Arundel’s Schuh Announces Commission on Government Innovation, Effectiveness

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has formed the County Executive’s Commission on Government Innovation and Effectiveness, a bipartisan effort to examine how government can better serve the citizens of Anne Arundel County. “We are committed to providing the best government we can to the citizens of Anne Arundel County,” said Schuh. “We need a wholesale review of every department and operation to understand how we can make government work more effectively for the people.”

Members of the commission include William Westervelt, Jr., chair, an expert in the payment systems industry; Ron Dillon, Jr., a former member of the Anne Arundel County Council; James Lighthizer, founder of Chesapeake Real Estate Group; Frances Phillips, a former deputy secretary for public health services at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Nelson Sabatini, a leader in the Maryland and federal health care arenas, and former secretary for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and Lou Zagarino, who founded The Rose Restaurant, in Linthicum, developed two adjacent hotels and serves in various roles in the local business community.

Former West County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Claire Louder will serve as executive director. Using the Schuh Transition Report as a starting point, the commission will examine certain functions currently handled by county agencies that could be successfully handled through public-private partnerships and private sector contracts, resulting in better service to constituents as well as cost savings. The commission also will examine how to best deploy technology to enhance services.

The commission will meet monthly and will distribute an initial report in April 2017.

State Seeks Applicants for Highway Safety Grants

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office (MHSO) will accept grant applications for millions of dollars in federal highway safety funds through Feb. 28, for projects occurring in federal fiscal 2018. The funds will be competitively awarded to law enforcement, government agencies, nonprofits, highway safety advocacy groups, individuals and others who support programs designed to reduce vehicle crashes and save lives on Maryland roads.

Federal grants are available to help fund the following initiatives.

  • Preventing impaired, aggressive and distracted driving
  • Increasing the use of seat belts
  • Increasing motorcyclist, pedestrian and bicyclist safety
  • Funding child passenger safety fitting stations
  • Improving Maryland’s traffic data systems
  • Funding traffic safety-related law enforcement operations

Projects must be statewide in nature and correlate to a priority highway safety program area or another identified area, such as enhancing traffic records. Last September, Gov. Larry Hogan announced more than $12.5 million in federal safety funds to more than 80 agencies across Maryland to help strengthen and expand the state’s efforts to save lives on Maryland roads.

The grant funding year begins on Oct. 1, and runs through Sept. 30, 2018. For more information, visit www.mva.maryland.gov/safety/mhso/grants-management.htm or contact the MHSO at 410-787-4050.

The Arc to Present 20th Annual Chocolate Ball

The Arc of Howard County will present the 20th annual Chocolate Ball on Saturday, March 11, 7 p.m.–midnight, at Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City. One of Howard County’s premier social events, the Chocolate Ball features dinner and dancing to music by Oracle and an extensive silent auction. Extravagant desserts created by the area’s best chefs and caterers are a highlight.

The honorary chairs of the black tie-preferred event are long-time supporters Deanna and Joseph Murray, Sr. Sponsorships are now available from $1,000 to $15,000 and come with commensurate benefits, including recognition and seats at the usually sold-out event.

For information about sponsorships, visit archoward.org/events/chocolate-ball. Individual tickets may be purchased for $250 each. To review auction items and purchase tickets online, visit 501auctions.com/archoward. Proceeds from the Chocolate Ball benefit The Arc of Howard County. For further information, contact Dee Athey, dathey@archoward.org or 410-730-0638, ext. 3.

Howard Seeks Nominations for Excellence in Children’s Programs

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the Howard County Office of Children and Families are seeking nominees of people, programs and businesses that have made a positive impact on the lives of Howard County children for the 18th annual “Celebrating Successes for Children” awards program.

While an individual nominee does not have to be a resident of Howard County, s/he must serve Howard County children; however, program or business nominees must be located in Howard County. Nominations will be accepted online at www.howardcountymd.gov/CelebratingSuccesses through Friday, March 3. For more information, contact the Office of Children and Families at 410-313-1940 or email children@howardcountymd.gov.

Nominees will be recognized during the Month of the Young Child at the county’s 18th annual “Celebrating Successes for Children” ceremony on Wednesday, April 26, at Ten Oaks Ballroom, 5000 Signal Bell Lane in Clarksville.

Winter Edition of ‘Parent Pages’ Available in Howard

Howard County’s Department of Community Resources and Services has released the Winter 2017 edition of the “Parent Pages,” a newsletter designed for parents and families raising children. Published by the Department’s Office of Children and Families, the Winter issue contains articles about #OneHoward, activities to help your child become ready for kindergarten, behavior techniques for children and preparing your teens for life after high school.

