Archived Articles: October 2017

Laurel Celebrates Hospital, MARC Station Challenge

By George Berkheimer, Senior Writer

Laurel officials are fighting what can be described as an exhausting battle to shore up the city’s health care and mass transit infrastructure. While they’ve scored a decisive win on the hospital front, new pressures have emerged that threaten the city’s ability to handle an expected increase in local MARC ridership.
The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) assumed ownership of Dimensions Healthcare System (DHS) on Sept. 1, creating a new entity known as University of Maryland Capital Region Health (UMCRH). UMMS also announced a $50 million investment to modernize and enhance Laurel Regional Hospital, formerly part of DHS and now rebranded the University of Maryland Laurel Regional Hospital (UMLRH).
The announcement marks a major milestone for Laurel Mayor Craig Moe and members of the City Council following a year-long community engagement process to halt DHS plans to transform the hospital into an ambulatory care center, with limited services.
As part of that process, Moe and UMMS Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Stephen Bartlett co-chaired a work group focused on critical issues, such as emergency medical care, the expansion of services to address specific community health needs and hospital workforce.
“Our goal was to make sure that the community, patients, employees, union members and physicians would have a voice in the discussion about the future of the hospital,” Moe said.
A seven-member interim board overseeing transition of the new regional health care system will be replaced with a permanent UMCRH Board of Directors in 2019.

In partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and UMCRH, UMMS has created several strategic goals for UMLRH. These include expanding access for primary/community care; specialty care and other services to reduce health care disparities in the region; strengthening the care continuum from primary care through post-acute care; facilitating investment in outpatient services and health education programs to manage chronic diseases; and broadening access to discovery-based medicine.
“We are keenly attuned to the necessity to become more efficient and financially viable in an evolving health care environment that is increasingly focused on population health prevention,” said Neil Moore, president and CEO of UMCRH.
UMCRH is now poised to serve as a catalyst for redevelopment and economic growth in the county through construction of the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, which will replace the current Prince George’s Hospital Center, in Cheverly, and through the modernization and transformation of the UMLRH campus.
“For decades, too many Prince Georgians have left the county for medical care and hospitalization,” said UMCRH Board Chair Bradford Seamon. “The time has come to bring our residents back and engender their full confidence in the quality and expertise of health care options right here at home.”

Campus Expansion
In a taped interview for Laurel TV, the city’s public access television channel, Moe and Bartlett discussed the benefits that the work group has strived to deliver. The full interview is available on Laurel’s government website and YouTube Channel.
“The big question is, ‘How are we going to redesign health care delivery?,’” Bartlett said. “We know from studies that there are not adequate services at this point and we know that the police, fire and Emergency Medical Services system is really overwhelmed by behavioral health issues [in the community].”
Projections for the campus include a modernized emergency room with 24 bays, including four secure rooms for patients with behavioral problems; a modernized emergency room; a specialized unit for rapid resuscitation of critically ill patients; and a base station connected to Emergency Medical Services to provide advance notification of emergency arrivals.
Two brand-new operating rooms will allow for major surgery on an outpatient basis, with the added convenience of observation beds allowing up to 48 hours of post-surgery follow-on care and immediate transition to a rehabilitation facility, if needed.
“Major abdominal surgery, dental surgery, podiatry, all kinds of major clinical operations will be possible in this new facility,” Bartlett said. “We want to create a vibrant community where people can get their medical care and also have a destination for other things — perhaps a restaurant, pharmacy, a wellness center, a place where they can do continuing education. There are lots of ideas for how we can build this beautiful campus into a vibrant destination with multiple purposes, including the best health care in Laurel.”
According to Moe, the work group’s workforce development subcommittee provided recommendations to assist hospital employees who may need to transition to jobs in other locations, due to changes in the services UMLRH will offer.
“I think the community has to stay engaged, and the elected officials need to continue to work together,” Moe said. “It’s not going to be everything everybody wants, but I think it’s going to be something we’re all very proud of and something that will meet the community needs.”
Growing Pains
At a Town Hall meeting in September, City Council Member Ed Ricks updated the community on efforts to maintain service on the Camden Line at the Laurel MARC station.
Although Laurel secured a Memorandum of Understanding from the Maryland Department of Transportation that preserves commuter service at the historic train station, proposed plans for a nearby transit-oriented development project in adjacent Howard County threaten to overwhelm the station with capacity issues.
That development, known as Laurel Park Station, is being pursued by the Stronach Group, which owns the Laurel Park race track.
“Phase 1 and Phase 2 would allow 500 houses to be built,” Ricks said. “The [upgraded] railroad station there will not be built until Phase 3. How are [Laurel Park Station commuters] going to get on the train? They’re going to come to Laurel, and Laurel doesn’t have any space for them.”
Aside from woefully inadequate parking capacity, there is also an issue of inadequate pedestrian infrastructure along northbound Route 1 to provide pedestrian safety for those commuters who would be forced to walk to Laurel’s station in the interim.
The state of Maryland, which owns Laurel’s MARC commuter lot, has tried and failed twice to hire a developer to build a parking garage and other amenities on the property.
The city’s goal, Ricks said, is to either press the state to develop that property and provide a parking garage, or transfer the property to Laurel so the city can build a garage itself.
So far, he said, Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn’s position has been non-committal.
“We’re aware of the concerns that the City of Laurel is dealing with and support their efforts to get a parking lot built,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, acknowledging that his office participates in monthly conference calls with stakeholders to address those issues.
“We’re limited in what we can accomplish in terms of pedestrian safety on Route 1, because the State Highway Administration controls that roadway,” he said.
“We have to continue to be prudent and stay on top of the state, and make sure they build us a garage that can accommodate not only [Howard County’s] growth, but the growth that already exists here in the city,” Ricks said. “We will continue to do that.”

Airplane Noise: Local Residents Still Listening for Solutions


As Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan directed the state’s attorney general to sue the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concerning increases in airplane noise, local residents have continued a grassroots push for an end to airplane noise they say is rattling their homes — and their nerves.

The increase in airplane noise is tied to the FAA’s efforts to modernize air traffic operations at the region’s airports through new flight paths. Near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, noise complaints grew from about 850 in 2014 to 2,700 in 2016.

The revised routes are part the FAA’s $29 billion initiative NextGen, which was implemented in 2015 and shifts navigation from radar to satellites, allowing airplanes to fly more direct routes, saving fuel and expediting takeoffs and landings. However, the planes tend to fly more concentrated routes, which can mean more noise for some people on the ground.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said he was very pleased to hear of Hogan’s action.

“We have been actively exploring legal action on behalf of the many Howard County families who have been suffering,” he said. “We look forward to working with the attorney general to address the FAA’s implementation of NextGen, and bring about the much-needed relief that our residents deserve.”

Hogan has expressed concerns that chronic aircraft noise exposes otherwise healthy people to stress and potential medical conditions, as well as directly negatively impacting property values for Maryland homeowners.

Quieter Fleets

A bit of good news for local residents bothered by the noise is that the noisiest aircraft used at BWI Marshall are on the decline, said David Crandall, a principal consultant with Burlington, Mass.-based HMMH (which also has an office in Herndon, Va.), who spoke at a Sept. 19 meeting in Linthicum of the D.C. Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable. HMMH is an international company specializing in environmental and transportation planning, including noise and vibration control.

“One request we have had is to provide a graphic depiction of the noise from different aircraft,” Crandall said. “To compute a sound exposure level, we take into consideration the loudness of the event along with the duration. The sound exposure level metric combines that into one number.”

As engine technology is developed to be quieter, those noise levels should drop, he said. His calculations drew questions from residents at the meeting as to why aircraft noise isn’t measured in decibels, the measurement that is more familiar to an average person.
“Eighty decibels in any working environment would require hearing protection,” said one resident, who had measured the level of airplane noise using decibels.

Immediate Relief?

The FAA has committed to exploring potential options that might be available to try to provide some relief or remedies for the noise issues people are experiencing, said Robert Owens, assistant district manager of the FAA’s Capital District.

Among ideas the FAA has discussed are switching runways periodically during the day, vectoring aircraft on arrival, vectoring aircraft on departure and having aircraft maintain a higher altitude for longer times, said Owens.

The FAA is continuing to review letters sent by Hogan and others, he said, and a formal response will be sent by the FAA administrator. In the interim, the operations team at the FAA has formed what he called “a collaborative team of subject matter experts: people who work at the BWI tower and people who provide the radar guidance.”
The purpose of the work group is to explore the feasibility, and fly-ability, of solutions to the noise, Owens said. “If we were to implement these procedures, could we do it? What would the impact be to safety? Would it cause an increased delay?”

There certainly would be an increase in communication requirements, he said. “You would introduce the potential for risk into the system, whereas if you go to automation, there is a certain amount of predictability.”

One of the reasons for automating flight patterns in the first place was to increase safety, said Owens. “When you add a human factor or human equation, there is a potential for misunderstanding. That risk presents a huge detriment to safety.”

Trauma on Ground

Though the FAA is actively discussing solutions, “We don’t want to do something operational that can’t be sustained or supported long-term,” said Owens.

Jesse Chancellor, a member of the roundtable, said what residents want is real data points about what the FAA can do — and what it can’t do. “People are throwing up roadblocks,” he said. “What they should be doing is saying, ‘We can do this.’”
Chancellor believes there is something the FAA can do to bring relief to people. “Of course we want safety,” he said. “We feel safe. But the people on the ground are feeling traumatized. You’ve got to do something.”

Cybersecurity: Increasing Awareness for Businesses, Large and Small


October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and local businesses are encouraging greater vigilance by employees to reduce the soaring rate of cyberattacks on small and mid-size businesses.
The threat of a cyber-attack on a small business is anything but overblown. Hackers count on employees at smaller organizations to be more easily fooled by malicious emails and online scams. The result is that ransomware attacks have soared,” said Mike Cohn, CEO of Summit Business Technologies.
“Most attacks begin at night or on weekends when they can run undiscovered for hours as they quickly encrypt large quantities of files,” he said. “As soon as someone tries to access an encrypted file, they are usually confronted with a brash, dangerous-looking screen meant to instill fear or anxiety in the user. Pirate, Halloween or radiation warning-type screens are common but many variations of warnings exist.”
Phishing emails and other types of hacking are harder to detect, because the perpetrator seeks to operate in stealth mode. “The hacker may want to use information obtained from fraudulent emails to attain some other goal, like access to your bank account passwords or a trove of private information,” said Cohn.
Summit’s program expands typical security awareness training into what Cohn calls “a more effective, longer-term service” intended to help employees retain security awareness over time. While training programs play a role, Summit’s model picks up where they leave off to reinforce security awareness until it becomes instinctive and second nature.
“Faced with so many types of potential attacks, as well as all the distractions we already face in everyday life, it is easy to lose that critical alertness in the weeks after typical training,” Cohn said. “The challenge is to retain and maintain a heightened level of alertness long after the initial training is completed.”

It’s Them
No business is too small for a cyberattack because cybercriminals don’t discriminate, and the vast majority of attacks are not specifically targeted, said Gina Abate, CEO of Edwards Performance Solutions, of Elkridge.
First, cyber criminals strike vulnerable companies, whether they are small or large, Abate said. “Second, if you have customers, is their information appealing to attackers, and could your systems be used to breach your customers’ systems?”
The first step is to understand your risk and then manage that risk appropriately for your business needs and size, she said.
Cybersecurity is not a “one-size-fits-all” discipline, but there is a common set of guidelines: The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework provides a structure for a cybersecurity program, with a set of outcomes aligned to five functions: identify, protect, detect, respond and recovery.
“Your business needs and tolerance for risk will drive your approach and the plan you put in place,” said Abate.

What Then?
Every company needs to have an established business continuity policy for its data that includes how the company will respond when it realizes the data has been compromised, said Jim Skillington, president of New Village Media, of Columbia.
“Once a cyberattack has been successful, it is important to stop the intrusions immediately. Hackers often share vulnerabilities they have found with others,” he said.
Skillington recalled when a client, a nonprofit that hosted its own websites, found that some of its website visitors reported picking up malware when visiting the site. “We investigated and found the site had been compromised and recommended it be taken offline and several temporary pages be posted until the site could be cleaned or replaced,” he said. “Not having an advance policy, the nonprofit staff debated what to do for nearly a week. That delay allowed additional hacks to occur, and the cost to fix the site skyrocketed.”
Skillington suggested using secure passwords and changing them regularly — and stressed not sending those passwords out via email or posting them in an obvious place in your office.
Also, “Don’t host your own website before linking it directly to your internal local area network,” he said. “Consider if you really have the capability to keep it secure.”
Backing up your data is vitally important as well, said Skillington and other business owners. “Regularly back up your website, your internal data and your emails. It is better to have to go back a month than to the beginning of time. Also, test that the backups can really be used to restore your systems.”
Finally, he said, keep all software current. “Don’t trust your [information technology] department or contractor that updates are being made,” he said. “Insist on seeing proof. Several recent large data breaches have been traced back to software patches not being made in a timely manner.”

Easy Targets
No business is too small for an attacker, agreed Ellison Anne Williams, CEO of EnVeil, of Columbia. “If you have something of value — your data or assets — the attackers will try to break in and steal it,” she said. “Also, the perception is that small businesses do not have sufficient protective mechanisms in place and are therefore easier targets.”
Business owners might want to come from a place of knowing that attackers are breaking in and trying to steal their data, Ellison said.
“By practicing good data security and encrypting your data at rest, in transit and in use, you devalue the items that the attacker is breaking in to steal,” she said, “and thus deter an attack and make the ramifications of an attack of far less consequence.”

DNR Begins Removal of Bloede’s Dam


The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began preliminary work in September on a project to remove Bloede’s Dam from the Patapsco River in Patapsco Valley State Park. The announcement follows several years of work by the department and its partners to develop a comprehensive, cost-effective plan to remove the public safety hazard and fish obstruction.
“This project is testament to the power of partnership,” said Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Daryl Anthony in an April release that officially announced approval for the project.
Specifically, the removal of Bloede’s Dam targets three primary objectives: improved public safety; restoration of fish and aquatic organism passage; and sharing Patapsco River’s historic, cultural and recreational background.
American Rivers, a national advocacy group that promotes river enhancement and restoration projects, is among the partners working to remove the dam and is overseeing contracting for the process.
Although American Rivers hasn’t yet provided the amounts of funding it has received specific to Bloede’s Dam, the organization released the following statement:
“This effort has been made possible thanks to generous contributions from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, NOAA, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Keurig-Green Mountain and the U.S. Department of the Interior, both through a grant administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, and through USFWS funding from the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. It is one of 70 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery and resilience projects in the Northeast under this funding.”

Historic Structure
Constructed in 1906 and named for Victor Gustav Bloede, who founded the Avalon Water Works, Bloede’s Dam was the first underwater hydroelectric plant in the world. It produced electricity until it closed in 1924.
During the intervening years, recreational injuries and deaths have occurred at or near the dam, and the structure has contributed to the buildup of silt in the river.
Bloede’s Dam also has had an adverse effect on natural resources, blocking the natural migration of historically large runs of shad, herring and American eels for more than a century.
According to DNR Spokesman Gregg Bortz, Phase 1 work has been completed and Phase 2 is underway, which entails constructing a river crossing, installing erosion and sediment controls, clearing trees and constructing a temporary retaining wall.
Additionally, the contractor will replace the existing Baltimore County sanitary sewerline.
“Phase 2 will be ongoing until approximately August 2018,” Bortz said, and will necessitate closure of the Ilchester Road pedestrian bridge and the section of trail from Ilchester Road to Bloede’s Dam until project completion in 2019.
Actual demolition of the dam using excavators is scheduled to take place from September 2018 until November 2018, to be followed by the Phase 4 installation of a 12-inch Howard County sewerline and Phase 5 construction of overlooks and final vegetation and forest restoration efforts.

Loss vs. Gain
Ned Tillman, a Columbia author whose books chronicle and celebrate the natural history of the region, said he has been aware of a goal to remove the dam for at least 20 years.
“This is one of the hard ones for me, as someone who is half historian and half scientist,” Tillman said. “I’m going to be interested to see if we can actually get the shad and herring to come back up the river like they used to.”
DNR’s attempt to bypass the dam by constructing a fish ladder in the 1990s was not successful. “Since these were installed, new research has shown that while ladders may be effective in certain situations, dam removal is by far the better choice for providing fish passage,” Bortz said.
Although the original vision to address the loss of a cultural and historic resource recommended retaining a portion of the dam structure on the Howard County side,
Bortz said the decision was made to remove the dam in its entirety due to safety concerns.
“The dam will be documented and recorded prior to demolition for historic purposes, and overlooks with interpretive signage are to be constructed in both Baltimore and Howard counties,” he said.
The Patapsco River marks the dividing line between the counties within Patapsco Valley State Park.

Long Term Benefits
After Bloede’s Dam is removed, Daniels Dam eight miles upstream will remain the only impediment to fish and eel migration on the Patapsco. Although NOAA provided money in 2013 for engineering design of its removal, no plans have yet been announced specific to Daniels Dam and its more efficient fish ladder.
DNR officials are working toward the goal of a restored Patapsco River System — 65 miles in total, including its branches — with long-term cost savings for the department, particularly from maintenance costs associated with the fish ladders.
Additionally, they envision long-term ecological benefits to the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay stemming from healthier populations of native fish species, an increased diversity of aquatic insects, and cooler, oxygen-rich waters that will help improve the fishery.
In the meantime, removal of Bloede’s Dam will also enable improved recreational opportunities for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing, and will enable a return to a more scenic and natural river setting in that area.
“The dam is a classic part of our history,” said Tillman, one example of the many successful enterprises that arose from the industrialization of the Patapsco River Valley.
“But even so,” he said, “it’s exciting to see that there’s still enough interest at the county, state and federal levels to continue moving forward to improve the environment.”

In Howard, Anne Arundel: Who Knew That Was Here?

