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Schools get report cards

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The Maryland State Department of Education released its 2018-19 School Report Card, containing data about all schools in the state.

Each School Report Card provides a snapshot of how a school is performing based on Every Student Succeeds Act indicators, which include academic achievement, rate of chronic absenteeism and access to a well-rounded curriculum as well as academic progress for elementary and middle schools, and college and career readiness indicators and 2017-18 graduation rates for high schools.

Additional indicators factored into the scores for the first time this year include student achievement on the Maryland Integrated Science Assessment and Maryland School Survey results. The school survey is completed by all teachers and students in grades 5-11 to collect information about relationships, engagement, the school environment and safety.

Each Maryland school received a star rating.

School reports are posted on the Maryland Report Card website, and a help guide provides interpretation of the results. Search by school name here –https://reportcard.msde.maryland.gov/SchoolsList/index.

County joins partners for disaster readiness

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Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced a new partnership of local organizations that respond during disasters.

The Howard County Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) is one of only two in Maryland. This group of faith-based, nonprofit and private organizations, along with businesses and educational institutions, will help the county be better prepared and improve coordination of services before, during and after a crisis.

“When disaster strikes, recovery requires that groups work together to quickly coordinate various resources that address basic needs, resolve issues timely and rebuild our community,” said Ball. “The Office of Emergency Management coordinated this partnership so we will know the capabilities and supplies of our community affiliates and which groups have the best resources to resolve specific issues. This makes our response faster and more efficient when we know each other and how we work together.”

As part of COAD’s elected leadership, former CNN correspondent Kathleen Koch, founder of the nonprofit LeadersLink, will serve as COAD chair. Nancy McAllister, an active member of the Columbia Amateur Radio Association (CARA), was voted as vice chair and Debbie Rivera, a pastor at Ellicott City Seventh-Day Adventist Church, was selected to be secretary.

The group of 60 participating organizations will meet monthly, focusing on teambuilding, training, and coordination activities.  For more information about COAD, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/HoCOAD. Those organizations or individuals interested in participating can contact HoCOAD@gmail.com.

 

Howard launches Age-Friendly Initiative

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Howard County announced the launch of Age-Friendly Howard County. The county is beginning a three- to five-year plan to join the AARP network of age-friendly states and communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization (WHO). Achieving this designation requires focused efforts on a “livable” community and making sure that Howard County is a great place to grow older and to grow up. Video of this announcement can be found here and photos can be found here.

“[During] the last 10 years, the average annual growth of our 65-plus population has been nearly five times higher than our overall population and our student population according to Census data. Currently, 21 percent of Howard County residents are over 60 years old and in 25 years, this number will increase to nearly 30 percent,” said Ball. “Building an Age-Friendly Howard County is a long-term effort which will require a new way of working together: collaboration among citizens of all ages, with a great deal of input from older adults; and, businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, civic organizations, faith-based communities and philanthropic groups.”

The plan will involve information gathering and outreach, creating and implementing an action plan, and evaluating the progress in several areas. Criteria to evaluate the health and quality of life of older adults include: Outdoor spaces and buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social participation, Respect and social inclusion, Civic participation and employment, Communication and information and Community support and health services.

As defined by the AARP, “In a livable community, people of all ages can….take a walk; safely cross the street; ride a bike; use public transportation; live comfortably; work or volunteer; enjoy public places; socialize; spend time outdoors; be entertained; go shopping; buy healthy food; easily get to quality medical care; find the services they need; and make their city, town, or neighborhood a lifelong home for everyone regardless of age, physical ability, income, cultural background, race, or other factors.”

Howard County is on its way to meeting the criteria with existing initiatives such as Complete Streets, expanding RTA service, Livable Homes and Senior Tax Credits, investing in recreation facilities and 50-plus centers, and building adherence to universal design guidelines in 55-plus communities.

The age-friendly designation was created by the World Health Organization in 2006 to help communities prepare for aging populations. In 15 years, people over the age of 65 will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history.

Residents can find more information about this process and opportunities to participate in community workgroups at www.howardcountymd.gov/agefriendly.

Casinos generate $140.8M in November

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Maryland Lottery & Gaming announced that November 2019 gaming revenues for the state’s six casinos were $140,835,580. The total represents a $763,391 (0.5%) increase compared to the November 2018 total of $140,072,189.

Contributions to the state of Maryland from November 2019 casino gaming revenue totaled $59,097,067, including $44,314,735 for the Education Trust Fund. Casino gaming revenues also support local communities and jurisdictions where the six casinos are located, as well as Maryland’s horse racing industry.

