Archived Articles: November 2017

It’s Time (and It’s Been Time) to Reorganize, Eliminate Clutter

 

We Americans have a lot of stuff.
According to various online sources, we have more than 300,000 items in our homes and only use 20% of them on a regular basis. Whether or not these numbers are completely accurate, it’s an accurate reflection of the notion that we live in a culture that encourages us to accumulate material possessions.
Most of us spend a lifetime amassing a house full of belongings; then, in our later years, we have to confront the question of what to do with it. Whether we want to downsize to a more manageable living arrangement or need to move to an assisted living facility due to health issues, we will need to also find new spaces for many of our belongings.
Waiting until we’re faced with an impending move to begin to sort through it all can add unnecessary stress to a situation that can already be stressful. We often don’t like to think about what will happen when we get older, but making arrangements for some of our stuff when we’re physically and mentally able can prepare us for the future, and even make our life in the present easier.
Here are a few suggestions you can act on to organize and simplify your life. You might set aside an hour each week or spend an entire afternoon once a month, whatever works best for you. However you schedule it, making time on a regular basis to slowly go through your home at your leisure will keep you, or your loved ones, from being forced to make decisions in a time crunch when you want to be focused on more important things.
• Get your files in order. Wills, property titles, bank accounts, credit cards, retirement funds, insurance and other important papers should be organized and easily accessible.
• Sort through family photos and mementos. Consider digitizing fragile photos that have sentimental value. Set aside any special photos, mementos or family heirlooms that no longer mean anything to you and check to see if someone else in your family might want them. If no one does, sell or donate them now, rather than waiting until a time when you might not want to deal with it.
• Old phones, electronics, computers and some office equipment can be taken to Staples for free recycling. There is a limit of six items per person per day. If you are getting rid of a computer, be sure to wipe the hard drive to clear it of your personal information.
• When you need to clear out your home quickly, hazardous materials can end up in the trash, which can be harmful to the environment. If you have old paint and other household chemicals you no longer need, such as pesticides, chemical cleaners, gasoline or even nail polish, dispose of them safely now, when you have the time to see to it properly.
For Howard County residents, the Alpha Ridge Landfill, on Marriottsville Road, accepts hazardous waste on Saturdays, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., from April through November.
• Earth911.com is a great resource for recycling. They have all the info you need to recycle hundreds of materials, including medications, automotive, batteries and construction materials.
• Sort through your books, CDs and DVDs. Keep what you love and let the rest go to new homes or used music and/or book stores. Second Edition Books, in Columbia, will buy used books, CDs and DVDs, and staff will even come to your home for larger collections.
• Throw away items that you couldn’t imagine giving to someone, even for free. If it is broken and not fixable, stained, worn out or serves no purpose in your life, it’s time for it to go. Sometimes you can make arrangements with your local trash removal company for a large pickup. Items that can go out in the trash can be picked up by junk hauling services.

Julie Klopp is vice president of decluttering and downsizing at Caring Transitions of Columbia, Clarksville and the Western Suburbs. She can be contacted at 443-535-6609 and julie.caringtransitions@yahoo.com.

Guinness Taproom Opens, Targets Spring Completion

 

The Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, in Relay, is on track to open by spring 2018, when it will become the official home for Guinness Blonde and new Guinness beers created for the U.S. market.
The opening coincides with the 200th anniversary of Guinness first being imported to the United States and marks the first time in 63 years that Guinness has brewed a product on American soil.
When completed, the brewery project will feature three brewing systems, including its current 10 barrel pilot brewery for small experimental batches; a 10 hectoliter system being designed and built by DME Brewing Solutions, of Canada; and a 100 hectoliter system being designed and built by the GEA Group, of Germany.
On a tour of the temporary taproom and innovation brewery just before it opened to the public on Oct. 27, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz registered his appreciation that both Guinness and its parent company, Diageo, honored a commitment to open on schedule.
“We are excited that you have agreed to invest $80 million to bring 150 jobs here, but also to put Baltimore County on the map as the beer capital of craft breweries in this country,” Kamenetz said. “This is going to be something that helps the tourist trade. A quarter of a million people are going to make this a destination spot in its first year.”

Evolving Offerings
Replicating Guinness’s successful Open Gate Brewery model in Dublin that welcomes 1.7 million visitors each year, the local Visitor Experience Center will feature a restaurant on the third floor, as well as an outdoor entertainment stage and a packaging facility.
“We’re really trying to combine all the different elements of what people are looking for and what we’ve seen that’s been successful in the brewery industry, as well as what’s been successful in Dublin,” said Head of Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House Andrew Beebe. “Things will evolve in what we offer for merchandise and what we serve for beer.”
The brewery is targeting production capacity of more than 1 million cases per year, he acknowledged, with room to scale up production of any popular products that come out of the 10-barrel experimental system.
Located less than a mile from Heavy Seas Brewery, in Halethorpe, the new Guinness Brewery is viewed by local brewers as a strong potential partner, rather than a competitor.
“Collaboration is already in the works,” Beebe said, acknowledging a high level of support from Heavy Seas Founder Hugh Sisson. “We’ve already started conversations with him, and it’s a very exciting process.”
The new brewery and visitor center occupy the historic Calvert Distillery complex, which was constructed in 1933 after the repeal of Prohibition and later was acquired by the House of Seagram.

Meet the Brewers
In June, the Diageo Beer Company USA appointed Peter Wiens as its inaugural brewmaster. Wiens is an experienced brewer, having spent 17 years working with Anheuser-Busch before playing a leading role in building out Stone Brewing Company’s Richmond, Va., facility.
“Peter brings broad expertise, encompassing large and small operations, and his ties to the mid-Atlantic brewing community will help to reinforce our commitment to ensuring the area prospers as a destination for beer lovers,” said Thomas Day, president of Diageo. “We see immense opportunity for the Maryland brewing community and look forward to welcoming guests to join us at a grand opening in spring 2018.”
Wiens is joined by Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson, the former head brewer for Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, N.C.
The duo has free reign to source materials and decide what beers they will brew.
“Everything we’re sourcing is American,” Wiens said, with an emphasis on local ingredients, including some hyper-local yeast. “We have a dark Belgian strong ale in the small tank at the moment, with a whiskey yeast strain that comes from our Seagram’s holdings.”
The yeast comes from the Seagram’s archives, which Diageo owns, Beebe said. “It’s a nice sort of play on history.”
As for recipe ideas, “You can get inspired by tasting something somebody else brewed, or from a specific cocktail you’ve had or even food,” Wiens said. “That’s unique to beer.”
Although he and Stephenson try to create a brewing schedule to guide their efforts, “it changes as we move along,” Wiens said. “We also have a monthly call with Dublin where we talk about what they’re brewing and compare that to what we’re brewing to see if we can duplicate some of the stuff they’re working on.”

Now Serving
While construction continues on the full brewing facility and visitor center, Guinness’s Test Taproom will be open to the public on Fridays from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Beers on tap will be a mix of the classic imports from Ireland and locally produced experimental beers.
“We’re thinking of it as a place to have a conversation with American consumers and figure out what they like to drink,” Wiens said.
“This is the first location in the United States that will serve Foreign Extra Stout on draught,” Day said, “and we will also have 200th Anniversary Guinness Stout in bottles.”
City Brewing Co., of Latrobe, Pa., which began brewing Guinness Blonde under contract three years ago, will continue to do so until production shifts to the new mid-sized Relay brewery in 2018.
“This temporary taproom is the first stage of a grander vision,” Kamenetz said. “We know it’s going to be a great regional success.”

Medical Marijuana: Dawn of a New Day in Maryland

 

It’s medical marijuana’s time.
Maryland’s law has been passed, licenses have been granted, and growers and dispensaries have been established. Plenty of phone calls to those businesses (and other entities) by an inquiring media have been ignored and opening jitters abound.
And some new doors are just about open. Perhaps fairly close to your home.
If you live in Columbia’s Village of Dorsey’s Search, know that a dispensary is soon to open in the Crossroads Professional Building. Local serial investor Gina Dubbe and Dr. Leslie Apgar have entered the medical marijuana market by founding Greenhouse Wellness, which will be filling prescriptions via various administrations that deliver one (or more) of the nearly 100 cannabinoids in a cannabis plant to patients via pills, patches, oils and other methods.
Dubbe and Apgar are hoping that this approach will appeal to patients who need pain relief, but are looking to administer the drug in what the duo hopes clients see as a less controversial, lower-key route.

New Options
Dubbe, who is leading a group of unnamed investors in this effort, notably worked with late local businessman Steve Walker and most recently co-founded TheraPearl, which markets hot/cold compresses; Apgar, who interned at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, once practiced at Howard County General Hospital, then more recently at Saint Agnes Hospital and PureVida Medical Spa, in Maple Lawn.
“Patients were asking for aesthetic services when I was at Saint Agnes, then at PureVida,” Apgar said. “I worked at Saint Agnes until this past August [and still leads PureVida], then turned my focus to Greenhouse.”
“We ‘got’ the concept upon first glance, and while I know that we aren’t the most likely candidates to open a marijuana dispensary,” said Dubbe, “we were approached by several groups to invest in it.”
So while the move was made, it was not without some trepidation. “Even to us, cannabis is intimidating,” said Dubbe, “but upon research, we see that this is the way to go with a safe, organizational option.”
“We have a facility that is not intimidating and makes medical marijuana more mainstream and acceptable,” said Apgar. “Our focus is science-based, and we want to help educate our clients about how marijuana is much different than it was in the ’60s. That this is for therapeutic effect comes first.”
But the education, in this case, starts with the facility.
“Many of the greenhouses and dispensaries are not in the nicest places,” said Dubbe. “This is an office with trained professionals from various realms of the health care spectrum, and it’s a nice place to be. We consider Greenhouse part of a one-stop shop for wellness.”

New Hybrids
Part of what might be considered off-putting by the more conservative clients, said Apgar, is marijuana’s odor. “The terpenes are what give it an odor. As with aromatherapy, certain odors give it a response; THC gives users a head high. What we’re so excited about is getting away from that and the silly [street] names, and being able to make it palatable for patient use.
“There are maybe 100 different strains of cannabis,” she said. “It used to be that Sativa and Indica were the main strains that most people were familiar with. But as we enter the scientific era, it’s all about designer hybrids and the temperatures at which they vaporize.”
“Smoking it is not an option,” said Dubbe, noting that some growers dispense product, too, but Greenhouse will purchase everything.
“We want to move the needle forward and offer a variety of delivery systems. Our theme is smokeless, because smoke has carcinogens and cause the drug to lose much of the medical effect” which will be used in the treatment of symptoms associated with cancer, opioid addiction, epilepsy, chronic pain, chronic nausea and anxiety/nerves, among others, she said.
Dubbe noted that medical marijuana is not covered by insurance, but thinks Greenhouse’s prices will be competitive to those “in other states. It’s a tough industry. It’s not legal federally, and people are very private about using it — and investing in it.”
On that note, Dubbe said Greenhouse’s financial information is private.

New Concerns
The shroud of privacy around the medical marijuana industry has translated into business owners locating in somewhat out-of-the-way places and keeping a low profile, as well as citizens who may want to purchase product being dead set against having a dispensary in their neighborhood.
So it’s no surprise that many of these facilities also have a hard time finding real estate. Still, Dubbe said the reception has been good at Crossroads.
“We looked at many potential locations and, with the other doctors and services on site, we integrate well within the existing facility. I think it’s one of the best kept secrets in Howard County,” she said. “For instance, we’re right next to a compounding pharmacy, an apothecary and a physical therapy clinic, with integrative wellness doctors and even a naturopath.”
Around the state, reactions to the new pain relief options vary. Gene Ransom, CEO of MedChi: The Maryland State Medical Society, said MedChi does not take an official stand on the issue. He did say, however, that some members are attempting to integrate medical marijuana into their practice, while others think it has not been tested for long enough to take that step.
So at this point, information flow to MedChi’s membership is key.
“For example, there are Maryland regulations that you have to stick to, like having a bonafide, ongoing relationship with patients,” said Ransom. “If you see a patient once and give them a marijuana prescription and never see them again, that’s problematic, as is medical marijuana not being legal under federal law.
“So [medical professionals] are taking a certain amount of risk by getting involved with this treatment,” he said. As for MedChi, “Our role will be one of facilitating intelligent research, working through best practices for doctors,” etc.
Similar observations were offered by Vicki Bendure, a spokesperson for ForwardGro, a growing facility in southern Anne Arundel County, who stressed that “until testing is complete, no one can really say exactly when and how the industry will move forward.”
And like Dubbe, she said that finding locations has been an issue, “because not everyone wants a grower or dispensary in their backyard. There are also concerns about the supply chain as the new law takes effect. This is the first phase of [implemention], and there is considerable pressure” on the new companies to address potential issues.

Final Preps
In Anne Arundel County, County Executive Steve Schuh was against legalizing medical marijuana since day one. He “had concerns about these places being in the county, since it’s still illegal under federal law, as well as public safety concerns,” said Schuh’s spokesman, Owen McEvoy, “particularly due to the growing operations aspect, given the amount of product that is being grown.”
Schuh is also concerned about medical marijuana leading to full recreational use, which he also opposes. “Still, I would call our laws more restrictive, given where it is allowed (e.g., not within 1,000 feet of the school or residential areas and calls for public input for special exceptions),” McEvoy said.
“Some politicians were very supportive of medical marijuana — until they found out that a dispensary was slated for their community and their constituents were unhappy,” he said, adding, “Steve’s initial concerns are manifesting themselves in the form of dispensaries popping up in places where they may not be welcome.”
Those misgivings aside, Philip Goldberg, president of the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association and owner of Green Leaf Medical (gLeaf), a grower in Frederick County, thinks the industry is poised for a good start. However, he, too, had questions about the initial popularity of available options offered during the market’s debut.
“I feel confident that the 14 medical cannabis growers in Maryland will grow an ample supply,” Goldberg said, pointing to the roughly 13,700 patients on Maryland’s registry, adding, “As the existing growers ramp up, they will be able to satisfy the anticipated 125,000 patients we expect in the state of Maryland.”
However, he feels that the patches, capsules and creams that are being marketed early on will compose less 1% of the initial market.
“While these products will serve a small segment of the patient population in Maryland, they are still an important therapeutic option from the patient perspective; but as a business model, they are not a critical piece.”
However, Goldberg still sees potential in that part of the market. “We believe the patches, suppositories, capsules and creams will become more popular within two years, as physicians gain a level of comfort in recommending cannabis-based medicines. Eventually, these products may compose up to 3% of the market. The most popular product will be dry flour, followed by pre-filled vapor pens, wax and oil concentrates.”
As for Greenhouse, Dubbe said the company was ready for its final inspection by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (which did not respond to requests for an interview for this article), that was held (and the company passed) at the end of October. She and Apgar planned to be up and running after commission approval.
Today, they just want to get the doors open to their rather intriguing new operation.
“We have folks near and dear to us that need this drug,” Dubbe said, “so we are hopefully just weeks away from offering this new service.”
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission
David Kloose 410-487-8100/8060 and david.kloos1@maryland.gov
Mary Jo Mather 410-487-8052 and maryjo.mather@maryland.gov
Patrick Jameson, CEO 410-487-8050 and Patrick.jameson@maryland.gov

RESI
Darius Irani 410-704-7374

ForwardGro, Anne Arundel County
First licensed in Maryland
Gail Rand 866-393-4763

Medical marijuana blog
Don Barto, Jr. 410-258-5077 cell

Greenway Consults
Adam Campellino 410-762-8745 and greenwayconsult@gmail.com

Freestate Wellness, Howard County
Cary Millstein

UMMS
David Kohn, PR 410-706-7590 and dkohn@som.umd.edu

Med Chi Board
Dr. Francisco Ward

UMD
Lee Tune

JHU
Joshua Sharfstein

Anne Arundel Health Department
Fran Phillips

Entrepreneur Expo, Stem Cell Symposium Foretell TEDCO 2.0 Changes

 

Amid the bustle of its seventh annual Entrepreneur Expo, held at the Hilton Baltimore in October, the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) announced a revamping of its mission and vision under an evolving plan, dubbed TEDCO 2.0.
With the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission’s annual Stem Cell Research Symposium running concurrently at the same venue, TEDCO signaled clear intentions to unify its approach to the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund and other funding programs that it also administers.
For the past three months, TEDCO’s newly appointed CEO, George Davis, has been taking baseline measurements across the state, “to try to figure out where we stand, where pockets of innovation are, where the support functions are [missing] and how we can work better with our partners and advocacy groups,” he told Expo attendees.
As a serial entrepreneur who has been involved in the biotech, information technology and software industries, Davis said he understands startups’ basic needs.
“You need cash, and you need to be connected,” he said. “TEDCO 2.0 is all about trying to drive new perspective and create a thriving entrepreneur system in Maryland, working with our partners in the Department of Commerce and a lot of different agencies.”
TEDCO expects to announce some new incentives for entrepreneurs and the innovation community in the near future, he said, the result of collaboration with Commerce that will build on Gov. Larry Hogan’s Excel Maryland Initiative, which seeks to develop the state’s workforce and tap global markets.

New Ideas
Despite its rich concentration of academic institutes, federal agencies and research facilities, Maryland does not command the same level of interest enjoyed by Silicon Valley and Boston when it comes to attracting the investment necessary to get ideas to market.
“We’re number three or four in the country in access to research, but we’re pretty far down the list in access to venture capitalists,” Davis said. “The question is: How do we change that?”
As envisioned under TEDCO 2.0, part of the answer is to coalesce resources around gateway services, such as mentoring, training and matchmaking, in addition to building strong companies and working better with partners to leverage respective strengths.
As mentioned earlier, another idea is to put TEDCO’s series of funds under one umbrella “so we can have a common philosophy of investment that goes from seed level to that Series A level,” Davis said. “That’s new and different; you’re going to see a different mentality and thought process at the seed level. We’re going to try to move a lot faster and quicker.”
Morning keynote Guy Filippelli, vice president of Forcepoint and the founder and former CEO of RedOwl Analytics, had a few ideas of his own for improving the lot of Maryland’s startups.
“I don’t think it’s the state’s role, necessarily, to throw lots of money in venture capital or be another venture capitalist,” he said.
Rather than offer tax credits directly to startups, he’d prefer to see Maryland offer those credits to large, established companies as an incentive to actually purchase and use the products these startups sell.
Under this scenario, “a $1 million tax credit for T. Rowe Price could have a $10 million impact on my company,” he said. “That idea needs to be fleshed out, but it’s thinking about ways to use money to have a multiplier effect.”

New Solutions
While entrepreneurs learned about strategies to raise capital and pitched their ideas to actual angel investors, Stem Cell Symposium participants got a chance to learn about the latest bioengineering advancements being pursued in Maryland.
John Fisher, chair of the University of Maryland’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering, said his department is contributing to advances in personalized medicine, using imaging modalities such as MRIs and CTs to isolate and design custom-fitting grafts used to treat congenital heart defects.
“We and others are looking at printing and bioprinting as a means to personalize these grafts,” Fisher said, using a lithography-based approach with a precision down to about 20 microns, as well as an extrusion-based printing approach with a precision of about 100 microns.
“It’s definitely a growing market of additive manufacturing, 3-D printing and bioprinting for health care, third in the sector behind automotive [products] and personal consumer products,” he said.
Research conducted in the university’s laboratory spans several systems and includes work in cardiovascular, bone and cartilage applications, as well as some work on placenta studies and bioreactors.
“We hope to do this so we can do two basic things,” Fisher said. “Fabricate things we can’t fabricate using any other approach and ask biological questions that we can’t easily ask using any other approach.”

Hale Fellow, Well Met
Lifesprout, a startup spinoff from The Johns Hopkins University, has developed a product for the aesthetic arena that not only takes the place of missing tissue, but also integrates with native body tissues, allowing cells and blood vessels to grow into it.
The nanofiber hydrogel composite solution can be injected in an office setting using small needles and without the need for anesthesia or surgery, said Lifesprout Co-Founder Dr. Sashank Reddy.
“It can address issues like soft tissue loss from aging, as well as traumatic defects or defects from cancer [surgery],” Reddy said. “The material behaves very much like natural tissue, and even though it’s a synthetic chemical, it ends up setting up and feeling very much like native tissue.”
According to Davis, TEDCO’s Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund has supported more than 20 companies developing stem cell and regenerative technologies.
“These are ongoing innovations that are accelerating the pathways to cure,” he said. “Last year the Cures Act was passed, and that starts to put regenerative medicine right in the target sector of moving things from that research world into the commercial world.”
Signed into law on Dec. 13, 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act is designed to help accelerate medical product development and bring new innovations and advances to patients who need them faster and more efficiently. It provides $4.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health for precision medicine and biomedical research, with $1.5 billion channeled to research on brain disease and $1.8 billion earmarked for cancer research.
The symposium’s fit with the Entrepreneur Expo is obvious, enabling a much broader opportunity for networking and matching up potential partners within the state and region.
“We all know we need to find cures for chronic diseases,” said Davis, who acknowledged that he is also a cancer survivor. “Regenerative medicine is going to get us there.”

Laurel Startups Growing Amid Old Faithfuls

 

Mahmood Anwar, owner of 9Round Fitness in Laurel, knows a good opportunity when he sees one. That’s what led him to cash in on a wave of interest in kickboxing with a franchise he started three years ago.
Anwar, among others, has a growing story to tell. While chatting with other Laurel business owners at the first-ever Discover Laurel Day, in late October, Anwar defined what draws small businesses to the small city, which is home to a mix of startups, historic sites and businesses that, as the locals like to say, “have been here forever.”
Anwar, who owned a shipping business for nine years in Laurel before purchasing 9Round, said the community has become a mixture of young people who want an attractively-priced place to live and older people who are keeping historic traditions alive.
“I just like the community,” said Anwar. “There is the historic part, yet Laurel is at a crossroads between Washington and Baltimore.”
He finds people stopping by 9Round for a workout on their way to work. “From day one, we’ve been profitable,” he said.
But Laurel’s deep roots are something to treasure and, lately, something locals are emphasizing, be it from working to preserve the historic train station to embracing Main Street’s yesteryear atmosphere; so if Laurel is about new development, startup businesses and a younger population, the city is also about ensuring its place in history, which sometimes comes to the surface in quirky anecdotes in the business world.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was a notable visitor to Laurel’s Montpelier Mansion, and Anwar is quick to relay his involvement in that piece of history. “When I owned a shipping business, I actually packaged one of his wife’s dresses and sent it to get repairs,” he said. “That’s why I like Laurel: It’s a very happening place but still has things like that.”

