Lost & Found

For Nick Sweet, treasure hunting is is not about finding an X-marked spot on a map. It’s about the thrill of the search for what may be buried under his feet.

“You never know what it’s going to be because you can hear different sounds on the detector but you don’t know what you’re going to pull out,” Sweet said. “I’ve found gold, silver. I found a Chinese coin in my backyard from the 1700s.”

Four years ago, Sweet took up the hobby of metal detecting, finding everything from coins to Tonka toys to spoons along the way.

Other times the finds are more along the lines of cans and foil.

“We say all holes matter because you never know what it is,” he said. He also emphasizes taking the trash also. “There are some people that will dig a hole, take a coin, find a can and throw the can right back into the ground, and the next person comes around and they pull that same can out.”

One of his most recent finds was a letterpress lead engraving for a 1945 announcement for National Book Week. Sweet did some of his own research – “Google is my friend” – and found the poster appeared in the November 1945 “Boys’ Life” magazine.

Children’s Book Week was founded in 1919 by Boy Scout Librarian Franklin K. Mathiews to promote children’s literacy and “quality” children’s books.

“In 1944-1945, Frederick Melcher, then editor of ‘Publishers Weekly,’ entrusted the responsibility for Children’s Book Week to the newly-established Association of Children’s Book Editors. As this group expanded Book Week activities, it evolved into what is now known as the Children’s Book Council (CBC),” according to the CBC history.

Although Children’s Book Week is now observed in May, in 1945 it was scheduled for the fall, Nov. 11-17.

When Sweet first saw the engraving, though, he thought it was trash.

“I thought it was like an electrical plate until I got home, and I was like, ‘There’s a lady’s face in there.’ And then I decided to clean it off,” he said. All he used was soap and water and an old toothbrush to gently clean the tile.

During a break between December rainstorms, Sweet went out with his Garrett AT Pro metal detector to see what he could find from some sidewalks in downtown.

“It was actually on the corner of Rusk and Sabine, that building 212,” he said. “That one was about four inches in the ground.”

A friend and his daughter asked Sweet what it would look like with ink on it, so he tried it and was pleasantly surprised to see how well it worked, leaving a faint green print on the paper.

“When you find something like this, it’s awesome to pull out history and figure out who touched it or who used it,” he said. “I wish I could have some special power to see where it was or see the story it would tell when I touched it. I don’t know how to explain the feeling.”

Sweet’s first metal detector was a birthday gift from his wife after she noticed he was watching shows about detecting. Now, he has six detectors and has traveled to Arkansas and Maryland to search, in addition to what he does locally in Kilgore and Longview.

His children join him on some hunts and he has joined the East Texas Treasure Hunters Association in Longview to meet with others who share his passion.

People will sometimes ask how he finds the ‘cool things,’ and his response is simple: “Because I keep walking,” acknowledging it does take patience to just keep slowly walking until he gets a signal.

With multiple places to search around Kilgore, Sweet said, the park on Lantrip Street near Mobb’s Realty is his “honey hole.”

“I pulled a general service button from WWII, a Canadian nickel from 1927, a men’s silver spinning ring that actually fits me, a silver dime, a 1930s model T radiator cap. I found a 1920s pocket watch fob in that park, shower heads… It’s just amazing at the things I’ve found and just in that little park,” he said.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Sweet said he found a lid to an old talcum powder container produced in the 1930s in his hometown.

“It was made in Baltimore and I found it five feet from my front porch,” he said.

When people ask about the most expensive item he has found, Sweet says, they come in categories. Some items may not be worth much on the market but are priceless to him because of the stories behind the item and how he found them. When he dug up a Buffalo nickel in Kilgore City Park, though, the YouTube video he posted to his channel (“Sweet Finds with Nick Sweet”) is shaky due to the sheer excitement of the find.

“It’s addicting,” he said.

In all of his finds, Sweet ranks the Book Week engraving pretty high because it is unlike anything else he has found.

Sweet also gets a history lesson with the signals as he conducts his online research.

Although he sells some of the things he finds, his goal with the engraving is to donate it to a museum or a collector to show.

“If they just put my name under it, ‘Found by,’ and everybody walk by and see it, that’s all I would need… It’s just going to sit and collect dust, but for someone else to see it and learn and know what they did, kind of like the Broadcast museum how they show all the old stuff there. To show some little kid that this is how they used to print stuff, and not just off a scanner or a 3D printer,” he said.

