HCPSS Ranked State’s Top Public School System

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) has been ranked the top public school district in the state of Maryland for 2017, according to a report released by Niche.com, an education and community analysis firm.

Niche.com scored school districts based on factors that included college readiness, graduation rates, state test scores, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, student and parent reviews, expert insights and other parameters. This year, HCPSS improved from last year’s rankings, with nine of its high schools listed among the top 25, up from eight schools.

Additionally, Niche.com ranked HCPSS high schools among the top public high schools in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. All 12 are ranked within the top 25 high schools on the list, with several moving up in the rankings.

The complete school district rankings can be viewed online at https://k12.niche.com/rankings/public-school-districts/best-overall/s/maryland. The public high school state ranking can be found at https://k12.niche.com/rankings/public-high-schools/best-overall/s/maryland.

Howard Bank’s $500K Contribution to Help Revive Baltimore Neighborhoods

Howard Bank, headquartered in Ellicott City, has partnered with the Central Baltimore Future Fund, contributing $500,000 to help revive and redevelop 10 area neighborhoods. The bank’s contribution will be part of a $10.2 million campaign targeting the communities of Abell, Barclay, Charles North, Charles Village, Greenmount West, Harwood, Oakenshawe, Old Goucher, Remington, Wyman Park and one commercial district, Waverly Main Street.

The money will support initiatives that include clean and safe neighborhoods, blight elimination and housing creation, public education, commercial and retail development, local hiring and purchasing, and workforce development.

“These neighborhoods are vital to the future of Baltimore,” said Howard Bank President and CEO Mary Ann Scully. “While they are vibrant, growing and attracting new businesses, they need continued support to guarantee success.”

Federal Recommendation of $1M to Remove Bloede Dam on Patapsco River Applauded

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Senator-elect Chris Van Hollen, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings, have lauded the announcement of a $1 million funding recommendation through the NOAA Fisheries Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants program to remove the obsolete Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River.

When finalized, the funding will enable the nonprofit organization American Rivers, working in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, NOAA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park and others, to restore the natural resiliency of the Patapsco River Valley through the removal of the dam, which was built in 1907.

Removal of the Bloede Dam is the linchpin of a larger effort to remove four main-stem dams on the Patapsco and open more than 65 miles of spawning habitat for blueback herring, alewife, American shad and hickory shad, along with more than 183 miles for American eel.

“Removal of the obsolete Bloede Dam means the elimination of a hazard that has needlessly cost several human lives and prevented countless fish and eels from reaching their historic spawning areas,” said Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

New Website Aims to Give Back to Lab Community

GiveBack365 (www.GiveBack365.org), a new community initiative and website sponsored by Columbia-based COLA, aims to build public awareness and support of laboratory medicine by encouraging industry partners to “Give Back” — and help to enrich the lives of current and future laboratory professionals.

The program provides resources to current and future laboratory professionals, while encouraging industry partners, including laboratories of all sizes, educational institutions, regulatory agencies, membership organizations, manufacturers and more, to get involved in promoting the value of laboratory medicine.

The foundation of the site is based on four key components: student enrichment, scholarships, student mentoring and disaster relief resources. For instance, GB365 provides resources for any organization interested in enriching the experiences of students of all ages about the field of laboratory medicine through on-site presentations, STEM festivals and school-sponsored events. Resources include a Give Back School Speaking Kit, career posters, videos and interactive laboratory experiments.

State to Receive $15M in Fed Funding to Expand Preschool Programs

Maryland has been awarded $15 million through the Preschool Development Grants program to provide high-quality preschool programs in 19 school districts across Maryland. In the past three years, Maryland has been awarded more than $45 million in federal funds to expand proven-beneficial preschool programs throughout the state.

“We never get do-overs when it comes to our children’s early development, which makes this continued federal investment in Maryland to strengthen and expand our preschool programs incredibly important,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin. “Our goal is to ensure that early learners have the chance to acquire the skills they need to be successful throughout their lives.”

Through these awards, more than 35,000 additional children across 18 states will be served, an increase from 28,000 in the first award year in 2014.

Maryland is one of 18 states to receive an expansion grant, which were designated for states that currently serve 10% or more of 4-year-olds or have received a Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge grant. Up to 5% of the expansion grant award may be used for state-level infrastructure and quality improvements.

Annapolis Receives Money for New Light House Bistro Project

The City of Annapolis has been awarded $200,000 in Community Legacy funds from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to help defray construction costs for the new Light House Bistro, located at 202 West Street.