Ride or Walk?
On historic Main Street, in May 2016 during the city’s Main Street Festival, the app LocaLynx reported 500 downloads in 24 hours. The free app offers communities coupons and deals for nearby businesses, while promoting local goods and services.
North Laurel resident Amanda Fields, LocaLynx Maryland territory manager, said Laurel is a natural fit for people who want a local shopping experience. She was on the team that started Second Saturdays on Laurel’s Main Street this past April. Held the second Saturday of each month from April through November, the event is designed to help draw people to Main Street.
Laurel’s Department of Economic and Community Development offers three local business grants for relocation, retail storefront façade improvement and street signs to encourage new businesses to move to Main Street.
At least from some perspectives, Main Street’s revitalization is working: Laurel councilwoman Valerie Nicholas reports that 70 new businesses have opened since her re-election in 2011. “We want to keep Main Street growing with a variety of businesses,” she said. “We want to keep increasing foot traffic, we want to keep bringing people together, and we want to keep that hometown feel.”

Growing Workforce
After a fight to preserve Laurel’s historic train station, for now it looks like Main Street will stay a mixture of new and old.
The city does not have any development projects at or around the MARC train station stop, said Leigha Steele, Laurel’s economic development coordinator. But developers within the Laurel Shopping Center, Towne Centre at Laurel, Laurel Lakes Centre and Centre at Laurel — all considered part of the Route 1 Corridor — have been adding businesses and are pitching lease options to even more.
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe is ready to sell Laurel as a business location. “See how easy it was to get here?” he asked visitors on Discover Laurel Day. “We’re right off of Route 95, the Parkway/295 and the Route 1 Corridor. We are close to airports and public transportation. We have parks and festivals. We have local schools and private schools.”
Meanwhile, Laurel residents and policymakers are discussing the potential of funding a circulator bus to transport residents to and from Main Street to increase pedestrian traffic, with the theory being that residents could go from work, to the gym, to the library and to Main Street without searching for parking.
Parking on Main Street is another issue at the heart of public debate, despite the opening of a 24-space parking lot on Main Street in 2016. The lot charges $1 per hour with a two-hour minimum between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, and is free on weekends and holidays.
Can Laurel be everything? Yes, to hear the mayor tell it.
“We have just about every type of housing in the city,” Moe said, “from individuals who have just graduated from college or are maybe still in college, to families who are looking for places with easy access to Baltimore and Washington.”

Lisbon Christmas Parade: Spirited, Feeds the Hungry

 

The Great Lisbon Farmers Feed the Hungry Christmas Parade, led by festively-decorated tractors followed by 250 seasonally-adorned saddle and carriage horses, kicks off on Sat., Dec. 9, at noon. Presented by the Howard County Farm Bureau, it’s a day that promises holiday fun for the whole family.
What started as way to put the historic town of Lisbon (a town tucked in the far corner of Howard County’s rural west side) back on the map is now an annual holiday tradition and one of the most attended small town Christmas parades in the state. It is also when the local equine and agricultural communities gather to take part in one of Maryland’s biggest fundraisers to feed the hungry.

Community Spirit
The parade highlights the true meaning of community, as it is defined by the spirit of people from all walks of life who gather to give to those in need. Thousands of people will come together to take part in and/or watch the parade along the 1-mile swath of the historic national road — Frederick Road, Lisbon’s Main Street.
Now in its seventh year, the parade has brought in more than $50,000 in donations to the local food banks — Howard County Food Bank and Carroll County Food Sunday — plus Farmers and Hunters Feed the Hungry (FHFH) and the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Co. (LVFC), which is conducting a fundraising campaign to build a new facility that is slated to be completed in 2019.

Fundraising for the Hungry
More than $13,000 was raised at the 2016 Lisbon Christmas Parade through the support of participants, sponsors and spectators. These funds were presented to the beneficiaries at the April 13 Howard County Farm Bureau’s Annual Legislative Dinner. Both food banks received $5,000, while $1,500 was presented to both LVFC and FHFH.
In addition, thanks to community support, more than 800 pounds of non-perishable food was collected at the 2016 parade and was split between the Howard County Food Bank and Carroll County Food Sunday.

Getting Involved
There are several ways to participate in the parade, from entering horses and tractors to being a vendor at the Christmas Village on the grounds of the future LVFC facility, to funding the parade as a sponsor, hero or helper. As a spectator, you can also contribute to the food drive that will accompany the parade.
Things to Note
The parade begins at noon. Arrive early to secure parking and a great spot along the parade route. Route 144 and nearby roads along the parade route will be closed at 11:30 a.m. The Lisbon Christmas Village, which will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will present a great opportunity to find holiday gifts for friends and loved ones and is where you’ll find pony rides, music and more. And, you won’t go hungry if you remember to eat at the LVFC’s Chicken & Ham Dinner starting after the parade at 1 p.m. at the Lisbon Fire Hall.
To learn more about contributing and what’s planned for this year’s parade, visit www.LisbonChristmasParade.com.

As MagLev Talks Intensify, Community Raises Its Voice

 

The scene at Laurel High School could have been described as active on one late October night, during one of five stops on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) tour around the Corridor to promote the promise of — as well as discuss the issues that could be caused by — the proposed $10 billion super conducting magnetic levitation (SC MagLev) train.

As representatives of MDOT interacted with the community, some of its members offered their pointed opposition about the need for the proposed high speed rail system, which can reach speeds of up to 300 miles per hour. It would initially connect Downtown Baltimore and Washington, D.C., with a stop at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport; eventual extensions could connect New York and Philadelphia, and perhaps beyond.

On this night, MDOT representatives were on hand to discuss potential routes for the train: one which would run along the Amtrak/MARC Penn line, and two others that would run along either side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. That provided ample fodder for the inquisitive community members, who are concerned about the expense of, and even the need for, such a rail line, especially given planned improvements for Amtrak’s Acela service.

It was in August 2016 that Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration reached an agreement with the government of Japan that highlighted progress on the SC Maglev, with Japan committing funds in support of feasibility studies for the project. That infusion came in addition to nearly $28 million in U.S. federal grants that had been secured to complete the necessary environmental and engineering studies.

The new wrinkle to the issue was Hogan’s recent endorsement of entrepreneur Elon Musk’s proposed underground Hyperloop, which would run alongside the B-W Parkway, and how both projects would fit into the transportation game plan.

 

A Few Concerns
It’s never hard to find opposition to a project of this magnitude, and community activist Dennis Brady, chair of the steering committee for Citizens Against the SC MagLev, was eager to express his feelings. He noted various failed routes with similar projects at overseas locations; he also discussed how they are often heavily subsidized by governments, which can negatively impact the building and maintenance of roads and bridges, due to the limited amount of funding that would be left for other transportation needs; and that it would not alleviate congestion along local roads and arteries.

However, Brady said, most of his and other opposition has to do with the routes, which he feels are inevitably targeted for places where the locals don’t want their maps changed.
“First and foremost, should the MagLev be built,” Brady said, “it needs to avoid communities where it would hurt home values.”
Hurting home values is one thing, but having to knock down a house and plowing through the middle of a farm is another. Under a previous route plan — that has since been scratched — Bowie resident Aviva Nabesky’s Horsepen Hill Farm, which lies along Route 197, would have been bulldozed to make room for the train.

Not in My Farm Yard

Though that nervewracking experience is in the rear view mirror, Nabesky is fighting harder than ever to stop the project, which was evidenced when she represented Citizens Against the SC MagLev at the meeting, handing out signs to anyone who wanted to boost the effort, and maybe even take a few along for strategic placement along the proposed routes.

“I’m also concerned about the financial repercussions,” she said. “What if this system fails and the citizens of Maryland are left holding the bag?”

Part of what’s causing that concern are the early rumblings about costs for riders, as a one-way ticket on the SC MagLev is slated to cost from $50–$75 for the ride from Baltimore to Washington, and is being marketed to what have been termed “elite travelers.”
“How many people are going to be able to afford that?” Nabesky queried, pointing out that Amtrak attracts roughly several million Baltimore-Washington area riders annually and has still had well-known financial issues; as for the MagLev, it has already been said that it would require 10 million riders per year just to break even.

Nabesky also takes issue with the actual time savings the MagLev would offer. “We’re already building out Amtrak,” she said, “and that’s supposed to get passengers from Baltimore to Washington in 26 minutes. The MagLev is supposed to take 15 minutes. Is that extra 11 minutes really worth all of the effort and expense?”
Opposition to the MagLev has also come from other quarters. Just before press time, the Anne Arundel County School Board voted 7-1 to officially oppose the project, due to fears that its construction could lead to various problems, including displacement of some schools that could be in the construction zone. Having to relocate schools would have a major financial impact on the school system, said Board President Julie Hummer.

 

Next Phase
From MDOT’s standpoint, David Henley, project director for Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail, feels that the state’s effort to get the public to join into the discussion has been productive and will continue to be.

“We’re in an exciting phase,” said Henley of the project, which he estimated would create more than 74,000 jobs in Maryland during construction, and thereafter up to 2,000 annually. “MDOT hopes to announce the recommended alignment by the end of March, then begin the next public comment process” at five locations in the Corridor.

Henley thinks the process has worked well, though he added that there is a segment of the public that feels that it heard about the project and the public meetings “late in the game,” and that the public response to the SC MagLev has been a mix of “curiosity and anger, with some enthusiasm and excitement.”

The MDOT media relations department did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but Sen. Jim Rosapepe did. And his reaction is one of concern about the impact on the local community.
Rosepepe stated that MDOT has “botched this process,” and that he is glad the previously planned WB&A (or Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis) route was scratched; he also hopes that the proposed Amtrak/MARC Penn line will be dropped soon.

And that’s not his only issue; it seems that a few other projects involving the land where the MagLev might go had been discussed before the MagLev became the hotter topic. “There are developments that have already been approved by the Prince George’s County Planning Board along the three routes,” he said, “that are still under discussion that are not on [MDOT’s] maps.”

Howard County Celebrates Veteran’s Day and More

Veterans Day is observed every year on Nov. 11. It originally was called “Armistice Day” when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed this holiday in November 1919. Armistice is when warring parties agree to stop fighting, and “Armistice Day” recognizes the end of World War I when hostilities ceased: on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., 1918 (11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month).
Howard County celebrates and honors the men and women who have served and continue to serve, on Veteran’s Day and throughout November and December with a number of programs. Below is a list of upcoming events.

Wednesday, Nov. 8
“Howard County Chamber/GovConnects Salute to Veteran Luncheon.” 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. The Great Room at Savage Mill.
A special luncheon to honor veterans and hear the latest on development plans for Fort George G. Meade and how they will impact Howard County, featuring Ft. Meade’s Garrison Commander Col. Thomas S. Rickard.

Thursday, Nov. 9
“Veteran’s Day Waffle Bar.” 9:30 a.m. Bain 50+ Center. Free.
“Howard County Commission for Veterans and Military Families meeting.” 7 p.m. 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive.

Friday, Nov. 10
“Vet-in-School Pilot Kickoff at Howard High.” To encourage all schools to recognize Veteran’s Day, Leadership U, the Office of Veterans and Military Families, the Commission for Veterans and Military Families and county veteran service organizations have partnered to create a presentation for all social studies classes.
“Howard Community College Honors Veteran Students and Staff.” Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts (HVPA) Center. 10–11 a.m. Collecting for McVets.
“Columbia Association Veteran’s Celebration at the Columbia Lakefront.” Noon–1 p.m.
“Veterans Eat Free at Mission BBQ.” Standard open at 11a.m. Anthem Ceremony at noon. WWII vets eat free like any day of the year and free sandwiches and cake for vets all day.
“Donations Day at Columbia Yoga Center to Benefit Veterans.” 6–7:30 p.m. This will be a mixed-level donation class celebrating those who support our country through their military service. All proceeds will go to Warriors at Ease, whose mission is to train teachers to provide yoga and meditation services to military service members, veterans and their families worldwide. Parkridge Plaza Building, 8950 Route 108, Suite 109, Columbia

Saturday Nov. 11
“Blue Star Memorial Rededication.” 10 a.m. Old Town Ellicott City. The Howard County Garden Club installed and dedicated the Blue Star Memorial in May 2013. During the Flood of July 30, 2016, the boulder and plaque were washed away. The plaque was found and returned about six weeks later, but not the boulder. The rededication will take place in front of the Welcome Center. A reception will follow inside. All are invited.
“St. Paul’s Catholic Church Veteran Memorial Service.” 11:11 a.m. followed by a “military version” chow-line luncheon. Old Town Ellicott City.
“Veteran’s Day Parade in Historic Ellicott City.” 1 p.m. Ellicott City Partnership is looking for participants, www.visitoldellicottcity.com/ec-partnership.

Sunday, Nov. 12
“Veteran’s Day/Marine Corp Birthday Celebration.” 5:30–10:30 p.m. VFW Post 7472 in Ellicott City. Email gmack54@yahoo.com for ticket information.

Through Nov. 15
“Made With Love Hat and Scarf Collection Drive.” Knit or crochet a hat or scarf for a deployed service member. For drop-off information, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/veterans.

Friday, Nov. 17
“Leadership Howard County Hosts Mission BBQ: Supporting Those Who Serve, Luncheon and Gift Drive.” 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. The Meeting House. Mission BBQ founder Bill Krause will share his story of building a business that honors and supports military service members, veterans and first responders. Annual gift drive will support Fisher House at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, with donations of gift cards and other items for families of service members.

Thursdays, Dec. 7 & 14
“Symphony of Lights Military Appreciation Days.” 6:30–10:30 p.m. Columbia. $10/vehicle with valid military ID; not valid with other discounts.

Saturday, Dec. 16
“Wreaths Across America.” Noon at St. John Lutheran Church, 6004 Waterloo Rd., Columbia. Noon at Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens, Marriottsville.

HCGH, County Officials Cut Ribbon for Emergency Department Improvements

Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) President Steve Snelgrove recently was joined by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and members of the Howard County Council for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event marked the opening of adult and pediatric emergency department improvements made possible with county funding.
Kittleman and councilmembers Calvin Ball, Jen Terrasa and Mary Kay Sigaty joined hospital officials in touring a new fast-track, rapid-evaluation area in the emergency department. The area is designed so patients with more routine conditions can be treated and released rapidly.
Also unveiled was a new pediatric emergency waiting area designed with a Hubble Space Telescope theme, with new treatment spaces for pediatric behavioral health patients opening soon.
The renovations and reconfiguration of existing space on the hospital’s first floor was made possible by a multi-year grant commitment from Howard County, which began in Kittleman’s fiscal 2017 budget.
HCGH has received two installments of $312,500 for the project, with more anticipated.
“This generous and critical funding helps provide a better experience for some of our most vulnerable patients,” Snelgrove said. “Growth in the county means that our hospital is always busy, and behavioral health patients are also on the rise. These new areas provide a better experience for everyone.”
“There is clearly a need for more treatment spaces in our growing community,” said Kittleman. “Howard County General Hospital has demonstrated that it is a responsible steward of resources and knows how to provide quality care. We fully support this project.”
The first-floor renovations are being completed as HCGH seeks final approval to embark on a broader project: a more than $40-million, two-story construction project to create new observation and psychiatric units, replacing some of the hospital’s oldest space.
“The hospital is planning for the future and providing the space needed to serve this community,” said Paul Skalny, chairman of the HCGH board of trustees, who participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “The need is clear, and we have a vision to achieve our goals.”
“Our community has already demonstrated strong support for this campus expansion plan, and our efforts will continue,” said Doug Beigel, chairman of the Howard Hospital Foundation.
To learn more about the hospital’s construction plans or to donate to the Building Today for a Healthier Tomorrow campaign, go to www.hcghoftomorrow.org.

Eight Democrats Want to Challenge Hogan

Maryland Democrats badly want to beat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan next year, and there are now eight candidates who’d like the challenge, an unusually large number.
At present, polling shows that the eight Democrats who have announced are little known to half the voters and more. That’s not a big deal a year from the election, but it is a problem for one of these candidates to emerge as the clear choice to take Hogan down.
A poll last month by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy — a firm that started in Columbia in 1983, but is now based in Jacksonville, Fla. — found that several Democrats do pretty well when matched up against Hogan. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker was the strongest of the bunch; Hogan beat him by only seven points, 46%-39%, despite the fact that 40% of those polled didn’t even recognize Baker’s name.
In similar matchups, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz got 35% against Hogan’s 48%, and former NAACP President Ben Jealous got 33% against the governor’s 49%. (Montgomery County Sen. Rich Madaleno is little known in the rest of the state, despite strong progressive credentials.)
Those are pretty good numbers for folks half the voters don’t recognize. Mason-Dixon points out none of the matchups show Hogan getting more than 50% of the vote. These poll numbers suggest that Hogan is vulnerable against the right candidate, even though the governor is still quite popular.

Second Most Popular
According to the national polling firm Morning Consult, Hogan is still the second most popular governor in the U.S. (He’s never been the “most popular,” as some Maryland Republicans often inaccurately state.) But his rating has slipped in the most recent polling. Almost all governors have dropped slightly in the third quarter, the Morning Consult pollsters report.
Sixty-six percent of Marylanders approve of the job Hogan is doing, while 18% disapprove. In April, Hogan’s numbers were 73% approve and 16% disapprove. Hogan is still edged by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, another Republican chief executive of a Democratic state. America’s least popular governor is Hogan’s buddy, New Jersey’s Chris Christie, with 77% of his constituents disapproving of his work, a record low, these online pollsters say.
The Mason-Dixon poll found slightly worse numbers for Hogan than Morning Consult, with 61% approving and 26% disapproving of the job he is doing.

Never Elected
Like Ben Jealous, four other Democrats in the race have never held elected office and have never even run for political office before. These include tech expert Alec Ross, who worked for Hillary Clinton at the State Department; Krish Vignarajah, who was policy chief for Michelle Obama; attorney Jim Shea, the former managing partner of the Venable law firm and former chair of the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland; and Washington policy consultant Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the wife of Rep. Elijah Cummings, who was just endorsed by Emily’s List, a major funder of women candidates.
Kamenetz, a county councilman for 16 years prior to his two terms as executive of Maryland’s third largest county, grouses that being governor should not be an entry-level position; clearly, five of the eight candidates disagree. The Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland has seldom had so many outsiders in the race. Typically, two or three elected Democrats with executive experience vie for the nomination.
Larry Hogan, who ran his own real estate firm, cast himself as the outsider in 2014, but he actually had more political and government experience than most of the “outsider” Democrats now running. He was Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s appointments secretary for four years, handling the naming of hundreds of positions on state boards and commissions.
Hogan had also run twice for Congress, coming the closest of any Democrat to beating Rep. Steny Hoyer. And he had worked as an aide for his father, Larry Hogan, Sr., as Prince George’s County executive, a post Hogan, Sr., held after leaving Congress and running unsuccessfully for governor.
For the Hogans, politics was the family business, and they were involved in many other campaigns.

Down on Hogan
All of the Democrats say Hogan is doing a terrible job, and except for Jealous, they rarely mention the man Hogan succeeded, Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, though they embrace O’Malley policies.
Ross, for instance, who once taught in a Baltimore middle school, has said, “Maryland has never had an education governor,” hoping to claim that title for himself.
But O’Malley’s tax increases and diversion of transportation and environmental funds were a deliberate effort to maintain public school aid in the depths of The Great Recession. O’Malley also plowed more money into the state universities to keep tuition down, while most states cut aid to higher education during the recession and raised tuition.
All of the Democrats promise to spend more money on education, but they do not say where that money might come from. The latest figures from Annapolis show state revenues growing at 3% a year, while state spending on education grows at almost 4% a year. Those numbers don’t work.

Hogan Headlines Kittleman
In 2014, Hogan won statewide with 51% of the vote, and Republican Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman won with 51.2%. Hogan got 1,100 more votes than Kittleman in Howard County. Both campaigns worked together to achieve what was hardly a landslide, but still a remarkable win for Republicans in Maryland. They hope to at least match that performance next year.
Last month, Hogan headlined Kittleman’s annual picnic on the family’s West Friendship farm, turning out a record-setting crowd of more than 800 people, according to the Kittleman campaign count.
Hogan praised Kittleman’s accomplishments and urged his re-election next year. As for himself, Hogan said, “I intend to be the second Republican governor in the entire history of the state to be re-elected.” (Theodore McKeldin was the only other Republican governor to win re-election, serving from 1951 to 1959, in between his terms as Baltimore’s last Republican mayor.)
If Kittleman is successful, he would be the second Republican Howard County executive to win re-election; the late Chuck Ecker served from 1990 to 1998.
Democratic County Councilmember Calvin Ball is scheduled to announce his plans Nov. 9. Ball, like four of the five current council members, is term-limited, and has been expected for months to challenge Kittleman.

Schrader Still Goes Unpaid
Former Howard County Councilmember Dennis Schrader could be nominated as volunteer of the year for the state government. Since July, he has been serving as acting secretary of the Maryland health department, but is not being paid because of a dispute between the governor and the legislature. Hogan appointed Schrader, and then withdrew his name when it appeared the Senate was not going to take a vote on his nomination — then Hogan reappointed him.
But the legislature put language in the budget bill saying Schrader could not be paid. Comptroller Peter Franchot was willing to pay Schrader, but state Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who is elected by the legislature and has the final word, said he could not get his six-figure salary.
Schrader’s wife, Sandy, the former state senator for District 13, is director of inter-governmental affairs for Kittleman.

Howard County Parents Weigh in on Redistricting

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS)’s Board of Education has begun a series of public hearings and work sessions to solicit community input on Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano‘s proposed Attendance Area Adjustment plan.
The plan recommends redistricting 1,922 students to fill the new Elementary School #42, which will rise in Hanover, and bring 37 elementary schools below or within maximum capacity guidelines. It also recommends limited redistricting of 313 middle school students to address feeder patterns.
The next high school redistricting process will begin during the 2020–21 school year to allow time to prepare for the opening of High School #13. The current plan does, however, recommend expansion of dual enrollment options for approximately 350 students at Centennial, Howard and Long Reach high schools through JumpStart HCPSS. The initiative enables high school students to earn college credit through a partnership with Howard Community College.
The new high school is slated to open in the fall of 2022 either in Jessup or Elkridge. A final decision on location is expected by the end of this calendar year.
An overview of overcrowding problems within the school system released in October estimated that 46% of schools are currently outside the target utilization ranges defined in HCPSS Policy 6010.
“It was not done in the last five years, and it’s built exponentially,” said Martirano in an earlier interview with The Business Monthly. “If we don’t deal with it now, it will get worse.”

