert.

Exotic pizza toppings such as shwarma meat, feta cheese, and marinated lamb round out the interesting items on the menu. A complete appetizer, entrée, drink and dessert meal will run you about $13, but coupons and combos can reduce that price.

Across the street from the Café, I noticed a neon sign at Ratsie’s noting that they now serve falafel. If the exotic fare at Kings Park Café catches on, you may see a lot of area restaurants scrambling to offer the same well-priced selection of great Mediterranean food.

Dan Gillmor sees a day when reporters use suitcase-sized, satellite uplinks to report on leads culled from customized, syndicated feeds. He sees readers using cell phones to take pictures and upload them in public Web logs. He also sees emerging technology creating a new, far more participatory journalism.

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New York is a city of thousands of journalists and nearly as many news outlets. Amid such media noise, one small publication is creating news content that stands out from the crowd.

"About 10 percent of people will read a story based on its subject matter,"# said Jonathan Mandell, executive editor for the Gotham Gazette. "Our goal is to get the other 90 percent to learn about the issue."

For the Gazette, a city news site published by the New York Citizens Union Foundation, interactive content is the key to that goal.

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More than 18,000 visitors have logged into the first four online installments of “Fighting for Rochester’s Future” since the series launched March 30 in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, said managing editor Jane Sutter.

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More than 2,500 people are expected to weigh in to identify the worst traffic problems in the Everett, WA, area before the local media partners launch Phase II of their “Fix Your Commute” project, which will be an advanced simulation exercise.

Mark Briggs, new media editor of The Everett Herald, described the project’s second phase, set to launch this fall, as “a more advanced interactive experience, allowing users to build roads, add HOV lanes, charge tolls – really make a difference in a simulated way.

“They get a bill and have to come up with funding, too, since we’re trying to base the game in as much reality as possible,”” Briggs said.

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It starts like a typical "Rebuilding Iraq" TV feature. Amid scenes of lawlessness and chaos, Ret. Col. Charlie Borchini talks about improving security. Narrator Dara Brown poses a question — but not to the expert. Instead she asks you: "Would you have what it takes to keep the peace?"

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More than 600 people submitted budgets to The Seattle Times’ recent "Ax and Tax" interactive state budget balancing game.

Between April 20 and April 29, 604 people told The Times their thoughts on what state programs to cut and what taxes to add to fix the state’s $2.65 billion budget deficit. Nearly 90 percent of those users submitted a balanced or surplus budget, according to a recent Times article.

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