Florida Man Receives New 3D Printed Hands From e-NABLE

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A team of doctors and 3D printing enthusiasts in St. Petersburg, FL recently helped 61 year old Francisco Piedra receive a new set of 3D printed prosthetic hands after a complication during heart surgery required amputating his hands and legs below the knee. In the spring of 2016, Piedra was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, a disease that made it difficult for his heart valve to pump blood. Later, severe chest pains sent Piedra to the emergency room where he was told he was also suffering from coronary artery disease. Piedra’s primary care physician, Dr. Luis Jovel, told him an aortic valve replacement would help his heart pump blood, and a bypass graft would improve the flow in his coronary arteries.

After a successful surgery on July 12, Doctors went back the next day to perform the bypass. During the procedure, they gave Piedra Heparin, a medication routinely used to stop blood clots. However, in rare cases, patients can experience bad reactions to the medication and instead of preventing blood clots, it can produce them.


Sitting on the front porch of his St. Petersburg home recently, Francisco Piedra, 61, reflected on his journey so far.

Due to a build up of dead tissue from the loss of circulation, surgeons had no choice but to amputate Piedra’s hands and legs below the knees. Dr. Jovel was shocked when he heard the news from Piedra’s wife and ended up referring Piedra to the Hanger Clinic, which offers support and prosthetic limbs. Piedra was eager to get back on his feet and start working again, but prosthetic legs would cost $15,000 and a pair of hands upward of $100,000. The Hanger Clinic generously provided the legs for free, which allowed Piedra to stand up for the first time in months. Slowly, he learned to walk again without needing his four legged walker.

After the amputations, he remembers thinking, “What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”


Danielle Ayala, a medical assistant for Dr. Luis Jovel, helped find the volunteer organization that ended up making and donating prosthetic hands to Francisco Piedra.

The high cost of prosthetic hands was preventing Piedra from getting his life back. Dr. Jovel’s medical assistant, Danielle Ayala, was tasked with finding Piedra an affordable a set of hands since he lost his insurance when he stopped working and disability insurance would take a year to become active.

Ayala soon discovered that 3D printing prosthetic hands would be the most cost effective and versatile option. She contacted The University of South Florida and they agreed to let her use one of their 3D printers to create small scale models. Ayala then reached out to e-NABLE, which has helped so many others who have lost hands and arms by providing 3D printed prosthetics.

E-Nable referred Ayala to a local chapter in Tampa Bay, a Wimauma group called Handling the Future. The chapter is led by Richard Brown and has members who are residents of Valencia Lakes, a community for people 55 and over. The process to 3D print the hands started after Ayala sent Brown photos of Piedra’s hands.

Brown ended up printing the right hand from his own 3D printer in New York, while Glenn Brown, an unrelated member of the chapter, produced the other from his 3D printer in Wimauma. Each finger was 3D printed separately since they required different designs. It took about 20 hours to 3D print each hand.


Francisco Piedra, left, shows off his new prosthetic hands made from 3D printers

A 3D printed pin was used to secure all the pieces in place. Richard Brown ran wires through each finger and used strong rubber bands on the top part of the hand to act like tendons.

Members of Handling the Future drove to St. Petersburg on November 17 and presented the hands to Piedra in the lobby of Dr. Jovel’s office. Richard Brown showed Piedra how flexing his wrist will create a fist and allow him to grasp and hold objects. Although they weren’t a perfect fit, it helped show the value of 3D printing since they have the ability to quickly and affordably revise the design and print out new pieces in a matter of days. They also explained the limitations, like how Piedra wouldn’t be able to put them near hot water or even hold a hot cup of coffee as the plastic could start to melt.

“Wow,” Piedra said. “That’s going to be a lot better than what I have now.”


A close-up view of Francisco Piedra’s new left hand

Castings of Piedra’s wrists will be created next. This will allow them to customize the hands and create multiple pairs for different activities, like working or fishing.

“We’re more than willing to do what we can,” Brown said.

With the support from family, friends and Dr. Jovel, Piedra is making steady progress. He misses his job as a sheet metal worker in Largo, but his boss said it would be waiting for him once he was ready. A new set of hands will make it possible for him to return to the days on his boat with his family.