By George Berkheimer, Senior Writer

Online maps make it easy to navigate and locate addresses in unfamiliar surroundings.
They can also be an educational tool, as well as a divining rod, of sorts. Zoom down far enough and begin moving the cursor around and there’s no telling what new or unusual businesses might be discovered — in many cases, the sort of things that elicit the response: “Who knew that was here?”
For the most part, the unusual businesses and organizations chronicled below were identified using this method.

Fortune Cookies
Family-owned and -operated Lucky Fortune Cookie, located along Route 1, in Jessup, has been in business for more than 20 years. It once produced noodles and other specialty food items. Limited access to skilled workers in those trades, however, resulted in a decision to focus entirely on the crispy wafer treats that usually signify the end of a meal. In more recent years, however, they have been incorporated to do much more.
“We have done customer orders with wrapper branding and special messages for Microsoft Corp. and large chain restaurants like P. F. Chang’s,” said Lucky Fortune Cookie spokesman John Tsao. “People even propose marriage using fortune cookies. We have the ability to place a diamond ring inside the cookie and insert a personal message.”
During the last election, both Republican and Democrat candidates placed orders for election novelties. The cookies are also popular with school promotions, Tsao said, and students running for class president or student council have also placed orders to advertise their campaigns.
“Aside from special orders, we primarily supply wholesalers who distribute the product to restaurants in the United States, Canada and Europe,” Tsao said. “Not many restaurants can claim their fortune cookies come from a nearby bakery, so we’re very popular in the local region.”

Newseum Storage
Housed in a warehouse building with a fabrication shop along Route 1, in North Laurel, the Newseum Support Center is the primary archive and storage facility for the Washington, D.C., museum that is focused on journalism and news reporting. Three to four curators and library specialists work in the facility on any given day.
“We moved into the building in 2006,” said Newseum spokesman Jonathan Thompson. “We display three to four new exhibits each year, so the shop facility made it an ideal location for our archives. Our fabrication team builds all of the display cases for our exhibits in Laurel.”

Laboratory Cages
Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, Lenderking Caging Co., of Millersville, is the nation’s oldest caging company. Established by a former Union officer in 1867, Lenderking designs and markets cages that promote natural animal behaviors while making them user-friendly and durable.
“Our manufacturing capabilities also include industrial, commercial and architectural products,” said Lenderking President Michael Semenuk. “We’ve built display cases for Smithsonian museums and have helped with projects as far away as Hawaii.”
Most of the company’s original customers no longer exist, but Lenderking still does business with some old friends, including Baltimore-based Ellicott Dredges, which used products manufactured by Lenderking to dredge the Panama Canal and the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Human Rights
Manda Zand Ervin left her native Iran in 1979 following Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power, and eventually moved to Clarksville with her husband, a retired U.S. Navy officer, in the 1980s.
Having served as managing director of the Department of Statistics and International Affairs in Iran’s Customs Administration, Ervin found herself at odds with the Iranian clergy’s policy of gender apartheid and fled for her safety.
She founded the Alliance of Iranian Women in 1999 with the mission of bringing a voice to the oppressed women and children of Iran, while educating the media and American politicians about the conditions under which they live. In 2009, she spoke before the G-8 International Conference in Rome on Violence Against Women.
“Iranian women won the right to vote in 1962 and were admitted to universities beginning in 1937, but today they are denied an education in 72 fields of study, including law, sciences and the humanities,” Ervin said. “People protest these conditions every day in Iran, but nobody in the West knows about it.”

Aerial Refueling
Located in an industrial park just off Route 1, in Jessup, Products Support Inc. (PSI) manufactures ground support test equipment and flight hardware platforms for air-to-air refueling operations conducted by NATO partners, and by other United States allies who fly the F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft.
“We also fabricate test equipment for the F-35 and F-22,” said PSI President Scott Wiley. “Our products are used by anybody who uses a receptacle or boom to refuel in flight.”
If it seems an odd location for such a business, there’s a background story.
“One of the original owners of the company was involved in the inception of aerial refueling back in the 1950s,” Wiley said.
PSI also provides full-service manufacturing of interconnect devices and power distribution equipment for avionics.

Scholastic Books
The Scholastic Book Fairs warehouse, located in Odenton since 2005, partners with Maryland schools to host book sale events for children in pre-school through ninth grade and their families.
“Kids who read, and read well, do better in school, at work and in life,” said Scholastic spokesperson Teryl McLane. “But reading takes practice, just like any other skill. We provide unfettered access to books that kids can’t wait to read for fun.”
Scholastic’s in-school literacy events give students and families access to thousands of affordable and popular books, she said, and generate much-needed funds for school and classroom libraries. Scholastic works with 1,500 schools to host approximately 2,700 book fairs each year.

Anatomy Gifts
A nonprofit program founded in 1994, Anatomy Gifts Registry, in Hanover, provides a whole body donation program to support researchers and clinicians for the benefit of medical science, research, training and education.
“We accept donors from 46 states,” said Executive Director and COO Corinne Bell. “We have a network of funeral homes and mortuary transporters who will perform the removal of the decedent from the location of death and ship or deliver the donation to us here. We receive about 130 donations a month, on average.”
AGR’s president started the company while still a recent biology graduate. Working for a diabetes researcher, he noticed a need for researchers to have access to anatomical specimens of varying diseases and pathologies.
“There needed to be a way for hospitals and universities to receive the anatomical materials needed for critical projects, research and training,” Bell said. “Hanover is a great location near an international airport, and [in] the highly populated mid-Atlantic region, from which we receive many donations. It is also within reasonable distance to many universities and hospital programs, as well as separate surgical skills laboratory facilities to which we provide anatomical specimens.”

BBQ Sauce
Howard County has its very own producer of barbecue sauces and spice rubs in Glenwood. Joe Joe’s Hog Shack co-owners Joe Flanagan and Brian Ellis turned a family gathering tradition into a business, and now sell their products in stores and at events across the region.
“Joe had been doing sauces and cooking in competitions for decades, and we started selling commercially about 18 months ago,” Ellis said. “We ramped things up last year and now use a co-packer.”
Boarman’s Meat Market, in Highland; Cozy Pools, in Mount Airy; and several farm markets carry the line of sauces, which include Carolina, Sweet and Tangy, and Blackberry.
“Right now we’re doing a lot of online sales, but we expect to sell a lot more as people in the region get familiar with us,” Ellis said.

A Four-Year Degree: How Much Does That Sheepskin Matter?

By Mark R. Smith, Editor-in-Chief
Scott Dorsey had a question, which he posed during a panel discussion at the BWI Business Partnership’s September breakfast meeting.
For Dorsey, chairman and CEO with Merritt Properties and chairman of the board of Maryland Business for Responsive Government, it was a question that he, among other business leaders, seem to have been asking more frequently in recent years.
And that question is: “Do workers really need a four-year college degree to be successful?”
Answered Dorsey: “Not necessarily.”
Dorsey, among others, feels that a degree, while a requirement in many fields, doesn’t necessarily equate to success as much as the aptitude for a certain job. “Far too many people, parents and their children, have been buying into the notion that in order to have a really good career, a four-year college degree is necessary,” he said.
“That degree can be one way to a successful career, but is far from the only way. Far too often, people are spending tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in order to obtain a college degree, and graduate without skills that are useful to potential employers,” Dorsey said.
“There are certainly many cases of huge financial sacrifice and crushing debt that can take many years to pay off,” he said. “In order to be prepared for a successful career, students need to develop skills and obtain knowledge that will prepare them to provide value to their employers.”

Focusing on Need
Clearly, some professions require not only college degrees, but post-graduate education. Many high-paying, rewarding, interesting careers are in areas like science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM); cybersecurity; and health care, to name a few.
But Dorsey’s main contention is that “Students need to learn skills that are relevant, and in-demand, in the workforce. There needs to be a commitment to life-long learning in our rapidly-changing world,” he said, noting career-specific apprenticeship programs at a community college and at trade schools that provide on-the-job training during the completion of core requirements, for instance, thus earning a certificate to validate a new skill set.
“Too often, there is a stigma associated with not having obtained a college degree. Too often, employers require college degrees not because of the specific job requirements, but because of the notion that college graduates are somehow more responsible,” Dorsey said. “However, many successful people not only don’t have a four-year degree, they don’t have a two-year degree, either. They may have even dropped out of school because it was getting in the way of starting their career.”
What Dorsey is concerned about is getting the right educational options in front of high school students to make them aware of the various opportunities, including several trades that have been seen as less desirable careers in recent years, as information technology and engineering opportunities have come to the fore.
“That’s resulted in fewer resources being offered for Career Technical Education. There is enormous opportunity in the construction trades for plumbers, carpenters and electricians, for instance, as well as the [seemingly more desirable] technical fields,” he said. We have tens of thousands of people in Maryland who are unemployed who desperately want to work, yet we [also have] tens of thousands of unfilled job opportunities.”

The Argument For
The general response to some of those thoughts from the academic community is, of course, balderdash. A four- (or even a two-) year degree, the higher ups in higher education argue, will not only result in the acquisition of job skills in a given industry, but also a more polished individual that more companies would be interested in hiring.
“Are there outliers? Are there people who carve out a niche without a degree? Absolutely,” said Kara Van Dam, vice provost and dean, the Undergraduate School for University of Maryland University College (UMUC).
“But, are they outliers? Absolutely,” she said, noting that her 17-year-old stepson is among those people looking for an answer to these questions. “However, if he goes to college, he’ll have far more doors open to him. That’s how our society is set up.
“There are plenty of sources that offer that, if you have a degree, you make $500,000 to $750,000 more over a career. Even hourly workers tend to see a difference and might make 90% more,” according to a 2014 report in The New York Times, titled, “Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say.”
In fact, Van Dam pointed out that there are numerous human resource departments that employ scanners that use algorithms “to knock out any résumés that do not list a four-year degree when up to a few hundred applicants apply for an open job. The computer won’t let the hiring manager see your résumé,” she said. “Today, even smaller businesses are using the job boards, like”
Another major consideration is what skills undergrads learn in college beyond their major.
“You are also working on problem- solving, critical thinking and communication skills that are equally important,” she said. “I’ve never seen a help wanted ad for someone who lacks basic communication skills, makes people mad at the office and can’t solve problems. No one is hiring that guy.”
Van Dam did, however, relate to what Dorsey said about the need of colleges to address market needs, which UMUC is known for.
“Employers have made it clear that colleges are not addressing the market well enough,” she said. “We work directly with leaders in all industries in which we offer major programs. They help us review what we teach students to not only know, but actually do; employers are saying that they get graduates, but they haven’t always gotten past just reading about and discussing their major.
“Employers want grads who can do the real work,” Van Dam said. “We’re trying to close the gap by ensuring that graduates don’t have to be retrained.”

Cost Efficiency
Another of Dorsey’s points concerns the cost, and that’s where the friendly neighborhood community college comes in.
While there “seems to be a general discussion about the value of the community colleges,” said Mike Gavin, vice president of learning at Anne Arundel Community College, he pointed out that they provide a gateway to education for all, may it be by obtaining an associate’s degree or another avenue, like an apprenticeship, an internship, a certificate program or classes tailored to a certain industry and/or employer’s needs.
“There is a discord there,” Gavin said. “What’s left out is the quality community colleges provide at the relatively low cost.”
At the same time, he said, “When we talk to employers, they obviously have particular needs, like cyber and nursing skills, but they also want to hire people who have a college degree — in any major — because they want the people who can communicate clearly, think critically, write well and can work as team members.”
And a new hire can have all of those attributes, whether they go to the local two-year school or to a regional institution like Loyola College in Maryland, Goucher College, The George Washington University or Catholic University. In fact, those expensive private schools can create opportunities for the community colleges.
“That’s because the community colleges do their best to keep the costs low, at sometimes a tenth of the cost of a private school,” Gavin said. “Plus, the class sizes tend to be smaller. Costs keep rising at state and private colleges and, while they’re trying to do their best, they can’t compete with the community colleges on price.”
Simply put, the goal of the community college, said Jean Svacina, vice president of academic affairs at Howard Community College (HCC), is to economically “prepare our students for whatever may lie beyond. Whether that’s accomplished by earning an associate’s degree or certificate, or via taking noncredit courses” is up to the student.
Svacina is currently working on HCC’s Commission on the Future, which is being revised to ensure that student and market needs are being met. “We’ve been hearing that employers want employees who critically think, function as perceptive members of a team, and have good oral and written communication skills,” she said, otherwise known as “soft” skills.
“Students who earn a cyber certificate need those soft skills, too,” Svacina said.
Another benefit she mentioned is that while community colleges are known for attracting older learners, many of whom are well established in their fields and want to move up, dual enrollment for high schoolers is another avenue that helps students get a leg up on their educational journey. And speaking of saving money, high school students are only charged 50% of normal tuition: The costs is about $136 for full-time (15 credits and above, plus fees), much lower than most any private college or state college.
“I have nothing against the high private school costs, if the student and/or their family can afford it,” Svacina said, “but ending up $100,000 in debt is not what happens to anyone who graduates from Howard Community College. Not from our charges, anyway.”

Act on Facts
That’s part of what Dorsey wants to hear, as “plenty of people” he knows were exposed to the collegiate experience and have some debt-based regrets.
The only reason why the cost of a college education is an issue “is that the for-profit colleges take advantage: of students and families who want to attend them “and the promise of a job,” said Joe Fisher, founder and CEO of First Generation College Bound, in Laurel, which guides youth from low-to-moderate income families on their educational path; it has advised 200 students this year, recovering $2 million in financial aid for their freshman years in the process.
“Many parents are in [heavy] debt because they were misinformed and taken advantage of by the for-profit colleges. The cases against going to college are based on a desire to attend a college that is not affordable,” Fisher said. “Know that a college education is worth it — if you start with the community colleges, which students can start in high school.”
People think about their dream school, but not affordability, until they get there, he said. “Affordability is not promoted; however, how expensive a college is is well-promoted,” he said. “And a college degree is now as important as a high school education was during the baby boomer generation. If you do not attend college, your resources to get help to improve your quality of life are less than those who have a degree.”
What’s the answer? For the lower and middle class, they need to think about affordability first, then about a dream school. And just where that dream school is might be subject to change, too, especially for recent high school graduates who are still several years away from the maturation of their prefrontal cortex.
“To say that college is not a good value is not the right message,” Fisher said. “People need to think affordability, with a strategic plan, from the community colleges on up.
“That way,” he said, “parents don’t blow their retirement educating their kids. Have the facts, then act.
“And if you think education is expensive,” he said, “try ignorance.”

Know the Opioid Numbers


While various members of the medical community looking to heighten the number of options available to opioid-addicted Marylanders, there’s another approach that everyone involved can agree is the best way to ward off potential tragedy.
And that, said Joan Webb Scornaienchi, executive director of HC DrugFree, simply is keeping as many people as possible away from opioids in the first place.
There are three points that HC DrugFree cites to help make that happen, Scornaienchi said.
“First, talk to your doctor before [s/he] prescribes meds,” she said. “Don’t bring drugs into your home when you don’t need to, and ask them the questions HC DrugFree suggests during the conversation; second, lock your meds in a medication storage box or cabinet, or at least hide them; and, third, properly dispose of meds, as well as your sharps (e.g., needles), after they are expired.
“These,” Scornaienchi said, “are proven prevention strategies.”
While the numbers of overdosing and dying citizens have only gotten worse, she pointed out that HC DrugFree’s last Drug Take Back event, a drive-thru held last April, resulted in the nonprofit collecting 1,127 pounds of medications, plus 13 large bins of sharps. “At least 600 cars came through Wilde Lake Village Center that day,” she said.
Most recently, HC DrugFree partnered with the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) on back-to-school nights to debut a three-minute video to educate families about the crisis at all HCPSS high and middle schools.
Today, the energy is focused on the next Drug Take Back event, again a drive-thru at the Wilde Lake Village Center parking lot, on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Scornaienchi said that the majority of the drugs collected at these gatherings, which include opioids as well as other drugs, are often turned in by family members after another family member has died.
Today, Scornaienchi is hoping for an even greater response on the 28th.
“We keep warning people that the next overdose could be ‘You, me or a loved one,’” she said. “People need to be aware of the numbers.”

Q&A With DARS Managing Director Paul Skalny


As managing director of the Columbia-based law firm of Davis, Agnor, Rapoport & Skalny (DARS), Paul Skalny’s practice is primarily devoted to representing entrepreneurs and investors, and serving as general counsel to businesses, financial institutions and nonprofits.

Those clients keen in on Skalny’s advice on matters including contract negotiations, commercial transactions, private stock offerings, employment matters, protection of intellectual property and disputes among business owners. He focuses on helping businesses, including family-owned companies, address issues associated with business succession, as well as mergers and acquisitions; he also works with land owners, developers and builders, and he oversees the firm’s affiliate real estate title company, Crossroads Title Group.

Skalny’s interests also encompass his native local community, where he has served numerous business associations and nonprofits, particularly in the areas of business advocacy, economic development, technology, leadership development and health care.
On that note, he’s vice chair of the board of trustees of Howard County General Hospital (HCGH), as well as that of Johns Hopkins Medicine; and is a director of the Howard Technology Council’s Advisory Board and of the Maryland Business for Responsive Government (MBRG). He also serves as a judge for simulated congressional hearings at local elementary schools.

When did you decide you wanted to be an attorney?

Well, I really still haven’t, but now I‘ve been at it for 25-plus years. Seriously, I started out studying biomedical engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. I stuck with it for a couple of years, but realized that it wasn’t for me.

I switched my major to economics and starting taking some classes in business and in law, and quickly realized that that was where I belonged. Even better, that earlier technical training has given me the ability to approach client matters with a more analytic approach.


What trends are becoming more pronounced in the legal industry?
Baby boomer business owners continue to march forward toward retirement — and a diminished role in their professions. With this inevitability comes questions like, “How do I get my investment out of my business?”