The Howard County Family Institute’s Winter Family Workshop Calendar is also included, with topics for all ages. For more information, contact Lisa Rhodes at 410-313-1440, or email children@howardcountymd.gov.

High Rating for TRACKHoward From GFOA

Howard County has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. The award is the highest form of recognition in government budgeting. While this is the 24th consecutive year that Howard County has received the award, it is the first time that its strategic plans and performance measures received high ratings.

“When we implemented the TRACKHoward initiative to enhance transparency and accountability, we put in place a performance measurement program that allows us to use data to improve the delivery of services and communicate to the public how we are doing,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. Because of that effort, for the first time, critical performance information presented in the budget document, including strategic goals, objectives and performance measures, received ratings of “outstanding” from the GFOA reviewers.

In reviewing the county’s presentation, the GFOA assessed how the budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. The county’s budget document was scored as “proficient” or “outstanding” in 14 criteria in those four categories by a panel of independent reviewers.

For budgets beginning in 2015, only 1,565 governments in the United States and Canada earned the award.

Schuh Announces Procurement System Reforms

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has announced his administration has implemented a series of reforms to the procurement system to save taxpayers’ money and increase efficiency in county government. “We have changed fundamentally how government will do business with the private sector,” he said. “The reforms we implemented in 2016 will ensure a better, more efficient county government for our citizens.”

The procurement process is the process by which county government purchases goods and services needed to support police officers, firefighters and all other county employees delivering county services to citizens. Upon coming into office, Schuh ordered an enterprise-wide review of county government to identify inefficiencies and cost savings. Among the reforms implemented in 2016 were the following.

  • Identified $2 million in savings as a result of reducing costs for ongoing services
  • Hired a new purchasing agent with a private sector background to lead the reform efforts
  • Established metrics to track time to conduct major procurements that led to a reduction in procurement completion times by 18 days, from May to October
  • Reorganized purchasing staff to better coordinate purchases across multiple county departments
  • Prepared paperwork templates for various procurement types to reduce the time needed for document preparation
  • Implemented a county-wide training program to improve the delivery of procurement services
  • Started process for buying technology to further enhance efficiency in procurement process

Businesses interested in contracting with the county can learn more by visiting www.aacounty.org/departments/central-services/purchasing.

Vendors Wanted for Howard County’s GreenFest

Vendor applications are now being accepted for Howard County’s annual GreenFest, back for its 10th consecutive year on Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Howard Community College’s Burrill Galleria, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Last year’s event drew more than 2,000 attendees and featured nearly 90 commercial and nonprofit vendors with information about how to live a more ecologically-sound lifestyle.

While the theme for 2017 is “Earth Day Every Day,” GreenFest is open to all vendors and exhibitors that highlight environmentally conscious products, services, activities and opportunities for community involvement. The vendor and sponsorship application is available on the GreenFest website at www.hcgreenfest.org. For more information and/or to have an application mailed to you, contact Alan Wilcom with the county’s Department of Public Works at 410-313-6433 or email awilcom@howardcountymd.gov.

Kittleman Announces State Grants to Assist in Rebuilding Ellicott City

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced the receipt of two grants to support the ongoing rebuilding efforts in Historic Ellicott City.

The first grant for the Strategic Demolition Fund includes $500,000 from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (MDHCD) and $125,000 in matching funds from the county. The Strategic Demolition Fund will be used to rebuild infrastructure and for architecture and engineering plans for building stabilization and rehabilitation in Ellicott City. These funds can be used by various county agencies for existing and upcoming projects.

The Community Legacy Grant, also from MDHCD, is for $100,000 to continue the Façade Improvement Program for residential and commercial properties in Ellicott City. This grant pays for 50% of the cost of repairs to the front of a building, with a maximum of $10,000. All work must be pre-approved by the Historic Preservation Commission and Maryland Historical Trust. Both grants will be administered by the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning.

The Howard County Economic Development Authority recently estimated that about $42 million in economic activity has been lost due to the flood, with about $1.3 million less in tax revenue coming to the county as a result.

The county continues to assist those impacted by the flood through a combination of tax credits, grants and fee waivers. All permit fees are waived through the end of fiscal 2017, and Kittleman filed legislation in December to expand eligibility for tax credits when making repairs and improvements to historic properties.

Kittleman Submits Budget Amendment to Cover Flood Costs, Road Resurfacing

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has submitted a budget amendment to the county council providing $12.6 million to cover unexpected costs related to the Ellicott City flood response and recovery, and the county’s road resurfacing program for fiscal 2017.