Concerns
Many parents recognize the need for redistricting. Much of the criticism leveled against the plan raises concern about polygon borders that divide common neighborhoods into two different schools, longer bus commutes and disruptions to educational tracks that certain students are pursuing, as well as the effects that redistricting may have on students’ social and emotional well-being.
In a form letter submitted in response to the plan, members of the Long Reach community raised concerns that redistricting would have repercussions beyond simply leveling school utilization levels, particularly in school communities composed of economically, racially and academically diverse student bodies and communities.
At Deep Run Elementary School, the loss from specific polygons “would impact stability by removing students from more stable neighborhoods [and would] negatively impact the school’s ability to provide many of the supportive programs coordinated by families and engaged school community members in these areas,” according to one submission.
“If this passes,” wrote Wilde Lake residents Sonia and Richard Bodziony, “we would have children traveling almost three times the distance away from their homes from a walking neighborhood [on] a new bus route.”
An upcoming public hearing will take place on Nov. 7, at 7 p.m., at River Hill High School, with public work sessions to be held on Nov. 9 and Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m., at the Board of Education, in Clarksville.
The board will vote on approval of the Attendance Area Adjustment Plan on Nov. 16.

TIF Repeal Fails
A bill sponsored by Howard County Councilmembers Calvin Ball (D-Dist. 2) and Jen Terrasa (D-Dist. 3) to repeal legislation authorizing the county to issue $90 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bonds was rejected by the remaining council members on Oct. 2.
Ball and Terrasa took issue with a decision by the county executive to use funds originally slated for a public parking garage to accelerate road improvements instead, after ownership of and management responsibility for the garage transferred from the county to the Howard Hughes Corp.
“I remain very concerned about this,” said Terrasa. “I believe this represents a fundamental change that makes this significantly worse for the county without assurances for Merriweather, for parking and a whole host of things. I don’t think it makes sense to allow such a fundamentally huge shift in the TIF without having it come back to us.”
Council Chair Jon Weinstein (D-Dist. 1) said he appreciated the context that Ball’s and Terassa’s legislation brought to light, arguing that the TIF was still needed, although the process was not as transparent or efficient as it could have been.
“Are the changes to the TIF consistent with the letter and intent of the legislation that the council passed last year?” Weinstein rhetorically asked. “From my own perspective, I believe it is.”
“This is not a modification, but a clarification,” said Council Member Mary Kay Sigaty (D-Dist. 4). “I was pleased that it gave us an opportunity to look at the potential of directing some TIF financing to the art center project.”
Weinstein is expected to submit legislation for future consideration that would codify the county executive’s intentions with the TIF.

New Buses, Schools
Office of Transportation Administrator Clive Graham asked the council to approve a tax-exempt lease/purchase agreement for six new buses for the Regional Transit Agency (RTA)’s fleet of aging buses. The buses would be ordered in November and delivered by October 2018.
Annual payment for the new vehicles would amount to approximately $224,000 per year for 10 years. He also informed the council that seven additional buses ordered in March would be delivered in December.
According to Graham, the new buses would be used exclusively within Howard County, with a few minor exceptions for buses that ply regional routes that include Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, and the City of Laurel.
“We asked [the other jurisdictions] to participate, but they declined,” Graham said. “I’ve directed the RTA to develop a means whereby the more expensive maintenance costs of the older buses will be proportionally assigned to the other counties.”
The RTA’s fleet currently consists of 49 buses, approximately 27 of which are beyond their expected service life.
Other legislation before the county includes an update to county code to remove certain authorities granted to the county executive.
According to Howard County Emergency Management Director Ryan Miller, past updates grant the county executive the power to regulate firearms, which is a duty reserved for the state governor, and to regulate the sale of alcohol, which is reserved for the council sitting as the county’s liquor board. An amendment also adds a civil or criminal penalty for citizens who fail to obey public safety provisions during declared states of emergency.
Finally, the council is considering the HCPSS Board of Education’s $79.7 million fiscal 2019 budget request and $616 million Capital Improvement Program request.
“The fiscal 2019 budget request supports the planning, location and construction of new High School #13, scheduled opening Sept. 2022, and the completion of Elementary School #42, scheduled opening Sept. 2018,” said Bruce Gist, executive director of HCPSS Capital Planning and Operations.

ACasino Tax Break is a Tough Sell

How about a tax break for a business that generates more than $500 million a year in revenues?
Anne Arundel County Councilman Pete Smith admits it’s a tough sell. His district includes the Live! Casino, and he wants the county to fulfill its commitment to provide funding for an enlarged conference center and meeting space at the 17-story luxury hotel the casino owners will open next year.
Here’s the pitch he’s schedule to make to the council this month: A couple of years ago, the County Council passed a tax increment financing plan (TIF) to help the Cordish Companies that runs the casino build a larger event and conference center than it was planning, in order to accommodate high school graduations and community college functions.
As it turned out, Cordish couldn’t benefit from the TIF as planned, but did expand the facility based on that commitment. “They never issued the bond,” Smith said.
To fulfill that commitment, Smith now wants to give Cordish a tax break of up to $1.2 million a year for the next 30 years.
“If we do nothing, [we] would be spending way less,” Smith said. But by granting the tax break, “we keep our word.
“I want our kids to graduate here,” said Smith. “I want them to walk across this stage.” Currently, Anne Arundel high schools use the Show Place Arena, in Upper Marlboro, that can handle the larger crowds.
The original TIF was a tough sell, passing by only a 4-3 vote, and Smith acknowledges the tax break will be, too.
It’s not as if the casino is not paying taxes. In addition to property taxes, the casino generates $20 million a year in local impact grants, besides the $220 million that goes to the state’s Education Trust Fund. And it provides about 3,000 jobs.
Smith believes that most of the people opposed to the tax break are actually opposed to the gambling at the casino, but he says that issue was decided by voters in 2008.
“I represent everyone in my council district,” Smith said. “It is my job to protect their interests.”
We’ll see if Smith can persuade three other council members to go along with him.

Parkway Plans
The whole Arundel Mills complex, with its stores, casino and hotels, has grown more difficult to reach, especially along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. It was once a smooth alternative to I-95, but now experiences slowdowns through much of the day.
In September, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a proposal to add four toll lanes to the Parkway between Baltimore and Washington using a public-private partnership.
The plans sound like traffic relief for a major highway, but they face environmental and logistical problems. First, Maryland needs to acquire the rights to the portion of the highway nearest D.C. from the U.S. Park Service. Hogan said he has already initiated those talks.
Many people wondered how much of the tree-lined roadway would be gobbled up. There would be the required environmental impact statements. In follow-up stories, Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn suggested tunneling under the current roadway could be one of the options.
Democrats running for governor were quick to criticize Hogan’s plans, which also included toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-270. The candidates jumped on the lack of transit options. They also said creating so-called “Lexus” lanes would establish one set of highways for people who can afford to pay the tolls, and the existing roadways for people who can’t.

Clowning Around
One of the consequences of partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts is that some districts are “packed” with Democrats or Republicans, and the races are essentially determined in the party primaries.
One of those districts in Anne Arundel County is District 33, the most Republican of the districts, which includes Severna Park and stretches to Crofton. The district has a Republican senator, “Big Ed” Reilly, and three Republican delegates, Michael Malone, Tony McConkey and Sid Saab.
Republican County Councilman Jerry Walker, limited to two terms on the council, is planning on running for one of those delegate seats, and the delegates are not taking kindly to the challenge. In an unusual move, they got the House Republican Caucus Committee, the incumbent-protection arm of the GOP delegates, to send a color mailer depicting Walker as a clown.
“Which one of these clowns blocked your property tax cut?” the mailer asked, showing a picture of Walker next to that of a clown. The mailer claims that Walker voted with the three council Democrats 68% of the time, and takes money from unions and special interests.
“Republicans cannot trust Jerry Walker,” the mailer said, eight months away from the Republican primary.
Walker has long been a maverick against the party establishment. He’s had a long-running feud with Republican County Executive Steve Schuh. In 2013, Walker voted with the three Democrats on the council to choose Laura Neumann over Schuh as county executive to replace John Leopold, who resigned after a court conviction.
Leopold has not slunk away into obscurity. He has been seen door knocking in District 31B and is expected to try to reclaim the seat he once held in the House of Delegates. Del. Meaghan Simonaire, 27, daughter of Sen. Bryan Simonaire and the youngest member of the House when elected, has said she will not be seeking re-election, as she had originally planned.

Mandated Market Research Can Create Windfall

The U.S. federal government marketplace includes a strange, unique process. It’s called market research.
Market research has its origins in the cumbersome, 1,933-page Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), which are available at www.acquisition.gov. Businesspeople who understand the process of market research can leverage these simple public notices into a hefty increase to their bottom line — if they know and follow the hard-to-understand process.
For those legal minds, the FAR reference is FAR Part 10 where it states, “This part prescribes policies and procedures for conducting market research to arrive at the most suitable approach to acquiring, distributing, and supporting supplies and services. This part implements the requirements of 41 U.S.C. 3306(a)(1), 41 U.S.C. 3307, 10 U.S.C. 2377, and 6 U.S.C. 796.”
Federal market research may be called Sources Sought Notices (SSN) or Requests for Information (RFI), and a wide selection can be found at www.fbo.gov; while it is not the only location, more than 2,000 such announcements are posted there every month.
In layman’s terms, the government entity (civilian or defense) uses both RFIs and SSNs to notify the public that the government has upcoming needs for specific products or services.
The purpose of this notification is two-fold: first to determine if the private sector can indeed provide the requested services or products, and secondly, to determine if a small business is capable of providing the quality, quantity and expertise in a timely fashion.

Hear Ye, Small Biz
The federal government awarded more than $100 billion in contracts to small business in fiscal 2016, and many of those opportunities started as an SSN. However, contracting officers have frequently commented that they do not hear from enough small businesses and, therefore, end up offering opportunities as “full and open competition,” where businesses of any size can compete.
SSNs are normally very short inquiries and are relatively straightforward to answer, with fewer than 10 questions. Pricing is rarely, if ever, included in the SSN; the focus, instead, is on determining if the potential contract will be open for every type of large and small company to bid, or if the opportunity will be set aside for just small business (and possibly even a particular type of small business, such as service-disabled, veteran-owned).
This decision will be made by the contracting officer responsible for the acquisition. S/he will review all responses, and if two or more capable small businesses respond appropriately, s/he must set that contract aside for only small business.
The Small Business Administration states, “There must be at least two or more (Rule of Two) responsible small business concerns that are competitive in terms of market prices, quality, and delivery for an automatic set-aside to occur.”
Knowledgeable companies will not just answer the SSN in full and by the deadline; they will also begin a proactive process to identify all of the related decision-makers and market their abilities to the appropriate people in a timely basis, even asking for in-person capability briefings well before the Request for Proposal (RFP) is advertised.
This is also when many companies ask for a set-aside contract or even the ultimate: a direct-award contract. The direct award contract means there is no competition, the award goes directly to a capable, competitively-priced company. Most small business direct awards have a contract life size limit of $4 million for services and $6.5 million for manufacturers. There is no limit to the number of direct awards a company may receive.

Know the Rules
Those small businesses that understand the rules and processes related to direct awards can significantly increase their federal revenues, especially when they have proof of excellent performance on similar contracts in the past. The timeline involved in SSN can be as short as a few weeks from start to direct award, or longer, a few months to a year, depending on the complexity of the requirement and if it results in a set-aside or a full and open competition contract.
While the terms SSN and RFI may be interchanged by many, RFIs are quite different by design and usually go into a great deal more detail, similar to a traditional RFP.
RFIs are published when a new technology, product or process is needed to replace a program that is no longer performing as expected or there is a new need in the government market. It may provide a product solution (such as biometric identity products) or address a very complicated service issue. An example of this is the situation that developed after years of substandard care received by many veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics. The VA has engaged with industry to ask for ideas, suggestions, processes and products that would dramatically improve the level of care quickly and at reasonable costs.
RFIs are known to ask for proprietary information to describe the “how” one would accomplish the goal. Many companies choose against giving this information for fear of the government sharing it with competitors.
This is a business decision and those companies that instead use this opportunity to communicate their solutions clearly and succinctly, highlighting the benefits to the government customer experience a greater win rate, increasing their revenue.

Never Assume
There are ways to protect intellectual property, and the government is aware of and honors those methods, if the business requests as such in the appropriate manner. One never assumes in this situation. And, of course, appropriate legal counsel is always recommended.
The second element that is unusual in an RFI is the question of pricing. The government will usually ask for an estimate of anticipated prices, so it can determine if it has the budget available. If not, it must address if it should adjust the requirements or try to increase the budget.
The timeline with an RFI is most often longer than a SSN, stretching from months into years, especially if the budget is not defined or available.

Gloria Larkin is president and CEO of TargetGov, of Linthicum, and a national expert in business development in government markets. Email glorialarkin@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free at 866-579-1346 for more information.

Local Colleges Addressing Industry Needs, Solving Problems

 

It’s an oft-repeated query concerning the topic of graduating from college: Students and their families wonder if it’s worth the money to pay for an education that might not increase the graduate’s earning power.
That can be the case in a liberal arts scenario, which emphasizes general learning and “soft” verbal and written skills, in addition to a given discipline.
Then there are certain industries that need a specific type of worker. Management often has no issue overlooking a perceived lack of “soft” skills for training in the given field when workers are needed, be it in anything from cybersecurity to electrical work to gaming.
And that, in turn, circles back to the role of the colleges. They often offer courses that are designed to educate, as well as refine, an individual, but also focus on offering avenues to in-demand job skills that can all but guarantee almost immediate employment — even before completion of a certain course load, continuing education course or certificate program.

Vast Network
On the topic of colleges integrating with area businesses and government entities to train workers, the community colleges quickly come to mind.
“There’s a plenty happening on the continuing education side, starting with workforce development courses, for the beginning student and the workforce veteran,” said Minah Woo, acting associate vice president, continuing education/workforce development, at Howard Community College (HCC). She pointed to health care programs in nursing, pharmacy technology and even a course set with Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Wilmer Eye Institute, which “came to us because it was having workforce shortage issues.”
A new HCC initiative is magnetic resonance imaging certification for students who hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and are currently working as a radiology technician. The list goes on, and includes professional certifications for human resources management and for various child care certification providers.
There also are many more programs that are for credit, Woo pointed out, although not all professions require a college degree; others have a degree and just need training for a certificate. “We’re always looking to grow and are very sensitive to market changes,” she said.
Those offerings are slanted to numerous area businesses and government entities “that need customized programs, as opposed to off-the-shelf courses we offer,” said Bob Muir, director of client solutions at HCC, mentioning customized programs for the Howard County government for diversity training and the Howard County Public School System for supervisory training. That can require “going outside the college and work[ing] with subject matter experts to build the course agenda and deliver the program.”
Other HCC clients have included the Maryland State Highway Administration to build management programs and the Department of Defense (DoD) for various agencies, for management training; as well as programs for government contractors with unique needs.
Given the local DoD presence, it’s no surprise when Muir says “about 65%” of HCC’s tailored programs are geared toward government clients, with the rest for private companies or nonprofits; all told, the infusion from continuing education programs represents about $5.5 million (or 15%) of HCC’s total revenues from tuition and fees.
“I’m a recovering businessman, having spent 35 years in sales and marketing,” said Muir, who added a telling caveat: “There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity in our market, and most of the companies that need this kind of training are unaware that it’s available and how it can further their efforts.”

Long-Term Relations
A similar tune is sung at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), where Kip Kunsman, assistant dean for workforce development, explained that the college’s integration with industry and government “happens in various ways.
“Our Corporate Training Group (CTG, which is based at Arundel Mills) engages with businesses to find out what keeps them up at night,” Kunsman said. “Often, we partner with them to develop curriculum for their staff, which enhances their bottom line by upgrading skills; sometimes they don’t need training, but need mentoring. We can do that, too.”
AACC also partners with long-term clients, like Live! Casino, and is “entrenched in their cultures by assessing and fulfilling their needs.” The college can also work with the state and local governments, like Anne Arundel County and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport “for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA),” he said, adding that AACC’s homeland security courses were delivered at U.S. airports for more than five years.
The staff at AACC looks at what a company’s goals are before deciding whether to make a line of training credit or non-credit. “Cost depends on different factors, such as instructor expense, materials and space. It is directly related to the local market; cyber instructors usually cost more than MS Word instructors, for instance,” Kunsman said.
And as the work world turns, so do the offerings that industry needs from AACC.
“Every year, it’s like starting at ground zero,” he said. “We have a pipeline that we work with,” which was filled by just more than 100 companies in fiscal 2017. “There is always churn, especially when you’ve met the needs of an organization. That’s why we’re proactive.”
Faith Harland-White, associate vice president for continuing education and workforce development and learning operations at AACC, echoed the importance of the CTG.
“An employer might complain to us about production staff not meeting quality goals,” she said, “but we may find that those individuals have reading level issues. That can happen in a warehouse operation where English may not be the native language, and the supervisor may not fully comprehend the issue.”
As with HCC, AACC’s continuing education efforts span various professions, from architecture to residential real estate, from massage therapists to attorneys. “They’re usually local, but we’ve also reached outside the county for the likes of the Baltimore Orioles and Domino Sugar, as well as the TSA program, which spanned 152 airports across 50 states.
“It’s like the college is the doctor,” Harland-White said, “and the companies are the patients.”
Contract sales revenue in fiscal 2017 were $5,865,911, which helps keep costs affordable for AACC students. “We provide an auxiliary service here, just like the bookstore and the cafeteria do,” she said. “We plow the money we generate right back into the budget.”
Kunsman also noted that AACC often works with the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. and Maryland Department of Commerce’s WorkSmart Program, which was developed through a statewide consortium.
“WorkSmart was the formalization of a gentleman’s agreement that facilitates community colleges working inter-county and raises the visibility of training available to employers. I would say 12 of the 16 community colleges have active contract training offerings,” Harland-White said. “Together, the colleges annually work with 1,000 employers across the state.”

Another Angle
Universities are also involved in training, but the degrees of their involvement vary. Kathleen Getz, a dean of the Sellinger School of Business and Management at Loyola University Maryland, stressed that the university’s administration “really believes in liberal arts and tries to build whatever education that is offered on that base.”
Loyola recently established programs in conjunction with industry: One is in data science, for business analytics (or “Big Data”), with the other an update to its entrepreneurship program.
“We’re developing an interdisciplinary program that has a minor and goes on to the graduate level. That skill is desired by a variety of learners, including some in large companies that want to harness creativity,” Getz said, noting clients such as Stanley Black & Decker, PSA Insurance & Financial Services and the U.S. Customs & Border Control.
“We can tie this in to about any major,” she said. “The range of clusters we have is only limited by our imaginations. We’ll see a lot more of interdisciplinary programs here in the coming years.”
Then there’s the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). With 84,000 total enrollment, and almost all courses and programs online, UMUC is the largest online public university in the U.S. It offers 90-plus certificate programs.
“We have a large amount of material to draw from, and every program we create can be tailored,” said Emily Ferguson, assistant vice president of client relationship management, noting that the college works with about 200 businesses and government entities annually, and also has articulation agreements with the community colleges.
Clients include the Office of Personnel Management, which is UMUC’s largest direct customer, which offers programs to the entire federal government (and about 2,000 students in fiscal 2017) for traditional degree programs as well as to tens of thousands of enlisted military personnel, veterans and employees worldwide.
“We’ll set up programs for a government entity that needs certain information technology (IT) or cyberskills for credit, a certificate or just a course to share the knowledge,” said Ferguson, for clients such as Booz Allen Hamilton, among others; but working with private business is easier. If a company has 10 employees, “we typically have them enroll online, but if it’s 15-to-25, we may do it at UMUC (perhaps at its main campus, in Largo) or at the company’s headquarters.

Working Together
Continuing education is often most needed by businesses that are experiencing high turnover, like a fast food restaurant, and where the employees are interested in education that is easily transferrable within their company or perhaps elsewhere. “That’s how [students] make themselves more marketable,” said Ferguson.
“We evaluate what students have done professionally in the past via portfolio assessment and give them credit for what they already know,” she said, “and if you qualify for the Maryland completion scholarship, you can get reduced tuition.”
Bernie Sadusky, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC), offered that, “As far as the community colleges go, we’re a little more industry-based. Basically, what we offer is about what the employers need,” he said. “There may be some already established courses, but then there are some oddities, too.”
On that note, Sadusky stressed the importance of the WorkSmart program. “We say that an employer should never leave the state due to not being able to get its workers trained,” he said. “Let’s say that I’m an employer in Salisbury, and Wor-Wic Community College doesn’t offer a needed program. We’ll get someone from another community college in Maryland” to assist. “It’s almost on a school-by-school basis, but also unique to each county and market.”
That’s key, because in the “workforce of the future, middle-class workers won’t need a four-year degree,” Sadusky said. “This market is wide open, but in the end, what workers really need is certification — and that will lead to good-paying jobs.

Computer Science Education Is About More Than Career Readiness

 

When you teach a child to use a computer, you prepare him or her for the world today. When you teach a child to code, you prepare the child for his or her future. With effective computer science (CS) instruction, the child gains a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path.
Coding is a new literacy for this century. Not all students will become software engineers, but computational literacy empowers them to think systematically and to participate fully in an increasingly technological world. Coding allows students to create, not just consume, with technology. It is an expressive medium that engages students not just intellectually, but emotionally and socially as well. Yet equitable access to computer science grades K–12 instruction is lacking.

Economic Imperative
Computer science drives job growth and innovation throughout our economy and society. Computing occupations are the No. 1 source of all new wages in the U.S. and make up two-thirds of all projected new jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, making computer science one of the most in-demand college degrees.
• Maryland currently has 19,291 open computing jobs (4.2 times the average demand rate in Maryland).
• The average salary for a computing occupation in Maryland is $100,812, which is significantly higher than the average salary ($56,120). The existing open jobs alone represent a $1,944,764,292 opportunity in terms of annual salaries.
• Maryland had only 2,923 CS graduates in 2015; 20% were female.
• Just 1,935 high school students in Maryland took the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science exam in 2016: 25% were female, 129 students were Hispanic or Latino, 215 students were African-American, two students were Native American or Alaska Native, and three students were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Exposing students to STEM in action is a great way to increase the capacity and diversity of the STEM pipeline. Computer science is an essential part of STEM. Consider the following.
• 71% of all STEM jobs are in computing, but only 8% of STEM graduates are computer science majors.
• The percentage of U.S. high school students taking STEM courses has increased over the past 20 years across all STEM disciplines except CS, where it dropped from 25% to 19%.
• There are fewer AP exams taken in computer science than in any other STEM subject area.
Globally, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Romania and Malaysia are tackling CS education across grades K through 12. To stay competitive, the United States needs to be just as proactive. Currently, only 40% of U.S. K–12 schools offer any computer science courses.