“Do I sell to a third party, a key employee or an involved family member?” and “Have I created a business that can be sustained without me?”

While helping clients with these types of issues has been at the core of the services DARS has provided, we’re seeing a significantly increasing demand for counsel in these often complex issues. Many practitioners are jumping on this bandwagon and are selling exit strategy planning as a commodity.

We approach the issues strategically, and encourage business owners to consider their succession plan and eventual exit as a journey that begins years in advance of their actual retirement. In fact, much of what we do for clients as general counsel is all geared toward maximizing the value of the business and in giving owners the greatest number of options to consider when they decide to transition the business to a third party. This line of work is incredibly rewarding, as we help business owners create a legacy for their businesses, while affording them the opportunity to reap the benefits of their hard work.

The other trend is in the area of online legal resources and the automation of the delivery of services. This attempt to commoditize the legal industry, in my view, really misses the value that good attorneys bring to the table.

What kind of growth are you anticipating at DARS during the next five years?

We have seen sustained growth since our inception nearly 15 years ago by pursuing a vision of providing the region with high quality legal services, without potential clients having to seek the assistance of counsel in neighboring metropolitan areas.

We expect continued modest growth in the number of attorneys we employ, but we do not see a significant diversification of the kinds of services we provide. Our core service areas will remain unchanged; with that said, we are always looking for strategic hires and acquisitions, and will continue to do so to ensure that we have the right people to meet the needs of our diverse client base.


What are your thoughts on the progress of development in Columbia Town Center?

After years of community discussions, debate and planning, we’re finally starting to see the fruits of those efforts. The buildings and new streets at the corner of Little Patuxent Parkway and Broken Land Parkway have completely changed the landscape of that busy intersection; and Little Patuxent Square, built by Dave Costello and Kingdon Gould, is magnificent.

With the continued construction and improvements to new buildings and community amenities, the piece that is still missing is the energy that comes from a critical mass of people riding their bikes, listening to music, sitting outside having cocktails, window shopping or just walking around. While we’re not quite there yet, I’m confident that we are heading in the right direction.


What would you like to see MBRG focus on in the next legislative session?

A positive business climate is a positive jobs climate; but if you increase the costs of hiring, you decrease employment. This is a straightforward truth that many legislators either don’t understand or simply choose to ignore for political expediency.

We finally have a governor in Larry Hogan who understands this basic economic principle and has taken steps toward mitigating our national reputation as a bad state in which to do business. But we still have work to do and he needs help from the Legislative Branch — and so far, they’re only fighting him.

Frankly, the legislators won’t listen to MBRG or any other business group; they will only listen to the voters. So, MBRG will continue to publicize legislators’ votes on bills that affect the business climate and employment. We’ll continue to educate voters on how these issues affect their jobs, and we’ll continue to work with the other business groups in the state that recognize that partisan bickering is not solving any problems.

Finally, we look forward to continuing debate and resolution of the massive problem of gerrymandering and its stifling effects on honest, robust debate in our General Assembly. With so many legislators choosing their voters, rather than the other way around, they have completely safe seats and literally do not need to debate, consider and truly understand opposing views.

They can safely vote in blocks without consequence. Whether these are safe seats by the Democrats or Republicans is irrelevant; a safe seat is a disenfranchising seat, and MBRG looks forward to the end of this most undemocratic of practices.


You were recently named chairman of the board of trustees at HCGH. What are your thoughts on the recent progress at the hospital?

Under the leadership of Steve Snelgrove and his team, HCGH has started in recent years to experience significant changes in its infrastructure and in the way it operates. The hospital has become far more integrated into the John Hopkins system, allowing it to operate more efficiently, to provide access to some of the best specialists in the world, and affording it the ability to provide evidence-based quality care for our community.

The hospital also has all but completed some minor renovations to the Emergency Department (ED), providing for some relief to the busiest ED in the state. Later this fall, the hospital will break ground on a major renovation and addition, which will provide for additional capacity in the observation unit, thereby hopefully helping push patients through the ED more quickly.
The addition will also house a new inpatient psychiatry unit, something which is much needed in our community. Currently, many of these psychiatry patients end up in the ED because of a lack of space elsewhere at the hospital.


What would you like to see happen at HCGH in the next 5–10 years?
Much of what I would like to see is already underway. We are in the latter stages of a master facilities plan and the addition of needed clinical programs; we’re also looking at what services should be provided on the main hospital campus and which ones should be provided in other areas around the county. We envision a greener campus, one where we move beyond providing what we call episodic care and will heighten the focus on improving the overall health of the population.

The refocus will be costly and will require a significant financial commitment. The hospital is committed to paying for a portion through its investments and by taking on debt; however, that won’t be enough. Giving our community the hospital it deserves will require raising money through philanthropy and significant support from county and state governments. The other fairly new initiative at the hospital is the population health division, which is an approach to health care that aims to improve the health of an entire community or region. Currently, the hospital focuses mainly on a small population of high utilizers, and provides home monitoring, follow-up care and tries to keep them out of hospital; in the coming years, however, HCGH will provide greater services and cover more people, and give people the ability to better manage their own care through technology and care coordination.


What has been the greatest challenge of your career?
When you’re an entrepreneur and love what you do, the lines between your personal and professional life get blurred. You’re always searching for the appropriate balance between pursuing initiatives and growing your business, on the one hand, to ensuring that you invest appropriate time in your family and friends. It’s often quite challenging.

In the end, it’s all about making a difference in my community, and for my clients, partners, employees, while giving Cindy’s and my children, Sophie and Andrew, opportunities and experiences that will help them succeed.

How would you like to see your late, great friend and iconic Columbian Dennis Lane remembered?

During this incredibly divisive time in which we live, we need more people like Dennis — people that say it how it is and don’t succumb to the pressures of political correctness, people that don’t get caught up in party politics and people that just don’t take themselves too seriously.

Dennis was a friend to all, and someone who looked for the very best in every situation and every person. He didn’t judge or formulate unjustified biases about people; everyone started with a clean slate and was given an opportunity to make their impression. He truly was one of a kind, and when he left us, it left a hole in this community.

He would have loved watching the redevelopment of Columbia, and I could not be happier that we have a street named after him in the very place he loved so much.

Howard’s 50+EXPO Spotlights Preparedness, Information

The U.S. Census Bureau report, “An Aging Nation,” shows the population of adults 65 years and older will increase by 85% between the years 2012 and 2040. Americans are not only living longer, they are working longer, too; as these trends continue, the face of aging in America will continue to change, as evidenced by the Baby Boomer generation — who are making it clear they don’t just want to live longer, they want to live better.
Luckily, most recognize the importance of being financially prepared for retirement, and many are embracing the importance of adopting a healthier lifestyle so they can enter their older years with fewer medical problems.

A New Society
According to the 2015 report, “Planning for the Growth of the Older Adult population in Howard County: Building an Age-Friendly Community,” the county will also experience unprecedented growth in its older adult population.
The proportion of residents aged 65 and older will increase from 10% in 2010 to 22% in 2035, a societal transformation which will affect everyone living and working in Howard County. Recognizing that it is never too soon to plan for the future, the Howard County Office of Aging and Independence (OAI) will focus on preparedness, information and education as they relate to all aspects of healthy aging at the 50+EXPO on Friday, Oct. 20.
The 19th annual event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Wilde Lake High School, in Columbia. More than 160 vendors and exhibitors will offer information, resources and services geared to the needs and interests of adults age 50 and older, but also relevant to families, caregivers, and health care providers and professionals.
New for 2017, OAI has partnered with the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services (HCFRS) to present “Fire, Fall and Life Safety for Aging Adults.” Part of the HCFRS Remembering When initiative, the program includes tips on fire and fall prevention, hands-only CPR and bleeding control. Attendees can also sign up for a free home safety visit.

There’s Much More
In addition, AARP Maryland will offer a HomeFit workshop for those who want to safely age in place, and a Driver Safety seminar with tips to stay safe behind the wheel. AARP will also present a special screening of the PBS American Masters documentary, “James Beard: America’s First Foodie,” in the Jim Rouse Theatre (JRT) at 1 p.m. After the screening, attendees can learn how to make quick, healthy meals from a local farm-to-table restaurant.
At 2:30 p.m. in the JRT, the Horizon Foundation will present “Speak(easy) Howard – Have You Had the Conversation?” to stress the importance of talking with loved ones about end-of-life health care wishes. While 90% of people say it is important to talk about these issues, only 27% have done so.
For a truly unique experience at the 50+EXPO, take the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT). The 15-minute tour is a multi-sensory experience which simulates living with dementia. A series of free seminars will continue the Preparedness, Information and Education theme. Featured topics include the following.
• Avoiding Cyber Crooks and Other Scammers: Learn the latest tips and information to prevent being a victim of a scam from Rebecca Bowman, administrator, Howard County Office of Consumer Protection.
• Relationships in Grandparenting: Learn about modern day grandparenting to make your experience a positive one; presented by Marva Dickerson, retired child health supervisor, Howard County Health Department; and Valerie Harvey, adolescent resource specialist/Grandparents as Parents, Howard County Office of Children and Families.
• Managing Caregiver Stress: Caregiving and making decisions for your loved one can lead to stress. Explore self-care techniques and communication skills to manage stress before it manages you; presented by Kathy Wehr, caregiver support program manager, Howard County Office on Aging & Independence.
• Future Planning 101: Discuss the importance of talking with family members and caregivers about personal health, legal and financial matters and end-of-life decisions. Learn where to find information and resources for long-term care, including aging in place and supportive services, and housing options; presented by Jill Kamenetz and Emily Leclercq, resource specialists, Howard County Office on Aging and Independence.
• AARP Driver Safety Resources: Explore AARP educational programs, including the Driver Safety Course, CarFit and We Need to Talk; presented by Rose Hobson, Maryland State Coordinator-Driver Safety, AARP.
Flu vaccines are available at no charge at the 50+EXPO, and free health screenings are offered at the onsite Health Fair. Howard County General Hospital and other local health practitioners will screen for blood pressure, breast health, cholesterol, emotional wellness, glaucoma, glucose, hearing, height/weight/BMI, oral health, pulmonary function, pulse oximetry and Vitamin D levels. Balance screenings and podiatry screenings will also be offered.
New for 2017, take part in the roundtable discussions in the 50+ Café to share your thoughts on life in Howard County. And, don’t miss the politically-incorrect antics of the Capitol Steps, who return to the stage at the JRT for one show at 11 a.m., sponsored by the Horizon Foundation. Capitol Steps tickets are available beginning at 9 a.m., while quantities last (a $5 donation is requested per ticket.)

C’mon Down
Admission to the 50+EXPO is $1; all admission and Capitol Steps proceeds benefit the Vivian Reid Community Fund, which provides emergency assistance to older adults and adults with disabilities in Howard County. Event parking is at The Mall in Columbia, lower level, near Sears (a courtesy shuttle runs all day between the mall and the EXPO); only limited accessible parking is available at Wilde Lake High School.
The 50+EXPO is made possible, in part, through the support of sponsors, including The Business Monthly. A full schedule of event highlights, seminar descriptions, sponsors and exhibitors is available at
For more information, check Facebook at and #HoCoEXPO17 or email To request a sign language interpreter or other accommodations to participate, call 410-313-6410 (voice/relay) one week in advance.

HCC 5K Challenge Provides Participants Training Beyond the Gym

Anyone who has committed to a race knows it can be difficult to balance training runs with work, family and other obligations.
With this in mind, the fourth annual Howard Community College (HCC) 5K Challenge Race has partnered with local organizations to improve health and wellness, with expanded offerings and opportunities beyond the gym. This year, the HCC Educational Foundation will offer race participants gymGo, a new virtual training option, as an extra benefit.
Columbia Association (CA), also a race partner, has committed to expanding weekly training runs, and is offering a Couch to 5K program to give employees of sponsoring companies a chance to get out and train, wherever they are.
“Every year we see participants who want to take part in our weekly trainings, but cannot due to travel or other commitments,” said Kari Ebeling, assistant director of development at HCC. “We wanted to give options for them to train along, even if they can’t physically be here.” On Oct. 29, more than 500 employees from more than 50 sponsoring companies and organizations will run, climb and crawl their way to the finish line at HCC’s Columbia campus. The event provides opportunities to promote health and corporate wellness along with teambuilding, while raising funds for student scholarships.
The HCC 5K Challenge Race specifically targets businesses, organizations and community groups, with corporate team sponsorships starting at $750. Employees of sponsoring companies are invited to weekly trainings and receive tips to improve their overall health and wellness. The event’s training opportunities differentiate this race from other running events. “Fitness today is more accessible than ever,” said Dan Burns, director of sports and fitness for CA. “There are activities that suit a wide variety of interests, and today’s technology makes it possible to bring many of these activities into the home or on the road with you,” he said.
“And with gymGO, HCC 5K Challenge Race participants can incorporate wellness into their routine with virtual training,” said Founder Donavan Cox. “Let’s say someone is doing the Challenge Race, but didn’t have the chance to attend weekly trainings because of traveling,” he pointed out. “This is a way for them to continue their training cycle conveniently.”
And race sponsors, like COPT, that have offices around Howard County, are excited about these new training options. “We can reach all of our employees to help build a healthier workforce,” said Elisa Wolf, principal analyst for COPT.
The HCC Educational Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports HCC and its students, expects to raise more than $100,000 for student scholarships through the event.
Sponsorships are still available for businesses and corporations. For more information on sponsorships or the HCC 5K Challenge Race, visit or contact the HCC Educational Foundation at 443-518-1970.

Birthday Over, Columbia Looks Ahead

Now that the celebration of Columbia’s 50th birthday is officially over, it is a good time to assess where the town and Howard County are heading in the next 10 years. The next decade may shape the next 40 years for Columbia, much as the first decade of the town shaped the 40 years that followed.
The next 10 years will flesh out the details for the shape of downtown density. The many voices that will take part in that debate fall into two camps that held competing events in September, held just six days apart, in Howard Community College theaters.
The first camp, led by the small but vocal Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA), is very skeptical about current plans for downtown density and who will pay for it. The other camp, with heavy involvement by business leaders, is very supportive of development and wants to see it happen faster with more county support, such as the tax increment financing (TIF) the skeptics oppose.
The first camp offered the premiere of the new Richard Krantz 31-minute documentary, “Columbia at 50: A Bridge to the Future,” no relation to my own 200-page book, “Columbia at 50: A Memoir of a City.” They share a similar (and not particularly creative) title, but very different points of view.

Biased Doc
The first 15 minutes of the Krantz video, which can be seen on YouTube, covers familiar ground about Columbia’s early years. The last 15 minutes are more biased and negative toward the current plans for downtown by the Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC).
The documentary was the Howard County Citizens Association’s (HCCA) birthday gift to Columbia, financed by British American Auto Care, Columbia Association (CA), the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration and scores of smaller donors. British American founder Brian England was the executive producer.
Documentaries are a form of journalism that frequently takes a strong point of view, as this one does. Knowing the jaundiced view of the HCCA, HHC and Kimco, which owns most of the village shopping centers, declined to be interviewed for the documentary, though footage of HHC Senior Vice President Greg Fitchitt was videoed at a public meeting.
The screening was followed by a panel of four professional women, which included long-time Columbia residents who are not very well known except for Del. Terri Hill, who embraced the point of view that the current developers could not be trusted to execute Jim Rouse’s vision for Columbia and were only focused on profit.
There were few voices in the documentary or on stage that supported HHC’s downtown plans and tried to adapt Rouse’s vision to a 21st century culture and economy. One of them was County Council Member Mary Kay Sigaty, whose district includes all of Town Center and who has been a key player in all the negotiations. “It is no longer about what Mr. Rouse wanted,” she said in the film.

Density, Affordability
The key points at issue are density, housing affordability, transit and who pays for infrastructure.
Some of the opponents of HHC plans based their arguments on false premises. One particularly annoying assertion in the documentary was by architect Jervis Dorton. He said plans to build three high rise buildings near Whole Foods and the lakefront on land now serving as surface parking would create a barrier between The Mall in Columbia and Lake Kittamaqundi. In fact that barrier was long ago created by the slope that rises on the other side of Little Patuxent Parkway that is reinforced by parking garages and other buildings on top of it.
A newly proposed plan, jointly done by HHC and CA, calls for a park-like corridor where the American City Building now stands, between the lake plaza and the parkway.
Parking garages will have to be built, much as was done by builder/developer David Costello for the shiny new Little Patuxent Square, a mixed-use project of apartments, offices and retail with five levels of underground parking.
Many old-time residents are appalled that the dilapidated and vacant American City Building will be torn down. The ease of pulling into and out of surface parking will be gone.

Dr. Terri Hill, who grew up in Wilde Lake and returned to Columbia after her medical training, often brings up the specter of developers wanting downtown Columbia to look like Bethesda. But none of the HHC plans suggest the heights or the density found in Bethesda’s transit-oriented development associated with a Metro stop and the Purple Line.
There’s an irony here in that the people who oppose density, like Columbia Council Member Jen Terrasa, also want mass transit. But you can’t have transit without density.
Another piece of misinformation being spread about downturn development popped up last month when I appeared on WYPR’s “Midday” show to talk about my book. “They’re paving over Symphony Woods,” said the caller. “That’s not true,” I insisted.
The 80 acres of Symphony Woods that includes Merriweather Post Pavilion sat adjacent to a wooded parcel along Little Patuxent Parkway that was long scheduled for development. That parcel is now home to the new MedStar Health building and an adjacent office building; across the street from a new access road, a new surface parking lot next to Symphony Woods could also be a building site.
It’s understandable how residents could grow attached to an overgrown lot with a stand of trees that, unlike Symphony Woods, was never really available for public use. But what is getting “paved over” has been slated for commercial development for almost 50 years, with the value of the land increasing as Columbia grew up around it.