Photo by Emily Calkins

Maryland has six privately owned casinos that offer both slot machines and table games, including Live! Casino & Hotel, in Hanover; Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, in Baltimore City; and the MGM National Harbor, in Prince George’s County; and three others.

The performance of the area casinos is as follows:

Live! Casino & Hotel (3,737 slot machines, 195 table games)
$52,907,075 in November 2019, an increase of $4,241,191 (8.7%) from November 2018

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore (2,174 slot machines, 158 table games)
$18,371,506 in November 2019, a decrease of $1,101,459 (-5.7%) from November 2018

MGM National Harbor (3,102 slot machines, 207 table games)
$53,908,275 in November 2019, a decrease of $3,360,810 (-5.9%) from November 2018

Details on each casino’s gaming revenues and contributions to the State of Maryland are included in the attached charts, and both fiscal and calendar year-to-date totals are available online at www.mdgaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/November-2019-Casino-Revenue-Data.pdf.

Severn Bank to sponsor Black Bears

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The Maryland Black Bears announced that Severn Bank will be the sponsor of the Ticket Center located in the front entrance of the Piney Orchard Ice Arena. The bank will be being strongly integrated into the presence the Black Bears have in their home arena and throughout the Central Maryland Community.

The main components of the sponsorship include prime placement of Severn Bank’s logo on the Ticket Center, the top menu bar of the ticket section will be renamed the Severn Bank Ticket Center and social media mentions throughout each home game.

The bank has assets of approximately $882 million and seven branches located in Annapolis, Crofton, Edgewater, Glen Burnie, Lothian/Wayson’s Corner and Severna Park. The bank specializes in exceptional customer service and holds itself and its employees to a high standard of community contribution.

“Severn Bank is a perfect addition to our Maryland Black Bears Sponsorship Family,” said Maryland Black Bears, President Robyn Remick. “They are a local, Maryland based bank that shares the same dedication to serving and giving back to our surrounding communities. We look forward to partnering with them this season and working with a wonderful Severn Bank team.”

Roy Rogers partners with Singer EVI

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Roy Rogers Restaurants has partnered with Glenelg-based Singer EVI to provide equipment fulfillment and kitchen design support for its existing and future quick-service restaurant locations.

Roy Rogers Restaurants have been focusing intently on investments to strengthen its operations, infrastructure and its consumer and franchise offerings in preparation to mount an aggressive expansion campaign. The company has added nearly a half-dozen new executives who are seasoned experts in restaurant operations and marketing.

It has added new and improved menu items, forged new partnerships to add or improve delivery, site selection, food distribution and marketing, introduced a new restaurant design and evaluated every aspect of its business to identify opportunities for improvement. In 2020, the company plans to roll out upgrades to its kitchen and storage formats and kick off a renewed expansion initiative fueled by franchise growth.

“Singer EVI has nearly 30 years of commercial foodservice experience and an extensive nationwide client list including quick-service and full-service restaurants,” Jeremy Biser, executive vice president of Roy Rogers Restaurants. “The company has well-established relationships with manufacturers to ensure that we can readily obtain the best equipment at the best price. Our new alliance will help us reduce initial and ongoing costs and optimize our equipment package, while also providing top notch service to our existing and new franchisees.”

Tenable deal creates unified, risk-based platform

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Tenable, the Columbia-based cyber exposure company, has acquired Indegy Ltd., a firm in the industrial cybersecurity space which provides visibility, security and control across operational technology (OT) environments, for $78 million.

“For every company in every industry, OT is now part of the modern attack surface. [Chief information security officers] are being asked to secure OT systems alongside IT but lack the necessary visibility and technology to manage and measure OT cyber risk in the same way as IT risk,” said Amit Yoran, chairman and CEO, Tenable. “The combination of Tenable and Indegy brings together two pioneers of IT vulnerability management and industrial cybersecurity to deliver the industry’s first unified, risk-based view of IT and OT security.

“This is a game changer that will help transform how security and the C-suite make strategic decisions around OT risk. This acquisition is a critical milestone in delivering on our cyber exposure strategy to help organizations understand and reduce cyber risk across the entire modern attack surface,” said Yoran.

Tenable also announced the availability of a new, integrated offering to secure cloud workloads with Tenable.io and Golden Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) pipeline. This collaboration represents a critical step in ensuring that organizations of all sizes can build cybersecurity best practices directly into their cloud migration strategies.

The Golden AMI pipeline provides users with an efficient way to mature their cloud strategies with standardized and consistent processes for validating the software configuration, hardening and security posture of machine images.