Civic, Educational Imperative
Students who can think computationally are better able to conceptualize and understand computer-based technology. Students able to think in computational terms are more able to rationally debate about issues involving the impact of technology and make informed decisions accordingly.
With technology changing every industry, computing knowledge has become part of a well-rounded skillset. Improving access to coding instruction for all students equitably benefits them for reasons that go far beyond preparation for future careers.
CS is about more than learning to keyboard or use computer applications. To quote Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org, “Computer science is not just vocational; it is foundational.” According to Partovi, it empowers students with thinking skills that nurture problem-solving, logic, collaboration, persistence, abstraction and creativity.
When computer science is taught well, students learn to break down problems, predict outcomes and persevere even when challenged. In other words, as students learn computational ideas through coding, they also learn to think. These skills aid in comprehending text, as well as solving mathematical problems. Research reveals that students who study computer science also perform better at math.
“CS provides an opportunity to engage with powerful ideas,” said Pat Yongpradit, chief academic officer, Code.org. Coding can be used as another medium for learning and demonstrating understanding. Yongpradit explained, “Many fear that reading, writing and math instruction (and scores) will suffer if we add one more thing to the curriculum. But CS is more than just another subject. It can serve as the glue for interdisciplinary study, which means the time we spend on it is not added, but integrated.”

Path Forward
Currently, rigorous computer science education is happening in a piecemeal fashion, such as in after-school clubs and select pockets of excellence in secondary schools. Yet, improvement is occurring. The number of U.S. high school students taking computer science Advanced Placement courses has increased 500% in the last seven years. With the introduction of AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) this past school year, a course that focuses on the broader aspects of computing, participation in CS skyrocketed, especially among female students and minorities.
Data collected by the College Board during the 2015–16 pilot phase of CSP reveal the following.
• African-American participation was 16% in AP CSP compared to 4% in the already-established AP Computer Science A (CSA), a course that focuses on skills related to programming in JAVA.
• Hispanic student participation was 18% in AP CSP compared to 9% in CSA.
• Girls’ participation was 28% in AP CSP compared to 22% in CSA.
Efforts to improve computer science pathways are garnering bi-partisan support. President Barack Obama brought national exposure to the CS4all movement. President Donald Trump signed a memorandum directing the Department of Education to allocate $200 million a year in grant funds to STEM and computer science. More than half of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives are hosting youth coding contests (Congressional App Challenges) in their respective districts.
Businesses are stepping up as well. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Lockheed Martin, Accenture, General Motors and Quicken Loans together have committed to provide $300 million in funding for computer science education over the course of the next five years.
To be most effective, CS education needs to start in elementary school. Introducing coding in the early grades helps to demystify the discipline. As with learning any natural language (English, Spanish, etc.), students need to be exposed to the syntax and grammar of programming languages at an early age in order to become fluent in them over time.

Kathy Benson is a STEM integration consultant with ImmersiveSteam.com in Catonsville. She can be reached at kbenson@immersivesteam.com.

In Brief

From left: Glenwood Middle School Principal Robert Motley, Debra O’Byrne, MASSP Executive Director Scott Pfeifer and HCPSS Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano

Glenwood Middle School Assistant Principal Wins State Award
Glenwood Middle School Assistant Principal Debra O’Byrne has been named the 2018 Maryland Assistant Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano and MASSP Executive Director Scott Pfeifer surprised O’Byrne with the announcement at her school on Thursday, Oct. 5.
O’Byrne was formally recognized on Oct. 17 during MASSP’s Assistant Principals Conference and becomes Maryland’s nominee for the national award, which will be announced in spring 2018.
Her nomination portrays a student-centered educator who helps students feel valued and encourages both students and teachers to take leadership roles. She has been a champion for the use of restorative practices, which helps students learn constructive ways to resolve conflicts and overcome challenges.
O’Byrne has been an educator with the HPCSS for 25 years, including previous roles as fifth grade teacher, middle school science teacher, and assistant principal at Mount View and Ellicott Mills middle schools. She has served as assistant principal at Glenwood Middle School since 2010.

Pictured from left: Lynn Hrdlick-Kerner, BGE Corporate Relations; Brittany Jones, BGE external affairs manager; and Bonnie Johansen, BGE manager, projects; along with ninth grade student Destiny using the BGE-sponsored distance learning robot.

BGE Robot Sponsorship Boosts AACPS Offerings for Students
Students who can’t attend class due to illness or injury can still keep up on material, but they often lose the feel of the classroom and contact with their classmates as they do so.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ (AACPS) efforts to bridge that divide recently got a boost with the sponsorship of a robot by BGE that will allow students to attend class virtually while they recover. The robot, operated from a home computer, uses video conferencing technology to allow a student to travel through the hallways, sit at the lunch table with friends, participate in group assignments and ask questions of teachers in real time.
BGE’s sponsorship, facilitated through AACPS’s 21st Century Education Foundation, brings to 13 the total number of robots available to students across the school system. Four of those have been purchased through donations like the one being made by BGE.
“At BGE, one of our primary educational focus areas is innovative technology education, and this distance learning robot affords remote students the opportunity to remain connected to their classmates,” said Valencia McClure, vice president of governmental and external affairs and corporate relations for BGE.
The robot is developed by Double Robotics, which teams with AACPS’s Office of Instructional Technology to train parents, students, teachers and administrators to use the devices.

Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business Names Executives in Residence
Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management named five executives in residence this year. Executives in residence are business practitioners who bring real-world industry knowledge to the classroom. They represent the fields of finance, economics, information systems, law, management and marketing.
“Our executives in residence have a broad range of perspectives and experiences to enrich the academic experience, expand career opportunities and strengthen professional networks for Loyola’s undergraduate and graduate students,” said Kathleen A. Getz, Ph.D., dean of the Sellinger School. “Executives in residence also help strengthen Loyola’s partnerships in the business community.”
Sellinger’s executives in residence starting this year are as follows.
• D. Scott Emge specializes in finance. He was chief financial officer and vice president for a Fortune 200 food distributor, chief financial officer for a construction company and managing director for a consulting firm and investment firm.
• Sean Keehan specializes in economics and has taught microeconomics, macroeconomics and health economics at Loyola since 2005. He works as an economist at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and previously served the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
• Dave Luvison specializes in management and international business. He has 20 years of experience managing alliances, building alliance programs and consulting. Luvison is a Fulbright specialist and holds a certified strategic alliance professional designation.
• Adam Peake specializes in marketing and brings 25 years of experience working with well-known consumer brands. He was executive vice president of sport category management for Under Armour and previously served in other leadership positions with the company.
• Kimberly L. Wagner specializes in information systems, law and operations. She has 30 years of experience growing her family’s small business from $2 million to $25 million in revenue and negotiating its sale to a multinational public company where she served as executive vice president.

UMD School of Social Work’s Financial Social Work Initiative Celebrates 10 Years
The University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Financial Social Work Initiative (FSWI) during the 2017–2018 academic year with activities that honor its achievements over the past 10 years as well as a new certification program.
In celebration of this milestone, the FSWI received a leadership grant of $100,000 from The Woodside Foundation, whose trustee, UMSSW alumna Meg Woodside, MBA, MSW, is a co-founder of the FSWI. The Woodside Foundation is a private family foundation focusing on program development, outreach and advocacy in the areas of family financial security and asset-building in Maryland.
“Social workers have been on the front lines of stabilizing vulnerable families and communities for decades,” said Woodside. “Today’s challenges necessitate integrating new tools, skills and evidence-based practices to strengthen the profession’s ability to address financial stressors and economic disparities.”
The grant will underwrite several planned educational and community events during the anniversary year. In the spring of 2018, a new Financial Social Work (FSW) Certificate Program will be launched, which in addition to financial support from the Woodside Foundation, has received a $23,600 grant from the Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation Inc., as well as a $3,000 contribution from OneMain Financial.
FSWI will offer the Certificate Program through UMSSW’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Office. It will run as seven full-day sessions from April to December 2018 and will meet an identified need for greater knowledge and skills in financial capability, stability and empowerment on the part of social workers who practice in nonprofit and other social service agencies, as well as in schools, medical settings and justice and court settings.
More information about the FSW Certificate Program is available online at www.ssw.umaryland.edu/fsw/education.

Howard County Elementary Schools Celebrate Health and Wellness
In recognition of National Walk & Bike to School Day, several Howard County Public School System elementary schools encouraged students to safely walk and bike to school on Oct. 4 as a way to incorporate exercise at the beginning and end of each day. Shown is a student and his mother from Centennial Lane Elementary School.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership Establishes Oyster Gardening Programs With HCPSS
The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) has partnered with Dunloggin and Mount View middle schools to educate students about shellfish ecological restoration and its importance to the local environment. A partnership signing was held on Sept. 7 including Dunloggin Middle School Principal Jeff Fink and science teacher Dan Blue; Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Chief Academic Officer Bill Barnes; Oyster Recovery Partnership Education Program Director Bryan Gomes; Mount View Middle School Principal Allen Cosentino; and Mount View Middle Gifted & Talented teacher Susan Mako.

 

 

 

Eighth Grade Service Learning Project Fosters Diversity and Inclusion Goals
As of the beginning of this school year, all eighth-graders in Howard County public schools are taking part in a new Student Service Learning (SSL) project to expand awareness and appreciation of under-recognized participants in U.S. history and emphasize the importance of representation in a republic or democracy.
The project, titled, “A Representative Democracy?” combines curriculum units in Social Studies and English classes. During the Grade 8 Social Studies unit on the Constitutional Convention, each student will conduct a research project on the “unheard” perspectives and circumstances of African-Americans, Native Americans and other minorities during the colonial, early revolutionary and founding periods of the United States.
In English class, students will work in teams to develop their research into a presentation on how minorities might have wished to have their rights acknowledged and represented at that time, choosing from formats such as speech, essay, PowerPoint presentation, video or musical composition.
Teachers will identify the most exemplary projects to support preparation for the countywide Grade 5 Simulated Congressional Hearings (SCH). Fifth-grade teachers will then have access to the presentations to assist students in their research for SCH, where students are asked to respond to the question, “How would the Constitution be different if women and minorities had been present at the Constitutional Convention?”
The new Grade 8 SSL project was initiated following a recommendation from the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion to infuse additional instruction on the consideration of diverse viewpoints into the curriculum and to ensure that all students are exposed to the instruction. SSL supports the Howard County School System’s new, equity-based Strategic Call to Action, Learning and Leading with Equity — The Fierce Urgency of Now. The project fulfills all of the required elements for state-mandated SSL.
Maryland law mandates 75 hours of SSL as a requirement for graduation. HCPSS embeds SSL in the middle school curriculum. The eighth grade diversity SSL project will fulfill approximately 25 hours of the requirement, with the remaining hours completed in Grades 6 and 7.

 

In Brief

From left: Glenwood Middle School Principal Robert Motley, Debra O’Byrne, MASSP Executive Director Scott Pfeifer and HCPSS Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano

Glenwood Middle School Assistant Principal Wins State Award
Glenwood Middle School Assistant Principal Debra O’Byrne has been named the 2018 Maryland Assistant Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano and MASSP Executive Director Scott Pfeifer surprised O’Byrne with the announcement at her school on Thursday, Oct. 5.
O’Byrne was formally recognized on Oct. 17 during MASSP’s Assistant Principals Conference and becomes Maryland’s nominee for the national award, which will be announced in spring 2018.
Her nomination portrays a student-centered educator who helps students feel valued and encourages both students and teachers to take leadership roles. She has been a champion for the use of restorative practices, which helps students learn constructive ways to resolve conflicts and overcome challenges.
O’Byrne has been an educator with the HPCSS for 25 years, including previous roles as fifth grade teacher, middle school science teacher, and assistant principal at Mount View and Ellicott Mills middle schools. She has served as assistant principal at Glenwood Middle School since 2010.

Pictured from left: Lynn Hrdlick-Kerner, BGE Corporate Relations; Brittany Jones, BGE external affairs manager; and Bonnie Johansen, BGE manager, projects; along with ninth grade student Destiny using the BGE-sponsored distance learning robot.

BGE Robot Sponsorship Boosts AACPS Offerings for Students
Students who can’t attend class due to illness or injury can still keep up on material, but they often lose the feel of the classroom and contact with their classmates as they do so.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ (AACPS) efforts to bridge that divide recently got a boost with the sponsorship of a robot by BGE that will allow students to attend class virtually while they recover. The robot, operated from a home computer, uses video conferencing technology to allow a student to travel through the hallways, sit at the lunch table with friends, participate in group assignments and ask questions of teachers in real time.
BGE’s sponsorship, facilitated through AACPS’s 21st Century Education Foundation, brings to 13 the total number of robots available to students across the school system. Four of those have been purchased through donations like the one being made by BGE.
“At BGE, one of our primary educational focus areas is innovative technology education, and this distance learning robot affords remote students the opportunity to remain connected to their classmates,” said Valencia McClure, vice president of governmental and external affairs and corporate relations for BGE.
The robot is developed by Double Robotics, which teams with AACPS’s Office of Instructional Technology to train parents, students, teachers and administrators to use the devices.

Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business Names Executives in Residence
Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management named five executives in residence this year. Executives in residence are business practitioners who bring real-world industry knowledge to the classroom. They represent the fields of finance, economics, information systems, law, management and marketing.
“Our executives in residence have a broad range of perspectives and experiences to enrich the academic experience, expand career opportunities and strengthen professional networks for Loyola’s undergraduate and graduate students,” said Kathleen A. Getz, Ph.D., dean of the Sellinger School. “Executives in residence also help strengthen Loyola’s partnerships in the business community.”
Sellinger’s executives in residence starting this year are as follows.
• D. Scott Emge specializes in finance. He was chief financial officer and vice president for a Fortune 200 food distributor, chief financial officer for a construction company and managing director for a consulting firm and investment firm.
• Sean Keehan specializes in economics and has taught microeconomics, macroeconomics and health economics at Loyola since 2005. He works as an economist at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and previously served the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
• Dave Luvison specializes in management and international business. He has 20 years of experience managing alliances, building alliance programs and consulting. Luvison is a Fulbright specialist and holds a certified strategic alliance professional designation.
• Adam Peake specializes in marketing and brings 25 years of experience working with well-known consumer brands. He was executive vice president of sport category management for Under Armour and previously served in other leadership positions with the company.
• Kimberly L. Wagner specializes in information systems, law and operations. She has 30 years of experience growing her family’s small business from $2 million to $25 million in revenue and negotiating its sale to a multinational public company where she served as executive vice president.

UMD School of Social Work’s Financial Social Work Initiative Celebrates 10 Years
The University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Financial Social Work Initiative (FSWI) during the 2017–2018 academic year with activities that honor its achievements over the past 10 years as well as a new certification program.
In celebration of this milestone, the FSWI received a leadership grant of $100,000 from The Woodside Foundation, whose trustee, UMSSW alumna Meg Woodside, MBA, MSW, is a co-founder of the FSWI. The Woodside Foundation is a private family foundation focusing on program development, outreach and advocacy in the areas of family financial security and asset-building in Maryland.
“Social workers have been on the front lines of stabilizing vulnerable families and communities for decades,” said Woodside. “Today’s challenges necessitate integrating new tools, skills and evidence-based practices to strengthen the profession’s ability to address financial stressors and economic disparities.”
The grant will underwrite several planned educational and community events during the anniversary year. In the spring of 2018, a new Financial Social Work (FSW) Certificate Program will be launched, which in addition to financial support from the Woodside Foundation, has received a $23,600 grant from the Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation Inc., as well as a $3,000 contribution from OneMain Financial.
FSWI will offer the Certificate Program through UMSSW’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Office. It will run as seven full-day sessions from April to December 2018 and will meet an identified need for greater knowledge and skills in financial capability, stability and empowerment on the part of social workers who practice in nonprofit and other social service agencies, as well as in schools, medical settings and justice and court settings.
More information about the FSW Certificate Program is available online at www.ssw.umaryland.edu/fsw/education.

Howard County Elementary Schools Celebrate Health and Wellness
In recognition of National Walk & Bike to School Day, several Howard County Public School System elementary schools encouraged students to safely walk and bike to school on Oct. 4 as a way to incorporate exercise at the beginning and end of each day. Shown is a student and his mother from Centennial Lane Elementary School.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership Establishes Oyster Gardening Programs With HCPSS
The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) has partnered with Dunloggin and Mount View middle schools to educate students about shellfish ecological restoration and its importance to the local environment. A partnership signing was held on Sept. 7 including Dunloggin Middle School Principal Jeff Fink and science teacher Dan Blue; Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Chief Academic Officer Bill Barnes; Oyster Recovery Partnership Education Program Director Bryan Gomes; Mount View Middle School Principal Allen Cosentino; and Mount View Middle Gifted & Talented teacher Susan Mako.

Lack of Adult Education Services Costs Maryland Billions

 

Half a million. This is the U.S. Census estimated number of adults in Maryland who have less than a high school education. Many of these people are in their prime working years, with a significant number between the ages of 18–24. This is noteworthy because of the tremendous impact that education has on the future of the state’s economic stability.
According to the Maryland Association for Adult, Community and Continuing Education (MAACCE), on average, each high school dropout costs the U.S. economy about $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity over a lifetime, compared with a high school graduate. Assuming a person works from age 18 to age 65, this amounts to a loss of $7,222 per year. With 500,000 Maryland adults lacking a high school diploma, this potentially costs the state $3.6 billion each year.
In Maryland, the need for adult education services is statewide, and not just in urban or rural areas. According to the U.S. Census, while Howard County has a high school graduation rate of 95.2%, there are 5,320 adults in the county over the age of 18 lacking a high school diploma. Additionally, 4,544 adults over age 25 have less than a ninth grade education.
In Anne Arundel County, the high school graduation rate is 91.6%. However, 22,458 adults lack a high school diploma, with 9,389 adults over age 25 having less than a ninth grade education. Programs in both counties currently are able to serve about 10% of the adults needing adult education services.

Worker Demand
By 2018, 63% of all U.S. jobs will require education beyond high school. Yet, nearly half of the U.S. workforce has only a high school education or less, and/or low English proficiency. By 2020, the American Action Forum projects that the United States also will be short an estimated 7.5 million private sector workers across all skill levels.
Additionally, the U.S. needs more middle-skill workers for hard-to-fill positions that require some training beyond high school, but less than a four-year college degree. According to the National Skills Coalition, 48% of the job openings in 2015 were for middle-skill jobs, but only 38% of the workers were trained for this level.
The demand for adults who can fill these types of jobs in Maryland also will remain strong. Through 2024, 42% of job openings will be for middle-skill positions. Educating motivated students with the skills that companies need provides qualified candidates for these positions.
Adult education brings businesses options by preparing existing workers with families and competing life responsibilities with the skills that companies need through flexible classrooms and curriculum.

Setting an Example
One example of a Maryland adult taking the necessary steps to prepare for a middle-skill career is Amanda Kline. At Harford Community College, she took free online classes to prepare for the GED (high school equivalency) test, which became a more rigorous computerized exam in 2014. With the support of Harford Community College teachers and staff, she passed her GED test and then completed her CMAA certification to become a certified medical administrative assistant.
As a single parent, Kline is excited about entering a career where she will be able to support herself and her young daughter. Her full story can be found at http://educateandelevate.org/adult-learner-success/#mamnda.

Adult Education
MAACCE represents more than 400 adult education professionals across Maryland. “One of our commitments is making Marylanders more aware of the need to support our state’s adult education programs,” said Douglas Weimer, MAACCE president. “This is a major reason we sponsor the annual Adult Education and Family Literacy Week in late September. This year, we were delighted that First Lady Yumi Hogan presented us with Gov. [Larry] Hogan’s Proclamation recognizing Sept. 24–30, 2017, as Maryland’s Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.”
According to Weimer, it is important for Maryland businesses to understand the role they play in influencing the success of adult education endeavors in the state. Business leaders can help develop a sustainable and skilled workforce by encouraging and supporting adult education by doing the following.
• Learn more about this issue by visiting www.EducateandElevate.org/Maryland, which has fact sheets for each Maryland county, or MAACCE’s site at www.MAACCEmd.org for more information.
• Explore being a sponsor for a workplace education program and receiving federal or state tax credits at www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/mbw.shtml. (An added benefit is increased employee retention.)
• Encourage congressional representatives and state representatives to support investing in Maryland adult education. Combined state and federal funding provides about $755 per adult student in Maryland. In contrast, Maryland spends about $14,000 per public school student from kindergarten to grade 12.
• Get to know local programs and support them with volunteer time or monetary support. The National Literacy Directory, www.nationalliteracydirectory.org, has a searchable database to find local programs.
Adult education programs in Maryland benefit local communities and businesses. Investing in Maryland adult education strengthens businesses with a more equipped workforce and a strong economy.

Cynthia Macleay Campbell, Ed.D., is principal consultant/owner of Gold Apple Services LLC and advocacy chair for the Maryland Association for Adult, Community and Continuing Education.

