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MES signs agreement with Bioenergy DevCo

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Maryland Environmental Service (MES) has entered into an agreement with Bioenergy DevCo (BDC). MES, a state-owned nonprofit, will provide extensive operational expertise to Howard County-based BDC as it designs, sites, constructs, permits, and subsequently operates two anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities planned for the Baltimore area in Maryland.

Headquartered in Howard County since 2016, BDC is a world leader in the finance, design, construction, engineering and operation of AD facilities. The company recently announced plans to develop facilities in the United States, including Maryland. AD technology naturally breaks down organic waste, typically headed for incineration or landfills, and converts the waste into renewable natural gas and an organic soil amendment.

Used extensively internationally, the technology is an environmentally sound means of creating renewable energy while processing organic waste and reducing air, water, and soil pollution in local communities.

“This agreement is an important step toward achieving greater environmental sustainability in Maryland,” said Roy McGrath, CEO of Maryland Environmental Service. “We’re establishing innovative ways to achieve Gov. [Larry] Hogan’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2040. Technology, like through this new anaerobic digestion agreement, will help localities preserve landfill space while disposing of organic waste in an economical and sustainable way. The 50-years of experience MES’ team brings to the table will now help facilitate this progressive technology in Maryland and beyond,” said McGrath.

Under the agreement, MES will:
• Support site, design, permit, and other necessary operational and commissioning, and management of the facilities.
• Perform engineering services including QA/QC (quality assurance and control.)
• Create construction documents, materials, and equipment and procurement specifications.
• Provide environmental documentation and permitting and technical services.

The initial AD facilities are in development for Jessup and planned for Northeast Maryland. AD will:
• Reduce the amount of waste traditionally held in landfills by up to 40%.
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• Create renewable energy, by converting the waste into natural gas.
• Turn waste management challenges into profitable economic development solutions.

Cancer resource center moves location on HCGH campus

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The Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center recently moved to 11065 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 150, within Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) campus. It has been a service of the hospital since 1998 and remains on the HCGH campus, but now in a different building.

Many of the same services are continuing in the new location and other components of the center have been revamped. Social work and counseling support are provided free of charge to center clients and support groups continue. Through the salon, professional hairstyling services are offered, as well as a wide selection of wigs, head scarves, wraps and hats.

In the coming months, the center plans to offer acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga. Given that the benefits of integrative health therapies have been documented for a variety of conditions, as well as for pain management, these services will be available to all community members, with or without a cancer diagnosis.

“We are proud to be a source of support and care to more than 2,600 clients each year,” said Elizabeth Edsall Kromm, vice president of Population Health and Advancement at HCGH. “And, we are thrilled to be able to continue the center’s mission in its new location.”

Book chronicles dispensary opening by local women

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Two local women in the cannabis industry, Dr. Leslie Apgar and Gina Dubbé, co-owners of Greenhouse Wellness, in Ellicott City, have written High Heals: How Two Women Found Their Footing in the Medical Cannabis Industry.

Offering a look at Apgar and Dubbé’s journey into the new industry, High Heals explores their path to opening their dispensary, launching their female-focused cannabis-infused product line, tackling the unexpected and meaningful issues they’ve uncovered and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Inspired by Apgar’s almost 20-years in traditional medicine, observing the limitations and injustices in health care, they envisioned and founded a bright, clean space staffed by medical professionals available to educate and guide those who are suffering and feeling hopeless about the science and safe consumption methods around cannabis.

High Heals also addresses key elements of their work including:

● A look at the uncultivated potential of medical cannabis in helping to heal patients

● The stigma around women using medical cannabis, especially mothers

● Breaking into a male-dominated industry and past the “man-splaining” they often faced along their journey

● The possibilities for solving the opioid epidemic through cannabis

● Navigating the seemingly complex world of the plant’s chemistry

● Working out the differences between the oft-misused buzzwords of the cannabis industry.

● Uplifting patient stories, demonstrating the real difference cannabis can make in people’s lives

Apgar and Dubbé have also announced that they will soon open a second dispensary in Monroe Township in Southern New Jersey.

Lorien listed a ‘Best Nursing Home’

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Lorien Health Services, a Mangione family-owned nursing home, assisted living, rehabilitation and residential services company, made Newsweek’s 2020 Best Nursing Homes list. Lorien’s Columbia location placed 13th in Maryland on the inaugural ranking.

Newsweek partnered with global data research firm Statista Inc. to establish a ranking of Best Nursing Homes, analyzing more than 15,000 nursing homes across the country. The news magazine recognized award-winners in 20 states.

“Lorien is known for our technological advances and industry innovations in Maryland. To be nationally recognized for our approach to serving our community is, of course, a great honor,” said Eric Grimmel, Lorien Health Services’ Columbia administrator.

According to Newsweek, by 2030, the 65-plus demographic will account for more than 20 percent of U.S. residents, and studies say that 70 percent of them will need some kind of long-term care. The oldest baby boomers are already in their 70s.

