TODAY, AS 1995 breathes its last breath, we look back on those who made headlines in Anne Arundel County these past 12 months.
* Diane Evans. Once she was a lonely Republican on a County Council controlled by old-style Democrats -- wary, combative and un-fun. Then in 1994 the Republicans took over, elected her chairman and let her smarts and leadership qualities shine.
Abandoning the partisan edge she showed during her first term, Mrs. Evans took an inexperienced council, including three Democrats, and turned it into a cohesive, policy-making force -- all the while displaying a humor and niceness she apparently felt she couldn't show when she was in the minority. People are asking what her political future holds. The answer: whatever she wants.
* John Gary. A beneficiary of the 1994 GOP revolution, he had a better first year than many expected, with no major crises and some modest accomplishments. Most important, he did absolutely nothing to substantiate the ultra-conservative, Bible-thumping image that has haunted him for years. He has not turned the clock back 150 years. Indeed, with proposals for programs for troubled teens and contributions to poor black neighborhoods and Habitat for Humanity, he's shown himself to be a distinctly un-Newty kind of Republican.
* Naval Academy Superintendent Adm. Charles R. Larson. An LSD scandal did not tarnish the glow of a man who has been whipping the academy into shape since a 1992 cheating debacle. If this goes on much longer, we'll be calling him "Saint Larson."
* Tavon Johnson. He was 18, living in an Anne Arundel homeless shelter, trying to go to school, work part-time and get custody of his 12-year-old brother when The Sun wrote about him. Since then, national talk show host Montel Williams has featured him on his program -- and pledged to fund the brothers' college educations.
* Annapolis Alderman Louise Hammond. This woman would lie down in front of an oncoming train if that would keep more 2 a.m. liquor licenses out of the state capital's downtown. Without having to go quite that far, she's helped Ward One residents to victory in the latest round of this ugly, ongoing war.
* The Anne Arundel Department of Social Services. The department has placed itself on the leading edge of welfare reform. Instead of handing out checks carte blanche, social workers now provide day care, GED training and short-term financial help so applicants can look for jobs. It is one of only eight departments nationwide chosen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a model for welfare reform.
* The six Secret Service agents in the Denny's discrimination case. They each collected $35,000 as part of a $46 million settlement of the class-action suit.
* David Cordle. The veteran investigator with the Anne Arundel State's Attorney's office was involved in catching the thief who stole medals from local war heroes, finding whether newborns at Anne Arundel Medical Center were intentionally poisoned and cracking the 27-year-old murder of a St. John's College student shot after buying a pizza.
And, the losers:
* Laurie Cook. The Northeast High teacher was acquitted in court of having sex with a student, recommended for reinstatement by a hearing examiner, then fired by the school board, which continues to believe she engaged in hanky-panky. Her appeal to the State Board of Education is pending.
* Anne Arundel school construction officials. They screwed up multiple projects to the tune of $7 million.
* Anne Arundel Medical Center, one of a handful of hospitals nationwide placed on probation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation after three newborns were accidentally injected with morphine.
* Louise Hammond. Yes, you did see her listed as a winner. But she's a loser, too; her ward is more angry and divided than ever.
* Jason Wyvill, the teen sentenced to jail for killing a Davidsonville father by throwing a rock through his windshield.
* The 50-odd former Anne Arundel elected and appointed officials whose retirement benefits were reduced and/or delayed a result of pension reform legislation sponsored by Mr. Gary and approved by the County Council.
* Harvey Blonder. After years of seeking a 2 a.m. license, the owner of Buddy's Crabs and Ribs in Annapolis appeared on the verge of finally getting one when, at the last minute, Mayor Al Hopkins voted against his own bill granting the later hours. Plus, he's been sued for stealing the design for the sign for his Buddy's Late Night on U.S. 50.
* Stephen Van Rensselaer Pyne, the aforementioned medals thief. The blow-dried Carroll County resident pleaded guilty to sweet-talking war heroes here and elsewhere into letting him build cases for their prizes, then replacing them with fakes. Can 1996 possibly bring us any cheesier deed?
Probably. But let's drink a toast to a winner of a new year just the same.
Elise Armacost is The Sun's editorial writer in Anne Arundel.