Number of Single Mothers in College Doubled Over a Decade

The number of single mothers in college more than doubled in 12 school years between 1999 and 2012, to reach nearly 2.1 million students — or 11% of all undergraduates — according to a new briefing paper from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
Women of color in college are especially likely to be single parents. Nearly two in five African-American women (37%) and more than one-quarter of American Indian/Alaska Native women (27%) are raising a child on their own while in college, more than twice the rate of Caucasian women (14%). Nearly one in five of Hispanic and multiracial women students (19% and 17%, respectively) are single mothers, while Asian/Pacific Islander women are least likely to be raising children in college (7%).
“Making colleges more accessible to single mothers is critical to achieving equity in educational outcomes on the basis of race, ethnicity and gender,” said IWPR Vice President and Executive Director Barbara Gault, Ph.D. Single mothers face financial challenges to attaining a degree.
• Nine in 10 single mothers in college have low incomes, with nearly two-thirds (63%) living at or below the federal poverty level.
• Single mothers of color have an average of nearly $600 more in unmet need — the amount a student must pay out-of-pocket to cover college expenses after family contributions, grants and need-based aid are taken into account — than their white counterparts.
• On average, single mothers who earn a bachelor’s degree have nearly $30,000 in student debt one year after graduation — $4,800 more than women without children.
Intense time demands also create challenges to completing school.
• Two in five mothers at community colleges say that they are likely or very likely to drop out of school due to caregiving obligations.
• More than half (54%) of single mothers work at least 20 hours per week in addition to going to school and caring for children. For students with dependent children, any amount of paid work is associated with declines in degree attainment, while non-parents can work a nominal amount (less than 15 hours per week) without diminished college success.
• Single mothers are half as likely as women students without children to graduate: Just one out of four single mothers who entered college in 2003 earned a degree or certificate by 2009, compared with 57% of women students who were not parenting.
“Balancing child care, coursework and paid work can make college an impossible juggling act for single mothers. These women are giving all that they can to finish college and make a better life for their families. We can do so much more to make it easier for many of them to succeed,” said Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, senior research associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and co-author of the paper.
Postsecondary education is associated with better health, reduced poverty and improved outcomes for children of college-educated parents. Given the socioeconomic challenges faced by single mothers in and outside of the college context, increasing their educational attainment is critical to strengthening family well-being and economic security. Greater funding for campus child care through new or existing programs, or new sources of targeted financial support for single mothers, would help increase their degree attainment rates.
“A college degree can transform a single mother’s life and set her family up for success. We have a shared responsibility to serve this growing community and ensure the upward mobility of generations to come,” Reichlin Cruse said.
Read the new briefing paper, “Single Mothers in College: Growing Enrollment, Financial Challenges, and the Benefits of Attainment,” at IWPR.org.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances and experiences.

Revere Bank Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

 

When Drew Flott was executive vice president and CFO of Mercantile Potomac Bank, he was four years older than his friend, bank CEO Ken Cook, and, he said, “I wanted to run my own show.”
Cook was firmly entrenched at Mercantile Potomac, and he wasn’t going anywhere. “I investigated a couple of opportunities, and one was a startup bank in Bethlehem, Pa.,” said Flott. “I had several interviews, and I made it down to the final decision, where it was between myself and a gentlemen that lived in the Lehigh Valley area. They ended up choosing the other guy.”
Luckily for Flott, in their effort to raise the capital to start that bank, the organizers raised substantially more than they needed. They decided to form a private equity firm for startup banks, proceeded to raise $50 million, and started looking at promising locations across the country in which to start banks. The Baltimore-Washington region was one of those areas.
The founder of the private equity firm called Flott, who well remembers the conversation: “He said, ‘Hey, Drew, could we convince you to start a bank close to your current market between Washington and Baltimore?’”
The private equity firm invested $8 million in the startup bank, which became Revere Bank. “We raised another $12 million, and we opened our doors,” said Flott, who is now co-president and CEO of Revere.

Five (Not So Simple) Steps
In the early days of Revere Bank, Flott recalls more than one person asking: “How the heck do you open a bank?”
Flott had been involved with a number of de novo banks before Revere, so he had some understanding of the steps involved. For non-bankers, Flott likes to say there are five steps to starting a bank. But each step, he adds, is composed of many sub-steps.
“I don’t want anyone to think it’s simple to start a bank,” he said, “but if we way over-simplify it, there are five requirements you have to accomplish to start a bank in Maryland.”
First, you have to have at least five residents of the state of Maryland who are going to invest in your bank and have the financial wherewithal to do so. Second, Flott said, you have to have a qualified CEO: “And fortunately the state agreed that I was,” he said.
Third, you have to have a location. “This is not as easy as you might think,” he said. “You need a lease and a location but you don’t have a bank yet. So you have to convince a landlord to be on board.” (In the case of Revere Bank, the landlord ended up being an investor and a member of the board.)
Fourth, you have to have capital of at least $12 million. Finally, you have to have FDIC insurance. “Pretty simple,” Flott said, “just not easy.”

No Plateau
Flott left Mercantile in September 2006 to start Revere and, from the moment he left, he focused on building a good team. “A fortunate thing happened,” he recalled. “I started Revere on Sept. 6, and on Oct. 9, PNC acquired Mercantile. A lot of the Mercantile folks had jobs that were going to be eliminated. It gave me an opportunity to have access to some really great people.”
Many de novo banks rise to a certain level and plateau. “In the process, they bring on folks that get them to a certain level,” said Flott. “They might be good technicians that aren’t great managers or good managers but not great leaders.”
At Mercantile, he recalled, when he arrived, the bank had assets of $187 million, and by the time he left, the bank was at $3.2 billion. “I was able to cherry pick the folks who were with me from the $187 million level forward — the associates that had scalability. That has been a very large part of our success, that ability to hire people like that who would grow with us from day one.”
Revere didn’t hit a plateau. “We had people that could first be technicians, then step up to supervision, then move on to leadership,” Flott said. In the process, Revere built superior credit quality, grew in sales, controlled its expenses, built scalable processes and focused on earnings per share.

The Numbers on the Wall
Revere began 10 years ago with what Flott described as “an intentional culture.”
“What I learned is that if you just let your culture evolve, it might evolve into something you don’t want.”
He defined Revere’s culture of more than 200 employees with three words: energy, candor and execution.
Also, “we are a growth and sales organization,” he said. “If you’re going to work here, you’re going to be in sales or you’re going to support sales.”
The day an employee starts at Revere, s/he is assigned an employee number, and that number is the bank’s asset size on the day the person started. “My employee number is zero,” said Flott. “Now we have people whose number is 2,070 — for $2 billion, 70 million.”
Cook and Flott are back together again in a rare partnership as co-presidents and CEOs of Revere Bank.
After 10 years, Revere Bank is celebrating $2 billion in assets, a market that stretches from Washington to Baltimore, thousands of customers and more than 200 jobs created.
If, at the beginning, Flott often was asked how one starts a bank, he still is often asked: Why the name “Revere”? Originally, he said, the founders wanted to choose the name “Affinity Bank.”
But a bank in California had trademarked the name. Flott had a couple of rules about a name: It could not be geographically limiting, and it had to reflect what the bank was about.
“I like the concept of Revere for a bank even with its potential New England feel to it,” said Flott. “We believe in revering our customers, it’s patriotic, and even Revere silver is high quality.”

Lorien Health Services Celebrates 40 Years of Caring

“There are no old people in Columbia,” they said. “Your plan,” they added, “is crazy.”
The public reaction to Nicholas B. Mangione’s decision to build a nursing home in the Howard County planned community 40 years ago made sense.
At the time, Columbia was in its infancy, just 10 years old. There was something new everywhere one looked: the villages, the homes, the families, even the idea of the place, conceived by the visionary James W. (Jim) Rouse. And, so, the notion that there would be a sufficient number of older people in the area to fill and sustain a nursing home struck many as inconceivable.
The skepticism proved misplaced.
Mangione’s first site was an instant success, thanks in part to a little luck, and now the company he launched in 1977 operates 10 nursing home/assisted living facility communities throughout Maryland and employs more than 2,000 people.

‘Take Care of Them’
The success story of Ellicott City-based Lorien Health Services is somewhat unlikely, and not just because of the company’s “risky” beginnings. The improbability stems from leadership’s laser focus on people rather than profits, on delivering innovative, high-quality services and amenities at a time when financial considerations have become paramount in the health care industry.
The reason?
“They weren’t patients to him. They were somebody’s mom, somebody’s dad,” Lou Grimmel, Sr., Lorien’s current chief executive, said of Mangione. “That is somebody’s most prized passion. You better take care of them,” he added, summarizing the founder’s philosophy.
Mangione passed away in 2008, but his guiding principle — loved ones before bottom lines — endures.
The company’s chief operating officer, Wayne Brannock, confessed that he and his Lorien colleagues consistently break their own budgets, exceeding projections to enhance and improve facilities. “It is the right thing to do,” he explained.
As a result of such investments, Brannock said, “It is not uncommon to have people walk into one of our nursing homes and turn around and walk out. They think they are in a hotel.”

About That Lucky Break
Lorien owes its successful start four decades ago not to a hotel-like setting, but rather to a hospital. Needing more beds and the space to accommodate them, Howard County General Hospital’s Chief Executive Ted Hussey turned to Mangione for help, ultimately leasing the top floor of the new nursing home, installing some 60 beds, and using it as a kind of extension facility. Lorien provided all of the services except for nursing. It was a lucrative contract.
“It was a stroke of luck that the hospital saw an opportunity. [The CEO] came knocking on our door,” Grimmel said.
From there, Mangione went on to construct a retirement community in Columbia. Like the first facility, he built the second at the request of his friend, David Harans, who became part-owner for his expertise in nursing homes and would operate them. Likewise the third and fourth sites. Mangione ultimately took total control.
Today, Lorien runs communities not only in Columbia, but also in Elkridge and Ellicott City, as well as in the counties of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford.

A Family Affair
Despite the considerable expansion, Lorien remains a family affair. Mangione hired Grimmel, his nephew, even before establishing the nursing home company.
During one of his regular visits with his mother, Mangione asked Grimmel what he was doing professionally. The newly minted Salisbury State University graduate reported he was selling cars. His uncle responded by saying he didn’t see much of future in that line of work for the young man, and offered him a job as a dump truck driver at his construction site for Fallston General Hospital in Harford County.
When his first nursing home opened, Mangione arranged a job there for Grimmel so he could learn the business.
“He made me do every job there was to do in a nursing home,” Grimmel said, recalling 70-hour work weeks without complaint. Since those early days, Grimmel has been joined in the business by his four children and four of Nick Mangione’s 37 grandchildren.
“You can tell I love what I do,” he said. “They love what they do. I don’t think you can be good at something you don’t like.”

Value Added
There’s more than love apparent at Lorien’s homes. In addition to a wide and growing variety of medical services, such as a telemedicine program to treat patients in place, there are also many features and activities on view that one doesn’t naturally associate with nursing facilities. There is a Starbucks coffee shop in every one. There are cafes, ice cream parlors, libraries and movie theaters, too. And at the Taneytown location, there is a restaurant called Flick’s Pub, featuring live music on weekends, karaoke and craft beer specialties. The place actually attracts patrons who live elsewhere.
“Imagine that a nursing home is the talk of the town,” said Jim Hummer, the company’s vice president of home and community-based services. “It is the coolest nursing home on the planet.”
Then there is the boxing. Lorien is partnering with the Maryland Association for Parkinson’s Support (MAPS) to offer a program called Rock Steady Boxing. The dual objective for patients with Parkinson’s is empowerment and physical fitness that is specifically tailored for their needs.
“They love it. Day one, it was amazing,” said Grimmel. More space is needed already to meet demand for the program.

Korean Seniors
Also uncommon is Lorien’s long-term care unit for Korean seniors. In fact, it is believed to be the only such offering in the state. Featuring Korean food, worship, language and games, the program started four years ago with five beds. Within three months, it tripled in size. Today, the program is available at two locations, one in Columbia, the other in Baltimore County.
The company’s liaison in the initiative, Dr. Sue Song, said she selected Lorien rather than a competing nursing home for a number of reasons. To begin with, she said, it is a supportive and stable long-term care company, while so many other outfits are regularly bought and sold.
What’s more, “The Mangione family and Lou [Grimmel] strongly believe a nursing home does not have to be separated from the community. At Lorien, I didn’t feel there was a wall. This family was part of the community.”
Forty years later, Lorien remains a part of a community that, come to find out, has older people after all.

The Business Monthly – 25 Years in the News

By Joan Waclawski, Special Sections Editor

This year marks 25 years that The Business Monthly has been in the news business covering Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Becky Mangus talks about those years, in particular her last 15 as co-owner and publisher, and speculates on the future.

What first motivated you and your business partner Cathy Yost to buy the paper 15 years ago?
The original owner, Carole Pickett [now Hughes], was looking to retire or at least relinquish some of the day-to-day responsibilities. She asked me to be associate publisher. Even though I had had a marketing and graphic design firm for 16 years, I had always wanted to be a publisher. This seemed like the right opportunity. Cathy, who already was working with Carole as general manager, and I spoke and we decided to make an offer to buy the paper. A couple of months later, we owned a newspaper.
You would think two women past mid-life crisis would have known better, but we jumped right in and have been jumping ever since. It has been a great experience for both of us, however, and we really love the business community in this area.

How have the paper and the news climate changed over the past 25 years?
As with all types of businesses, things have changed dramatically. Certainly technology has had a major impact on the industry, but also the “great recession” has affected people’s marketing perspective.
People still want the news, but now there are a multitude of mediums from which to get it. So we have to try to be everywhere, so people can get their news the way they most prefer.
Of course, we can’t provide the news without selling ads. That is probably a larger challenge than keeping up with the various mediums. Publications still rely on advertising sales to stay in existence, for the most part. Over the past several years, larger newspapers have tried different approaches, including charging for online subscriptions. But so far, the revenue for subscriptions and online advertising cannot sustain a newspaper or magazine.
As a marketing professional, I still believe in diversified marketing unless you have a very specific target audience. So I believe that companies will continue to advertise with us, which allows us to exist another day. And, perhaps most importantly, it allows the Howard and Anne Arundel business community to continue to get important local news that really is hard to find anywhere else.
And, if you don’t mind, I want to say that my editorial team is probably the finest in the business, large or small. They are extremely professional and talented and each has many years of journalism experience. This community, and The Business Monthly, is fortunate to benefit from their abilities.

Your newspaper has a rather unique business model: Some of the articles actually are contributed, at no charge, by members of the business community. How do you encourage people to contribute articles? And doesn’t that open the paper up to a certain amount of editorializing by those contributors?
With a smaller newspaper, we actually get the best of both worlds. We have professionals, as mentioned above, that cover the hard news in the two local jurisdictions. But we also are able to have experts in their respective fields contribute articles as well — almost a magazine concept.
We are extremely careful that each contributed article is educational or informational and make it clear that self-promotion or opinions are not allowed. We either don’t publish the article or we edit out that content. We retain full editing rights on all submissions.
This gives us the opportunity to bring to the business community more business-related articles by upholding strict standards. As a matter of fact, one time, one of our largest advertisers submitted an article that I rejected. Cathy, who handles advertising sales, just about throttled me. But there were a couple of factual errors, and once we got those worked out, the article was accepted.
We also welcome and rely on press releases or even just a few paragraphs to let us know about news within a company or organization. Each month we print pages of those short news pieces that include promotions, new hires, awards, upcoming events, etc. And, we are told, those pages are well-read so people can keep track of what is happening in the local area. I had one person tell me that written into her job description was reading The Business Monthly and disseminating the information throughout the company.

How’s readership, considering that newspapers in general are on the decline?
According to surveys and word on the street, we are extremely well-read. After all, not only do we provide a quality publication, she said humbly, but there aren’t a lot of other places to find the information we make available.
In addition, the statistics that newspapers are on the decline refer to the larger, mainstream publications where people can get the same information anywhere, including on their phone. Niche newspapers and publications actually are doing well because you can’t find the same information everywhere. So there is an actual need for us. Unfortunately, when people hear that newspapers are on the decline, that nobody reads newspapers, only social media, they believe it. Statistics are saying otherwise.
But, we are also making sure we are available to all readers — in newsprint, online on our website, and we even have an app where people can read the paper via their phones.

Where do you see The Business Monthly headed over the next five years?
We will continue to be relevant and hope to stay up with the readership curve, whatever that might be. The biggest struggle, as I mentioned, is being sure we have enough revenue to keep the news coming. As such, we will continue to find topics and opportunities that are of interest to the business community. Last year we had a 12-part series on Columbia at 50 and sold sponsorships. Then we published a magazine celebrating Columbia’s birthday. We will continue to stay open to opportunities that make sense so that our main purpose, providing local news, will continue to be possible well past Cathy’s and my ownership.
Our goal is for The Business Monthly to continue to be a mainstay in the community.

How Will You Use Your Milestone?

By Angie Barnett

Is your company nearing an important anniversary or achievement? Whether it’s a 10th year in business, the 10,000th customer served or other measurement that signals your organization’s stability, longevity or success, you can leverage it to share your story.
You’ll need to start your celebration with a plan. Here’s how you can get set up.
• Define your audience(s). You’ll want to consider customers, prospects, employees, volunteers and any other stakeholders in your business.
• Determine your campaign objectives. This year has been the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) 100th anniversary in Maryland. Not only was a lot of birthday cake served, the organization took the opportunity to tell stories to increase engagement through email and social media, both of which are measureable. At the same time, stories were used to enhance visibility for BBB’s sponsors and accredited businesses and to create excitement leading up to its Centennial Celebration, which was held this fall.
Your business might use its milestone as a way to thank the clients and employees who helped you achieve it or even roll out a new product, service or line of business.
• Brand it. It might be a special logo, tagline, hashtag or all of the above. But your milestone needs its own visual signature.
• Set a budget. Cake aside, you’ll need to decide how much to invest. For an anniversary, you’ll likely launch, and/or end, your campaign with a party. In order to allocate the needed resources, you have to determine who will be involved to turn the plan into action, and how and where you’ll communicate your story.
Your story should be personal. It should be used to deepen a connection with your desired audience. What got you started? Where did you start and how far have you come? What makes your organization special? Consider sharing memories that convey your core values.
When celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2014, Sparks-based McCormick & Co. used the hashtag #flavorstory. Its goal was to collect 1.25 million “flavor stories” from employees, chefs and consumers around the world. For every story, which ranged from letters to recipes and videos, the company donated $1 to the United Way.
McCormick’s campaign to celebrate its milestone using the role flavor plays in life was the perfect recipe for success. By November, its year-long initiative resulted in $1.25 million in donations to feed the hungry.
So, as you approach the next benchmark in the lifecycle of your organization, think of it as an opportunity to enlist your promoters, internally and externally, to make it memorable.

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

New Study Underscores a Need for Training

On the heels of yet another and, perhaps, the largest data breach, a new survey found small businesses are having difficulty calculating the cost versus risk of strengthening protection of their vital information.
The new study by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, “The State of Small Business Cybersecurity in North America,
concludes that while most small businesses are aware of specific threats, the majority are at odds about how to prevent becoming a victim.
While many businesses are improving their data protection, more emphasis is needed in the area of employee training. The online survey included 1,100 businesses in North America, The State of Small Business Cybersecurity in North America finds 81% of small businesses use basic data protection tools such as antivirus software, and 75% protect their systems with firewalls.
The downside is that the report reveals less than half of respondents concentrate on employee education. Unfortunately, cyberattacks often target employees as the means to gain access into an organization’s network.
If prevention of a cyberattack isn’t reason enough to expand protection and education, maybe statistics are: Half of the study’s respondents said they could not remain profitable for more than one month if essential data was stolen.
Every business needs to train employees about data security protocols, because firewall and antivirus protection are not sufficient if your employees don’t know how to detect and steer clear of suspicious online sites and phishing. Check with your information technology provider to see if it is able to help with training. Consider testing employees by conducting pseudo phishing exercises.
Business owners can learn more through “5 Steps to Better Business Security” at www.bbb.org/cybersecurity.

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

Forgotten, Almost Gone

Another era will pass come Dec. 15 with the demise of AOL Instant Messenger. Started in 1997 as a significant innovation and exploration of the possibilities of the Internet, it has certainly outlived its usefulness in the age of texting and Twitter. Did you even know it still existed?

Oath, which is the appropriately named sub-company of Verizon that manages AOL and the parts of Yahoo that Verizon bought, has posted a page on how to preserve your data, although “buddy lists” (how quaint) can’t be saved. The major question is probably how much of that era in your life you wish to keep.

AOL has become increasingly pointless in an era of more content-rich and less advertising-ridden websites available. Verizon’s plans to pump a little life into it by forcing its Verizon.com email subscribers to the crappier AOL version will probably not do any good.

Even areas of the country that don’t have cable or FiOS probably have satellite service available, so the “I’ll start a download before I go to bed and maybe it’ll be done by morning” days of dial-up are toast. Good riddance.

 

Showin’ the Money
Amazon has deliberately created a bidding war with its announcement seeking a second headquarters (HQ2) for its operations, which is exactly what it wanted. Even Howard County, which — as much as I love living here — does not come close to meeting the criteria of adequate mass transit for 50,000 new employees, will be in the game. Cities, states and regions have started the escalation of giveaways to try and lure all of those jobs and all of that money.

In Maryland, the governor is supporting Port Covington in Baltimore, much to other areas’ chagrin. Disputes have broken out in Virginia between sites in the Washington, D.C., metro area, with Tysons Corner, Va., and the Center for Innovation Technology (CIT) campus, near Dulles International Airport, being rivals. Richmond, Virginia Beach and Norfolk also want in.

The CIT site is reported to be worth about $30 million, and the neighboring Fairfax and Loudoun counties stand ready to add perks. D.C. is touting its Metro and city vibe, offering four different sites.

A Little Disgusting
Sure, the plum of HQ2 expanding to 8 million square feet of office and warehouse space, not to mention all those jobs, makes anyone with a pulse salivate. But the now well-defined tactic of dangling such humungous projects, which has been practiced by large companies such as Northrop Grumman in its HQ deliberations last year, is corrosive in many ways. Cities will cut deals reducing or eliminating property taxes, which undercuts the entire idea of having big campuses in your town. And local taxpayers end up building access roads and/or Metro stations.

Look at Coca-Cola Boulevard, in Hanover off Route 100, for instance. Do you see any Coke buildings there? Some industrial buildings have gone up, but the push to create a Coke plant fizzled, leaving only the name as a mocking reminder.

It’s probably too late to stop the practice of localities prostituting themselves like this, but the idea of making businesses buy their own land, pay their taxes and build their own amenities is the true free enterprise system. Amazon can afford it.

Facebook Saves Face
Or at least tries to. In the ever-unfolding saga of Facebook fake accounts and targeted advertising involved in the Russian disinformation campaign in the 2016 election, Facebook now has been accused of removing searchable information on suspect posts. It already has acknowledged that more than 10 million people read Russian-purchased ads.

When a researcher at Columbia University did a bit of sleuthing using Facebook’s own tools for advertising analysis, he came to the conclusion that it was at least double that, perhaps many times more, when you counted re-posts of fake info from other users besides the original poster.

So Facebook “took down” thousands of fake ads and posts that had allowed the research, or at least hid access to their existence.
Facebook has acknowledged that there were at least 470 fake accounts and pages. The researcher looked at just six of them with the most provocative names, and found that there were more than 19.1 million shares, likes and reposts. Lord knows how many there would be if all of them were searched.

Facebook will face Congressional committee hearings in the coming months about the use of these accounts and ads, with some congressmen wanting the truth and others just wondering how these techniques will be used against them in future elections. We can probably count on them not knowing enough to challenge the carefully-worded answers they will receive from carefully-coached representatives of Twitter, Google and Facebook.