About Values
There is a legitimate concern that the fundamental values of Jim Rouse that Columbians embraced need constant reinforcement and reiteration — respect for the land and environment, good schools, a healthy community that is economically, racially and religiously diverse, with the institutions to support those values.
“You’ve got to indoctrinate people” about those values, Hill said. She drew applause for bemoaning the closing of the Exhibit Center that promoted “The Next America” to inculcate those values. But the underlying purpose of the Exhibit Center was Rouse’s marketing efforts for the new town, and it closed in 1989, when that marketing was no longer needed.
“I don’t know of anyone who can sustain this culture unless they pass it on,” Hill said.
That is something that CA and its Columbia Archives tries to do. CA President Milton Matthews, a relative newcomer but a long student of Columbia, spoke at both the documentary screening and the 50th Birthday-sponsored “Reunion: A Celebration of the People Who Built Columbia.”
It was a much smaller, invitation-only event (of about a third of the audience who saw the film), but it was thick with homebuilders and developers who had built the housing and offices of Columbia, including many former Rouse employees. Overall, it presented a much more positive view of what would be developed and redeveloped on 400 acres of downtown Columbia, about 5% of the developable land that Rouse had acquired.
The main speakers were two urban design experts, and faculty who have also planned and consulted about planned communities.
“Are we a city yet?” was a question they both asked, an understandable question when Columbia’s urban core is still mainly parking lots and overgrown woods. Christopher Leinberger, chair of the Center of Real Estate and Urban Analysis at The George Washington University, said it was really “an obsolete question.”

Walkable, Drivable
Current trends show that “walkable urban and drivable suburban can exist in the same place,” Leinberger said. Most of Columbia is drivable suburban; its final 5% can be developed as walkable urban, a category that is “the best predictor of real estate values and economic performance,” Leinberger said.
He showed photos of how a half-vacant mall in Arlington, Va., was redeveloped as mixed-use walkable urban. He also praised the state’s study of bus rapid transit along Route 29 as one real possibility for Columbia’s connection to mass transit.
“I think Jim Rouse would say that this is what Columbia would become,” agreed Roger Lewis, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland College Park, overcoming the tyranny of the automobile.
Counter to Leinberger’s prediction of rising real estate values, Lewis also raised the continuing struggle for housing affordability. It was an issue temporarily solved in Columbia’s early years by the Interfaith Housing Corp., with federal subsidies.
This was one of the legitimate sore points raised in the Krantz documentary. In February, the county, the housing commission, the Columbia Downtown Housing Partnership and HHC signed an agreement establishing a path to provide 900 low- and moderate-income housing units among the 5,000 apartments and condos that could be built downtown.

Election Issues
How Columbia’s downtown will be developed — and its office parks redeveloped on the east side, particularly in Columbia Gateway Business Park — are among the issues that next year’s election will help decide, as voters choose four new members of the five-member Howard County Council and decide whether Allan Kittleman (who has largely supported the Hughes development plans) will be reelected.
The new county officials and their appointees will be in charge of how the plans will work out. Current council members will decide whether the revised tax increment financing (TIF) the county provided to Hughes for infrastructure will go through, helping to speed up development. The newly-elected members will have a role in any mass transit plans, and the elected school board will need to cope with any impact on the schools, since there are no school sites downtown.
CA, overseen by a board elected from the 10 villages, must also grapple with its own role in the redevelopment of Columbia. It is probably much better suited than HHC to maintain the overall integrity of Columbia’s original plan, its architectural standards and its core values. But it also needs to budget and staff to assume that role.

Annapolis Mayoral Race a Sign of Things to Come

For John Astle, who has represented the city of Annapolis at the State House for 36 years as a state senator and delegate, his loss in the Democratic primary for mayor to Gavin Buckley, an Australian-born restaurateur, was a crushing defeat. Buckley whipped Astle 62% to 38%, gaining almost a thousand votes more than Astle, who had the support of the Democratic establishment.
In many ways, it was a sign of things to come for the Democratic Party and the election next year. (Many other municipalities in Maryland have non-partisan elections.)
A generation younger and more progressive, Buckley, 53, brought strong business credentials to the table, starting several successful restaurants that have helped revive West Street. With community support, he beat the old pols. It is happening across the state, as younger, more liberal Democrats are challenging the old guard for Senate seats, particularly in Baltimore City.
While Annapolis is a small city with a politically weak mayor by charter, the town has outsized influence as the historic state capital, county seat, home of the U.S. Naval Academy, sailing Mecca and tourist magnet.

Drive for Five
Astle, 74, is one of five moderate Democrats remaining in the Maryland Senate. His seat has long been targeted for takeover by Republicans, part of their “Drive to Five” campaign, hoping to pick up five Senate seats. If they get 19 senators, they will have enough to block veto overrides and other measures that need supermajorities.
Legislative District 30 leans more conservative than the city itself. The mayor’s race was presumably Astle’s last hurrah. He barely held onto the seat in the last election. A younger, more progressive Democratic woman, Sarah Elfreth, 29, filed for the seat back in June.
Former Republican Del. Ron George, the top vote-getter before he gave up his seat to run for governor in 2014, filed for Astle’s seat in February, and has the support of the GOP establishment, including County Executive Steve Schuh.
Republican Mayor Mike Pantelides easily won his primary. Pantelides, 34, was the boy wonder of the state GOP when he beat incumbent Democratic Mayor Josh Cohen four years ago. But like most mayors of struggling older cities, he now has the baggage from four bumpy years of governing.
State Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews said recently that the races for mayor of Annapolis and Frederick “will be bellwethers” for next year’s election, and the party’s hope of defeating Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, an Anne Arundel County resident. “I think you’re going to see in both these races, they will go from red to blue.”
Because of the high symbolism of Annapolis, expect to see both state parties put resources into these races.

McMillan, Plaster
Del. Herb McMillan has been toying with running for Senate against Ron George, but party leaders are hoping the Republican delegate will run for reelection instead. McMillan said in an interview that he would announce his plans on Nov. 9, but declined to hint at what he might do.
State Republicans, of course, would love to pick off the Democratic delegate in District 30, House Speaker Michael Busch — who is back to work, but still recovering from his June liver transplant.
Dr. Mark Plaster is running for delegate in the district after losing a race for Congress in 2016 against Rep. John Sarbanes, D-3rd. Plaster, a physician who created a business doing publications for emergency room doctors, has a new job: He just became chief medical officer at Turning Point Clinic, which calls itself “the nation’s largest substance abuse clinic, treating over 3,000 patients daily” in Baltimore City.
“For decades, I saw the effects of substance abuse every night in the ER,” Plaster said in an email. “The trauma, the secondary disease, the fall-out from the destruction of family were all there, but I was not able to get at the root of all these problems. Now I will have a chance to treat the heart of the epidemic. I feel as though I have been preparing for decades to take on this mission.”

Plaster, Heroin
The heart of the heroin epidemic may no longer be in the inner-city, with opioid addiction and death having moved to the suburbs, particularly Anne Arundel County.
According to county officials, the opioid crisis in Anne Arundel has steadily gotten worse in recent years. In the first quarter of 2016, drug and alcohol overdose deaths increased more in the county than in any other Maryland jurisdiction. The county’s opioid prescription rate remains above the national average and is nearly three times higher than in 1999. There were as many opioid-related overdose deaths suffered in the county within the first three months of 2017 as the entire year of 2016.
That’s why Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said the county had hired the law firm of Motley Rice to pursue legal action against opioid manufacturers, distributors and local “pill mill” doctors. Anne Arundel County is the first jurisdiction in Maryland to file such action, a growing trend around the country.
“Those who have had a hand in this epidemic must be held accountable,” Schuh said.

Schuh Announces
Steve Schuh did the expected on Sept. 8 at his annual end-of-summer blowout at Kurtz’s Beach, which attracted almost 1,000 people: He announced he’s running for re-election.
Schuh is plugging the same themes that got him elected: reducing taxes and fees, improving schools and building a new Crofton High School, investing in public safety and streamlining government. Since his election, he’s made improving the quality of life as a goal and overall “to make Anne Arundel County the best place to live, work and start a business in Maryland,” a mantra Schuh repeats over and over again.
County Councilman John Grasso continues to tell people he will run against Schuh. That race might be fun to watch, because of Grasso’s loud and unpredictable flamboyance. Schuh is a much more disciplined candidate, and Grasso’s best hope would be goading Schuh into losing his temper, which is rarely (if ever) on public display. Grasso, who can barely find his temper sometimes, enjoys goading opponents. He could also change his mind, since he originally said he was running for state senate.
Neither Schuh nor Grasso has filed to run for county executive; Schuh’s campaign has more than $1 million cash on hand, according to a campaign press release.

Council Mulls Downtown Columbia TIF Repeal, APFO Changes

Residents and other stakeholders swamped a held-over public hearing for two nights in September to testify on a bill submitted by Howard County Councilmembers Calvin Ball (D-Dist. 2) and Jen Terrasa (D-Dist. 3) seeking repeal of a tax increment finance (TIF) package for downtown Columbia redevelopment.
The up to $90 million deal, meant to advance development, contained $51 million earmarked for a public parking garage that is no longer owned by the county, and now is owned and operated by the Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC).
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman (R) has recommended that money originally designated for the garage instead be put toward roadway infrastructure in the downtown area.
Proponents of repealing the TIF hold fast to the belief that roads and other related infrastructure improvements should be covered by the developer, not the taxpayer.
With an amount largely based on the cost of the garage, “the public has no reason to believe, and no information to determine, if the TIF size remains appropriate,” said Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) spokesperson Amanda Paige.
Barbara Russell, co-president of the Howard County League of Women Voters, said that while the TIF legislation gave the county executive the authority to make adjustments to the plan, “diverting this large a percentage of the total TIF funds and changing the ownership and revenues from the county to the developer is more than an adjustment; it is a different proposal. The issue needs public scrutiny in the interests of good governance.”

Changing Horses
Those who oppose repeal said repeal of the legislation could slow down the momentum of development and redevelopment that is currently underway.
“I can’t imagine that the county council would reverse a decision in the midst of a development process that is already underway,” said local commercial real estate executive and Ellicott City resident Cole Schnorf.
Howard County Arts Council Board Member Sharonlee Vogel said repeal “would break an agreement with the master developer, introduce unpredictability in the development process and put the new Cultural Arts Center in jeopardy. There should be no interruption to the progress of the revitalization currently underway.”
According to the original legislation, public improvements covered by the TIF include, but are not limited to, the construction of parking facilities, including the garage; an EMT/Quick Strike Facility meeting the requirements of the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services, within the garage; the construction of road improvements to, from or in the Development District, including construction of a new road running south from Little Patuxent Parkway, and east to Symphony Drive; improvements to Symphony Drive; improvements to Hickory Ridge; intersection improvements; and related stormwater management improvements.
The legislation also allowed TIF funding to be used for installation of utilities, including water and sewage facilities.

APFO Update
Another issue that has stoked the passion of residents is that of changes to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO).
“When class size continually increases, it is difficult to individualize instruction to meet each child’s needs,” said Colleen Morris, president of the Howard County Education Association.
The continual need for redistricting, class disruptions from the noise of rain on portable classroom roofs and the need to schedule bathroom breaks during lessons because portable classrooms are not located near bathrooms add to the less-than-ideal conditions that teachers and students must deal with.
“All of these issues could be mitigated with better APFO regulations,” Morris said.
Current APFO regulations are not working properly, charged Woodbine resident Jim Walsh. “[The current APFO] was originally enacted in 1992 and certainly has not kept up with changes in state law and subsequent development in Howard County since then,” he said. As more people are drawn to Howard County’s quality of life, “we are going to be a victim of our own success.”
Howard County Board of Education Chair Cynthia Vallaincourt said the board supports changes to APFO and submitted a list of recommendations made by the board.

Opportunity Task Force
In September, County Council Chair Jon Weinstein (D-Dist. 1) submitted legislation to establish an Economic Opportunity and Prosperity Task Force dedicated to exploring ways to create as many pathways to economic prosperity as possible for individuals and businesses in Howard County. The 13-member task force will examine a range of topics, including workforce support, economic development, education, housing and transportation.
If approved, the task force would submit a report to the County Council and county executive in December 2018 that includes recommendations. Weinstein said he hopes the report will serve as a blueprint for legislation, policies and programs at the start of the new term for the council and executive.
Also in September, the council heard testimony on a bill that would establish a personal property tax exemption during the next five years for business property located in an historic district or a National Register District.
“The administration has found that a business that is within an historic district, such as Ellicott City or Savage, faces unique demands or challenges that businesses in modern facilities do not,” said Phil Nichols, a spokesperson for the Department of County Administration. “The exemption will act as an incentive to retain current businesses and attract new businesses to the county historic districts.”
Karen Besson, board president of the Ellicott City Partnership, said the bill would substantially benefit businesses still recovering from the 2016 flood.
Howard County Economic Development Authority Executive Vice President Vernon Thompson asked for the council’s endorsement of a $500,000 Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority & Fund conditional loan to ELTA North America, an Israeli defense contractor with North American headquarters in Howard County.
“ELTA came out of Maple Lawn and transferred their headquarters to Annapolis Junction,” Thompson said. “They’ve expanded that headquarters and are adding a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.”

School Budget
Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano last month unveiled his proposed Capital Budget for fiscal 2018–19, fiscal 2020–24 Capital Improvement Program and fiscal 2019–28 Long-Range Master Plan for the Howard County Public School System.
The proposed $79.7 Capital Budget represents a $14.4 million increase from fiscal 2018. Together, the Capital Budget, $616 million Capital Improvement Program and $1.3 billion Long-Range Master Plan (LRMP) support Martirano’s Strategic Call to Action to build an inclusive, nurturing environment and close opportunity gaps; it also calls for addressing projected student capacity and existing facility needs to support the rapid growth in enrollment that is projected to add nearly 10,000 additional students to the system during the next 10 years.
Major items included in the fiscal 2019 budget proposal include costs associated with locating and constructing a new 13th county high school, now scheduled to open in August 2022, two years earlier than was originally planned.
Other costs cover the final phase of construction of New Elementary School No. 42, scheduled to open in Elkridge in August 2018, and an addition to increase school capacity at Waverly Elementary School. The proposal also includes funding for systemic renovations, which include replacements and upgrade of rooftops and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at several schools.
The proposed LRMP includes a new middle and high school Career Development Center that would replace the existing Applications and Research Laboratory.
The proposal alleviates overcrowding at the elementary school level in the near term. It also provides capacity for the development of a new Elementary Regional Language Immersion Schools Program through a planned addition to Clarksville Elementary School, as well as construction of the Talbott Springs Elementary School Replacement and New Elementary School No. 43.

Federal Contracting Outlook to Be Presented at CyberMaryland

October is National Cybersecurity Month, and with the recent Equifax data breach affecting more than 143 million people in the U.S., the reality of cybersecurity is hot news in both the public and private sectors.
The U.S. federal government has been in front of the cybersecurity curve in budgeting billions of dollars for defense and civilian agencies to tackle the ever-present cyberthreats to federal agencies and the military. Those facts have served to shine a brighter light on the CyberMaryland Conference & Showcase, which is set for Wednesday, Oct. 11, and Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Information presented at the event will address the threats, challenges, possible solutions and business opportunities in the cybersecurity field. More than 90 cyberleaders from across the globe will be speaking at the conference, and international delegations from the United Kingdom and other countries will be in attendance.
The program will include eight tracks: Cyber Risks, Cyber Education, Cyber Threat Intelligence, Acquisitions & Business Development, Cyber Insider Threats, Hacker Adaptability, Cyber Workforce and Cyber Innovation, in more than 25 sessions.

Event’s Intent
Conference organizers say that the theme, “Leading the Cyber Generation,” captures the event’s intent to provide information sharing and networking opportunities for development of cyberassets on the human and technological sides.
Additionally, the conference provides an opportunity for Maryland to demonstrate its natural leadership in cybersecurity by hosting Keynote Speaker George Barnes, National Security Agency (NSA) deputy director and senior civilian leader. As NSA’s chief operating officer, he is responsible for guiding and directing operations, studies and policy.
One of the sessions, “Master Class: Accelerate Growth & Increase Opportunities in the Federal Cyber Market,” scheduled for Oct. 11 from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m., will focus on federal contracting opportunities and processes to cut through the procurement maze. This session is presented by the author and will address the budgets, congressional actions, contract vehicles, acquisitions timing and an accelerated business development process to best position contractors in the competitive market.

Sneak Peek
A preview of the information to be shared includes the following insights from James Bratten, president of EZGovOpps, a web-based market and business intelligence tool for government contractors.
The White House has submitted a federal information technology (IT) fiscal 2018 budget request for $95.7 billion, of which the Department of Defense accounts for $42.5 billion. There will be a dramatic shift from maintaining legacy systems to modern system installation. The Modernizing Government Technology Act, already passed by the House of Representatives, now awaits Senate approval. This would create a central federal IT modernization fund allowing agencies to pool funds for future use.
For cyber-related contract vehicles, the General Services Administration (GSA), Office of IT Schedule Contract Operations, has recently established a new Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Tools Special Item Number (SIN) 132-44. The CDM Tools SIN supports the Department of Homeland Security CDM Program to provide a consistent set of continuous diagnostic and mitigation tools for government-wide use. Government customers will have one centralized location to access pre-vetted contractors with CDM offerings.
The new Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services fall under four GSA contract SINs (132-45A, B, C and D range), from Penetration Testing to Risk and Vulnerability Assessments. At the low end, SIN 132-45C “Cyber Hunt” already has 47 companies holding that SIN, while the Risk and Vulnerability Assessments, SIN 132-45D, includes 77 companies. These contract vehicles can be used by any federal (and many state) government agencies to purchase cyber-related services.
While many companies pursuing government contracts focus only on Department of Defense cybersecurity opportunities, billions of dollars are budgeted for civilian and executive agencies as well. These include health, space, labor and justice-related agencies, each with its own contract vehicles.
The NASA SEWP V (pronounced soup-five) contract to purchase IT products, as an example, began in 1993 with a projected $800 million value; it is now used not just by NASA, but by many government agencies and the value has grown to $10.5 billion for this fifth contract life-cycle. There are 145 prime contract holders on SEWP V, of which 119 are small businesses that will share in $10.5 billion worth of products and services.