Better than expected fiscal 2016 revenues enabled the county to use prior years’ surplus to cover these one-time costs without compromising critical services and programs. Two immediate capital projects will provide measurable flood mitigation in Ellicott City, Kittleman said. The budget amendment, if passed, would move $5.9 million to various county departments to cover operating costs incurred or projected since the July 30 flood.

In addition to the operating expenses, the flood response is estimated to require nearly $9 million of emergency capital projects. Most initial capital needs are covered by authorized capital projects for stormwater management and water and sewer contingency projects, as well as a $1.7 million Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) grant.

The amendment will also provide $1.7 million for flood mitigation projects at the Court House and George Howard Building storm water management facilities; in addition, the amendment also provides $5 million for road resurfacing projects, doubling the budget for this countywide effort to help catch up with a $54 million backlog of work accrued though a decade.

SOHO Garners Grant From CarMax Laurel Toyota, Offers Scholarships

Special Olympics Howard County (SOHO) was recently awarded a $54,000 grant from CarMax Laurel Toyota. The grant is part of a regional giving program and is focused on healthy living and leadership development.

The Associates of CarMax Laurel Toyota will volunteer at this year’s 16th annual Inspiration Walk on April 22 at Centennial Park. In addition, SOHO will award three scholarships to outstanding student volunteers who have been committed to the program as volunteers and advocates of the athletes. High school seniors and college students are eligible to apply.

The Jackie Burk Memorial Award for Outstanding Student Volunteer for Special Olympics Howard County ($1,500), the Allan Homes Award ($1,000) and the Kathy Lindner Memorial Award ($500) are available to interested students. Applications and details can be found at www.somdhc.org. For more information, call 410-740-0500 or email info@somdhc.org.

Howard County Seeks Nominees for Sports Hall of Fame

The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks has announced that nomination forms are available for its 2017 Community Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall recognizes individuals who have gained prominence in, or made substantial contributions to, community recreational sports in Howard County.

Coaches, managers, league officials, commissioners or even behind-the-scenes contributors closely identified with community recreational sports can be nominated.

Nomination forms are available online at www.howardcountymd.gov/halloffame or by calling the department at 410-313-4711.

All nominations must be delivered or postmarked by Saturday, April 15, to Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame, 7120 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia, MD 21046. Individuals chosen for this year’s inductee class will be inducted at the 15th annual Celebration of Sports in October.

County READY Program Recognized by Chesapeake Bay Trust

Howard County has announced that the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) Program was awarded the Melanie Teems Award by the Chesapeake Bay Trust for its outstanding coordination of community members and resources to support the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

“READY has been a vital partner coordinating the efforts of 160 young people to construct or maintain more than 100 rain gardens, manage 50 acres of forest conservation easement property and mitigate flood damage,” said County Executive Allan Kittleman.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust presents the award to a model project or program that excels at engaging the community in efforts to improve the region’s natural resources.

“In 2016, we contributed more than 1,000 hours of time to remove 13,100 pounds of debris and bulk trash after the July 30 flood in Ellicott City,” said READY Project Manager Lori Lilly, “and kicked off a native plant nursery in partnership with the Howard County Department of Corrections.”

SECU Supports Maryland Food Bank

SECU has wrapped up its annual food drive and delivered all of the food items collected at its branches and headquarters to the Maryland Food Bank, which was assisted by the credit union’s employees.

All of the items were weighed to determine how many pounds of food SECU collected. In addition to food donations, SECU was set to donate $5 to the Food Bank for every new “Like” it received on its Facebook page until the end of January. Last year, the Food Bank distributed more than 26.5 million pounds of food through a network of 600 soup kitchens, pantries and shelters across the state.

To help SECU support those in need this winter, visit Facebook.com/SECUMD.

Merriweather to Host Benefit for MakingChange

Merriweather Post Pavilion will host “Beer Tasting & Backstage Tour,” a benefit for MakingChange, on Tuesday, March 14, 5–7 p.m., in the pavilion’s newly renovated backstage area. The fundraiser will include locally brewed beers, food, guided backstage tours and a DJ playing music from past Merriweather concerts.

MakingChange provides group seminars and personal coaching to teach people to manage their money and change their lives. Admission is $70 for Supporter Tickets, $125 for VIP Supporter Tickets and $150 for Super VIP Tickets. VIP tickets include a lawn seat pass for two for a 2017 or 2018 Merriweather concert of the attendee’s choice. Register at http://ticketf.ly/2jgBgBV.