If these companies engage in a scrubbing operation to keep the scope of Russian activities quiet, it surely will come around to bite them in the end. We can at least hope so.

There are too many employees who will leak this information to keep the lid on forever. And as usual, being forced to acknowledge things afterwards always makes you look deceitful and foolish for trying.
But try they will.

 

Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing and does PC troubleshooting, Network setups and data retrieval, when not fighting for truth, justice and the American way. He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at cliff@feldwick.com. Older columns are available at http://feldwick.com.

Central Maryland Chmaber

Build New Relationships
Do you have an hour to spend on building strategic relationships that could lead to new business and referrals, and make a positive impact on the community? Central Maryland Chamber (CMC) members report that one of the best ways to get engaged and build strong relationships is by joining a committee.
The CMC has several committees that members can choose from. They include ambassadors, economic development, legislative, military affairs, small business and Women Mean Business committees. To learn more or to attend an upcoming meeting, call 410-672-3422.

Business Connections Network
On Nov. 1, the CMC launched the Business Connections Network, a premier networking group focused on connecting business professionals, sharing leads and building strategic relationships throughout Central Maryland. The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month, 8–9:30 a.m. This is a new (and free) benefit for members.
Non-members are welcome to attend one meeting as a guest, but must join the CMC to continue with the group. There is an exclusivity rule of one member per business category. To learn more, contact Nancy LaJoice at nancy@centralmarylandchamber.org or 410-672-3422, ext. 4.

Mark Your Calendar
Networking Mixer
Tuesday, Nov. 14 ; 5–7 p.m.
Courtyard by Marriott Fort Meade/BWI Business District
2700 Hercules Road
Annapolis Junction
This is an excellent networking opportunity to make new connections and strengthen existing ties, all while checking out the newly renovated Courtyard Marriott. The event is free for members, $10 for non-members.

Membership 101
Thursday Nov 16; 9–10:30 a.m.
Laurel Executive Center 312 Marshall Avenue, 1st Floor
Laurel
Learn secrets that help make networking comfortable and easy. Meet new people in a friendly environment. Learn how the benefits of membership can help you promote and grow your business. This event is ideal for anyone thinking about joining the chamber, new members and members wanting fresh ideas on how to engage with the business community. Sponsored by Revere Bank. Free.

Holiday Mixer
Wednesday, Dec. 6
The Great Room
Savage Mill
Kick off the holiday season with friends and associates while enjoying food and making great connections. Bring your whole team as a reward for a year well done. Promote your business by donating to the silent auction. A portion of the proceeds benefit a nonprofit that provides scholarships to local high school students. Visit www.CentralMarylandChamber.org for more information and to RSVP.

HCCC Signature Event a Big Success

The Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s (HCCC) Signature Event 2017, “A Night of Illusion,” is in the books. And it was a great night.

Damon Foreman’s beautiful music filled the Grand Ballroom at Turf Valley Resort, in Ellicott City, as hundreds of HCCC members and guests arrived to the Hall of Fame Reception.

Then it was Emcee Brenda von Rautenkranz’s turn to take command of the room and get everyone seated for dinner. Then came the toast to this year’s ACE winners.

On that note, congratulations are in order for BGE; Commercial Insurance Managers; Bita Dayhoff; Justin Bonner and Kasey Turner of Jailbreak Brewing Co.; Unanet; and Pete Mangione of Turf Valley Resort for their well-deserved awards. Then HCCC President Leonardo McClarty and Board Chair Jeff Agnor took the stage to let the crowd in on a big secret: that the HCCC has just completed phase one of a comprehensive re-branding process, which includes a new logo [see above].

Next, illusionist Jason Bishop took the stage, and in no time he had the audience captivated with astonishing illusions and plenty of humor for the next hour. Commercial Insurance Managers’ Gordon Mumpower was called up on stage and was a great sport, as Bishop had him assist in one of the illusions; Bishop even managed to make his adorable dog Gizmo disappear, but (thankfully) reappear just moments later.

But then it was time to move on to the annual Afterglow Reception. Bishop stayed and chatted with guests and posed for selfies with sponsors and other VIPs, including McClarty.

A thank you is in order to the sponsors, the HCCC’s Signature Event Committee, its board of directors, ambassadors and staff, who are already planning Signature Event 2018.

 

Salute to Vets
Each year, the HCCC takes a moment to honor our veterans, and for 2017, it is holding a Salute to Veterans Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m., at The Great Room at Savage Mill, to do just that.
This year’s luncheon will feature Fort Meade Garrison Commander Col. Thomas Rickard, who will detail the latest on development plans for the post and how they will impact the county.

 

Legislative Preview
The chamber’s annual Legislative Preview Breakfast is slated for Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 a.m., at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel. It’s a morning where a select group of Howard County’s elected officials and representatives of the business community talk about the upcoming legislative session.
The breakfast also gives the HCCC a chance to speak directly to members about which issues it will be advocating for or against on their behalves in the coming year. For information about either event, call 410-730-4111.

From the Desk of CA President Milton Matthews

The energy management efforts undertaken by Columbia Association (CA) in recent years are supportive of the responsibility bestowed upon CA by Jim Rouse to “respect the land” and to care for the environment.
CA has reduced its utility costs by 20% since fiscal 2012; in fiscal 2017, it spent $400,000 less than it did just five years ago for electricity and for natural gas. CA also is part of the Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge, committing to a 20% reduction in energy use across its building portfolio, between 2012 and 2022. Its progress has been significant and is presently at an 18% reduction.
These energy management efforts have been challenging. CA owns more than 50 community buildings, as well as 23 outdoor pools, many of which were built several decades ago. Due to their age and usage characteristics, these buildings have been very energy intensive; but, CA is finding ways to make them more energy efficient and sustainable while serving the community.
Led by Jeremy Scharfenberg, CA’s energy manager, CA is measuring and tracking the energy performance of all of its facilities and following an energy management plan to achieve savings. We have invested significantly in projects that reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re even spreading the word about the importance of energy efficiency to our team members and in the community.
CA has also embraced renewable energy. All of CA’s electricity use is now offset with green power, thanks to the solar farm in Western Howard County; solar panels at Amherst House and River Hill Pool; and the purchase of wind renewable energy certificates. As a result, CA has reduced its carbon footprint by more than half.
We have upgraded lighting in our three fitness clubs, as well as in numerous other facilities. Leveraging new LED technology, there has been marked improvement in light quality on the interior and exterior of these facilities. CA is also installing new, high-efficiency Energy Star HVAC units as a standard at all of our facilities. And, a new combined heat and power (CHP) unit at Supreme Sports Club produces electricity and heat at the same time, generating roughly one-third of the electricity needs for the building, while heating pools and providing hot water for showers. Through its Smart Energy Savers Program, BGE awarded CA a $66,000 rebate for installing the CHP unit.
CA also received two awards earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Energy, which recognized CA as one of just 13 “Partners in Better Buildings” through the Better Buildings Alliance’s Interior Lighting Campaign.
As a community services organization with a large footprint in Columbia, CA strives each day to lead by example. During CA’s fiscal 2017 (May 2016 to April 2017), the organization’s total energy consumption — electricity, natural gas, propane, fuel oil, gasoline and diesel — was equal to that of more than 900 homes of average square footage. Encouraging others to follow our lead will make an even greater difference.
To engage the Columbia community, CA launched the Columbia Solar Cooperative, which helps residents install solar panels at a reduced cost. Also, we continue to direct residents to the rebates and incentives offered as part of BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program, which includes home performance energy audits, appliance rebates and discounted high efficiency LED light bulbs.
These efforts are an investment, but they are also an investment in the future; producing economic, environmental and social benefits for CA and the Columbia community.

E-mail milton.matthews@columbiaassociation.org with questions/comments.

CF HoCo to Recognize Philanthropists at Annual Dinner

The Community Foundation of Howard County (CF HoCo), which raises, manages and distributes funds to support Howard County nonprofits, will recognize the following Howard County

philanthropists at its annual dinner, A Celebration of Philanthropy, on Thursday, Nov. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Turf Valley, Ellicott City.
• Bob and Bach Jeffrey will receive the Community Foundation’s individual Philanthropist of the Year award. The Jeffreys have spent the last 40 years supporting Howard County organizations, including the Howard County Arts Council, Leadership Howard County, Grassroots, Howard Community College and Howard County General Hospital.

• The Iron Bridge Wine Co. will receive the corporate Philanthropist of the Year award. The Columbia restaurant has donated meals and helped raise funds for Howard County nonprofits and charitable organizations, including the Howard County Autism Society and the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center.

• Yashica Maclin will receive the Leadership Council Award. Maclin serves on the board of the Community Action Council of Howard County and was nominated to serve as chair of the Policy Council for the last school year. In her position, she led advocacy for the 322 children in the program and their families.

• Humanim Inc. will receive the foundation’s Casey and Pebble Willis Making a Difference Award, which recognizes a program of a nonprofit organization in Howard County and includes $3,000 in support. Humanim will be honored for its Healthy Transitions program, which has helped further the educational and career goals of 82 Howard County youth struggling with mental health challenges.

The event will feature Mark Edwards, a classical guitarist and winner of the Howard County Arts Council’s 2016 Rising Star competition. Tickets to the dinner cost $100; cocktails will be available for purchase. To learn more, become a sponsor or purchase tickets, visit www.cfhoco.org.

Schuh Announces Improved Transit to Jobs

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh announced new, improved bus routes to enhance service to job centers such as Fort Meade, BWI Thurgood Marshall International Airport, Live! Casino and Arundel Mills. Called the Commuter Crew, the initiative is part of a comprehensive plan to improve mobility in Anne Arundel County. New and improved services effective immediately include the following.
• Connection to MARC stations: The RTA Route 504 will connect Piney Orchard to the Odenton and Savage MARC stations, via Fort Meade and National Business Park.
• Call-A-Ride pilot: Passengers who are 55 or older, or anyone over 18 with a disability, will be able to call a driver for midday service between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. from their home to Route 504 within 1/4 mile of the route.
• Route 202/K expansion: The RTA 202/K Route, which serves Meade Village, Fort Meade, Meade Heights, Pioneer City and the Ridge Road corridor, is extending existing service during peak periods to extend to Preston Gateway Drive.
Schuh recently announced the consolidation of transportation services and planning functions into one operating unit. In order to increase citizen participation in the planning process, the Transportation Commission has been established under Executive Order 22.
Transportation staff are also developing several plans to support the General Development Plan, including the Transportation Functional Master Plan and the Transit Development Plan. For more information, go to www.aacounty.org/transportation.

HHC, Blossoms of Hope Plants 100 Trees in Downtown Columbia

The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) and Blossoms of Hope are joining forces to plant 100 pink-blossoming trees in Downtown Columbia. The first plantings took place on Oct. 31 in the Merriweather District adjacent to the Two Merriweather office building.
The planting is intended to maximize and draw attention to the natural beauty of Downtown Columbia by lining the streets with flowering trees from the Merriweather District to the Lake Kittamaqundi Lakefront. This year’s planting of 65 Native Dogwood and 35 Kwanzan Cherry trees is the first initiative of a partnership between HHC and Blossoms of Hope.
“Blossoms of Hope is extremely excited to work with The Howard Hughes Corporation in bringing pink to Columbia,” said Joe Barbera, Blossoms’ board chair. “Over the past 12 years, as part of our mission to help beautify Howard County, we have planted more than 2,000 cherry and dogwood trees, including saplings from the original cherry trees in Washington, D.C. Bringing the trees to Columbia is a great way to help refresh downtown and the region in general.
“In addition, the proceeds from the trees will help to benefit the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center and other local charities,” said Barbera. “Over the past 12 years, Blossoms has donated more than $325,000 to the center, Ellicott City flood victims and other local causes.”
The trees, provided by Country Springs Wholesale in Lisbon, will be planted by Howard EcoWorks, a nonprofit with a mission to build a workforce to undertake environmental improvement projects in Howard County. During the next 20 years, HHC has committed to planting 10,000 trees of various kinds throughout Columbia and elsewhere in Howard County.

Subcontracts for Annapolis Renewable Energy Park Announced

Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides and BQ Energy Director Tim Ryan jointly announced the award of major subcontracts to local firms for performance under the Annapolis Renewable Energy Park’s solar energy facility project.
groSolar, based in Columbia, is the primary engineering, procurement and construction firm for the project. BQ Energy, with a local office in Towson, is the country’s leading developer of solar projects on closed landfills. The awardees are as follows.
• Powercon Corp., Severn, will design, manufacture and install seven medium voltage separate switchgear stations (a combination of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers, metering and control equipment), enclosed in multi-bay weatherproof outdoor cabinets. These will be the most technically advanced components of the Annapolis solar facility.
• Rommel Construction, Linthicum, will perform electrical work including medium voltage and low voltage AC, DC electrical, and electrical equipment placement and terminations and testing.
• Reliable Contracting Co., Gambrills, will perform civil and site work, including new roads on the site, erosion control and the electrical medium voltage ducts.
• McCrone, Annapolis, will oversee land planning and surveying work.
• McCauley Lyman, Edgewater, will be responsible for regulatory review and renewable energy legal services.
Meanwhile, local small businesses are being sought for shuttle services, fencing, lunch truck service, site traffic control services, temporary bathroom facilities, water delivery and providing project employee accommodations.
“I encouraged an AREP solicitation and included a special small business and jobs outreach program for local employment and small business engagement including minority-, veteran- and women-owned small businesses,” Pantelides said. “This was an important aspect of the AREP solicitation. I wanted to ensure that this clean renewable energy project benefits both the local environment and the local economy.”

Fiscal ’18 HCAC Grants Announced

Forty-six arts and cultural organizations will receive $583,593 in matching grants from the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) for fiscal 2018. These matching grants will be used by 22 Howard County organizations, 15 Howard County public schools and 12 key Baltimore City organizations to support general operations and projects taking place in Howard County, artist residencies and special projects in the arts.
Community Arts Development Grants fund day-to-day activities for Howard County arts organizations, as well as special projects in the arts. $327,116 was awarded to the following organizations for fiscal 2018.
• Candlelight Concert Society, Operating, $39,390
• Columbia Bands, Project, $5,000
• Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, Operating, $64,520
• Columbia Festival of the Arts, Operating, $64,663
• Columbia Orchestra, Operating, $39,019
• Columbia Pro Cantare, Operating, $24,481
• First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Project, $5,000
• Glen Mar United Methodist Church, Project, $2,540
• HopeWorks of Howard County, Project, $5,000
• Howard County Chinese School, Project, $2,390
• Howard County Concert Orchestra, Project, $5,000
• Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, Operating, $14,100
• Kinetics Dance Theatre, Operating, $18,000
• Little Patuxent Review, Project, $4,500
• ManneqArt, Project, $2,100
• Misako Ballet Company, Project, $5,000
• Red Branch Theatre Company, Project, $5,000
• Rep Stage, Project, $5,000
• ShowTime Singers, Project, $4,188
• Silhouette Stages, Project, $5,000
• Sundays At Three, Project, $2,500
• Vantage House, Project, $4,725

Artists-in-Education Project Grants are a partnership between the HCAC and local Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) to place professional artists in residence at Howard County schools to help students foster creative expression. Approximately $31,300 in funding was awarded to the following schools.
• Bonnie Branch MS PTA, $1,325, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency
• Burleigh Manor MS PTA, $1,833, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency
• Clarksville MS PTA, $3,056, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency
• Dayton Oaks ES PTA, $2,166, Circus arts residency with Michael Rosman
• Dunloggin MS PTA, $3,000, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency
• Glenwood MS PTSA, $3,000, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency
• Hammond ES PTA, $1,489, Mosaic residency with Ali Mirsky
• Harper’s Choice MS PTA, $1,000, Theater residency with InterAct Story Theatre
• Ilchester ES PTA, $700, Poetry residency with Laura Shovan
• Lime Kiln MS PTA, $1,600, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory residency
• Mount View MS PTSA, $2,137, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency
• Patuxent Valley MS PTA, $4,333, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency
• Talbott Springs ES PTA, $2,500, Photography residency with Christina Delgado
• Thunder Hill ES PTA, $1,353, Mosaic residency with Carien Quiroga
• Wilde Lake MS PTA, $1,833, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company residency

Baltimore City Arts and Cultural Grants provide funding to key Baltimore City organizations that provide significant services to Howard County residents.  Approximately $162,300 was awarded to the following organizations for fiscal 2018.
• American Visionary Art Museum, $4,500
• Baltimore Museum of Art, $18,919
• Baltimore Museum of Industry, $9,650
• Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, $27,450
• Center Stage Associates, $24,141
• Maryland Historical Society, $3,833
• Maryland Science Center , $14,412
• Maryland Zoological Society, $17,766
• National Aquarium, $15,000
• Port Discovery Children’s Museum, $11,723
• Walters Art Museum, $14,956

Outreach Howard Grants provide funding to key Baltimore City organizations to bring projects and programs directly to Howard County residents. Approximately $43,800 was awarded to the following organizations for fiscal 2018.
• American Visionary Art Museum, $2,464
• Baltimore Museum of Industry, $3,342
• Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, $8,959
• Chesapeake Shakespeare Co., $17,747
• Maryland Science Center, $3,570
• Maryland Zoological Society, $5,474
• Port Discovery Children’s Museum, $2,312

The Jim Rouse Theatre Subsidy Program assists community arts groups by partially underwriting theater rental fees at The Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts. Approximately $18,900 was awarded to the following organizations for fiscal 2018.
• Columbia Festival of the Arts, $4,192
• Columbia Orchestra, $7,148
• Columbia Pro Cantare, $2,670
• Kinetics Dance Theatre, $2,340
• Misako Ballet Co., $2,584
HCAC grants are awarded on the basis of artistic merit, ability of the applicant to carry out the project and level of service to the community. Grants are made through a competitive process in which applications are reviewed by an advisory panel made up of academics and artists representing a variety of disciplines. Grant award recommendations are then reviewed and approved by the HCAC Board of Directors.
The HCAC’s grant program is supported through grants from the Howard County government and the Maryland State Arts Council, as well as through the HCAC’s foundation, corporate and individual giving initiatives.

Business Briefs

Schuh Declares Anne Arundel Open for Agritourism Businesses
Recently at Y Worry Farm in Davidsonville, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh announced that Anne Arundel County is open for agritourism businesses. In September, the County Council passed legislation that officially defined agritourism in code and allowed it as a conditional zoning use; a second enacted bill exempts agritourism businesses from having to pay the amusement tax, eliminating an unnecessary financial burden on these businesses.
The legislation was the result of an 18-month workgroup organized by Schuh’s office consisting of stakeholders from government, agriculture and business. The county is also in the process of forming an agricultural business commission, which will advise the executive departments on policy and regulation.
“For far too long, our jurisdiction punished agritourism businesses with needless taxes and burdensome, outdated zoning restrictions,” said Schuh. “But now we have turned a corner as new laws will go into effect this weekend that ensure Anne Arundel County is state model for encouraging businesses.”

Colfax Sells Its Fluid Handling Business to CIRCOR for $860M
Annapolis Junction based-Colfax Corp., a diversified industrial technology company, has signed a definitive agreement to sell its fluid handling business to CIRCOR International for an estimated aggregate consideration of $860 million. The amount includes cash consideration of $542 million, approximately 3.3 million newly-issued shares of CIRCOR common stock and assumption of a net pension liability with an approximate value of $150 million as of Dec. 31, 2016.
“Over the past two years, we drove a step change in the fluid handling business performance and, after thorough review, determined that combining it now with CIRCOR is in the best interest of the business, its associates and the shareholders of Colfax Corporation,” said Colfax President and CEO Matt Trerotola.
“This transaction represents a strategic milestone for Colfax in the development of our portfolio and strengthens our balance sheet, providing more flexibility to execute our growth strategy,” said Trerotola. “Going forward, we intend to profitably grow our ESAB and Howden businesses and continue to strengthen them with complementary acquisitions, including the STE acquisition that is expected to close next month. We also expect to expand our portfolio over time by acquiring and building out attractive new business platforms.”

DoorDash Launches in Metro Baltimore
DoorDash, the technology company that connects customers with local businesses through door-to-door delivery, has launched in metro Baltimore. This announcement marks DoorDash’s expansion into 45 major metropolitan markets across the U.S. and Canada.
At launch, delivery through DoorDash is available from hundreds of restaurants to customers in the Baltimore area, including the suburbs of Baltimore, Arbutus, Catonsville, Ellicott City, Columbia, Halethorpe, Hanover and Elkridge.
DoorDash, which launched in Miami and Orlando earlier this year, will be available from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. from such Baltimore area establishments as Faidley’s Seafood, Sticky Rice, Honeygrow, Minato Sushi Bar, Sotto Sopra, Amicci’s, Water for Chocolate and Maiwand Grill; DoorDash’s national partnerships with P.F Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory, BRIO Tuscan Grill and Red Robin, will also extend to the Baltimore area.

Downtown Columbia Partnership Launches New Logo and Website
The Downtown Columbia Partnership (DTCP) has recently adopted a new logo and website designed to communicate DTCP’s focus on promoting the growth and vitality of the city’s new urban core.

Composed of simple, building block shapes, the logo symbolizes the union of various stakeholders that make Downtown Columbia a livable center of culture and commerce in the midst of natural surroundings. The blue of the logo represents the water of Lake Kittamaqundi, the teal green represents nature and the progressive personality of Downtown Columbia, and the grey is a nod to the new urban environment.
The DTCP’s new website serves as an introduction to Downtown Columbia with the intention of wooing prospective businesses and residents with the vision of state-of-the-art community amenities, arts and entertainment, shopping, range of housing choices and neighborhoods connected by pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists.

MCE Welcomes TeamWorx Security
TeamWorx Security, a software development company, has relocated to the Howard County Economic Development Authority’s (HCEDA) business incubator, the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE). TeamWorx delivers advanced technical solutions, focusing on applying machine learning to advance the cyber situational awareness mission across the Department of Defense.
TeamWorx Security’s founding team developed the Mission Analysis and Research of Threat Intelligence (MARTI) while working at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), but left APL to pursue a commercial version of MARTI called Hive-IQ. The company employs four workers and plans to add several more positions to its roster during the next 12 months. It has received a VLT loan from the HCEDA for further upscaling.