See You There
The GSA also manages the Alliant 2 contracts for large and small business vendors. Just the small business segment (Alliant 2-SB) of this contract is worth $15 billion to the 80 awardees and includes any type of IT service, including cloud and cyber.
Cybersecurity is a critical risk that must be addressed by the best and brightest in the government marketplace. The October CyberMaryland Conference provides an opportunity for experienced companies, as well as those not yet working within the government, to learn, share information and meet private and public sector cybersecurity and business growth experts.
For more information, visit

Gloria Larkin is president and CEO of TargetGov, in Linthicum. Call 866-579-1346, email or visit for more information.

Retirement Is a False Finish Line


The hard work of budgeting, saving and investing to accrue assets to retire is only the first step in an ongoing planning process. Retirement itself is an intermediate goal. It is an artificial finish line. Retirement is the culmination of the first phase of the journey and marks the entrance to the second phase. The retiree might ask, “Now how do I use these assets I worked so hard to accumulate to effectively create cash flow?”

Part of the answer is to review, monitor, calculate and project. Much of this is similar to the first phase, when the person was building wealth.

On Arrival

Envision arriving at retirement as gradually winding the spring in a clock, building energy and storing it for the future as we build assets. Now, however, we must apply several different, critical, integrated planning techniques to guide the clock spring to unwind as efficiently as we can — to continue to protect this mechanism while it returns the energy to us that we put into it. In the same way that clocks have complex mechanisms to regulate this process, those complexities exist for your assets, as well.

Cash Flow

The second phase of your planning now must generate cash flow from the assets you have accumulated. Many people will have accounts that are taxed in different ways. IRA distributions, having minimum distributions required at age 70-1/2, are taxed as income. Roth IRA distributions are not taxed at all. Regular accounts are taxed depending on dividends and capital gains, some of which may be at favorable tax rates.

If you liquidate those securities to provide retirement cash flow, the accumulated dividends and capital gains will impact the basis and subsequent tax liability of the payments you receive. The assets in all of these different accounts should be structured to provide tax efficiency. In some years, relocation of an asset from one type of account to another may be an incredibly valuable tool.

Let’s assume you retire at age 67 and have deferred Social Security to age 70 to obtain the 8%-per-year delayed credits. Your age 67 year may be an ideal time to relocate assets from an IRA to a Roth IRA.
Once you reach age 70 and receive Social Security, and then 70-1/2 and start required distributions, your tax structure will probably change dramatically. Those years between retirement and age 70 may be ideal years for Roth conversions.

Four Pillars

How do we integrate the ownership of assets with the specific assets themselves? For example, an asset that has a large growth potential, if held in an IRA, may be taxed at potentially higher income rates when distributed, effectively converting tax-favored capital gains into ordinary income.

The second phase of retirement involves the art and science of locating the correct assets in the correct accounts depending on the amount of cash flow necessary. Maximizing tax-efficient cash flow is done by employing the “four pillars” of interest, dividends, capital gains and principal.

Interestingly, from a strictly tax perspective, “spending the principal” is a valuable technique for generating tax-favored retirement distributions, as long as you fully understand the strategy that is being employed. This is analyzed not only by type of account, but by the assets located in the accounts. This analysis is further enhanced by fully understanding the potential tax efficiency gained by relocating assets to different accounts. When asset relocation is employed, the holdings of all the accounts must be reviewed as well as the tax consequences.

Downside Risk

Lastly, crossing the retirement “finish line” creates a different relationship between portfolio risk and reward. Investors who accumulated their assets over a lifetime of being a “risk-taker” and are rebalancing to a fixed portfolio asset allocation may find the rules about accepting portfolio volatility have changed once they are withdrawing systematic payments from their portfolio.
If you experience a serious bear market early in your retirement, you risk having your financial plan destroyed, even if you eventually earn the average returns you forecasted for your life expectancy. It is not the average return that matters post-retirement. Instead, it is the order of the returns you earn and the amount of volatility in your portfolio. Managing downside risk becomes more crucial once you stop earning a paycheck and depend on your portfolio for cash distributions.

All of the above should be reviewed annually so that your retirement assets are most efficiently releasing their usefulness as they are being unwound into cash flow.

While achieving the financial ability to cross the threshold to enter retirement is an outstanding accomplishment, it is not the checkered flag. It may be financially healthier to view that step as a transition into the next phase of retirement, as there is still much ongoing work to be done.


Kelly Wright is director of financial planning for Pinnacle Advisory Group, in
Columbia. He can be reached at

Commercial Insurance Managers Changes Hands But Stays in Family


When Gordon Mumpower began Commercial Insurance Managers Inc. (CIM) in 1989, he did not have a succession plan for a family-owned business. But now a plan is solidly in place — and it’s one that has placed the business into the capable hands of his daughter, Candice Mumpower, who has been an owner of CIM since the beginning.

“I wanted to begin my own business in insurance, and Candi’s mother joined me for a 20% ownership,” said Gordon Mumpower. “We started out in an executive office center and grew our business from scratch.”

When Mumpower and his wife divorced Candi moved with her mother to Rochester, N.Y., where she graduated from high school and earned a cosmetology license. “After a year she decided that she wanted to come back to Columbia, and I paid her rent for a year to assist in her moving back,” Mumpower recalled. “She started working with me in 2000 and grew with the business. We have always worked well together.”

Now, Mumpower said, he has come to a point in his life where “retirement is beginning to haunt me.” He decided to appoint his daughter as president and CEO of CIM as of Aug. 1. “I can spend another two to three years with her and do the things necessary for agency perpetuation, secure my retirement and allow her to move the agency forward aggressively.”

Continuing the Success

Gordon Mumpower settled in Columbia in 1973, after finishing a U.S. Navy tour of duty at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade. He first worked with Travelers Insurance in Baltimore, then with several more insurance brokerage firms throughout the 1980s.
In 1989, with an MBA and CPCU designation, he began CIM with a vision to create a business-to-business insurance agency that served every industry. The product mix included property, liability, automobile, workers’ compensation, directors and officers, and crime. He later added employee benefits including group medical, life, disability, dental and vision coverage. The company’s most recent products include employment practices, legal liability and cyber liability. Mumpower also encourages visitors to the CIM website,, where he has been expanding his communication efforts.

Candice Mumpower is a licensed property and casualty insurance agent in Maryland and other states. She said she will continue the CIM vision to serve the nonprofit human services sector and other industries while growing CIM as the premiere business insurance agency in central Maryland.

She said she doesn’t think about how she can change the agency as much as she thinks about how she can continue its successful 25-plus-year track record. ‘I have very big shoes to fill and hope I can learn from and overcome any obstacles I may have down the road,” she said. “I hope to grow this agency both with clients and team members. I am very optimistic to see what is to come.”

Both Feel Fortunate

Gordon Mumpower will continue to work at CIM servicing clients, selling new business, managing the website, creating social media and Facebook opportunities, networking and assisting his daughter any way he can.

“Over the next couple of years I want to have Candi replace me as the point of contact for all our larger clients and support her efforts to build relationships and friendships in the marketplace,” he said.
Both Mumpowers consider themselves fortunate to be working together. “The most challenging aspect of being a father-daughter team in business together is treating each other as equals while designing specific roles and responsibilities for each other,” said Gordon Mumpower. “The most rewarding aspect of the relationship is watching your daughter grow, change her perspective, mature and prosper from her work ethic.”

A Heart for the Family Business

As his daughter grew up, Gordon Mumpower’s advice was the same philosophy he took himself: Seek out the occupations that make you happiest.

Candi Mumpower believes she has followed that advice, and that there are many rewarding aspects of working with family. “We have been fortunate to be so lucky,” she said.

Elkridge-based CIM is a well-known staple in the Howard County community, as is Gordon Mumpower, who is a former board chair of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and a graduate of Leadership Howard County.

He also holds and has held board positions for human services organizations serving people with disabilities.

The Mumpowers have a special regard for family-owned businesses.
“There are a lot of new small business startups arising out of immigration,” said Gordon Mumpower. “Contracting — for example landscaping, lawn maintenance, cleaning, improvement contractors and other small enterprises — seems to be thriving,” he said. “Some businesses have had to adapt to increasing and improving technology, allowing them to hire fewer employees but requiring more sophisticated high-tech workers.”

Candi Mumpower said today’s technology has helped family-owned businesses thrive. “You can really pursue any career you want these days.”

Why You Need an Estate Plan for Digital Assets


According to the Pew Research Center, 87% of Americans use the Internet. This means most of us maintain at least some personal and financial information online. We pay bills online, keep contact records digitally and rarely print a photo — because it’s in our online photo album.

Although this digitizing of information makes it easier to store and recall, it also presents some concerns when it comes to accounting for all of these “assets” in your estate.

What Are Digital Assets?

Digital assets include your online financial accounts, your personal e-mail accounts and your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. The assets may or may not have a value. For example, you might own a domain name for your small business, which would have value, but the photos you uploaded to Shutterfly have sentimental value only.


The Problem

With traditional estate planning, you take steps to ensure that your executor or personal representative can access the information needed to gather and safeguard your assets, contact creditors, and if necessary, oversee your business after your passing. This can be especially challenging with digital assets, however, if you do not arrange the proper authorization ahead of time.

Your executor should be able to access information on your computer’s hard drive relatively easily with the help of a technician. But this may not be the case for online accounts and data stored remotely. Even if you give your usernames and passwords to your executor or a family member, s/he may run up against service-agreement limitations that deny him or her the ability to access, manage, distribute, copy, delete or even close accounts. Further, “unauthorized use” laws can lead to legal issues for your representatives if they are deemed to have exceeded permissible access levels.

New Legal Statute

Fortunately, lawmakers are starting to pay attention. A new statute, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), addresses whether and how a family member, executor, attorney-in-fact or trustee can access digital assets. Sixteen states have already adopted RUFADAA: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The hope is that more will soon follow.
RUFADAA is different from state laws governing estate administration, powers of attorney and trusts. It does not presume that family members and fiduciaries can access digital assets because of their relationship with the account owner. Instead, the statute requires express authorization before anyone — family member or fiduciary — may access the content of a digital asset.

Start Organizing

• Decide how you want your online life handled after your death. Facebook, for example, allows a personal administrator or immediate family member to close the account or “memorialize” it. This may help ease your loved ones’ pain during a time of grief. Consider creating instructions for a family member to do this, or something similar, on your social media accounts. You may assign different roles to different people. For example, you may decide to appoint one person as your executor and another to have access to certain social media accounts.

• Create a comprehensive inventory of your digital assets. Be sure to store this inventory somewhere other than an e-mail account. Some e-mail providers, like Yahoo!, will close an account that has been inactive for several months and delete the e-mail history. Even if an executor promptly contacts the e-mail provider, s/he may not be able to copy important e-mails or contact lists before the account is deactivated. Back up important information elsewhere and update it regularly.

• Don’t assume your digital estate has no value. Some frequent flyer points are transferable after your death. Credit cards with cash-back feature stores are generally redeemable after your death, but only if they are claimed. Internet domain names are potentially sellable, and blogs are a form of intellectual property.

• Consider investing in a password manager. Sites such as LastPass and Dashlane maintain a record of your online accounts and passwords in a digital safe. You can set them up to transfer the passwords to your representative at a specific event, such as your death or incapacity.

To Ensure Proper Access

• Ask your attorney about inserting provisions into your will that grant your executor the authority to access your non-financial digital assets and accounts.

• Talk to your attorney about adding language to grant your power-of-attorney agent authority to act on your behalf with your digital accounts and assets.

• If you have assets in a trust, ask your attorney about the possibility of amending the trust agreement with language that will allow the trustee access to digital assets and accounts.

• Check online service providers’ policies on death or disability. Each provider has its own access-authorization tools, and the terms vary, so be sure you understand who can and can’t access information. If the provider allows access to your executor, trustee or power-of-attorney agent, inform these individuals where important information is stored.

One final note: Be careful if you include provisions covering digital assets in your estate planning documents and complete a provider’s access-authorization tool. The provisions in the documents should match the information you give in the provider’s access-authorization tool. If they don’t, the provider likely will follow the instructions you gave in its access tool and not your estate plan.


Gary S. Williams, CFP, CRPC, AIF, is president and founder of Williams Asset Management, in Columbia. He can be contacted at 410-740-0220, and

In Brief

Old Line Bancshares and Bay Bancorp Announce Merger Agreement
Old Line Bancshares Inc., the parent company of Old Line Bank, and Bay Bancorp Inc., the parent company of Bay Bank, FSB, have announced the execution of a merger agreement that provides for the acquisition of Bay Bancorp by Old Line Bancshares for stock in a deal valued at approximately $128.6 million. This amount is subject to change based on the trading prices of Old Line Bancshares common stock and the amount of after-tax income that Bay Bancorp or Bay Bank recognizes from the recent resolution of Bay Bank litigation and the resolution of certain problem loans.
The merger consideration will be paid in newly issued shares of Old Line Bancshares common stock.
Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Bay Bancorp, with consolidated assets of approximately $646 million as of June 30, will be merged into Old Line Bancshares, an institution with consolidated assets of approximately $2.0 billion.
Immediately after the merger, Bay Bank, a federal savings bank with 11 banking locations, will merge with Old Line Bank, a Maryland trust company with 28 banking offices, with Old Line Bank being the surviving bank. The merger, anticipated to close in the second quarter of 2018, will be Old Line Bancshares’ fifth since 2011.
Craig E. Clark, chairman of the board of directors of Old Line Bancshares, said, “The combination of Old Line Bank and Bay Bank will create the strongest footprint of any Maryland-based independent commercial bank serving the Baltimore/Washington corridor. The combined bank will have assets approaching $3 billion and … will have the second-most banking locations in Maryland of all independent Maryland-based commercial banks.”
Pursuant to the merger agreement, Old Line Bancshares’ board of directors will elect Joseph J. Thomas, Eric D. Hovde and one other mutually-acceptable member of the Bay Bancorp board of directors to serve as directors of Old Line Bancshares and Old Line Bank.

Navy Federal and Fort Meade Community Credit Union Merge
Navy Federal Credit Union and Fort Meade Community Credit Union (FMCCU) merged operations on July 17. FMCCU’s two branches, one located on the Fort Meade Garrison and the other in the town of Odenton, will remain open as Navy Federal branches.
All of the FMCCU employees were offered positions with Navy Federal.
“We are excited to merge with Fort Meade Community Credit Union,” said Nancy DeDona, senior vice president, branch operations, at Navy Federal. “FMCCU shares a passion for serving those who serve, and we believe their membership will benefit from Navy Federal’s experience, digital tools like our app and network of more than 300 branches located around the world.”

MIA Approves Non-Medigap Premium Rates for 2018

The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) has announced approved premium rates for both small group and individual health insurance plans to be offered in the state for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2018. More than 90% of Marylanders are covered by health insurance plans offered through large employers or employers who self-insure, or participate in “grandfathered” plans purchased before March 2010 or in federal plans (such as Medicare, Tricare or federal employee plans). This announcement will not affect their rates.
To assist the state administration in making rate decisions, MIA actuaries reviewed the data, methodologies and assumptions companies used to develop their proposed rates. The administration also considered public comments, along with other relevant factors, in determining whether to approve, modify or deny requested rates.
This year, the MIA also engaged an outside actuarial firm, Oliver Wyman, to conduct an independent, third-party review of CareFirst’s individual non-Medigap market rate submissions.
• Small Group Market Summary: Approximately 257,000 Marylanders are enrolled in small group plans. In the small group market, the health insurance rates will increase by an average of 1.7%. This single-digit increase can be attributed to favorable experience, a competitive marketplace and two decades of reforms in the state small group market.
Four health insurance carriers filed to sell HMO and PPO products in the small group market for 2018: Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser and UnitedHealthCare (UHC).
• Individual Market Summary: Approximately 243,000 Marylanders are enrolled in individual health plans. Health insurers have sought rate adjustments in response to significant changes in federal regulation and market dynamics over the past few years. Cigna no longer will be offering individual plans in Maryland for 2018.
The average increase will be 33.0% versus the originally filed 43.1%, which can be attributed to: 1) the reinstatement of the health insurer fee; 2) healthy members leaving the market; 3) claims costs rising at about 8% annually; and 4) actual claims experience being higher than expected.
Two carriers will offer plans in this market: CareFirst and Kaiser.
• 2018 Open Enrollment: Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1–Dec. 15, 2017. Marylanders may sign up for new plans or renew existing ones during the open enrollment period.
Summaries of each rate decision are available on the MIA’s rate review website at

Highlight Housing Decisions With Retirement Priorities


Where and how you choose to live out your retirement years could be one of your most important decisions. Choosing whether to relocate or to stay rooted in your hometown, or to remain in your current home or to trade down to a smaller residence, are important questions that involve a host of lifestyle and cost-of-living issues.

Making a Move

Selling your existing home and relocating to a more affordable house or condominium may be a reasonable option if you have considerable home equity and the shift won’t negatively affect your lifestyle.

To help sort through your own lifestyle preferences, make a list of your values, then determine your highest priorities. It is those elements that you’ll want to incorporate into your retirement lifestyle choices.

• Proximity to children/grandchildren. If you value family and friends above all else, then proximity to your loved ones likely will be a key factor in your location decision.

• Availability of health care. If fitness and good health are things you value strongly, then you’ll want to live in an area where quality health care and a variety of recreational activities are available.
• Small town vs. city living. Do you prefer the sense of community you get from living in a small town or rural area or does the hustle-and-bustle of city life, with its cultural opportunities, restaurants, shopping and public transportation, better fit your style?