Laurel’s WWI: ‘From Here to Over There’ Open

Drawing back the curtain on long-forgotten Laurel soldiers, men stationed at Camp Laurel, Red Cross knitting sessions and dances at the former cotton mill, the Laurel Historical Society’s newest exhibit, “Laurel’s WW1: From Here to Over There,” is open at the Laurel Museum.

More than 230 soldiers with ties to Laurel, including two women, have been identified as participating in the war. Approximately 116,000 Americans died during World War I, including five from the Laurel area. Artifacts, including World War 1 posters, a uniform, minutes from the City of Laurel and Laurel Wreath Lodge, trench art and more are on display. The museum is located at 817 Main Street, and admission is free. For more information, call 301-725-7975, email info@laurelhistoricalsociety.org or visit www.laurelhistoricalsociety.org.

Howard Adolescent Mental Health Symposium Master Plan Released

In September 2016, the Howard County Health Department, with partner agencies, held an adolescent mental health symposium to devise an action plan to prevent and treat mental health and substance misuse among local adolescents. As a result, a master plan was drafted that includes strategies that will be adopted/implemented within locally.

The plan was presented to the administrator of the Office of Children and Families at the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services, who will assume coordination and oversight responsibilities of the symposium-generated activities.

Dr. Anne Rossier Markus, professor at the Department of Health Policy and Management at The George Washington University and proceedings co-author, said, “Howard County students are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed and losing sleep over being stretched too thin, and the symposium raised awareness about that.”

The symposium also yielded a grant to the Health Department from the Horizon Foundation to work in partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore Psychiatry, the Howard County Public School System, medical providers and families who will test a model for increased youth behavioral health care access in schools.

For more information and to read the full report, visit www.howardcountyschoolhealthcouncil.com/events.html.

HCAC’s 20th Celebration of the Arts Slated for March 25

The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) will celebrate 36 years of fostering the arts at the 20th Annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County on Saturday, March 25, at the Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College (HCC), in Columbia.

In honor of Columbia’s 50th anniversary, Padraic Kennedy, the first and longest-serving president of Columbia Association (1972–1998), will act as honorary chair; Dick Story of Howard Bank will serve as emcee.

The celebration is a multi-faceted event showcasing and promoting the arts and raising funds in support of the arts, artists, and arts organizations in Howard County. A highlight of the gala is the Rising Star Emerging Performing Artist Award Competition, in which up to 10 finalists — aged 18 to 35 years and currently or recently living, working, performing regularly, or receiving training in Howard County — compete for a cash prize of $5,000. This year, a special 20th anniversary edition of the competition will feature previous winners vying for the title of Rising ‘All-Star.’

The seven performers competing at the event include, Samantha McEwen Deininger, Musical Theater; Mark Dubac, Clarinet; Mark Edwards, Classical Guitar; Sola Fadiran, Musical Theatre; Alexander Francis, Piano; Maggie Kudirka, Contemporary Ballet; Tao-Chang Yu, Violin

Tickets to the event are available online at www.hocoarts.org, by emailing deputydirector@hocoarts.org or by calling 410-313-2787.

‘Black History in Laurel’ Set for Feb. 9

The new Laurel Branch Library sits on land that has deep historic roots. The area had been home to a colored school during segregation, a dance hall, the Laurel Stars baseball team and Emancipation Park.

Join Laurel Historical Society Executive Director Lindsey Baker and historian Sandra Johnson for a discussion of the history of the land on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m., when “Black History in Laurel” will be presented at the new library, which is located at 507 7th Street at Talbott Avenue. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.laurelhistoricalsociety.org or call 301-725-7975.

Howard Delegation to Host Hearing on Statewide Issues

The Howard County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly, chaired by Del. Vanessa Atterbeary and Sen. Guy Guzzone, will hold a public hearing for citizen input on statewide issues that may be considered by the legislature during the legislative session. The hearing is set for Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m., in the Banneker Room in the George Howard Building, 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City.

The delegation will hear testimony from members of the public on any statewide issue they would like to bring to the delegation’s attention. No Howard County local bills that were previously given a public hearing will be heard; however, Howard County, Fire Investigator, Qualifications, Ho. Co. 24–17, which was not previously heard, will be first on the agenda.

For more information, call 410-841-3360 or 301-858-3360, or e-mail hoc1@mlis.state.md.us.

Bush Hager to Speak at LHC’s Big Event

Leadership Howard County (LHC) will hold its annual Big Event on March 30, featuring guest speaker Jenna Bush Hager, who will present “Making a Difference: How the Power of Compassion Changes Lives.”

Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush, is an author, contributing correspondent on NBC’s Today show and chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation. She will talk about her life experience and perspectives as the daughter and granddaughter of former presidents, as well as how compassion can make an impact on the world.

The Big Event is open to the public. Proceeds from the event support LHC programs and scholarships. Individual tickets are $100, military (active duty or veteran), students and nonprofits tickets are $75. To register or learn more, visit www.leadershiphc.org or call 410-730-4474.

Renovations Set for Savage Mill’s Bollman Bridge

Plans have been unveiled that call for the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks to spend approximately $130,000 to renovate the historic Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge, in Savage. The project to update the 174-foot double-span truss bridge involves a new coat of paint, which the county intends to begin as early as May and is expected to take several weeks.

During the renovation, the Department of Public Works also will coordinate any necessary repairs to ensure the safety of the bridge. Recreation and Parks originally restored the bridge in 1983 as part of Savage Park to serve as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing. The bridge has been a National Historic Landmark since 2000, when it was also rededicated as a symbol of county heritage and pride.

Halpin & Associates to Hold Bowling Fundraiser

The Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates will hold its annual Bowling Fundraiser and Middle Eastern lunch buffet to benefit the Howard County Food Bank on Sunday, Feb. 26, from noon to 3 p.m. at Brunswick Bowling Alley at 7100 Carved Stone, Columbia.

Lunch, bowling and shoe rental are included in the cost of this family event. The goal is to raise $20,000 and collect 2,000 pounds of food. Attendees are asked to bring at least two cans/boxes of food per person. Checks are welcome in lieu of food donation and can be written payable to the Community Action Council. Donations can also be made at the event with a credit card.

RSVP by Feb. 20 by calling 410-531-1700, emailing michelle@halpinlawfirm.com or via www.tinyprints.com/r/bowling2017.

Annual Fundraising Gala to Celebrate Cultures of the World, Diversity

Howard County Library System (HCLS) will celebrate the diversity of the community at Evening in the Stacks: An International Affair, on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 7 to 11 p.m. The annual fundraiser will be held at the Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center, located at 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City.

The event will feature a conversation with author Nadia Hashimi, who will discuss her international bestselling work, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, along with her other novels set in Afghanistan. They will include her newest book, A House Without Windows.

Guests can enjoy dancing to live music by The Junkyard Saints and entertaining cultural performances; they can also grab a pint at a British pub, sample baba ganoush at a Middle Eastern bazaar, savor the tastes of a South American pampas grill and enjoy a variety of stir frys at the Royal Tai table. French pastries and an ice cream sundae bar complete the menu.

Guests are encouraged to represent their own culture with authentic, traditional dress. Cocktail attire with an international flair is also welcome; black tie is optional. For tickets and additional details, visit www.hclibrary.org/stacks.

PIC Garners Award From NAACCC

Partners In Care, a Pasadena-based nonprofit organization that provides no-cost transportation and other services to help older adults remain independent in their homes and engaged in the community, was named the recipient of the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce’s (NAACCC) 2017 Community Cornerstone Award.

The award recognizes an area business that has been in operation for more than 20 years, makes a positive impact in the community, demonstrates flexibility and adaptability in an ever-changing business world, incorporates innovative business strategies and is recognized as a role model organization.

‘Sweet Judy Blue Eyes’ Returns to Columbia for Arts Fest

Legendary songstress Judy Collins will perform on Saturday, April 1, at 8 p.m., at the Jim Rouse Theatre in Wilde Lake High School, as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts. Collins, who has enjoyed five Billboard Top 40 hits, was recently nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award, with Ari Hest, for Best Folk Album for “Silver Skies Blue.”

Tickets are on sale and seating is limited. Costs range from $48 to $63, with no service fees; members of the military, students and seniors are eligible for $5 discounts. For more information, call 410-715-3044.

Symposium for Transitioning Disabled Set for March 18

The 4th Annual Transition Symposium: Stop Waiting and Start Planning, is a day-long conference that focuses on the challenge of transition to post-high school employment, education and independent living for young people with disabilities. It is set for Saturday, March 18, at Cedar Lane School, in Fulton, and will be co-hosted by the Howard County Autism Society.

In Howard County, there are more than 4,800 students in special education. Of that number, approximately 55% have a learning disability, autism, developmental delay or an intellectual disability. During the next five years, approximately 600 high school students who fit into those categories will transition out of Howard County schools, making this topic timely for families, businesses and various other groups.

This year’s event features a plenary panel of parents whose children have successfully navigated the transition from high school, and an update on Maryland state disability policy and initiatives. For more information, call 410-290-3466 or visit www.howard-autism.org.