MDOT SHA Improving Safety Along Corridor Roads
Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is beginning a $3.4 million project to upgrade existing and install new guardrail in several locations across Carroll, Howard and Frederick counties. Each corridor will take up to one month to complete.
In Howard County, crews will replace guardrail along two locations on Route 1: between Assateague Drive and Gatewood Way, and between Kit Kat Road and the Baltimore County line.
Motorists should expect daytime single lane closures between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.  and between 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. Sunday nights until Friday mornings. MDOT SHA’s contractor, Guardrails Etc. Inc., of Baltimore, will use cones, barrels and flaggers to guide motorists through the work zones.
Maryland drivers can also know before they go by calling 511 or visiting www.md511.org for live traffic updates, including construction delays and lane closures, and view e-Road Ready 2017 for an interactive listing of all major highway projects. Those who have further questions may call the MDOT SHA District 7 Office at 301-624-8100, toll-free at 1-800-635-5119 or send email to shadistrict7@sha.state.md.us.

Dredging at Wilde Lake to Begin Soon, Completion Slated for December
Wilde Lake will have approximately 15,000 yards of sediment removed from the upper portion of the lake and the cove area before the end of 2017. This project also will involve stabilizing the edge of the lake.
Lake Services Inc. has begun setting up its equipment in a staging area. The firm will operate on weekdays, from 7 a.m. to dusk, loading sediment into a barge, transporting it to the staging area, and then loading it into sealed trucks that will bring the sediment to an off-site placement area that has been developed by Columbia Association (CA) and approved by the Howard County Government. There also will be minor maintenance work on weekends.
The actual dredging work is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Once the dredging begins, there will be a detour so that people may continue to walk, jog and bike around the lake. The project is part of CA’s Sediment Management Plan. CA expects to remove sediment from these areas of Wilde Lake every three to four years, which will keep the volume of sediment manageable and will prevent it from migrating into the main body of the lake.

Program Open Space Money Approved by Annapolis BPW
Mayor Michael Pantelides has announced the City of Annapolis will purchase a portion of the proposed Parkeside Preserve development and maintain it as a nature area for Annapolis residents, now that the Board of Public Works (BPW) has approved the requested Program Open Space funding.
The city will purchase 22 platted and recorded lots, along with the roadways/access areas associated with the lots, in the southwest portion of the Parkeside Preserve subdivision for $1.5 million. Program Open Space funds will be used to purchase and preserve one of the largest contiguous forested tracts in the city, next to Quiet Waters Park, as a nature area.
This is the second time in the city’s history that Program Open Space funding has been used to purchase land in Annapolis. The other instance occurred about 30 years ago for a project at nearby Truxton Park.

CSRA to Acquire Praxis Engineering for $235M
Falls Church, Va.-based CSRA Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Praxis Engineering Technologies for $235 million in cash. Praxis runs mission applications development and engagement operations within the intelligence community.
Headquartered in Annapolis Junction, Praxis is a consulting and solutions firm dedicated to the practical application of software and systems engineering technologies. It creates business solutions aimed at helping customers meet mission-critical needs, and brings more than 350 highly-cleared employees to the deal.
“Cultural fit was of paramount importance as we selected a partner for the next phase of Praxis’s evolution,” said Praxis President and Co-Founder Bill Dunahoo. “Combining with CSRA will enable us to accelerate our growth, provide more opportunities for our employees and significantly increase the value we bring to our customers’ most critical missions.”

Nightmare Graphics Inks Deal to Be Exclusive Outfitter of Wilde Lake High School
Nightmare Graphics, a Columbia-based screen printing, embroidery and clothing manufacturing company, has signed an agreement with Wilde Lake High School to outfit all sports teams through 2022. The deal declares that Nightmare Graphics will design, create and produce the uniforms, warm-ups, shooting shirts and team spirit wear for the 27 varsity sports teams at Wilde Lake High School starting in the 2017 winter season.
This deal comes 21 years after Rob Andelman, president and owner of Nightmare Graphics, graduated from Wilde Lake High School. While Nightmare Graphics works with almost every school in Maryland in some capacity, Wilde Lake is the second school in Howard County and seventh in Maryland with which Nightmare Graphics has an exclusive contract.

SECU Launches Business
Cash Back Visa Card
Responding to a marked increase in credit card use by businesses, Linthicum-based SECU is launching a new Business Cash Back Visa credit card for use on day-to-day business purchases. “Ease of use, wide acceptance, reduced costs and security features are all responsible for credit cards and electronic tools, such as ACH payments, now comprising more than 85% of all payments, as compared to only 42% in 2000,” said Steve Hazan, director of business lending at SECU.
From a cash flow perspective, credit cards should improve the payables side of the business ledger “by an average of 30 days” as a result of the free float period in the credit card cycle, Hazan said. He added, “Because other forms of payment are often immediate or in just a few days, any business using a credit card is, in essence, granting itself 30-day terms interest free.”

UMD’s Center for Public Policy Awarded Funds to Examine Cybersecurity Resiliency, Elections
The University of Maryland’s (UMD) School of Public Policy’s Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise has received a project grant from the Democracy Fund to study how cybersecurity best practices can be adapted to enhance the resilience of the state of Maryland’s election systems.
Leveraging best practices and innovations developed in established critical infrastructures, this study will make recommendations on how best to enhance state elections cyberrisk management, and identify areas where federal assistance to the states should be targeted. In doing so, the study will analyze both the technological and organizational aspects of the election system’s critical infrastructure in partnership with officials at the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Hudson Coastal Opens in
Maple Lawn
Hudson Coastal, a locally-owned, family-run “beach house” restaurant led by the husband-wife team of Brad and Tricia Hudson, has opened as a fresh seafood concept in Maple Lawn. Hudson Coastal’s philosophy is to celebrate the best of the Eastern Seaboard from the tip of Canada to the Florida Keys.
The fish that it sources is from Atlantic waters and is purchased whole (or as whole sides) and butchered in-house. The oysters on the raw bar are, in some cases, received the day that they are harvested. Hudson Coastal features local favorites, such as crabcakes, Delmarva chicken and Maryland crab soup.
The restaurant also offers a private dining room that is large enough to host up to 48 seated or 65 standing patrons. It is equipped with wireless plug-and-play, an in-ceiling LCD projector and separate surround sound.

CarneyKelehan Ranked Among 2018 Best Law Firms
Columbia-based Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett and Scherr was again ranked among the Best Law Firms by U.S. News & World Report magazine and Best Lawyers, the oldest peer-review publication in the legal profession. CarneyKelehan was ranked in Baltimore’s first tier for real estate law, second tier for business organizations law and third tier for construction law.
To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in “The Best Lawyers in America,” which recognizes practicing attorneys in the U.S. The publication selected Kelehan and Tom Meachum for 2018. Kelehan’s real estate practice focuses on representing lenders and borrowers throughout the acquisition, development and lending process; Meachum focuses on zoning and development law, general real estate, business law, employment law, estate administration and litigation and alcohol beverage licensing.

Zinburger Makes Maryland Debut at Arundel Mills
A new upscale boutique burger restaurant that was recently named to Full Service Restaurant Magazine’s “The Top 50 Emerging Restaurant Chains” has made its Maryland debut. Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, which offers gourmet burgers combined with wine selections, is now open at Arundel Mills.
The chain has 14 other locations, spanning from New York to Florida. Since opening the East Coast’s first location in Clifton, N.J., six years ago, Zinburger has developed a following for its made-to-order gourmet burgers, hand-dipped shakes and floats, pies and 25 wine varieties. It joins additional food concepts that will be introduced to Arundel Mill’s new food pavilion during a grand opening that is set for winter 2017/18.

Nonprofit News & Charitable Giving

Work Resumes on Route 29 Pedestrian Bridge, Closed Until December
The Howard County Department of Public Works announced that work to improve the pedestrian bridge that crosses Route 29 in Columbia resumed on Oct. 26, resulting in the closure of the bridge until early December. Work had been briefly suspended due to an interruption in the contractor’s materials supply for the colored, spiraling geodesic tube that will surround the bridge.
In addition to the geodesic tube, the bridge improvement project includes the installation of new lighting and enhanced security upgrades. The pedestrian bridge opened more than three decades ago and has served as an important connection between Columbia Town Center and residential communities to the east, including Oakland Mills and Long Reach.
The county will continue to distribute and honor complimentary bus passes for those travelling between the Oakland Mills Village Center and The Mall in Columbia. Those passes may be obtained by contacting the county’s Office of Transportation at 410-313-4312 or by email to transportation@howardcountymd.gov.
Additional information on the project, including information on the alternatives for those who walk and bike across the bridge, can be found online at www.howardcountymd.gov/US29Bridge. For questions about Capital Project B-3863, contact Lisa Brightwell at 410-313-3440 or email publicworks@howardcountymd.gov.

Schuh Announces Strategic Partnership with CFAAC
Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has announced that the county has entered into the strategic partnership with the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County (CFAAC) to streamline charitable giving to support county departments, programs and projects.
CFAAC will collect and track all donations to the Anne Arundel County Fund. The organization will then disperse those donations as grants to county departments. The county will accept the grants and ensure the funds are dispersed as directed by the donor.
“County agencies and departments, often in partnership with nonprofit organizations, play a significant role in delivering critical services that increase the quality of life for all residents,” said Melissa Curtin, executive director of CFAAC. “People ask how they can help support county efforts, and now we have a place to direct them.”
The agreement establishes the Anne Arundel County Fund within CFAAC. Donors can now make a direct contribution online to the Anne Arundel County Fund to benefit the Anne Arundel County Animal Control; as well as the Department of Aging and Disabilities; the Police Department; the Fire Department; the Department of Health; the Partnership for Children, Youth and Families; the Department of Recreation & Parks; and the Department of Social Services. The portal can be found at https://cfaac.fcsuite.com/erp/donate.

Howard Seeks Members for Howard County’s Commission for Women
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman is seeking applicants who are interested in serving on the Commission for Women. Two of the three new board members will serve the remainder of five-year terms, both set to expire Nov. 3, 2018.
To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be a Howard County resident, 18 years of age or older, have an interest in women’s equality and be able to attend the commission’s meetings. The meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month, from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia.
Applicants should send a résumé and a brief letter explaining why they want to serve on the Commission to: Howard County Government, Office of the County Executive, Attn: David Lee, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD, 21043. The names of eligible applicants will be submitted to Kittleman for approval and then to the county council for confirmation. The deadline to apply is Friday, Nov. 10.
For more information, contact the Department of Community Resource and Services at 410-313-6400 or visit www.howardcountymd.gov/CFW.

Kittleman Announces New Rehab Loan Program for Howard Homeowners
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) have announced a new county-funded rehabilitation program for existing homes in the county.
The Reinvest*Renovate*Restore program is designed to provide low-interest loans to homeowners to make necessary home improvements, such as a new roof; and cosmetic updates, such as adding hardwood floors, to update their homes. Homeowners must also agree to spend some of the loan proceeds on exterior improvements to improve curb appeal and overall neighborhood appearance.
Homeowners may apply for loans of up to $40,000 and must repay them in 25 years. Maximum household income limits, based on 80% of the Howard County area median income adjusted for family size, apply (example: $88,714 for a family of four). Applicants must live in the home as their primary residence, meet minimum credit score requirements and have sufficient household income to repay the loan.
For more information or to download the pre-application, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Housing-and-Community-Development/Home-Ownership-Opportunities/Housing-Repair-Program.

Schuh Announces New Mediation Program for County Employees
Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has announced the Anne Arundel County government will begin offering a voluntary Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint mediation program as a dispute resolution venue for county employees expressing internal EEO-related concerns.
Once a concern is reported to the County Human Relations Compliance Officer and/or the Office of Personnel, the concern will be preliminarily assessed to determine whether voluntary EEO mediation is deemed appropriate.  EEO mediation may not be offered in some cases, and EEO mediation will not affect an employee’s right to request an internal investigation or file a complaint.
The County Human Relations Compliance Officer in consultation with the Office of Personnel, will develop and implement the internal EEO complaint mediation program for employee disputes that encourages respect, open dialogue and resolution. The full guide can be found at aacounty.org/united.

Cardin, Van Hollen Announce $45M in Fed Funding for School Literacy
U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have announced $45 million in federal funding for Maryland public schools. The funding is designated for the Striving Readers Comprehension Literacy Grant Program, a public school initiative designed to advance literacy skills for students from birth through grade 12, most notably for students with disabilities and limited English proficiency.
These funds represent the largest grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Maryland in almost three years and will be utilized statewide, with $15 million being awarded each year for three years. Every Maryland school district will be able to compete for funding to meet the literacy needs of their local communities.

MDOT MVA Adds E-ZPass Maryland to Online, Kiosk Service Offerings
The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) have joined forces to expand online services, providing customers with the ability to purchase an E-ZPass Maryland “On the Go” electronic-toll-collection transponder online through MDOT MVA.
Customers using the MDOT MVA’s online service to complete vehicle-related transactions, such as obtaining a duplicate title or registration, ordering a new license plate, renewing a registration and requesting a VEIP extension, among others, will be offered the opportunity to add an E-ZPass Maryland “On the Go” transponder, which is only available for two-axle vehicles.
Customers also may obtain a device directly from the MDOT MVA online store, online at ezpassmd.com, via an “On the Go” retail location, at an E-ZPass Maryland Customer Service Center, or at an MDTA outreach event.
MDOT MVA offers many additional online services, including renewing a driver’s license or identification card, requesting a copy of a driving record, replacement plates and stickers, and changing an address. In fiscal 2017, MDOT MVA processed more than 5.3 million online transactions, including more than 3.7 million vehicle-related transactions. For more information about MDOT MVA’s online services, visit www.mvaonline.md.gov or mdotonestopshop.maryland.gov.

HCC Dedicates Talkin Family
Art Gallery
Howard Community College (HCC) recently dedicated the Richard B. Talkin Family Art Gallery. The gallery, located on the first floor of McCuan Hall, is connected to the lobby of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts and features exhibiting artists in the college community as well as exhibits by local, state, national and international artists.
The gift to name the gallery allowed the family to create the Talkin Family Visual Arts Program Endowment. This endowment provides funds for programs such as visiting artists, faculty and scholars; workshop series; art shows; and guest lecturers. In its first year, the endowment supported the 2017 visiting artist and workshop series featuring Professor Julie Shapiro. Shapiro has her MFA from Yale University and has taught at Hampshire College and Southern Methodist University.
Talkin, a long-time supporter of the college, has spent 50 years in Columbia as an attorney and also supports many other organizations in Howard County. He served six years as an HCC Educational Foundation board member. Four years later he came back and co-chaired a $12 million campaign from 2000 to 2007 for the construction of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center and for student scholarships.
The gallery opened its newest exhibit on Oct. 19. James Lubitz, “Under Construction,” is a digital photography exhibition documenting various stages of construction progress to the Science Engineering and Technology Building at Howard Community College. For more information about the gallery, visit howardcc.edu/galleries.

Ruppersberger Praises Designation of Fort Meade WWI Memorial
Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (MD-02) released the following statement on the designation of the Fort George G. Meade World War I Memorial as one of the first 50 WWI Centennial Memorials through the 100 Cities/100 Memorials initiative.
“Over 400,000 soldiers were trained at Fort Meade after they were drafted during World War I. It is an incredible honor for the monument to receive this designation, which will help preserve the history of Fort Meade’s ties to the Great War. Over 62,000 Marylanders bravely served in the war and this monument belongs to them and the nearly 2,000 Marylanders who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I applaud efforts to preserve and protect this and similar monuments across the country for future generations.”
The 100 Cities/100 Memorials project aims to highlight United States WWI memorials and encourage public access across America to the WWI Centennial Commemoration. Due to weather exposure, lack of maintenance and in some cases, vandalism, many of the memorials highlighted by the Commission have begun to deteriorate.
As a result, the Pritzky Military Museum & Library and the World War I Centennial Commission have contributed $200,000 in matching funds for future maintenance, with further support from the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. These restoration efforts will also help garner public awareness of our nation’s service members and the lasting effects of World War I on global society.
All 100 recipients of Commission funds will receive a matching grant of $2,000 for restoration projects and be officially designated by the United States World War One Centennial Commission as a WWI Centennial Memorial.

UMD SAFE Center, PGPD Receive Joint $1.3M Grant to Assist Human Trafficking Victims
The University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors and the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) have received a joint three-year grant totaling more than $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance to coordinate work to fight human trafficking in Prince George’s County.
Prince George’s is one of only two counties in the country to receive the grant, which was created to enhance collaboration between service providers and law enforcement within human trafficking task forces. The Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force (PGCHTTF) brings together law enforcement, social services, government agencies and community organizations to combat human trafficking.
The grant award will amplify the task force’s multidisciplinary collaboration and coordinated approach to identify victims of all forms of trafficking; address the individualized needs of victims; and investigate and prosecute sex and labor trafficking cases at the local, state and federal levels.
In addition to the SAFE Center, direct service collaborators include FAIR Girls, Amara Legal Center and other members of the PGCHTTF that provide services to trafficking survivors. Law enforcement grantee PGPD is joined by law enforcement partners including the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

TFCU’s Campaign Raises $50K-Plus to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims
What started with Tower Federal Credit Union (TFCU) members asking, “What can we do to help?” ended two weeks later in a $52,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. In response to member inquiries and the widespread devastation in Texas brought on by the Hurricane Harvey, TFCU management and staff mobilized quickly to put together a matching donation campaign.
“It all started with a few folks here at Tower coming together to discuss helping those that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said Al Smith, Tower’s senior vice president of member services. “We knew that both our employees and our members wanted to help, so we quickly put a convenient and safe process in place for members and staff to make monetary donations to benefit the American Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts.”
Smith said the goal was to collect $10,000, and Tower would provide a matching donation of up to $10,000. Once the plan was in place, Smith said Tower spread the word to members through branch employees, posters, e-mails and social media posts.

Howard County Rec & Parks Recognized for Operations
Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks (HCRP) was officially granted re-accreditation from the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA’s) Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). First accredited in 2001, this is the fourth time HCRP has received the honor; HCRP is one of only 167 accredited agencies in the United States.
“For the first time, our Department of Recreation & Parks had 100% compliance, fulfilling all 151 standards. This is quite an accomplishment,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. “I want to thank John Byrd, and his entire staff, for continuously improving an already impressive department. The accreditation team was especially impressed with our Department of Recreation & Parks’ succession plan for the accreditation process; complete agency buy-in; high-level customer service; and quality, breadth and depth of agency program diversity.”
John Byrd, Department of Recreation & Parks director; Laura Wetherald, bureau chief of recreation; John Marshall, bureau chief of parks; and Raul Delerme, bureau chief of capital projects, park planning and construction, represented HCRP and were presented the department’s CAPRA certification document at NRPA’s recent annual conference.

Dr. MLK Jr. Holiday Commission Seeks Nominees for Living the Dream Award
The Howard County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Commission is accepting nominations for the commission’s annual “Living the Dream” Award. The award recognizes an outstanding individual and organization (community, civic or religious) that has promoted the teachings and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through community involvement in Howard County.
The award and a $300 cash prize will be presented to the winner at the commission’s annual celebration on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, at Reservoir High School, located at 11550 Scaggsville Road, Fulton.
To be eligible for this award, nominees must be either residents of or work in Howard County or an organization located in the county; however, volunteer work must have been completed in the county. In addition, nominees must have demonstrated the teachings, work ethic and legacy of Dr. King by promoting community involvement among all ethnic groups, regardless of social, economic or religious background, and be committed to non-violence and humanitarian services.
The winner will be notified and the name posted on www.howardcountymd.gov, by Jan. 5, 2018. For more information, contact Farheen Sheik in the Office of Human Rights at 410-313-6467 or email fsheik@howardcountymd.gov.

Howard Rec & Parks Recognized by Governor for Conservation Easement
Howard County’s Department of Recreation & Parks (HCRP) was recognized by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Mark Belton and the Board of Trustees of the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) during a luncheon at the Governor’s House on Oct. 12 for its donation of a conservation easement at Belmont Manor & Historic Park to the MET.
The donation will help further MET’s mission to protect Maryland’s most treasured landscapes and natural resources as a legacy for future generations. The luncheon recognized easement donors and also celebrated MET’s 50th anniversary. A National Historic Register property, Howard County acquired the 68-acre Belmont Manor & Historic Park in 2012. The easement will guarantee that all future plans and uses of the land will be in keeping with the historical and conservation intentions of the Belmont property.

Friends of HCLS Look to Future
With New Name
Friends of Howard County Library System has changed its name to Friends & Foundation of HCLS, a name that it feels is more representative of its activities and efforts and formalizes the role the organization plays now and its direction for the future.
To celebrate the name change, the Friends & Foundation Board will host a Harvest Celebration Meet & Greet on Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 4–6 p.m., in the Enchanted Garden at the HCLS Miller Branch. Timed to coincide with the last day of the Farmer’s Market at the Miller Branch, the event will feature a virtual reality demonstration with Google Exhibition, a book exchange and lawn games. Guests will have the opportunity to sample local food and refreshments from River House Pizza (at the Farmer’s Market) and Hysteria Brewing.

HCAC Awarded $5K Grant by
Wells Fargo
The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) has been awarded a $5,000 grant — part of a two-year commitment — by Wells Fargo for its Head StART in ART program. This grant will help the HCAC continue its ongoing partnership with Howard County Head Start by providing teaching artists who will conduct residencies in visual and performing arts at the Ellicott City Head Start Center during the 2017–18 school year.
The program provides hands-on experiences in the arts for pre-K students from low-income families. Head StART in ART has been cited as a model early childhood arts education program by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council.

HCHD Recovery Support Program Aids Opioid Recovery Efforts
In its continuing battle against the opioid crisis, the Howard County Health Department’s (HCHD) Bureau of Behavioral Health has employed five peer recovery support specialists during the past year to connect with individuals directly affected by substance misuse. These peers use their own life experiences to guide and support others in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders.
The program, which began in October 2016, receives referrals of individuals struggling with substance use disorders — many with opioid addiction — from the Howard County Police Department, Howard County General Hospital, Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and other community support and treatment programs. Peer Recovery Support staff provide emotional support, resources or referral services as necessary.
During fiscal 2017, peer recovery support staff responded to 148 total referrals in the community, helping to guide many of those individuals into treatment and recovery programs. In the first three months of fiscal 2018, Health Department Peer Recovery Support staff has already received 80 referrals from partner organizations.
For more information about services available in the county, visit www.hchealth.org/gethelp and find the link for county level resources on the website, including information on free Overdose Response Program (ORP) training and naloxone, a medication to reverse an opioid overdose.