The Light House, a homeless prevention and support center, is updating its former downtown Annapolis shelter to create an advanced culinary training center for graduates of its culinary arts job training program, Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.). It will include a 50-seat bistro with a full-service menu, a coffee bar staffed by Baristas and a Gourmet Grab ’n Go and will serve as home for The Light House B.E.S.T. Catering company. Four permanent supportive housing units will be located on the second floor for former Light House residents.

“I had the opportunity to be part of the groundbreaking celebration for the new culinary bistro, and I know the money will help support this self-sustaining, revenue-generating project,” Mayor Mike Pantelides said. “This is such an incredible program, and I am enthusiastically waiting for the Bistro’s mid-January opening.”

The bistro will support the ongoing workforce development and housing programs at The Light House.

Rockburn Branch Park Stream Restoration Project to Begin

A Howard County construction project to improve an eroded stream in the vicinity of 6105 Rockburn Branch Park Road, Elkridge, began last month. The Rockburn Branch, a tributary to the Patapsco River, has been heavily impacted by stormwater and has eroded significantly. The project includes the use of wood and rock structures to reestablish a more natural stream, reducing in-stream erosion and improving water quality. Weather permitting, the project is expected to be completed by late May 2017.

This project is funded through the county’s Watershed Protection and Restoration Fund and a Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund grant. For questions or concerns about Capital Project D-1158, contact Lisa Brightwell, Public Works Customer Service, at 410-313-3440 or email [email protected].

State Honors Victims of Impaired Driving Crashes, Intros Breath Testing Mobile Unit

Remembering and honoring victims of impaired driving crashes in Maryland, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford recently joined Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. William Pallozzi, Motor Vehicle Administrator Christine Nizer, highway safety advocates and Rich Leotta — father of late Montgomery County police officer Noah Leotta — at the 13th Annual Maryland Remembers event.

The memorial event honored the lives of the hundreds of Maryland citizens killed at the hands of impaired drivers. Between 2011 and 2015, an average of 160 people died in impaired driving-related (alcohol and drug) crashes on Maryland’s roads, and hundreds more are seriously injured.

Gov. Larry Hogan supported and signed the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 (Noah’s Law), which went into effect Oct. 1, 2016. The law will save lives by requiring ignition interlock for all convicted drunk drivers. Hogan also recently announced more than $12.5 million in federal highway safety funds for more than 80 agencies and organizations to help strengthen and expand the state’s efforts to save lives. This includes funds targeted to impaired driving enforcement.

Prior to the Maryland Remembers event, the state’s latest tool in the fight to end drunk driving was introduced: the Mobile Breath Alcohol Testing Truck. The truck is an initiative between the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office and the Maryland State Police. Paid for with federal funds, the cost of the vehicle was $430,425, plus $21,549 for three Intoximeters (Evidential Breath Testing Instruments) for dedicated use on the truck.

Arundel Development Council Community Grant Application Period Open

Anne Arundel County’s Grants Office has announced the Local Development Council (LDC) community grant application period is open until Jan. 31, 2017. Applications can be downloaded from www.aacounty.org/LDC; grant awards will be distributed in August 2017.

The LDC is established under the authority of state law in those counties in which a video lottery terminal facility or casino is located. Its sole purpose is to advise the county executive on the needs and priorities of the communities in the three-mile radius surrounding the Maryland Live! Casino and the expenditure of video lottery terminal funds.

Anne Arundel County receives 4.51% of total revenues generated by video lottery terminals at Maryland Live! These monies are distributed by the county in the form of local impact grants and must be used for improvements primarily in the communities in immediate proximity to the casino. Last year, the county and Maryland Live! awarded $18 million in local impact grants to various grant recipients as recommended by the LDC, of which $380,000 went to community support grants.

UMD SAFE Center Awarded Grant to Assist Human Trafficking Victims

The University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors has received a two-year, $382,408 grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) Victims of Crime Assistance (VOCA) Program to provide direct legal and social services to human trafficking victims in Maryland.

The center’s services are particularly targeted to underserved trafficking victims in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The funds enable the SAFE Center to hire critical staff to help trafficking survivors access legal services, mental health counseling, primary medical care, economic empowerment services, victim advocacy and safety planning, and meet basic emergency needs.

Howard Office of Children, Families to Hold Preschool/Child Care Info Fair

Howard County’s Department of Community Resources and Services will host its annual Preschool/Child Care Information Fair, “Children On Board,” on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Ten Oaks Ballroom, 5000 Signal Bell Lane, Clarksville. Admission is free; however, attendees are asked to bring a nonperishable food item or unopened pack of diapers to donate to the Howard County Food/Diaper Bank.

Coordinated by the Department’s Office of Children and Families, “Children On Board” will provide parents, guardians, grandparents and child care personnel with “one-stop shopping” for information on child care, pre-school and summer programs.

