Former state trooper celebrates 40 years as local contractor

Former state trooper celebrates 40 years as local contractor
Antkowiak used to protect Marylanders as a Maryland State Police trooper. Now, instead of a badge and a gun, he wields a chimney sweep. Courtesy photo.

(Updated 5/2/18)

- By Patrick Taylor -


Decades ago, Bernie Antkowiak served as a Maryland State Police trooper. And while he hung up his hat, he’s still dedicated to serving and protecting the people of Maryland - just in a different way.

ER Chimney began as a way for Antkowiak to make a little extra money while he was on the force. Making less than $10,000-per-year at the time, Antkowiak started his own business. For about nine years he worked both jobs, but eventually he had to move on from MSP.

“The need for contracting work was there,” said Antkowiak. “I took the need and demand and just went with it.”
Forty years later, Antkowiak still owns and operates ER chimney with help from his wife, his sister-in-law and his daughter-in-law.

“It’s a real family business,” said Antkowiak.

 ER Chimney provides a wide array of services, including chimney repairs and relining, chimney pot sales and installation, flue stretcher cap sales and installation, sweeping, fireplace and fire pit installation, masonry, gutter and roof repairs and, as of just recently, grill work.

“There’s nobody doing the barbeque grills anywhere in this area. We’re the first in the area.”

Propane grill owners will tell you that owning a grill isn’t cheap. It’s not uncommon for lines to run upwards of a few thousand dollars. And when things go wrong with something that expensive, it can be incredibly frustrating. Luckily, ER Chimney has you covered.

“We’ll have access to replacement parts for all manufacturers,” said Antkowiak, one of the longest tenured contractors in the area. “If you can’t find it at Home Depot or Lowes, we can handle that for you.”

ER Chimney isn’t a stranger to working with propane and gas, as they already offered an array of stoves. And with things warming up outside, the addition of a new service just made sense.

“It’s been about five years since adding new services - which was roof cleaning. I’m excited about this, though. This is a new adventure. It’s like the birth of a child,” said Antkowiak excitedly.

While ER Chimney is now offering grill services, now would also be the perfect time to get a head start and tackle any issues you may have had over the winter with your chimney or really any type of contracting work.

“It’s the prime time to do any masonry or chimney repairs. When it’s cold out you can’t use a lot of the chemicals and sealers that we use. So we try to help people get it done in the spring and summer,” said Antkowiak

To celebrate 40 years in business, as well as the introduction of new grill services, ER Chimney is offering major discounts for the month of May. If you combine grill and chimney services, you’re looking at a 20 percent discount. However, if you live in Dundalk, Edgemere, Essex, Middle River, Rosedale or White Marsh, you are looking at a 50 percent discount on chimney work with 20 percent off other services, including gutter repairs, roof cleaning and basically anything else they offer. They are also offering 10 percent off barbeque grills, accessories and hearth products.

“From one season into another, you’re finishing heating but now you’re coming into the season when you use your grill,” said Antkowiak. “We can help you get everything set to make sure you enjoy the summer months.”

ER Chimney is a full service, licensed home improvement contractor. They are a full service, licensed home improvement contractor who can handle any request.

ER Chimney is located at 4031 North Point Road in Dundalk. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, with Saturday appointments available. Additional information about their services can be found online at www.erchimneyservices.com or by calling 410-388-0076.

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Local senior living communities celebrate expansion, ‘significant’ renovations

Local senior living communities celebrate expansion, ‘significant’ renovations
A new bistro-style dining room with a brick pizza oven was part of the facility’s 80,000-square-foot expansion. Photo courtesy of The Shelter Group.

(Updated 10/4/17)

- By Marge Neal -


When the Brightview senior living community in Perry Hall opened in 2014, it didn’t take long for the facility to reach capacity.

As a “significant wait list” for potential residents kept growing, officials realized an expansion would be needed sooner rather than later.

“We strive to create senior living communities that provide quality service, care and amenities,” Eileen Adams, regional director of operations for Brightview, said in a statement. “With the overwhelming demand to live in these communities, we wanted to ensure more seniors had access to Brightview.”

Last month, officials from The Shelter Group, Brightview’s parent company, gathered to celebrate the 80,000-square-foot expansion of the Belair Road community that added 63 independent living apartments, a new bistro-style dining room with a brick pizza oven, a sports pub, movie theater and game room with a pool table, shuffle boards and a poker table.