In addition, Lorien Health Services recently received the top award nationally from McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards; Lorien’s emphasis on quality care won the company Gold in the skilled care division of the annual competition. In 2019, Lorien was voted Best Elder Care company in the Baltimore Sun and Best Assisted Living Facility in The Daily Record. It was also named a Health Care Hero by The Daily Record for its advancements in nursing care.

Ball aims to convey land to widen Route 32

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Howard County Executive Calvin Ball pre-filed legislation to convey 2.63 acres of land to the state of Maryland as part of the widening of Maryland Route 32 from Linden Church Road to Interstate 70. The conveyance of this property to the state will assist in accelerating the work to widen Route 32 within this corridor.

“For far too long, Route 32 has been a traffic nightmare for Howard County residents and workers. I am pleased that the Maryland Department of Transportation is widening Route 32 and this conveyance of land will accelerate that process,” said Ball. “Nearly 60 percent of our commuters cross the Howard County borders on a daily basis. That is a higher percentage than any other county in the region. I want us to create a truly multi-modal transportation system that better connects Howard County to the region. We need to decrease the time we spend in the car and increase the time we get to spend with our kids and families.”

This conveyance legislation is part of Ball’s approach to improving traffic flow and the county’s transportation infrastructure that also includes goals to complete 95 miles of bikeways, reducing serious traffic injuries by 19 percent and achieving one million rides annually on Regional Transit Authority (RTA) buses by 2025.

Howard recertifies federal flood plan status

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The Howard County Department of Public Works Bureau of Environmental Services submitted its annual Community Rating System (CRS) recertification to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). To participate in the CRS, communities confirm annually that they are performing the necessary flood mitigation efforts to uphold the current rating status for flood insurance premiums.

Those efforts are reviewed in greater detail every five years when the county prepares and submits a full reapplication to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the NFIP.

Under the CRS, flood insurance premiums may be discounted based on community actions that help reduce flood damage to insurable property, strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP and demonstrate a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.

Participating communities must undertake some or all of 19 public information and floodplain management activities reflected on the federal checklist. The CRS assigns points for each of those activities. Once the County achieves certain point totals, homeowners in the designated floodplains become eligible for discounts on their flood insurance.

Howard County achieved an upgrade to Class 6 in 2018 based on improvements in several areas including:

● Outreach projects

●  Open space preservation

●  Floodplain management planning

●  Flood protection information

●  Map information service

● Higher regulatory standards for construction

With the upgrade county homeowners who live in a federally recognized Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) are eligible for a 20 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums. Certain policies for homeowners not in a SFHA are eligible for a 10 percent discount.

Howard County homeowners who want to know if they are located in a special flood hazard area can log on to https://data.howardcountymd.gov/gdfirm/main_Web.aspx for more information; to learn more about FEMA’s Community Rating System and to download brochures about the program, visit www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program-community-rating-system

A copy of the most recent annual re-certification is available upon request from the county.

Cardin joins proposal to fund community health centers

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U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has joined colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) urging long-term funding of community health centers (CHCs).

The letter, which was cosigned by 25 senators, calls for immediate passage of the Community Health Investment, Modernization and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2019, which would reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps for five years. Funding for CHCs is set to expire on Nov. 21.

“Community health centers provide affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” the senators wrote. “More than 29 million patients, including 385,000 veterans and 8.7 million children, receive quality medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health care services from a community health center. These centers work to combat the opioid epidemic, offer preventive care to patients, and treat chronic conditions to improve the health of those they serve while saving taxpayer dollars. On average, health centers save over $2,300 per Medicaid patient and save the health care system $24 billion each year.

“If the CHCF expires, community health centers will lose 70 percent of their federal grant funding. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, this would cause an estimated 2,400 site closures, 47,000 lost jobs, and threaten the health care of approximately nine million Americans. As small businesses, community health centers must have certainty to best serve the needs of their communities and their patients. Some centers will soon have to take steps in anticipation of a funding lapse, including reducing staff and operating hours, cancelling capital projects or even preparing to close their doors. If the CHCF expires next month, community health centers will be unable to plan for the future and continue to better the health of their communities. Additionally, the expiration of the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education program would harm the ability of health centers to meet their growing workforce needs.”

There are 17 federally-funded community health centers in Maryland serving more than 328,000 patients at 137 sites of care. Fourteen percent of these patients are uninsured, 50 percent are on Medicaid and 66 percent are patients from communities of color. In fiscal 2018 Maryland received $183,552 in Community Health Center Funds. These funds aid CHCs in expanding behavioral health and oral health services.

Live! Casino grants $19M to Anne Arundel

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To the Cordish Companies, channeling money into the Local Development Council (LDC) grants were part of the deal to open Live! Casino (and more recently Live! Hotel) and presented an opportunity to give back to the Anne Arundel County community.

To the community, the LDC grants are the gifts that keep on giving – this year to the tune of $18.8 million.

The fiscal 2020 grants bring the total funds generated by Live! Casino & Hotel in support of county organizations to more than $130 million since the casino opened seven years ago. And that $130 million has gone a long way.