“I want to be back as normal as I possibly can,” he said.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Source: Kaplan Herald/Images: Scott Keller]

A newsworthy year for education in Harford County in 2017

Much noteworthy news was made in education in Harford County during 2017, not all of it strictly in the classroom.

Thanks to a mild winter with few missed days for bad weather and Gov. Larry Hogan, Harford’s public school students enjoyed one of their longest summer vacations in years.

Classes ended for the summer on June 9 and did not resume until Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day, in accordance with the governor’s executive order that public schools not start the year until after the holiday.

Upper grades students moved into their area of the new Youth’s Benefit Elementary School building in Fallston in early November. Though the move came a few months later than scheduled, in marked the completion of the $38 million project to replace one of Harford County’s oldest elementary school buildings.

The planned replacement building for Havre de Grace’s high and middle schools took a giant step forward in 2017, when the Harford County Board of Education in November approved the contracts for construction. A spring 2018 groundbreaking is planned, with completion anticipated in 2020.

The Harford school board, in a somewhat contentious vote, chose new leaders in June, with Joseph Voskuhl moving up to president, replacing Nancy Reynolds, and Laura Runyeon replacing Voskuhl as vice president.

Amy Mangold, a special education teacher at John Archer School in Bel Air, was named Harford County Public Schools Teacher of the Year in March.

“I have received so many well wishes over the past week, and truthfully, if my name had not been called, I truly felt like a winner,” Mangold said after receiving the award at the annual TOY banquet. “This has been an amazing experience and has had me reflect on my role as an educator and a person in a way I have never been able to reflect before.”

A 14-year teacher with HCPS, Mangold works with children between the ages of 3 and 6 at John Archer. She also spent three years teaching at Edgewood Elementary School. In the fall, she was named a finalist for Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Fallston Middle School was named a 2017-18 Maryland Blue Ribbon School by the Maryland State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education, in recognition of its students achieving at very high levels.

“Fallston Middle School epitomizes what it means to be a Blue Ribbon School,” Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara P. Canavan said in a statement following the announcement of the award in December.

“I am honored to work with such a talented and dedicated group of professionals,” Fallston Middle School Principal Anthony Bess said. “Their commitment to excellence is contagious and reflected in their daily instruction, collegiality and their unwavering drive to increase student achievement.”

“To the faculty and staff, parents and business partners, and most importantly, the students, thanks for making Fallston Middle School a Maryland Blue Ribbon School,” Bess added.

In September, St. John the Evangelist School in Hydes, Baltimore County, was named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in recognition of the private Catholic school’s overall academic performance.

St. John’s has 170 students in grades preschool through eight and draws more than half its enrollment from Harford County.

“I’m honored that we were recognized because our philosophy is that all children should have an opportunity to have a Catholic education,” Principal Christine Blake said after the National Blue Ribbon announcement.

Blake said the school’s small size (one homeroom per grade) and country setting give the school a close, safe, family-like feeling and means students don’t “fall through the cracks.”

Havre de Grace High School’s Warrior Pride Marching Band once again strutted its stuff down New York City’s Fifth Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.

Band director Richard Hauf led more than 150 musicians, flag team members and cheerleaders, many of whom marched in honor of family members who served in the military.

The Hosanna School and Museum in Darlington marked its 150th anniversary with an April banquet to recognize the educational and cultural contributions of the former Freedman’s Bureau school and its sister institution, McComas Institute in Joppa.

Harford Community College celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1957, with a day-long Harford Fest held Oct. 28.

“Whether you have earned your degree, taught a class, attended a show or learned a new skill here, consider yourself a part of our 60th anniversary,” HCC officials said in their invitation to the community to be part of the celebration. “If you have attended a concert, a camp, a graduation or a sporting event, you too are part of it. In fact, the entire community is part of our 60th.”

The college’s 350-acre campus off Thomas Run Road is used by 9,000 credit and more than 10,000 non-credit students. The college, whose first classes were held at Bel Air High School, has more than 1,000 employees.

HCC reached another milestone in 2017, when its central library marked its 50th year as Federal Depository Library.

Davita Vance-Cooks, director of the U.S. Government Publishing Office, presented a golden anniversary award to recognize the HCC Library’s 50-year commitment to providing the public with access to federal government information.

“We are glad to provide all residents of Harford County and other nearby Maryland counties with free access to our collection of print, non-print, and digital government publications,” Carol Allen, director for the library, said.