• Climate. Some people may yearn for year-round sunshine, while others enjoy experiencing the richness of a four-season climate.
Ideally you should consider these and other lifestyle factors before you examine the financial implications of your location decision.

About the Finances

The cost of living is a big factor to consider when researching a retirement location, particularly for retirees who rely on a fixed monthly income.

When researching new locations, remember to investigate the overall housing costs in the desired area. For example, real estate values and property taxes typically vary considerably by locale. Be sure to check the rates for property taxes as well as income and sales taxes, then compare them to where you currently live. You may be surprised to discover that states with no income taxes, such as the traditional retirement haven of Florida, often make up the difference with higher property and sales taxes.

Decision Time

Deciding on retirement living arrangements involves a host of issues that you will need to weigh carefully. In making the decision, give yourself plenty of time and do as much research as possible.

• Stay in your current home. If your lifestyle needs will best be met by staying put, consider the financial implications of that decision. For instance, if the mortgage on your home is paid off, your housing expenses probably will be much lower than you’d find in a different living arrangement. Since you may be in this house for another 20 years or more, consider investing in some home improvements, such as insulation, a second bathroom or even converting a large single-family home into a two-family home for rental income.

• Sell your home. This decision depends greatly on whether you need to raise money from the sale of your home. If your expected income from Social Security, pensions and other sources falls short of your requirements, then you probably have little choice but to tap your home equity.

• Selling your house may provide enough cash to defray your new housing costs and potentially provide additional funds to use as you please. Note that married couples can exclude up to $500,000 in capital gains from the sale of a primary residence (single homeowners can exclude $250,000). This rule can be beneficial for retirees who own highly appreciated residential property, as long as they have owned and used the home as a primary residence for at least two out of the last five years.

• Choose a new home. If you decide to relocate or if you stay in the same location but sell your home, you will need to decide what type of replacement housing is best suited to your needs. Should you buy a single-family home? Rent an apartment? Buy a condominium? Buy into a retirement community? These and a growing array of options are available to today’s retiree. Shop around and compare features and costs against your personal requirements and budget.

In the end, no matter where you choose to live — from Maine to Montana, in a house or an RV — home is where the heart is, and where you feel most content and comfortable.

John E. Day is a financial consultant with LPL Financial Services, in Columbia. He can be reached at 410-290-1000, or via

Bay Bank Creates Relationship Management Analyst Position

Bay Bank has announced its creation of the relationship management analyst position, developed to train and prepare new employees for a career in professional banking. The multi-faceted position provides a combination of mentorship with various certification programs to engage new hires in all areas of banking and ultimately guide them on a career path within the industry.
Bay Bank has filled the position with two new hires: Bryan Becraft and Jacob Gebhardt, who will work under the close mentorship of the bank’s Baltimore Market President Todd Warren and Corridor Market President Richard Ohnmacht.

Becraft and Gebhardt’s primary responsibilities will include supporting and retaining client relationships, managing client portfolios, developing sales and lead generation expertise, assessing loan risk and providing quality assurance, among other duties. In addition, the new recruits will le aarn the various service level agreements and lending processes, and will gain exposure to different career specialties by partnering with Treasury Services and Mortgage Banking departments. They also will participate in the Omega and Baker Hill training programs, as well as numerous courses offered by the American Banking Association.

Don’t Buy That Phony Purchase Order

As fraudsters grow more daring with schemes targeting businesses, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns business owners and purchasing agents to be on the lookout for fake purchase orders. A 2017 scam targeting businesses and involving phony purchase orders cheated business owners across the United States out of more than $950,000 in reported losses.

How the Scam Works

A fraudulent business rents a virtual office and creates an online presence. It opens a bank account. It creates marketing materials that it sends to suppliers around the country. It even creates fake online entities to serve as references for them.

At first glance, this phony business seems legitimate, so when it orders merchandise, businesses fulfill the orders — only to find out later that they fell for a scam and will not be paid.

To avoid phony purchase orders, BBB advises business owners and purchasing agents to do the following.

• Watch out for unusually large orders. Scammers often target smaller businesses and place large orders, hoping the chance of profit overrides their victims’ judgment. Large orders, particularly from new customers, are often a red flag.

• Be leery of email-only solicitations. Many scams have roots overseas. Watch out for situations where email is the only form of contact. Also, be on the lookout for misspellings and grammatical errors in solicitations you receive.

• Do your research. Visit to research businesses looking to do business with you. Keep in mind that business identity theft is a growing issue; fraudsters often impersonate legitimate businesses in the hopes of defrauding unsuspecting businesses.
• Confirm everything. If you receive an order from a potential new customer, even a business with an established track record, it’s a good idea to verify the order directly with the company. Make sure you are using accurate contact information and do not just use the phone number on the purchase order you have received.

• Make sure the references are real. In this day and age, creating fake online entities is fairly easy. When you are doing your research, go beyond a simple phone call. Do an Internet search on the company seeking to do business with you, as well as its references. Legitimate companies should have a digital “footprint.” If you can’t find much on a given company, it could mean it is new, or it could mean it is not what it seems.

• Trust your instincts. A business owner who recently received a fake purchase order said the size of the order raised a red flag. So did the fact that the business was not asked for a competitive bid. In addition, BBB regularly hears from consumers and business owners who state they “just knew something was wrong,” but failed to heed that instinct. If something seems off to you, pay close attention to that feeling.

• Have a process in place. When it comes to handling orders, make sure you have a reliable system in place to vet and verify those orders and that all of your staff are fully trained to follow this process.


Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and

The New Ball Game

Let’s take a moment, as autumn begins, to pay some attention to “The Ol’ Ball Game.” Yes, baseball, a game of many traditions and much folklore.

One of the oldest skills used by the game’s players and coaches is stealing signs. For those who find the game slow and boring (and thus tune out), this involves the catcher calling what he thinks would be a good pitch by flashing a number of fingers (one for a fastball, etc.) to the pitcher.

When you have a runner on second base, however, the runner can see the catcher’s fingers pretty clearly, and thus can relay this information to a base coach — who then goes through the ritual dance of sending it to the batter using a mating dance of brushing arms, touching his cap and his nose and other odd signings.

To combat this, the catcher will often walk to the pitcher’s mound and change the signs temporarily. While that slows down the game, stealing signs has a long history and is legal.

Now, enter technology. We’re now way past having someone in the centerfield bleachers with binoculars reading the signs, even when there is no one on second base. Baseball has finally started an instant replay system that trains a camera on the plate, and managers have a monitor (not in the dugout, but close by) they can use to decide to challenge an umpire’s call.

Last month, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, long-time and heated rivals, became embroiled in a “what’s legal in baseball” tiff, because the Red Sox were accused of using an Apple watch to relay the signs to one of their trainers. The Yankees responded by training one of their stadium cameras on the Red Sox dugout, trying to catch the manager’s instructions being sent to their base coach.

Someone will end up getting fined about all this, and new restrictions will be imposed — no doubt resulting in new attempts to circumvent them. In other words, it’s the usual result of introducing new technology into an old game, much like the introduction of larger metal racquets changed tennis.

Pitchers, especially closers, often go over the scouting reports on upcoming batters using an iPad. The devices are banned in the dugout. But not in the tunnel leading to the dugout.

Last year, the Dodgers were also attempting to signal their players to shift field position for particular batters by using a laser system to “paint” spots on the field for the fielders to follow.

So, stand by. As you read this in October and the playoffs and World Series loom, try to focus on the long traditions of the game, even though we know that technology will affect it. Just like it has in all other aspects of our lives.

Security, Comrade Revisited

As I write this in mid-September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that all civilian agencies of the federal government should remove Kaspersky anti-virus software from their computers, based on fears of a backdoor allowing Russian access. Although Kaspersky has denied any such thing exists, its close ties with the Russian security agencies makes it suspect.
The GSA removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors months ago, but now DHS has upped the game by telling people to remove it now, rather than waiting until contacts expire.

Allow me to take a small victory lap here: My column of last month (available at talks about Kaspersky. What fun.

Best Buy also has announced that it no longer will sell Kaspersky, as it has for decades. A marketing decision, I’m sure, but a welcome one. I’ve always suspected that its push of Kaspersky was based a lot on spiff and commissions.

A Lighter Note

I noticed recently that a roll of dental floss had an expiration date. Milk, I understand. Meat, certainly. Maybe even some of the “so full of artificial preservatives that if you eat two, you’ll never die” things, like Twinkies.

But what expires about dental floss? Sounds like a way to get you to throw out a perfectly good roll of unused floss. Aren’t they all unused?


Mo’ Money
So Apple has unveiled the new iPhone X (seriously, is anyone else still using Roman numerals besides the Super Bowl?) starting at $999 (or $1,149 for a decent model). It has a different display and face-recognition technology that will let you turn it on just by looking at it. That’s something deeply desired by most single men, but not necessarily when it involves phones.

Seriously, why should we be paying that kind of money for a phone? Elsewhere in the world, basic phones cost $50, with advanced smartphones running $250. Apple is expanding its tradition of marketing luxury items at corresponding prices, assuming that its addicts will keep signing on.

And yes, I own an iPhone, but that doesn’t mean I appreciate the cost of them. And I like my PCs, as opposed to expensive Macs. Bah humbug, two months early.


Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing and does PC troubleshooting, network setups and data recovery for small business, when not dancing a Russian dance. He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at Older columns available online at

Thanksgiving Wine, Made Easy

It seems like I was just writing about summer wines, and now Thanksgiving and the holiday season are just around the corner. This means that our tastes are changing from burgers and seafood on the grill, with light summer salads, to hearty foods, like roasts and stews.

Along with all the blessings we enjoy living in this land of ours, you can also be thankful that choosing the right wine for Thanksgiving dinner really is easy — because there is no “right” wine, so there is no reason to stress over it. After all, you have plenty of other things to worry about, like what to do about the kid home from college who is now on a vegan diet, and what “lucky” people you are going to seat next to Uncle Bill at the table.

The best place to start is to decide whether you want to serve a different wine with each stage of the meal or if you plan to have one wine to carry the day. With all of this in mind, following are a few of the tips I offer when asked what wines are best to serve with Thanksgiving dinner.

White, Red, Maybe Rosé

Thanksgiving dinner consists of so many different foods, textures and flavors that it seems impossible to come up with one wine that is great with appetizers, and then will to pair up with turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and cranberry sauce.

Sparkling wines are best if you’re considering one wine for the task. Their crisp acidity and palate-cleansing bubbles cut through all the various layers of flavors and textures, from appetizers right through dessert. Also, sparkling wines turn every meal into a celebration.
If you are partial to white wines, Riesling is the classic pairing with Thanksgiving dinner. Contrary to popular belief, not all Rieslings are sweet. They can range from bone dry to sweet, so you have a choice of what fits your taste. Whether dry or sweet, Rieslings show notes of peach, pear and apple along with citrus. Their fresh acidity not only balances the sweeter versions, but also makes them very food-friendly.

Some other white wines to consider are Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Albariño. Again, each of these varieties have a fresh acidity that makes them perfect food-pairing wines.

For all the red wine lovers out there, Pinot Noir is a traditional Thanksgiving favorite. Along with notes of strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit, Pinot Noir also shows off earthy, herbal, mushroom notes that make them extremely food-friendly. Its light-bodied style, smooth tannins and fresh acidity make it the perfect turkey day wine.

If you prefer a more full-bodied red wine, Zinfandel is a good choice for dinner pairing. Its dark fruit character and soft tannins match well with the turkey and the sides.

Rosés have been steadily gaining popularity with the American wine-drinking public in recent years. There are still those who think that all rosé wine is sweet (think white Zinfandel) and only consumed in the summer, but that number is declining. Rosé is serious wine and perfect with Thanksgiving dinner. You get the best of both worlds; the fruit character of red wine with the crisp acidity of a white. The biggest challenge is finding them. Many distributors and stores are hesitant to stock rosés after the summer, so you may not be able to find some of your favorites, but some are still available for the holidays.

Don’t forget about dessert. Think fortified, dessert wines to pair with your pumpkin pie like a Tawny Port or a Cream Sherry. You can find moderately-priced bottles of each at the wine store. Remember, a little bit goes a long way.
A Few to Try

• N/V Gruet, Brut American Sparkling Wine: Albuquerque, New Mexico. Made from 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir, you will find aromas and flavors of green apple and citrus, with a mineral note. It is bright and crisp, with a hint of yeast leading to the lengthy finish. Priced in the upper teens.

• 2014 Holloran, Stafford Hill Pinot Noir: Willamette Valley, Oregon. Made from grapes grown in Dundee, Yamhill-Carlton and Eola-Amity Hills. Along with the ripe cherry and strawberry fruit, there are notes of black current and a hint of leather. A bargain for a Willamette Valley Quality Pinot Noir at around $20.

• 2016 Boundary Breaks, Reserve Riesling. No. 198: Finger Lakes, New York. Moderately sweet, with complex aromas of honey and lavender, along with floral notes and flavors of peach, lime, orange and tart cherry with a hint of fennel. The finish is fresh and long. Priced in the low $20s.

I hope you find these tips helpful, whether you choose to serve a variety of wines or just one or two offerings with Thanksgiving dinner. This is a time for giving thanks and spending time with family and friends, and the wine will enhance the experience. Cheers.


Sam  Audia is a former advertising and marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry. He is a Wine Specialist at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, holds a Certification Diploma from the Sommelier Society of America and Intermediate and Advanced Certificates from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He can be reached at

Central Maryland Chmaber

2018 CMC Relocation & Business Guide

The new Central Maryland Chamber (CMC) Relocation & Business Guide is available in paperback for free or online by clicking the link at To receive a paper copy, call to schedule a time to stop by the chamber office in Odenton.

CMC Partners With Greenworks Lending

The CMC and Greenworks Lending have entered into a partnership to bring Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing to commercial and multi-family property owners across Central Maryland. Greenworks Lending’s C-PACE financing provides capital for commercial building upgrades, retrofits and new construction that improves energy performance.

Contact the chamber office to learn more about this new benefit.

The CMC Welcomes Its New Members

Anytime Fitness Jessup
Capital Gift Baskets
Crusaders for Change
Ed White/RE/MAX Executive
Edible Arrangements, Hanover
First Citizens Bank & Trust Co.
Guitar Center
Gunther Charters
Hatch Exhibits
In His Hands Massage Therapy
Kernel Associates
Kurvaceous Bottles
Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp.
Renaud Consulting
Textures LLC
Tutor Doctor

Upcoming CMC Events

• Successful Women In Business Professional Women’s Luncheon

Oct. 11, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.


Walden Country Club, Crofton

• Membership 101

Oct. 19, 9–10:30 a.m.

Laurel Executive Center

• 2017 CMC Economic Forecast Luncheon

Oct. 30, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

Marriott BWI Airport, Linthicum

The event will feature keynote speaker J.D. Foster, senior vice president, Economic Policy Division, and chief economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Also, a panel led by regional leaders of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. and the Howard County Economic Development Authority will discuss growth in the region, areas of revitalization and support for businesses. Sponsorships are available. Contact the chamber office for more information.

Save-the-Date Holiday Mixer

• Dec. 6: The Great Room,
Savage Mill

Kick off the holiday season with friends old and new while enjoying food and making great connections. Bring your whole team as a reward for a year well done.

For more information, visit or call 410-672-3422.

Howard County Chamber of Commerce

HCPSS’s Martirano Addresses the Chamber

The Howard County Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) enjoyed one of its largest ever crowds for a member lunch on Sept. 14 for the 2017 State of the School System Address with Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano.
As always, HCCC President and CEO Leonardo McClarty started the event by welcoming everyone, including the sponsors, the elected officials and their representatives, and especially the HCPSS employees who took time out of their days to attend the luncheon.
Martirano began his address by bringing the audience up to speed on the state of the school system, highlighting the county’s high graduation rate but also pointing out that 22% of HCPSS students are now part of the Free and Reduced Meals Program.

“Equal is not equity” is a theme that Martirano touched on throughout the address. He is working to introduce policies to make sure that every HCPSS student is getting not only the same education, but also the same feeling of being valued within his or her school.

Another theme that came up throughout the address was transparency. Martirano was quick to admit that the public’s confidence that they were getting truthful and timely information from the school system was simply not there. Therefore, he has instituted an online portal for public information requests to ensure that the process of getting information from the school system is now much more transparent.

A State of the School System address would not have been complete without insight into the ongoing and controversial redistricting process. Martirano made it clear that he can empathize with the anger and uncertainty many parents are feeling right now, because as a parent of three children who were educated here in Howard County, he experienced that process.

Martirano explained how the acceleration of construction of the county’s 13th high school is meant to help address some overcrowding issues, but he admitted that it’s just part of the solution. He is looking for innovative ways to do more to ensure that another major redistricting is not in the county’s immediate future.
One idea being considered is the creation of a possible 14th new high school/middle school that would be focused on career development. The goal would be to offer more educational opportunities for students who may not be interested in pursuing a college education, while taking some of the stress off of overcrowded schools at both the middle and high school levels. Martirano will make his final recommendation on the redistricting process to the Board of Education on Oct. 3.

The HCCC was glad to partner with Martirano and the HCPSS for this year’s address. We hope that it will not be the last.

Surprises in Store

The HCCC is calling its 2017 Signature Event “A Night of Illusion” for many reasons. Hundreds of people within Howard County’s business community will be entertained by Illusionist Jason Bishop, but his show won’t be the only surprise that night. Join us for an evening of food, wine, illusions — and a big announcement from Leonardo McClarty.
There are still tickets available, but they’re going fast. For more information, call 410-730-4111 or visit

From the Desk of CA President Milton Matthews

Last year, Columbia Association (CA) hosted a session with Rob Breymaier, executive director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, who talked about the success the organization has had in promoting integration in rental housing and increased economic prosperity throughout that Chicago-area community.