Representatives from community service organizations that offer programs and services to Howard County’s young children also will be on hand to provide information. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend free informational sessions and the new 2017 Parent’s Guide to Howard County will be distributed at the event free of charge. For more information about the fair, contact the Office of Children and Families at 410-313-1940 (voice/relay) or email [email protected].

EE Announces 2016 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Winners

Entrepreneur’s Exchange of Anne Arundel County (EE) announced the winners of its annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards during a ceremony in early December at Union Jack’s British Pub, in Annapolis.

The 2016 award winners were, for Spirit of Entrepreneurship (Member), Jennifer McAndrews of Synergy Home Care; the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (Non-Member), Kristi Neidhardt, Kristi Neidhardt Team of Century 21 New Millennium. The awards are designed to recognize local business leaders who exemplify tenacity, creativity and integrity.

CA Cited as ‘Best of Howard’ for Various Readers’ Choice Awards

Columbia Association (CA) was honored in Howard Magazine’s annual awards, in which readers vote on the best that Howard County has to offer in 74 different categories. CA received four first-place awards, for Best Golf Course (Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club), Best Gym (Supreme Sports Club), Best Pool for Kids (Swansfield Pool and Mini-WaterPark) and Best Personal Trainer (Bonnie Pace).

CA also received a total of four honorable mentions in three categories: Gym (Columbia Gym), Kids’ Activity (Columbia SportsPark), Kids’ Activity (SplashDown) and Pool for Kids (River Hill Pool). “We’re honored that Howard Magazine and its readers recognize the role Columbia Association serves,” said CA President and CEO Milton Matthews. “We will continue to pursue our vision of making Columbia a community of choice — today and for generations to come.”

TFCU Opens Branch, Makes $2,500 Donation

A grand opening celebration brought 350 people to Tower Federal Credit Union’s (TFCU) newest branch, in Pasadena’s Magothy Beach Plaza, an event that featured residents shredding 2.5 tons of paper and a $2,500 contribution to an area organization dedicated to serving those living with disabilities.

Providence Center of Glen Burnie was the recipient of the grant, which it will use to continue its efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. The center has, for more than 50 years, striven to help those 21 and older live more independent lives and function well in society.

The new Magothy Beach branch replaces the Tower branch on Fort Smallwood Road, which was located about three miles away in a less travelled shopping area.

HCAC Distributes Relief Funds to Artists

The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) announced that the Re-CREATE: Ellicott City Artist Relief Fund, established to assist artists and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations affected by the July 30 flash flood in Historic Ellicott City, has distributed $40,579 in aid. Grants were awarded to artists in amounts up to $9,648 each; no applications were received from nonprofit arts or cultural organizations. A list of artist recipients is posted on HCAC’s website.

The fund was established in August 2016 from an immediate outpouring of support and concern from artists involved in HCAC’s annual Paint It! Ellicott City plein air event. Paint It! artists contacted the HCAC to offer help by donating 20%–100% of the sale of their artwork. The Relief Fund grew dramatically with a $10,000 challenge grant from Mary and Earl Armiger, leaders in the county’s philanthropic community, and a $5,000 grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).

HCAC reached out to Ellicott City galleries to obtain names of artists whose work was damaged or lost and to verify the value of artwork lost. In speaking to affected artists, HCAC learned that many were relying on the income from the work lost to get them through the fall and winter. To learn more about Re-CREATE and other HCAC programs, call 410-313-2787 or visit hocoarts.org.

CAC to Present Navy Sea Chanters on Feb. 25

The Chesapeake Arts Center (CAC) will present the United States Navy Sea Chanters concert on Saturday, Feb. 25. The concert will be held at its Hammonds Lane Theatre, located at 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park. The free show starts at 7 p.m. The Navy Band Sea Chanters is the United States Navy’s official chorus and performs a variety of music, ranging from traditional choral music, including sea chanteys and patriotic fare, to opera, Broadway and contemporary music.

Under the leadership of Chief Petty Officer Adam Tyler, the Sea Chanters perform for the public throughout the United States. At home in Washington, they perform for the president, vice president and numerous congressional, military and foreign dignitaries. For more information, check out www.chesapeakearts.org or call the CAC at 410-636-6597.

McKeon to Read at HoCoPoLitSo’s 39th Irish Evening

HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its annual Irish Evening, on Feb. 10, is award-winning writer and playwright Belinda McKeon. McKeon’s reading will be followed by Narrowbacks Eileen Korn Estes, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman and introducing Michael Winch in a concert of traditional Irish music, with stepdancers from the Culkin School. The Narrowbacks will be performing music from their newly released “This Day Too: Music from Irish America” with Terence Winch, Michael Winch and Jesse Winch.