Grassroots Announces Two
Holiday Events
Santa will visit with youngsters, their parents and grandparents on Dec. 2 and 9, from 8–9:30 a.m., at Seasons 52 restaurant at The Mall in Columbia. Santa will talk with youngsters and their families at their tables. Miss Julie, the mall’s Family Fun Day entertainer, will be the hostess of the breakfast.
Raffle tickets will be sold and drawn at each breakfast for a holiday gift set bracelet with a poinsettia limited edition charm donated by the Pandora jewelry store at the mall. Tickets for the breakfast are $15 per guest. The event benefits Grassroots, Howard County’s 24-hour crisis intervention center and shelter of the homeless. There is limited seating. Make reservations at www.grassrootscrisis.org/breakfastwithsanta.
In addition, Whole Foods, Columbia, is hosting a holiday food and wine tasting for women on Monday, Nov. 27, from 5–7 p.m., also to benefit Grassroots. The event will include an update by Executive Director Ayesha Holmes on Grassroots shelter services and suicide prevention efforts.
Tickets are $65. Sponsor tickets are $100 each. Attendance is limited to 100 women. Register at www.grassrootscrisis.org/events/womenleaders.

Quest Hosts Spin in the City Benefit for Grassroots
The third annual Spin in the City, a fundraiser to benefit the Grassroots hotline and suicide prevention services, is set for Friday, Dec. 1, from 6–9 p.m., at Quest Fitness, 10045 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City.
The spin sessions will run from 6–6:50 p.m. and from 7:10–8 p.m.; the after-party runs from 8–9 p.m. The cost is $65 for one session, $90 for both sessions. Admission to the party only is $30. Register at www.grassrootscrisis.org/events/spin-in-the-city. For information, contact Cathy Smith at 410-302-4662.

Schuh, Arlotto Highlight Historic Investment in Fiber Optic Network
Anne Arundel County Public Schools will have one of the fastest data networks in the nation, thanks to a fiber optic network project that soon will be completed. “Technology is essential in order for our students to compete,” County Executive Steve Schuh said. “We provided $3.4 million in the budget that will mean every school in Anne Arundel County has the absolute best Internet access tools for students to succeed.”
The fiscal 2018 budget provided capital funding to wire the remaining 52 schools to the Anne Arundel County Fiber Network and provides 10-gigabit connections critical to transferring large data, accommodating multiple devices and accessing the Internet to all schools.
The schools’ core network ring throughout the county will run at 1.3 Terabits per second by utilizing 13 100 Gigabit optical channels on a Dense Wave Division Multiplexing fiber optic network. The 13 channels are used exclusively by the school system. Each school would have broadband capacity 400 times the average home cable modem.

Safeway Honored by Providence Center, Maryland Department of Disabilities
Providence Center recently held a ceremony to honor Safeway for the opportunities it provides to people with disabilities in its community.
As part of the Maryland Department of Disabilities Direct Support Professional Recognition Week Celebration, Providence nominated Safeway as an Outstanding Employer. Providence Center recognized Safeway for its longstanding partnership to provide competitive jobs. Safeway employs clients supported by Providence Center at various stores, including those in Annapolis and Gambrills, and has worked with Providence Center for more than 30 years.

Symphony of Lights to Open Nov. 21
The Symphony of Lights, a drive-through spectacle of more than 100 larger-than-life holiday light displays, a laser light show and a 3-D holiday video projected 50 feet high, opens in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in November. Symphony of Lights benefits Howard County General Hospital and is presented by M&T Bank.
Light displays, both animated and stationary, glow with a total of 300,000 LED lights on a 1-mile wooded drive through Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. During drive-throughs, visitors can listen to seasonal music on the Symphony of Lights FM radio frequency. Drive-throughs, presented by Antwerpen Toyota, take place on Tuesdays through Sundays, beginning Nov. 21 through Jan. 1, 2018. On Tuesdays through Fridays, drive-throughs run from 6:30 to 10 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays, they run from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Symphony of Lights will be closed to drive-throughs on Mondays, except Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, and closed on Dec. 31.
Pre-purchased tickets cost $20 per car except on Saturdays, when they cost $25 per car and can be purchased online to reserve a date and time. Tickets cost $5 more at the entrance.
In addition, Symphony of Lights will present a series of special events.
• The Dazzle Dash, presented by Wells Fargo and BGE Home, kicks off Symphony of Lights Sunday, Nov. 19, from 4 to 7 p.m. The event will offer a 1-mile walk through the lights starting at 5 p.m., as well as activities for children, food, music, entertainment and giveaways. Dazzle Dash costs $25 per person in advance and $30 on the day of the event. Children age 4 and under are free.
• Twinkling Tots offers children and families a stroll through the lights Monday, Dec. 4, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Children in strollers and wagons are welcome. Twinkling Tots costs $10 per person in advance and $15 on the day of the event. Children age 4 and under are free.
• Tail Lights gives dogs and their owners a chance to walk through the lights Monday, Dec. 11, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Pets can participate in a best-dressed contest, with judging based on creativity and holiday spirit. The event costs $10 per person in advance and $15 on the day of the event. Children 4 and under are free.
• Midnight at 7 offers a family-friendly New Year’s Eve featuring a walk through the lights and fireworks set to a soundtrack Sunday, Dec. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m. with walk-throughs ending at 7:30 p.m. Midnight at 7 will also include DJ music, party favors, face painting and food for purchase from local vendors. The event costs $15 per person in advance and $20 on the day of the event. Children age 4 and under are free.
• Military appreciation nights, presented by W.R. Grace, on Thursdays, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14, offer members of the military $10 off the cost of tickets to the drive-throughs. Active-duty, reserve and retired military members with government-issued I.D.s and their dependents qualify for military nights.
Symphony of Lights attracts more than 130,000 visitors every year and has been a holiday tradition for residents of Howard County and Central Maryland for more than 20 years.
Howard Hospital Foundation holds Symphony of Lights to raise funds for Howard County General Hospital, with lifetime proceeds totaling more than $8 million.
For more information, call 410-740-7666 or visit www.hcgh.org/symphonyoflights and www.facebook.com/symphonyoflightsfestivities.

Horizon, United Way Name Howard Residents to Changemaker Challenge

The Horizon Foundation and the United Way of Central Maryland were honored to name three members of the Howard County community as winners of the 2017 Changemaker Challenge. They were selected among 10 finalists who presented their innovative ideas to address pressing issues in the county. Each will receive $10,000 in seed funding and project consultation to launch their ideas.
Three hundred people attended the Shark Tank-style event, held at the Kosiakoff Center at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel. The winning ideas were selected by a panel of judges from Horizon and the United Way.

Erin Cassell, the owner of Roll Up ’n Dye tie dye studio in Columbia, won for her idea “Safe and Beautiful Bus Stops.” She proposed a plan to lead the Elkridge community, including artists, students, businesses, volunteers and government agencies, in working together to create safe bus stops decorated with locally-made art. Specifically, Cassell would like to focus on a stretch of Route 1 that includes only three shelters for 25 bus stops.

Beth Sandbower Harbinson, a nonprofit executive and consultant, won for her idea “SOBAR” — which is devised from the combination of the words “sober” and “bar.” She proposed to produce alcohol-free events and provide healthy, creative non-alcoholic beverages at community social events in Howard County. She plans to jump start the project with an 18-month plan that will include focus groups, establishing a 501(c)(3) and marketing.

Danielle Staton, a first-generation college graduate who attended Atholton High School, won for her idea “College Readiness Communities.” Staton pitched a plan for a program that would create supportive peer groups of middle and high school students from lower-income backgrounds, with a focus on those working to become the first in their family to graduate from college.

When Disaster Strikes, the Federal Team Rallies for You

By Carl Knoblock

President Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are; ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”
However, in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, business owners, nonprofits and many others need to know they can count on government agencies for assistance, especially if they are underinsured.
And like so many organizations that swoop in to aid in relief efforts, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a member of a team that is here to help.
During and immediately following natural and manmade disasters, federally-backed agencies/entities, such as the National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency, engage alongside state, county and municipal first responders to ensure the safety of those affected. Once the scene stabilizes and thoughts turn to rebuilding, SBA is there with federally-backed loans to help not just businesses, but nonprofits, homeowners and renters.
Maryland is no stranger to natural and manmade calamities, and SBA continues to be there. For example last year’s historic flooding in Ellicott City is proof you don’t need a Harvey- or Irma-scale event to get help from the federal government. In fiscal 2016, the SBA offered 30 Maryland disaster assistance loans valued at more than $2.2 million to victims of the Ellicott City flooding and agricultural operations affected by drought.
SBA’s disaster program is the agency’s largest (and only) direct loan program offering physical and economic injury loans. This federal program enables those in affected areas to re-establish their homes and businesses with low-interest and fixed-rate capital access loan programs during difficult times.
Physical disaster loans aren’t just for businesses to rebuild. They’re also available to nonprofits, private homeowners and renters to help with owned real estate, clothing, furniture, etc. Economic injury loans provide working capital to organizations struggling to meet financial obligations. Access to lines of credit to keep the doors open can be the difference between surviving and throwing in the towel.
Overall, in fiscal 2016, the SBA assisted more than 46,000 businesses and individuals through $2.8 billion in disaster loans; since 1953, it has approved more than two million disaster loans totaling nearly $55 billion. This includes relief for some of the costliest disasters in U.S. history, including hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and the Northridge, Calif., earthquake.
As we’ve wrapped National Preparedness Month (at the end of September), it is important to remember that disasters don’t plan ahead — but you can. Preparation can help your business stay open and your family to recover faster. SBA supports this planning, as well, with a variety of resources, including details on how to create a program and build a preparedness kit, checklists, safety tips, online courses, videos, webinars, etc.
Between the disaster loans, various tools, and educational workshops and webinars, the SBA works to help small businesses plan and protect their assets, and with other federal agencies and partners, assists businesses, homeowners and renters to recover quickly when disasters hit.

Carl Knoblock is the acting mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the Small Business Administration.

Evaluating an Early Retirement Offer

By John E. Day

In today’s corporate environment, cost cutting, restructuring and downsizing are the norm, and many employers are offering their employees early retirement packages.
But how do you know if the seemingly attractive offer you’ve received is a good one? By evaluating it carefully to make sure that the offer fits your needs.

What’s the Severance Package?
Most early retirement offers include a severance package that is based on your annual salary and years of service at the company. For example, your employer might offer you one or two weeks’ salary (or even a month’s salary) for each year of service. Make sure that the severance package will be enough for you to make the transition to the next phase of your life.
Also, make sure that you understand the payout options available to you. You may be able to take a lump-sum severance payment and then invest the money to provide income or to use it to meet large expenses. Or, you may be able to take deferred payments over several years to spread out your income tax bill on the money.

How Does This Affect Your Pension?
If your employer has a traditional pension plan, the retirement benefits you receive from the plan are based on your age, years of service and annual salary. You typically must work until your company’s normal retirement age (usually 65) to receive the maximum benefits. This means that you may receive smaller benefits if you accept an offer to retire early. The difference between this reduced pension and a full pension could be large, because pension benefits typically accrue faster as you near retirement.
However, your employer may provide you with larger pension benefits until you can start collecting Social Security at age 62. Or your employer might boost your pension benefits by adding years to your age, length of service or both. These types of pension sweeteners are key features to look for in your employer’s offer — especially if a reduced pension won’t give you enough income.

Is Health Insurance Included?
Does your employer’s early retirement offer include medical coverage for you and your family? If not, look at your other health insurance options, such as COBRA, a private policy, dependent coverage through your spouse’s employer-sponsored plan or an individual health insurance policy, through a state-based or federal health insurance Exchange Marketplace.
Because your health care costs will probably increase as you age, an offer with no medical coverage may not be worth taking if these other options are unavailable or too expensive. Even if the offer does include medical coverage, make sure that you understand and evaluate the coverage. Will you be covered for life, or at least until you’re eligible for Medicare? Is the coverage adequate and affordable (some employers may cut benefits or raise premiums for early retirees)?
If your employer’s coverage doesn’t meet your health insurance needs, you may be able to fill the gaps with other insurance.

Are Other Benefits Available?
Some early retirement offers include employer-sponsored life insurance. This can help you meet your life insurance needs, and the coverage probably won’t cost you much (if anything).
However, continued employer coverage is usually limited (e.g., one year’s coverage equal to your annual salary) or may not be offered at all. This may not be a problem if you already have enough life insurance elsewhere or if you’re financially secure and don’t need life insurance. Otherwise, weigh your needs against the cost of buying an individual policy.
You may also be able to convert some of your old employer coverage to an individual policy, though your premium will be higher than when you were employed.
In addition, a good early retirement offer may include other perks. Your employer may provide you and other early retirees with financial planning assistance. This can come in handy if you feel overwhelmed by all of the financial issues that early retirement brings. Your employer may also offer job placement assistance to help you find other employment. If you have company stock options, your employer may give you more time to exercise them.
Other benefits, such as educational assistance, may also be available. Check with your employer to find out exactly what its offer includes.

Can You Afford to Retire?
To decide if you should accept an early retirement offer, you can’t just look at the offer itself. You have to consider your total financial picture. Can you afford to retire early? Even if you can, will you still be able to reach all of your retirement goals? These are tough questions that a financial professional should help you sort out, but you can take some basic steps yourself. Identify your sources of retirement income and the yearly amount you can expect from each source. Then, estimate your annual retirement expenses (don’t forget taxes and inflation) and make sure your income will be more than enough to meet them. You may find that you can accept your employer’s offer and probably still have the retirement lifestyle you want. But remember, these are only estimates. Build in a comfortable cushion in case your expenses increase, your income drops or you live longer than expected.
If you don’t think you can afford early retirement, it may be better not to accept your employer’s offer. The longer you stay in the workforce, the shorter your retirement will be and the less money you’ll need to fund it. Working longer may also allow you to build larger savings in your IRAs, retirement plans and investments.
However, if you really want to retire early, making some smart choices may help you overcome the obstacles. Try to lower or eliminate some of your retirement expenses. Consider a more aggressive approach to investing. Take a part-time job for extra income.
Finally, think about electing early Social Security benefits at age 62, but remember that your monthly benefit will be smaller if you do this.

Finding a New Job
You may find yourself having to accept an early retirement offer, even though you can’t afford to retire. One way to make up for the difference between what you receive from your early retirement package and your old paycheck is to find a new job, but that doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your former line of work for a new career. You can start by finding out if your former employer would hire you as a consultant. Or, you may find that you would like to turn what was once just a hobby into a second career.
Then there is always the possibility of finding full-time or part-time employment with a new company. However, for the employee who has 20 years of service with the same company, the prospect of job hunting may be terrifying. If you have been out of the job market for a long time, you might not feel comfortable or have experience marketing yourself for a new job. Some companies provide career counseling to assist employees in re-entering the workforce.
If your company does not provide you with this service, you may want to look into corporate outplacement firms and nonprofit organizations in your area that deal with career transition.
Also note that many early retirement offers contain noncompetition agreements or offer monetary inducements on the condition that you agree not to work for a competitor. However, you’ll generally be able to work for a new employer and still receive your pension and other retirement plan benefits.

If You Say ‘No’ …
If you refuse early retirement, you may continue to thrive with your employer. You could earn promotions and salary raises that boost your pension. You could receive a second early retirement offer that’s better than the first one.
But, you may not be so lucky. Consider whether your position could be eliminated down the road. If the consequences of saying no are hard to predict, use your best judgment and seek professional advice. But don’t take too long. You may have only a short window of time, typically 60 to 90 days, to make your decision.

John E. Day is a financial consultant with LPL Financial Services, in Columbia. He can be contacted at 410-290-1000, john.day@lpl.com or via www.daywm.com.

Equifax Data Breach: Protecting Yourself from Identity Fraud

 

In a world that is getting more and more digital by the day, protecting our sensitive information is more important than ever. The recent breach of Equifax’s massive database has everyone questioning the best course of action to protect themselves from being a victim of identity fraud.
During the hack,  more than 143 million Americans had their sensitive information compromised, which included social security numbers, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and credit card information for approximately 209,000 consumers.
One of the main fears is that the stolen information will eventually be used to commit application fraud, which is the act of opening a new account with someone else’s identity. Since most of the stolen information is static and won’t change for the rest of a consumer’s life, the risk of fraud will be constant — unless action is taken to prevent it, or a new identification system is implemented.
Below are three methods to protect yourself from identity fraud.

Credit Freeze
A credit freeze may be the most effective action to protect yourself from identity fraud. This allows you to limit who can see your credit report information. The main goal would be to prevent anyone from opening any new accounts or lines of credit. Your existing creditors and some government agencies would still have access to your report, but according to the Federal Trade Commission, it does not prevent you from getting your free annual credit report.
In some states, freezing your credit is free, but the credit bureaus generally charge up to $10. In Maryland, the law currently prohibits credit reporting agencies from charging more than $5 per freeze and anyone who is a victim of identity theft can freeze their credit at no cost.
In order to completely freeze your credit, all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) must be contacted and you will need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number.
The downside of implementing a credit freeze is that you won’t be able to open any new lines of credit until it is lifted, which generally comes with a cost. You will also need to remember your PIN or password that each company provides when you set the initial freeze. But for consumers who want the greatest protection or have no immediate plans to open new lines of credit, this may be the best course of action.

Fraud Alerts
When you place a fraud alert on your credit report, creditors must take reasonable steps to verify your identity before issuing a new line of credit. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers can contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on their credit report, free of charge.
Whichever credit bureau you contact to set up the alert is then required to inform the other two agencies to place an alert on your file. The alert will be in effect for at least 90 days and can be renewed after 60 days.
Additionally, if you have already been a victim of identity theft and have created an identity theft report, you can request an extended fraud alert. Extended fraud alerts stay on your report for seven years and your name will be removed from pre-screened credit offers for five years, unless you ask them to put it back on the list.

Monitoring Services
Using a third-party monitoring service or even a monitoring service provided by one of the credit bureaus may help you spot, and potentially prevent, identity fraud. Monitoring features vary greatly and costs can range from free to hundreds of dollars per year. Businesses such as LifeLock and IdentityGuard will monitor your credit activity 24/7 to ensure there is no unusual activity.
As a bonus, they also monitor the “dark web,” which is where sensitive information (such as Social Security numbers) are actively sold. If they do detect any suspicious action, they will notify you of the fraud, and typically work with you to resolve the issue. As you would do with any purchase, determine which features are most important to you and choose the one that satisfies the most at the best price.
Whether you decide you use one of the methods mentioned above or not, it is always a good idea to keep your personally identifiable information (PII) secure. Below are a few more quick tips to help protect yourself from being a victim of fraud.
• Review your free credit reports on an annual basis
• File your taxes as early as possible to avoid potential tax-fraud
• Review your health care Explanation of Benefits (EOB)
• Shred documents with sensitive information
If you believe someone is using your personal information, act quickly. The Federal Trade Commission suggests taking the following steps to help you limit the damage. IdentityTheft.gov will guide you through each step.
• Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
• Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report.
• Report identity theft to the FTC.
• File a report with your local police department.

Gary S. Williams, CFP, CRPC, AIF, is president and founder of Williams Asset Management, in Columbia. He can be contacted at 410-740-0220, Gary@WilliamsAsset.com and www.WilliamsAssetManagement.com. For information about his book, The Art of Retirement (with the foreword by NFL Legend Ronnie Lott), visit www.theartofretirement.org.

Franchot Offers Statement on Board of Revenue Estimates September Revisions

The Board of Revenue Estimates voted to reduce the revenue projections for the state of Maryland for fiscal 2018 by $53 million, representing a 0.3% decrease over prior estimates. The board also unveiled the first official estimates for fiscal year 2019, which is projected to be $17.6 billion, representing a $73.5 million reduction.
The actions are largely driven by weaker-than-anticipated sales tax revenues, which are the result of sluggish income growth, changing buying habits with more online purchases being made and tepid consumer confidence stemming from uncertainty about potential federal government cuts and other actions.
Following are Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s remarks, as prepared for delivery.
“This action comes just weeks after we closed the books on fiscal year 2017 with $90 million above our original projections, which provides reason for restrained optimism.
“The proposed reductions in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019’s estimates are primarily influenced by the continued weak growth in sales and use tax revenue, and a modestly reduced outlook for average wage growth in Maryland. In this revision, the largest write-down is the sales and use tax projected revenues, which underscores the fact that consumer spending remains unpredictable.
“Following a very brief but relatively successful holiday season, sales tax revenue declined this past spring. Over the last several fiscal years, we’ve barely attained 2% growth in sales and use tax revenues. Our prior estimates had generally held that the state would at least see 3% to 3.5% growth. But we know these figures are influenced, in large part, by the meager income growth that we continue to experience, and the political uncertainties coming out of Washington.
“As we continue to weather these uncertain economic conditions, Maryland working families are understandably putting more money in the piggy bank instead of spending on things they want, instead of need.
“In this consumer-powered economy, far too many businesses — and in particular, small and locally-owned businesses that are the backbone of the Maryland economy — are struggling to survive at a time when consumers are reining in their discretionary spending.
“We continue to experience the slowest and most tentative economic recovery of our lifetimes. And as I’ve said in the past, I think that it would be imprudent to expect a return to pre-recessionary patterns of economic expansion.
“To be prepared for the fiscal uncertainties of the future, I believe fiscal policymakers need to consider this rate of growth in our revenues as the ‘new normal,’ if you will. And I would encourage my fellow state leaders to adopt this approach when making spending and fiscal policy decisions in the months ahead.
“I do want to tip my hat to Governor [Larry] Hogan and to the General Assembly for continuing to exercise fiscal restraint and for recognizing the fiscal and economic realities that our state faces today. More than anything else — and I know both the Governor and the General Assembly are in bipartisan agreement on this — we must establish a business climate that is characterized by stability and predictability, one in which employers feel comfortable investing capital and creating good-paying, long-term jobs.
“We must avoid decisions that take more money out of the pockets of consumers who are already reluctant to put money back into the Maryland economy, which is why we need to continue to reject any proposals that would increase or create new taxes and fees.
“We need to provide some stability and relief for our working-class citizens and small businesses. And furthermore, we must remain smart and forward-thinking about how we spend limited taxpayer dollars and resist adding to our existing state debt — recognizing the fact that we simply cannot sustain continued debt accumulation that can be dangerous to our fiscal stability in the years ahead.
“The fiscal realities we face require us to invest in the things that we need, and forego many of the things that we simply want. This is the same principle that so many households and business owners use when planning and executing their own budgets — and we have a solemn responsibility to do the same as their elected representatives.
“I am confident that if we continue on the current path of fiscal prudence, we will be well-positioned to emerge from these economic and fiscal challenges stronger than before. And we will be properly prepared to weather future disturbances in our economy.”