“Through [Live! Casino’s] support, we’ve been able to address critical needs and priorities that help so many people across the county through support of food banks, social services, workforce development, schools, public safety and so much more,” said Karen McJunkin, LDC chairperson.

McJunkin, who is in her third year as LDC chair, said, “Our focus continues to be on how to help the community. That’s what it’s all about.”

Getting Around

One example, she said, is the new award of $3 million toward the $12 million needed for construction of the Severn Intergenerational Center, which will rise on Reece Road beside Van Bokkelen Elementary School. Construction will start in a year or two, as the new award was a carryover from last year’s total of $2.7 million.

“Transportation is the number one problem in that area,” McJunkin said, “so if you can help locate services in a walkable distance, you’ve solved a problem.”
Transportation is an issue because it impacts how many people in lower-income areas get to work.

The BWI Business Partnership received a more than $1 million grant for its County Connector Shuttle.

“Last year was the pilot; this year, we have a new minority-owned vendor,” which is Dream Management of Baltimore, said Partnership Executive Director Gina Stewart.
With its popularity growing, more than half of the grant, about $600,000, is being directed to promote the free shuttle, which stops at key spots in the BWI Business District like the BWI Light Rail station, the BWI MARC station, Arundel Mills and Live! Casino & Hotel, Dorchester Woods and Arundel Preserve.

“Last year, it carried 90,000 riders,” Stewart said, “and we have data from [July and August 2019] that usage reached about 9,500 per month. Last year, it was 5,400 per month.”

Boosting Cyber

The rest of the grant, about $400,000, will go toward beautification efforts for a three-mile radius around Arundel Mills and the casino with vendor DMF Landscaping of Millersville. The work includes tree trimming, mulching, flower beds and picking up refuse – which in 2018 totaled about 79 tons.

The grants are as varied as the organizations that receive them.

For instance, the Fort Meade Alliance Foundation garnered $381,000 to help bolster the local cyber employee pipeline.

“This is our first request,” said Penny Cantwell, vice president and treasurer of the Foundation. “We’ve been talking with Anne Arundel County Public Schools about the cybersecurity pipeline. We all see the need for the cyber workforce to be increased.”

She said it’s an opportunity for high school students to be able to fill in some of the pipeline jobs that don’t require all of the experience and education the bigger jobs do.

“We need the industry involved in what the students get,” said Cantwell, “because many of the teachers can teach the certification part but they don’t have the experience in the industry to deliver the experiential part. So, we bring in industry partners who can help develop experiential learning that the students would not get from computer science or information technology courses.”

The funds from LDC will allow the initial buildout at Meade High School, she said, noting the computers and software account for “more than half of the money.” The rest is for teacher development, a field trip to the Baltimore Cyber Range, training and special furniture.

“The LDC grant provides an important component of our workforce needs for the region,” Cantwell said. “We feel, by starting the pipeline in high school, we’re getting a step ahead of where we are now because now most of the training starts in college.”

MagView to move to Maple Lawn

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Medical software firm MagView has signed a lease with St. John Properties for 15,000 square feet of space within 8110 Maple Lawn Boulevard, located in the mixed-use community of Maple Lawn in Fulton.

The company, which markets its products to outpatient imaging centers and hospitals internationally, intends to relocate its corporate headquarters and approximately 75 employees from Montgomery County to a four-story, 104,412 square foot Class A commercial office building this fall.

MagView develops and markets a variety of software solutions utilized by physicians and other medical professionals that track information about patients undergoing mammography and other breast imaging exams. This data is used to help improve patient outcomes, particularly among those considered high-risk. The company, which also markets software products targeting lung cancer patients, currently works with more than 2,500 health care facilities internationally.

“Our company outgrew our existing facilities and continues to expand rapidly and, as we embarked on a long-term operational strategy, we believed it was essential for our new location to be easily accessible to a highly-skilled technical workforce,” said Bryan Chapin, president and CEO of MagView. “We began looking closer at Maple Lawn due to the numerous high-technology firms contained within the business community.”

“The location became increasingly attractive based on the employee-centric amenities including multiple restaurants and shopping embedded within the community,” Chapin said. “We believe that Maple Lawn will significantly improve our ability to recruit and retain employees and, because the new building is less than five miles from our existing location [in Burtonsville], the commutes and lifestyles of our current employees will not be adversely impacted.”

Maryland’s last flour mill to close

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A landmark Oella business that is part of the Ellicott’s Mills Historic District and dates back to the late 1700s will be closing its doors in early 2020. Wilkins Rogers Mills, a flour and corn meal milling company, will be shutting down its flour mill and relocate production, according to various media outlets.

The local mill produces flour and started producing private label flours for retail grocers in the 1970s. It has various flour-packing lines and produces and delivers flours and corn meals for businesses of all sizes all along the eastern seaboard. With the upcoming closure, Maryland will lose its last commercial grain mill.

Founded in 1913 in Washington, D.C., Wilkins-Rogers moved its operations to Ellicott City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The company also has mills in Mount Joy, Pa., and Palmyra, Pa.

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