Oak Park and Columbia are two very different communities. While Columbia was founded on the principles of integration and diversity, Oak Park had to work intentionally to become racially integrated; yet, there is much to learn from Oak Park’s success, and there are many reasons to emulate the community’s good work.
One reason is that there are early signs of pockets of racial segregation in Columbia — areas where concentrations of various racial or ethnic groups are occurring. Presently, it is not dramatic, but it exists and is not in alignment with the founding values of the community.

Another reason is that history shows that one early sign of decline in a community is when an area/neighborhood is no longer desirable by one or more racial groups. Left unchecked, racial concentration in neighborhoods leads to school segregation, stress on local businesses, unstable property values, lower tax revenue and — above all — a lack of understanding about those of different races and ethnicities.

We need to plan and act now, as our community has a high quality of life, to ensure that Columbia retains its diversity and its prosperity.
During the past year, CA’s director of planning and community affairs, Jane Dembner, has been involved with a group working to explore establishing a Columbia Housing Center. The group consists of representatives from government, private sector businesses, faith-based entities and nonprofit organizations. Earlier in 2017, the Center incorporated, and is awaiting its charitable status determination letter from the IRS with hopes of being operational in mid-2018.

During the interim, members of the group will be undertaking an intensive fundraising campaign and building the Center’s capacity.
The Center was founded with a mission to honor Jim Rouse’s legacy by continuing the emphasis on racial integration in Columbia and beyond. It will be a resource for anyone searching for a rental home in Columbia, as renters make up about one-third of Columbia’s households. The Center will connect landlords with potential tenants, and tenants with apartment homes that fit their needs, and will serve as a resource for related information about rent, number of bedrooms, amenities and location.

Also, there will be information so that customers will know about the mission of racial integration in Columbia, and they will receive a recommended list of apartment homes to help further that goal.
“The Columbia Housing Center was established to intentionally sustain our community as an integrated one that is attractive and welcoming to all,” said Dembner. “This will positively affect property values, education equity, social cohesion and civic life. It furthers Columbia social and prosperity goals.”

CA’s Community Building Speakers Series, which featured Breymaier, has the express purpose of bringing to Columbia thought-provoking speakers on topics that stimulate us to discuss, engage and build on our sense of community. It is good to get us thinking about, and discussing, our community. It is even better for us to take steps to make our community better.

E-mail with questions/comments.

CRMSDC Launches Get on the Plane Business Tour

Ten successful local minority business owners (MBEs) recently flew to Nashville, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to explore new business opportunities.

This was the inaugural trip of the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council’s (CRMSDC) first Get on the Plane Business Tour, a program designed to help make minority businesses more profitable through introductions to corporate decision makers and MBEs in other parts of the country.

“Relationships and access to decision makers are key to business success.” said Sharon Pinder, president and CEO of CRMSDC, who created the concept and led the trip. “The more these businesses grow, the greater their economic contribution to our region, in terms of both revenue and job creation.”

According to data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, the number of minority businesses increased by about 38% nationally, while the number of non-minority businesses decreased almost 5%, between 2007–12; however, minority-owned businesses’ average gross receipts are about 65% less than non-minority businesses.

In 2017, 61% of CRMSDC’s almost 400 MBEs had revenue of more than $1 million, up 5% from 2016. Additionally, 12% have more than 100 employees, and 39% have between 11–100 employees. These suppliers are drivers of economic development.

Meeting the group in Nashville were MBEs from the TriState Minority Supplier Development Council. TSMSDC President and CEO Cheri Henderson ensured that the participating TSMSDC MBEs’ core capabilities complemented those of the CRMSDC group. Often, corporations bundle many goods and services into one contract and a single MBE may not be able to meet all the requirements; meeting other MBEs expands the opportunity for joint ventures.

CRMSDC and TSMSDC are two of 23 regional affiliates of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the only nationally-recognized MBE certifying authority.

This is the first time two NMSDC affiliates have joined together for an event, Henderson said. “This collaborative effort increased networking and procurement opportunities. It was an ideal chance to meet, greet and explore mutual procurement and networking opportunities for increased business development.”

The group’s first meeting was with Rob Wigington, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Nashville Aviation Authority (MNAA). The MNAA is seeking minority contractors for its $1.2 billion renovation and expansion project. Wigington invited the group to attend the MNAA Procurement Fair, which was scheduled for the first week in October. Several members of the group intend to return to Nashville for the event in hopes of being chosen to participate in the project.
Tony Hill, managing partner of Edwards & Hill Office Furniture, of Columbia, was among the local minority business owners that made the trip. “The Get on the Plane Business Tour is an amazing idea,” he said. “It takes an incredible amount of time, money and resources to pursue business in another state. In Nashville, CRMSDC had already identified opportunities that matched our core competencies. [It was an example of] amazing efficiency that simply can’t be accomplished by any company on [its] own.”

Howard’s Commission on Disability Issues Announces Award Recipients

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the Howard County Commission on Disability Issues have announced the winners of the county’s 23rd annual Awards Program. It honors the outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations that advance full participation in community life for all people, and promote the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability rights laws. This year’s winners include the following.

• Employer Award: Ledo Pizza of Columbia. Ledo demonstrates inclusive hiring practices and utilizes workplace accommodations that foster employee growth and independence.

• Employer Award: The Outer Office. The company is recognized for its commitment to inclusion, as evidenced by its hiring, accommodations and retention practices, and for providing equal opportunities to employees with disabilities.

• Service Award: Dawn Trakney. Trakney has mentored, coached and trained dozens of Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) students with disabilities participating in the school system’s Work-Study and Transition program.

• Individual Achievement Award (Youth): Will Alexion. After completing a year-long internship with Howard County government, Alexion was hired by the county’s Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits. He also has served as student member for the Commission for Transitioning Students with Disabilities.

• Individual Achievement Award (Adult): Christa Bucks Camacho. Camacho has spent years working on issues to improve the quality of life for people living in poverty, for children and for people with disabilities.

• Individual Achievement Award (Adult): Nicholas Stewart. Since 1997, Stewart has participated with Special Olympics Maryland as a multi-sport athlete. He also currently serves as the Maryland Law Enforcement Torch Run Athlete Ambassador.

• The following employers also were recognized for efforts to build inclusive workforces: Eggspectation; Food Lion, of Scaggsville; Howard County Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits; Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning; Weis Market, of Woodstock; and ZIPS Dry Cleaners, of Scaggsville.

Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Roger Carter Community Center, 3000 Milltowne Drive, Ellicott City. The event will feature guest speaker Staci Jones, the statewide career and employment services coordinator with the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration.

New Halloween Fest Starts Oct. 13


CarnEVIL at Merriweather Park, a Halloween festival to be held in downtown Columbia, will begin this month — for those who want to know the real story of amusement park owner Archibald Evil, who is said to have died on the site 100 years ago.
CarnEVIL will be held at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, and is being produced by the nonprofit Disaster Preparedness DC. It will be open during 15 select nights between Oct. 13 and Nov. 5, and will come alive with horrifying mutant sideshow freaks, demented clowns and escaped circus animals ­ all in the name of raising money for first responders and disaster preparedness.
Experience the haunted woods (non-disclosure agreements about the haunt’s finale will need to be signed, in blood) and a full-scale, 18-acre Halloween festival, complete with a menacing midway, fair food, cocktails, “mocktails,” musical entertainment and circus performers.
Parking will be available at Merriweather Lot 1 (with handicapped parking available at the nearby box office lot), directly across from 10500 Little Patuxent Parkway, and is accessible by Merriweather Drive. For more information, visit, Facebook @CarnEVILFestival and Twitter @CarnEVILHoCo.

Business Briefs

College Park’s Hat in Ring for Amazon HQ2
The University of Maryland (UMD) is prepared to partner with the state of Maryland, Prince George’s County, the City of College Park and neighboring jurisdictions to position College Park as a top location in Amazon’s national search for a second headquarters.
College Park meets all of the recently issued requirements in the Request for Proposals (RFP), including direct access to mass transit and international airports, potential to attract and retain technical talent and a connection to world-class higher education. The RFP also requires the ability to deliver a campus environment with millions of square feet available for development. College Park is already home to Amazon@CollegePark, and is one of the first five locations of Amazon’s Instant Pickup service.
“When you read through the entire Amazon H2Q RFP, it screams the University of Maryland and College Park,” said UMD Chief Strategy Officer Ken Ulman. “We hit the marks in every category ­— land availability, business-friendly environment, labor force, logistics, cultural community fit and so much more. We are shovel-ready and can handle the entire requirement in our thriving Discovery District. Our highly-educated, diverse community welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with one of the world’s great companies.”

Maryland Marketing Partnership Launches ‘Open for Business’ Campaign
The state of Maryland, through the Maryland Marketing Partnership, has launched a new economic development marketing campaign that positions the state as the ideal place to start, locate and grow a business. The “Open for Business” campaign debuted with ad placements throughout BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
In addition to placements like the displays at BWI Marshall, the marketing campaign will feature a mix of digital, print and radio advertising. “Our administration has made economic development and job creation a top priority, and we have been delivering on our promise to turn Maryland’s economy around from day one,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “We have created over 127,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate is now at its lowest level in a decade. Maryland’s gathering economic momentum is an incredible and compelling story.
“This exciting campaign gives us the opportunity to share our successes with the broad business community and attract even more companies and jobs to our state. Maryland is Open for Business,” said Hogan, “and it’s going to stay that way.”

CMC, Greenworks Partner to Bring C-PACE Financing to Market
The Central Maryland Chamber (CMC) and Darien, Conn.-based Greenworks Lending have entered into a partnership to bring Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing to commercial and multi-family property owners across Central Maryland.
Greenworks Lending’s C-PACE financing provides capital for commercial building upgrades, retrofits and new construction that improves energy performance. Repayment is made through the business’s property tax bill over the useful life of the upgrades, which is typically 20 years — which allows most projects to be cash flow-positive on day one. In addition, business owners have access to 100% financing, including both hard and soft costs; private capital from Greenworks is offered at low fixed rates, and interest payments are tax deductible.
“We are deploying private capital to commercial property owners to reduce operational expenses by investing in energy-efficient capital upgrades and/or renewable energy,” said Jessica Bailey, Greenworks co-founder and CEO. “In addition to retrofits in the multi-family space and beyond, we are excited to see C-PACE used for new development, where we can reduce financing costs as part of a multi-level capital stack.”

Oxygen, DATUM Strike Partnership to Drive Digital Transformation
DATUM, an Annapolis-based provider of data governance and stewardship software, announced an exclusive arrangement with Oxygen, a subsidiary of DXC Technology, an independent, end-to-end IT services company. The agreement will enable DXC to resell DATUM’s Information Value Management data governance platform to enterprise customers throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Paul Wedeking, senior vice president, channel strategy and ecosystem development at DATUM, sees Oxygen as a key partner to address customer success within the SAP community in both Australia and New Zealand.
“Oxygen is the leading specialist SAP solutions company in both Australia and New Zealand. By joining forces, we can provide SAP enterprises with the strategy and implementation teams required to execute any data/information governance initiative,” said Wedeking. “This includes a full portfolio of software and professional services that deliver an overall data strategy, data cleansing and quality initiatives, data governance and stewardship, data migration and ongoing efforts to ensure a smooth and accelerated digital transformation across the enterprise.”

State Garners $600K in SBA 2017 STEP Awards
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced $18 million in awards to 44 state international trade agencies through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), to support export growth among U.S. small businesses. The Maryland Department of Commerce was awarded $600,000 to support export growth among small businesses in Maryland.
STEP helps increase both the number of small businesses beginning to export and the value of exports for small businesses currently exporting. Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the administration’s small business strategy.
The 2017 STEP awards allow states to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program. These objectives include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips and services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops and more.

Maxim Healthcare Announces Partnership With Hopkins School
of Nursing
Columbia-based Maxim Healthcare Services and The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing have partnered to develop an online training program for emergency management of home mechanical ventilation (HMV) patients. This self-paced, evidence-based training program was created with clinical expertise from Maxim and Johns Hopkins, and will be part of Maxim’s competency program for nurses caring for patients with a tracheostomy or ventilator.
This development marks the first time that Maxim, one of the country’s largest providers of home care services to medically fragile individuals, has entered into this type of partnership directly with a nursing school. When creating the curriculum, Maxim leveraged the Hopkins School of Nursing instructional design team, using adult learning theory with simulation and scenario-based case studies. They start with basic assessment of the patient and progress the learner from simple to complex scenarios with a focus on emergency management.
“We are so excited about this training module and the confidence that it’s going to build with our nurses who are taking care of the trach and ventilator patient in the home and managing these emergency situations,” said Cheryl Nelson, M.S., R.N., senior vice president of clinical operations for Maxim. “We’re equally thrilled about our partnership with John Hopkins School of Nursing.”

More Than 200 BGE Employees, Contractors Respond to
Hurricane Irma
More than 200 employees and contractors from BGE were deployed this past month to help restore electric service to customers affected by Hurricane Irma. BGE joins with its Exelon sister utilities — Atlantic City Electric, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco — in making available more than 1,800 utility employees and contractors to assist with restoring electric service in areas of the southeast U.S. affected by the hurricane.
BGE employees and contractor crews have been supporting the restoration efforts of Florida Power and Light, Georgia Power and other utilities affected by the storm.

Kupkakes & Co. Featured on
Cake Hunters

Kupcakes & Co., a family-owned bakery in Elkridge, recently was chosen again as the episode winner on the Cooking Channel’s show, “Cake Hunters.” It was Kupcakes & Co.’s second appearance on the program, after first appearing on Season 1/Episode 2, “Mint for Each Other.”
The cake that Kupcakes & Co. designed for the episode was selected above those of two other bakeries. The cake had seven tiers ­ including two rotating ones adorned with twinkle lights, and several with painted delicate flowers.

Dragos Partners With The Cyberwire
Industrial control systems (ICS) cybersecurity company Dragos, which is based in Fulton, announced its partnership with The Cyberwire to provide industrial control system operations and security personnel with information regarding the ICS threat landscape and cybersecurity strategies. The Cyberwire Daily Podcast is an information channel featuring the commentary of leading cybersecurity experts.
“Moving the industrial security community forward requires a dedication to education,” said Robert Lee, CEO and founder of Dragos. “Partnering with CyberWire allows Dragos to illuminate the key issues in this rapidly evolving area of cybersecurity as a member of a growing community dedicated to protecting industrial and critical infrastructure from cyberthreats.”
“Industrial control system security is a critical concern, as it impacts most aspects of our increasingly interconnected world,” said Peter Kilpe, The CyberWire’s executive editor. “There is significant community interest on this topic, and we are fortunate to now be able to have industry-leading experts from Dragos share their considerable, specialized expertise and experience in this area with our listeners all over the world.”

Adfinitas Health Selects Continuum as Revenue Cycle Management Partner
Hanover-based Adfinitas Health, the largest private hospitalist group in the mid-Atlantic region, has selected Continuum Health, of Marlton, N.J., a care strategy and management company, as its revenue cycle management partner in advance of a planned expansion outside of its core region.
Adfinitas currently serves more than 50 health care sites of service — both hospitals and post-acute care centers around the mid-Atlantic — delivering integrated medical and advisory services. The company recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in January, marking a decade of strong growth and commitment to optimizing value for patients and clients.
“Continuum’s expertise, proven track record and ability to support customer success in a complex health care environment made them our clear choice as we sought a new partner,” said Eric Nass, president of Adfinitas Health. “Our firm is poised for significant growth outside of our current footprint, and we needed a strong revenue cycle management partner to support our expansion goal.”

Bohdi Clinic Moves
Within Ellicott City
The Bodhi Clinic, the practice of licensed naturopathic doctors Dr. Elise Benczkowski and Dr. Stephany Porter, has moved to the Crossroads Building at 4801 Dorsey Hall Drive, Suite 206, Ellicott City. Naturopathic medicine combines nature with modern science to treat illness and promote wellness by viewing the body as an integrated whole.
To learn more, visit or book a free, five-minute consultation about the benefits of naturopathy by calling 410-423-8888.

CAC Features Jenkins at Aloft BWI
The Chesapeake Arts Center (CAC) is presenting an exhibition of new works featuring artist Sam Jenkins at the Aloft BWI Hotel. Jenkins discovered screen printing when she attended a poster show at Stevenson University. The show included an artist, Daniel Danger, whose work became part of her inspiration.
Her aesthetic is heavily graphic based and often incorporates steampunk influences. Since she began printing, she has been featured at Maryland Hall, in Annapolis, as well as at student art shows at Anne Arundel Community College. The exhibit runs until Nov. 17; for more information, visit www.

Watercolor Exhibit by Sunburst Studio at Kish Gallery

The Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, has announced a group exhibit in the galleries from Oct. 19 through Dec. 16. The artists of Sunburst Studio will exhibit their watercolors, titled, “Watercolor Visions of 2017,” in the Lobby and the Bill White Room galleries.
Sunburst Studio, which began in 1992, is owned by Alice Webb and consists of a school of watercolor painting in her home studio and a gallery. The featured works in this exhibit were painted by the students of Sunburst Studio. There will be a reception on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 3–5 p.m. The public is invited to attend. For more information, call 410-730-3987 or 301-596-4883.

Meeting Gallery Kicks Off Season
The Meeting House Gallery is kicking off the 2017–18 Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) season with its annual Road to the Arts Weekend. It will feature 13 painters from the Laurel Art Guild, plus Paula Darby, a self-taught artist who creates unique designs on wood.
This exhibit runs at the gallery, at 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, until Oct. 28. The hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit

SECU Cited for Granting First Mortgages
SECU, Maryland’s largest credit union, has been named one of the Top 300 First Mortgage Granting Credit Unions in the country, according to a survey conducted by The American Credit Union Mortgage Association (ACUMA).The ACUMA survey ranks SECU 42nd nationally among mortgage granting credit unions, originating nearly $113.3 million in 494 fixed and adjustable first mortgages as of March 31.
According to ACUMA, credit union market share grew to 8.5% in the first quarter of 2017, a new high for credit unions and almost a 1% jump from year-end 2016. Credit unions in ACUMA’s top 300 accounted for 78.3% of all first mortgages originated by credit unions in the U.S., also as of March 31.