Laurel get funds for Main Street grants

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The City of Laurel’s Office of Economic and Community Development (ECD) was the recipient of a $55,000 grant from the State of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development. Considered one of the state’s most flexible revitalization programs, the City of Laurel was one of 58 locales that received the funds from the Community Legacy program.

“To be recognized as a vital part of the state of Maryland can only help us further support our local business owners,” said Mayor Craig Moe. “Receiving this funding can go to help enhance business workplaces and is one of the ways we can support Main Street in their bid to bring more diverse businesses to Main Street.”

“As the first and only state designated Main Street in Prince George’s County, we are proud to have received this grant award. The additional funding for our Main Street Façade Improvement Program will spur investment in our downtown properties and help us move forward with our goal of revitalization,” Laurel ECD Director Christian Pulley.

For more information, contact Leigha Steele at lsteele@laurel.md.us or call 301-725-5300, ext. 2302.

Costello kicks off redevelopment in Columbia

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Costello Construction, which recently purchased the 290-room Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, has moved into the first phase of construction of the hotel remodel and redevelopment project.

The $25 million renovation plans include the addition of two new wings, which will add 76 uniquely-appointed guest rooms, upgrading all existing tower rooms, overhauling the HVAC system throughout the entire property and adding 13-foot-wide terraces to all lakefront units. Once complete, the new hotel will feature 212 rooms.

Guests will also be offered options including a new rooftop pool, a new restaurant, a bar front terrace overlooking the lake and an exclusive bar/lounge terrace. The two new structural additions, as well as the extensive interior remodeling, will bring the hotel up to a four-star Autograph Collection property.

A pre-submission hearing for Phase 2 of the multi-year project was held on Nov. 25. Phase 2 will include a conference center, an office building, a tennis center and a residential block.

A cautionary tale for government contracting

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that Aventura Technologies, Inc. and its senior management are charged with fraud, money laundering and illegal importation of equipment.

The criminal complaint charges the company and seven current and former employees with selling Chinese-made equipment with known cybersecurity vulnerability to the U.S. government while falsely representing that the equipment was “Made in U.S.A.” and purposefully concealing that the products were manufactured in the People’s Republic of China.

Aventura has generated more than $88 million in sales revenue since November 2010, and the charged scheme has been ongoing since 2006.

“As alleged, the defendants falsely claimed for years that their surveillance and security equipment was manufactured on Long Island, padding their pockets with money from lucrative contracts without regard for the risk to our country’s national security posed by secretly peddling made-in-China electronics with known cyber vulnerabilities,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “…the defendants’ brazen deceptions and fraud schemes have been exposed, and they will face serious consequences for slapping phony ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ labels on products that our armed forces and other sensitive government facilities depended upon.”

Local cyber-security thought leader, Sterling S. Rooke, CEO of Hanover, MD-based X8 LLC, discussed the ramifications of such cameras and software being installed at U.S. Government federal agencies’ and military locations.

He said, “Without proper cyber infrastructure controls within government sites, backdoors in cameras might enable nation-state actors to ingest footage. Think Artificial Intelligence (AI); these cameras could serve as a portal for facial recognition. Most notably, countries in Asia and the Middle East are deploying expansive facial recognition systems within cities and buildings, and the ability to include U.S. government and military employees in this dragnet might be of interest to such countries.”

The original issue of finding products to meet certain specifications and also satisfy Trade Agreement Act and the Buy American Act requirements creates logistical and supply chain risks.

Rooke further states “Worldwide component sourcing presents a grand challenge to the moniker ‘Made in America.’ It just takes one vulnerability in a supply chain to give advantage the cyber actor, thus domestic sourcing alone does not provide assurance. The government should immediately institute a random audit program for video surveillance devices starting with the most sensitive government sites; and audits should include firmware checks and updates at a minimum.”

While the Aventura Technologies case is blatant fraud, according to the DOJ, other companies may inadvertently put our nation’s security at risk by selling products including cameras, detection equipment, software and hardware with untraceable origins.

Rooke, who is also an Army-reservist and a researcher at the University of Tennessee Knoxville recommends, “As the Department of Defense finalizes the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) for the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), that same rigor should be applied to all federal contractors. Supply chain risk management must be a key tenant of product, hardware and software deliveries to the government, and enforcement should include random audits. These audits can even include ‘sandbox’ testing of surveillance devices for unexpected features.”

The DOJ announcement of the Aventura Technologies case states, “The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment on each charge in the complaint.”

For the entire announcement and case details go to: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/aventura-technologies-inc-and-its-senior-management-charged-fraud-money-laundering-and

Gloria Larkin is president and CEO of TargetGov, American Express Procurement Advisor and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com.

 

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