The evening begins at 7:30 p.m., in the Smith Theatre of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College. General admission tickets are $35 each and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2716229%20; or by sending a check and self-addressed envelope to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044. For more information, visit www.hocopolitso.org.

HCAC to Present Celebration of the Arts on March 25

The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) will mark 20 years of recognizing the local arts community’s brightest stars at its signature event, the Celebration of the Arts in Howard County gala, to be held on Saturday, March 25, from 6–10 p.m. at the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College.

The evening begins with a reception featuring edibles provided by area restaurants and caterers, a silent auction of artwork by local artists, and musical performances in the Studio Theatre. At 8 p.m. guests will be invited to take a seat in the Smith Theatre for the live presentation of the 2016 Howie Awards and a special 20th anniversary edition of the Rising Star Competition. Seats also will be available in the Studio Theatre for a simulcast of the show. The Arts Council’s 2017 Arts Scholarship recipients also will be announced. Tickets will be available for purchase later this month.

Padraic “Pat” Kennedy, who was the first and longest-serving president of Columbia Association (1972–1998) will act as honorary chair. Dick Story, senior vice president, community relations and government affairs, for Howard Bank, will serve as emcee.

New Exhibits Open at HCCA

Two new exhibits open in January at the Howard County Center for the Arts (HCCA). In Gallery I, HoCo Open 2017 is a salon-style, non-juried biennial exhibit showcasing work by artists living, working or studying in Howard County. The Gallery II exhibit, Phantasmagorical, features artists Brad Blair and Barbara Marley. Both exhibits open Jan. 13 and run through Feb. 24.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, from 4:30–6:30 p.m., artists aged 18 years and older who live, work, or study in Howard County may submit one piece of original artwork, completed in the last two years, for HoCo Open 2017. Art will be accepted on a first-come basis until the gallery is full. This exhibit is expected to feature approximately 100 artworks in a wide variety of styles and include 2-D, as well as 3-D, works in such diverse media as watercolor, oil painting, collage, line drawing, photography and ceramics.

Phantasmagorical features collage works by Barbara Marley, and sculptures by Brad Blair. Both artists create highly detailed, imaginative worlds in their respective media.

Gallery Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday noon–4 p.m. To learn more, call 410-313-ARTS (2787) or visit hocoarts.org.

Robbins Humanitarian Awards Set for April 5

The Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Luncheon Awards are set for April 5, at noon, at the Ten Oaks Ballroom, located at 5000 Signal Bell Lane, Clarksville. These awards not only recognize the achievements of those honored, but offer public recognition for the organizations and causes to which the honorees devote their time and energy.

Since 1975, the Association of Community Services of Howard County has been recognizing the work that volunteers and employees do in service to others that go above and beyond all expectations. For more information, call 410-715-9545 or visit www.acshoco.org.

HCPSS Garners Top Grade for School Food Report

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) received an A-plus and was the only Maryland school system to earn an “A” on the 2016 School Food Environment Grades report from Healthy School Food Maryland.

Healthy School Food Maryland is a coalition of organizations and individuals in Maryland working for whole, real, local and safe foods for children in Maryland school cafeterias. The 2016 School Food Environment Grades is a report card on the state of school food in each Maryland public school district.

The coalition released its first edition of the ratings this month. Grades are calculated using a rubric of 12 items that address school food and student wellness, such as reducing sugar; access to potable water; use of local produce and farm-to-school programs; salad bars; use of artificial colors, flavors and other chemical additives; scratch cooking; variety and repetition of meals; healthier vending options; transparency; wellness committees; and policies on junk food marketing.

To learn more about HCPSS school meal programs, visit www.hcpss.org/food-services.

Sarah’s House Gets a Little Warmer Through TowerCares

A Jeep and an SUV pulled up in front of the provider of housing and shelter for the homeless just before Christmas, filled with everything from sheets to pajamas to food, in an effort to make the residents’ holiday happier and warmer.

The goods were paid for with $1,700 that employees from the Operations & Technology division of Tower Federal Credit Union raised in late November through a fundraiser, selling soups, chili and other homemade goods. The proceeds were donated to TowerCares Foundation, a charitable organization that aids children in need, as well as individuals and their families who sacrificed while protecting our freedom.

In consultation with the employee group that raised the funds, it was decided that the donations should benefit Sarah’s House. Essentials needed year-round were purchased with the funds, like baby wipes, canned goods and paper towels, in addition to new sheets and children’s pajamas.