Artists’ Gallery Pays Homage to Animals, Natural Wood in New Show

Local photographer Joan Forester; and woodworkers Ron Brown, Jordan Kitt and Dave McCann, will exhibit work that pays tribute to the beauty of animals and natural wood with their show, “Nature Made: Photography and Woodwork.” The show runs until Oct. 29 at Artists’ Gallery, 8197 Main Street, Ellicott City.
Artists’ Gallery is a member-owned gallery representing a variety of media. For more information, call 443-325-5936 or visit

ThinkB!G Launches Training, Markets Certification as AATP
Columbia-based ThinkB!G.LearnSmart has expanded its professional certification training to information technology (IT) professionals with its official recognition as an Apple Authorized Training Provider (AATP). Technology professionals now can get official Apple training and certification testing at its Technology Training Center in Columbia or onsite at any client location nationwide.
ThinkB!G is one of the only technology training centers in the region to offer Apple and/or Windows computer learning environments. “With the growth of Apple Mac users by both commercial and government clients, the Apple authorization validates our ability to deliver the highest quality of training. In such a competitive workforce, IT professionals strive to differentiate their skills, making Apple Certification a must-have credential,” said Christine Abunassar, founder and CEO.

HCEDA Receives IEDC Silver Award for Ellicott City Flood Response
The Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) was awarded a Silver Award at the 2017 International Economic Development Councils (IEDC) Annual Awards for its role in the Ellicott City flash flood response and recovery.
The award was part of the Business Retention & Expansion Category for a single event with a community population of 200,000–500,000. The award honors economic development initiatives that focus on retaining and growing existing businesses within communities and regions. Applicants were expected to demonstrate extensive cross-community collaboration, and the ability to adapt and respond quickly to unforeseen events. On Saturday, July 30, 2016, Historic Ellicott City experienced a one-in-1,000-year rainstorm that resulted in a rainfall of six inches in a two-hour period.

Reconstruction Project for Main Street Annapolis Set for First of ’18
The latest evolution along Main Street, in Annapolis, will begin at the start of 2018, as the city will install 50 new water lines for sprinklers, then re-brick the street. The construction is scheduled to run through early October, and is slated to be completed in time for the fall boat shows.
Phase 1, which will encompass the installation of sprinkler lines, will begin in January and will run until March. During this phase, workers will be running a water line extension from the main water line under Main Street to the curb for 50 buildings along the avenue that do not currently have a sprinkler system; Phase 2 will encompass the re-bricking of Main Street, which will start in April and is scheduled to wrap during the second week of October. Workers will only be replacing the street and not the sidewalk. Sidewalks will remain open during construction.
During the project, there will be areas of no parking along the affected sections of Main Street. Also, during August, it will be closed to vehicles between Memorial Circle and Conduit. A public meeting at City Hall concerning this topic (and others) is set for Thursday, Oct. 19, at 3 p.m.

Route 29 Pedestrian Bridge to Reopen for October
The Howard County Department of Public Works has been informed that a contractor’s difficulty in securing materials needed to manufacture the new spiraling geometric cage for the Route 29 pedestrian bridge has led to a delay in its completion. Due to the delay, the bridge reopened in September and will remain open daily, from dawn until dusk, until construction resumes.
The county will continue to distribute and honor bus passes for those travelling between the Oakland Mills Village Center and The Mall in Columbia during the time the bridge is reopened. It will be closed again in early November and is now slated to be completed in early January. Additional information is available via

Dayhoff, Mangione, Among Award Winners for Chamber Excellence
Howard County Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) will be giving out the 2017 Awards for Chamber Excellence at its 2017 Signature Event on October 6.
This year’s ACE recipients are as follows.
• Business Person of the Year: Bita Dayhoff, Community Action Council of Howard County
• Exemplar of the Year: Pete Mangione, Turf Valley
• Entrepreneurs of the Year: Justin Bonner & Kasey Turner, Jailbreak Brewing Co.
• Large Business of the Year: BGE
• Small Business of the Year: Commercial Insurance Managers
• GovConnects Business of the Year: Unanet
From the leadership of some of the county’s largest employers, to the small business owners who help drive the local economy, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce 2017 Signature Event is a night to celebrate their accomplishments.

Nonprofit News & Charitable Giving

HCAC Celebrating National Arts, Humanities Month
The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) is joining Americans for the Arts in October by encouraging the celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) .
HCAC will participate in NAHM with its public art exhibit, ARTsites 2017, through July 2018, at 12 locations throughout Howard County; and with Selections from The Rouse Company | The Howard Hughes Corporation Art Collection, a special exhibit in celebration of Columbia’s 50th birthday, on display at the Howard County Center for the Arts through Oct. 13.
Gallery hours are Monday–Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Other Howard County arts events taking place in October include the following.
• Oct. 7: Merriweather Post Pavilion presents “Opus 1 – Experiences in Art + Sound.” OPUS 1 combines art, music and technology to create an evening in the forest. More than 11 art, light and sound installations for all ages. 4–11 p.m. Free admission; reserve tickets for expedited entry. Merriweather Post Pavilion and Symphony Woods, Columbia.
• Oct. 10: HoCoPoLitSo and Columbia Association present “Wilde Readings,” a reading and open mic series, with featured authors Michael Salcman and Lynn Silverman. 7 p.m. Free. Columbia Art Center, Columbia.
• Oct. 13–29: Silhouette Stages presents “Cry Baby, The Musical.” This Tony Award-nominated musical, based on the 1990 John Waters cult classic, will be presented Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sun (Oct. 22 and 29, only) at 3 p.m. $15–18. Slayton House, Columbia.

Historic Ellicott City Showcases White Hall Estate

Since 1987, the Historic Ellicott City (HEC) Decorator Show House has invited local interior designers to design and decorate the rooms of stately Howard County properties. This year, the 19th-century mansion, White Hall, was featured as the 2017 Decorator Show House.
Nearly 20 local interior designers had complete artistic autonomy over 26 rooms to showcase their expertise and creativity. From choosing upholstery to selecting paintings from local artists, these designers take inspiration from the house, its surrounding grounds and their own imaginations. Most furnishings and accessories are also available for purchase.
Proceeds from this year’s event will serve to fund two significant efforts: The Historic Ellicott Revitalization Grant Program, as well as the restoration of Carrollton Hall, located on the grounds of The Shrine of St. Anthony. The grant program focuses on rebuilding Ellicott City’s Historic Main Street, which was severely devastated by a torrential flood last summer. For more information, hours of operation and to purchase advance tickets, visit

PNC Foundation to Upgrade Playground at CLC
The PNC Foundation awarded a grant of $11,000 to Howard Community College’s (HCC) Children’s Learning Center (CLC) to help fund upgrades to the playground, as well as adding new equipment, including outdoor musical instruments and toddler play equipment. The grant will also benefit HCC students in various programs that work in partnership with the CLC to design the playground and create curriculum for new space.
PNC made the grant as part of PNC Grow Up Great, its early childhood education initiative. As part of the Healthy Howard Child Care Initiative, the CLC ensures children spend at least 90 minutes outdoors each day. Design for the upgraded structure begins this fall, with construction and installation to occur in the spring. Others who have helped fund the playground include Columbia Association, the Horizon Foundation and Harkins Builders.

WGC to Hold Annual
Celebration on Oct. 10
The Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) Annual Celebration of Women and Girls is set for Tuesday, Oct. 10, from 5–7 p.m., at the Health Sciences Building at Howard Community College.
At the event, author, photojournalist and activist Paola Gianturco will discuss issues that are impacting the well-being of women and girls featured in her new book, “Wonder Girls.” Tickets are $60. For more information, visit

Gilchrist to Host
Twilight in the Woods
Gilchrist of Howard County is hosting Twilight in the Woods at The Chrysalis at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, on Sunday, Oct 22, from 5:30–6:30 p.m. (rain or shine); registration is at 5 p.m. Help light up the night in honor of friends and family we have loved and lost, including those fallen heroes who have proudly served our country and community.
This outdoor event will provide a time for reflection and remembrance, and will embrace attendees in a warm, meaningful glow. There is no fee for this event. To register, contact Gilchrist Grief Services at 443-849-8251 by Monday, Oct. 16. There is a cost of $10 per luminary to purchase a luminary to honor your loved one(s).

Girls on the Run to Hold First Sneaker Soirée on Oct. 12
Girls on the Run of Central Maryland will host its first fundraising event, the Sneaker Soirée, on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 6–9 p.m. at the Howard County Conservancy, 10520 Old Frederick Road, Woodstock. The event, unlike a traditional fundraising gala, will feature guests wearing their sneakers to the event. Attire is casual, with no suits or high heels required.
The Sneaker Soirée is presented by The Wendy Slaughter Team of RE/MAX 100. Tickets for the event cost $65 or $120 for a pair (of tickets), and can be purchased online at or

Columbia Orchestra Marks
Fourth Decade
The Columbia Orchestra’s 40th season opens on Saturday, Oct. 7, with travels to the former Czechoslovakia and Finland, and a world premiere to accompany the screening of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Immigrant.” Bill Scanlan Murphy, music department faculty member at Howard Community College, will offer a free lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Season subscriptions and single tickets are on sale. Subscription prices range from $40 to $115; single ticket prices are $28/$22 for adults, $24/$18 for seniors and $12/$10 for students. For more information, call 410-465-8777 or visit

Pink Power Triathlon Set for Oct. 14
Mark your calendar for the 10th annual fun and “perspirational” breast cancer fundraiser, the Pink Power Fitness Triathlon, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 14, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event will be held at SynergyFx, at 8815 Columbia 100 Parkway, Suite 2, Columbia, to raise money for The Red Devils, an organization that funds support services for breast cancer patients and their families; in nine years, the organization has raised $121,930. For more information, call 410-964-9858 or visit

Executive Alliance Holds 24th Annual Women of Excellence
Executive Alliance, formerly known as Network 2000, will hold its 24th annual Women of Excellence luncheon with speaker Mae Jemison, an American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. The event will take place Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 11 a.m., at Martin’s West, 6817 Dogwood Road, Woodlawn.
Jemison served six years as a NASA astronaut and became the first woman of color in the world to go into space when she flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She is an icon of the women’s rights and the civil rights movements, and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame.
Currently, Jemison leads The 100-Year Starship, an initiative to assure the capability for human interstellar space travel to another star is possible within the next 100 years. Women of Excellence proceeds support the educational and charitable activities of Executive Alliance. Tickets are available for $125. For more information, registration or sponsorship opportunities, visit or call Alice Blayne-Allard at 410-929-4026.

Laurel’s Moe Announces New
Counseling Service
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe has announced the opening of Laurel Helping Hands, the City of Laurel’s youth services bureau. The initiative is designed to provide community-based counseling services to residents of the city and surrounding Prince George’s County communities. Laurel is one of five jurisdictions in Prince George’s County to sponsor a youth services bureau.
Laurel Helping Hands will provide individual, family and group counseling to address various problems, e.g., relationship difficulties; anger management, anxiety, depression, grief and loss; and several others. It also will provide assessment and referral for students suspended from school for Alcohol and Other Drugs (or AOD) infractions.
Laurel Helping Hands will have an office at the Laurel Armory’s Anderson-Murphy Community Center at 422 Montgomery Street. Rosalind Caesar, who is working to complete the process of compliance requirements, will serve as clinical director. She can be reached at 301-725-8088, ext. 2337.

$500 BGE Teachers’ Grants Available for Innovation Projects
BGE is accepting applications for the 2017 inaugural Bright Ideas Teachers’ Grants program. All kindergarten through 12th grade in-classroom teachers within the BGE service area that focus on innovation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) the environment or energy efficiency are eligible to apply at Applications must be received by Oct. 31.
Eligible teachers can receive a grant of up to $500 for in-classroom use to fund qualifying projects. Twenty grant winners throughout BGE’s service area will be announced in November. BGE provides $1 million annually for education programs across its Central Maryland service area through its charitable contributions programs.

Kittleman Announces Free High Tech Option for Parents
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has launched a new program designed to help children from birth to age 5 become better prepared for school, another step in his Achieve 24/7 initiative. The program, called ReadyRosie, provides instructional videos through text messages and emails to help parents work with their children to develop necessary skills prior to entering kindergarten.
The program is being offered to all county families free of charge under the Achieve 24/7 initiative. “ReadyRosie offers easy and enjoyable activities for parents, guardians and caregivers to engage children and teach them important concepts that help them become prepared for school,” Kittleman said. “Parents can teach their children while doing everyday things. While walking to the playground, they can count their steps, or identify colors while waiting in line at the checkout.”
During the coming months, additional Achieve 24/7 initiatives will be rolled out focusing on child mental health and early childhood education. Howard County families can register

All City of Laurel Employees Complete Disaster Training
Mayor Craig Moe and all City of Laurel employees have completed the required Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Incident Command System (ICS) training courses, making the city the only municipality in Prince George’s County, and possibly the state, to have all its employees complete the training.
On Thursday, Sept. 14, the city participated in a statewide, federally-evaluated exercise involving a simulated incident at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. Employees from every department staffed the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for much of the day, performing emergency support functions in real time.
The ICS is a method of responding to a crisis that relies on standard job roles, forms and terminology. It can be used for short or long-term operations. In Laurel, major flooding and blizzards have necessitated the use of ICS.

ORP Partners With Dunloggin, Mount View Middle Schools
The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) is partnering with Dunloggin and Mount View middle schools to educate students about shellfish ecological restoration and its importance to the local environment.
Under the terms of the agreement, ORP will collaborate with school staff to develop classroom programming and hands-on activities on topics including the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and the oyster habitat ecosystem. ORP will supply schools with oyster larvae, or spat, for their oyster gardening programs, and provide technical expertise about raising and caring for spat.
ORP will also provide support for school programs focused on improving the Chesapeake environment. For more information, contact Mary Schiller at 410-313-6655 or

Exelon Generation Donates $1.28M to Anne Arundel County Parks
Kennett Square, Pa.-based Exelon Generation is providing a $1.28 million grant to Anne Arundel County Recreation & Parks to fund significant renovations and upgrades of the multi-purpose fields at Tick Neck Park, in Pasadena. The grant comes as a result of the sale of Exelon Generation’s Chestnut Hill Farm property that included the Brandon Woods Park, located in Glen Burnie.
As part of the sale of the property, the company agreed to fund the development of a new or upgraded recreational facility at another location in Anne Arundel County. In 2016, company employees spent more than 3,200 volunteer hours in the county for projects that benefit the local community, with a particular focus on education, conservation, arts and community health and safety.

This Year’s Symphony of Lights Goes Live on Nov. 19
The Symphony of Lights, a family-oriented display of more than 100 larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations that is made up of approximately 300,000 bulbs will return this fall and early winter to Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, Tuesdays through Sundays, from Tuesday, Nov. 21, through Monday, Jan. 1.
A highlight of the event, as always, will be the Dazzle Dash, which is set for opening day, Sunday, Nov. 19 (rain or shine). Bring friends and family to experience the lighting ceremony, entertainment, giveaways and activities.
The Symphony of Lights offers sponsorships that equate to direct exposure to more than 130,000 attendees. During the past 20-plus years, nearly 2 million individuals have visited the spectacle, and proceeds from the event have raised more than $8 million to benefit Howard County General Hospital.
For more information or to become a sponsor, contact Amanda Pizzurro at 410-740-7570 or email

Howard County Conservancy Meets Capital Campaign Goal
The Howard County Conservancy has reached its $1.8 million campaign goal for its recently expanded nature center. Executive Director Meg Boyd announced a $100,000 bequest from an anonymous donor was the gift that pushed the Conservancy over its goal.
The expanded Gudelsky Environmental Education Center reopened in May and more than doubled programming space. A covered outdoor classroom, community meeting room, volunteer work room, dedicated animal care room and exhibits on native plants, animals and watersheds round out the new space. Visitors can now enter the three-acre native plant garden directly from the new nature center and can also view the garden from a large, covered terrace above.
Major donors to the project include The France-Merrick Foundation; The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation; The Kahlert Foundation; Howard County Government; the State of Maryland; Ken Clark and Arden Blair; the James Moxley, Jr. Family; Stacia and Gary Smith and W.R. Grace.
Main Street Ellicott City
Repaving to Begin
The road work on Ellicott City’s Main Street, from the Patapsco River to Ellicott Mills Drive, is underway. The milling and repaving is necessary to repair multiple utility trench cuts related to the recovery effort following the July 30, 2016, flood.
To limit the impact to local businesses and for safety reasons, work will occur between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday. Weather permitting, the project is expected to be completed by mid-October.
During construction hours, the aforementioned stretch of Main Street will be closed to traffic, which will follow a marked detour using U.S. Route 40, Rolling Road and Frederick Road in Baltimore County.
Howard County traffic will detour using Maryland Avenue, St. Paul Street, New Cut Road, Route 103, Toll House Road and Main Street. Side streets will be open to local traffic only. A recorded message at 410-313-3637 will carry project details and updates. For more information, call 410-313-3440 or email

Chesapeake Conservancy Joins 1% for the Planet Network
Chesapeake Conservancy was accepted as a nonprofit partner of the 1% for the Planet Network, an initiative that connects businesses, individuals and nonprofits to accelerate environmental giving. The 1% for the Planet Network includes more than 1,200 member businesses, hundreds of individual members and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 40 countries.
After vetting environmental nonprofits, 1% for the Planet connects them to business members aligned with their business goals. The network’s business and individual members engage directly with approved nonprofit partners, providing financial donations, volunteer time, in-kind donations and other shared-value collaborations.
For more information on 1% for the Planet, visit