“All of the adult children of our residents who visit say, ‘I want to live here,’” Julie Masiello, a company spokeswoman, said with a laugh. “It really is beautiful.”

With the expansion, the Perry Hall community now has 210 apartments, with 145 independent living and 35 assisted living units, and 29 apartments in Wellspring Village, a specialized community that provides dementia care to residents, according to Masiello.

The company is also celebrating recently completed renovations to its White Marsh community on Rossville Boulevard.

The White Marsh community opened in 1999 with 82 assisted living units and 26 Wellspring apartments.

“While we make capital improvements to our communities almost every year, we completed a significant renovation at White Marsh,” Masiello said.

Common areas received new carpeting and window treatments, fresh paint and new furniture, Masiello said. The project included a new resident fitness area, store and salon as well as improvements to individual apartments. The health and wellness suite was upgraded and wifi was added for the entire community.

Masiello said the White Marsh renovations cost about $1 million, and the cost of the Perry Hall expansion was not available at press time.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who attended the ribbon-cutting held Sept. 19, said in a statement that Perry Hall was one of the first projects he championed after being elected to represent the Fifth District in 2010.

“I am delighted with the outcome,” he said in the statement. “This is a beautiful community that keeps seniors close to their families and supports over 100 local jobs.”

While the official ribbon-cutting was held last month, the celebration of the two new and improved communities continues.

The Perry Hall community, 9657 Belair Road, will hold a Happy Hour from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5. All guests who attend will receive an entry in a raffle for a 50-inch flat-screen TV and a tablet. Visitors should RSVP to Debra at dhanley@bvsl.net or Linda at lreardon@bvsl.net.

Brightview White Marsh, 8100 Rossville Blvd., will celebrate its makeover with a grand reopening event from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19. All guests who attend will receive an entry in a raffle for a 50-inch flat-screen TV. RSVP to Michelle at mmcquillan@bvsl.net.

Both events are free and open to the public, according to Masiello.

“It just feels good there,” Masiello said of the Brightview communities. “We welcome visitors to come and see what we’ve done.”

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Kiddie Health celebrates 10 years in Rosedale

Kiddie Health celebrates 10 years in Rosedale
Dr. Melanie Garcia (middle left) and her husband, Larry (middle right) pose with their team. Photo by Patrick Taylor.

(Updated 9/13/17)

- By Patrick Taylor -


This year Kiddie Health, located at 1232 Race Road in Rosedale, is turning 10. While this practice is still young enough to see it’s own pediatrician, Dr. Melanie Garcia has turned it from a fledgling operation into one of the best practices in the area.

Garcia, who opened the practice with her husband, Larry, earned her medical degree at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. She did her pediatric residency training at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and The Children’s Hospital at St. Joseph in Paterson, NJ.

“I come from a long line of doctors, a lot of my family are doctors,” said Garcia. “I was inspired by an aunt and uncle who worked in pediatrics.”

From there she started her own practice on the Eastern Shore before moving to join a practice in Essex. After four years there, it was time to go solo. And ever since that leap in 2007, her clientel has grown massively, so much so they had to acquire a bigger office in their building. They increased from two to four examining rooms (all of which are decorated to fit a Baltimore theme) and now own their spot as opposed to renting.

“The practice has come a long way,” said Dr. Garcia. “It really has grown significantly.”

The staff at Kiddie Health, which includes three medical assistants, is highly skilled. Those skills include speaking Spanish and Filipino, which works well for the area given the rise in the area’s Hispanic population and large Filipino population in the Rosedale area.

While they mostly cover patients in the Essex, Rosedale and White Marsh areas, Dr. Garcia noted that she still has patients from Bowie and other parts of Maryland.

“Those are long-time patients who are very comfortable here,” she said. “We also have generational patients, with some that I treated as children now bringing in their own children.”

Kiddie Health accepts all forms of insurance, except Kaiser. For a listing of operating hours, as well as a virtual tour, policies, forms and more, visit www.kiddiehealth.com. or call 410-687-0808 to schedule an appointment.

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Norris Ford celebrates 100 years in Dundalk

Norris Ford celebrates 100 years in Dundalk
Diane Craig gifted the Norris/Cook families with an honorary plaque. She noted that there are only 36 other Ford dealerships in the country who have hit the 100 year mark. Photo by Patrick Taylor.

(Updated 6/20/17)

- By Patrick Taylor -


This year, Norris Ford in Dundalk is celebrating their centennial anniversary, and on June 9 and 10 they hosted local politicians, members of the Ford team and the Dundalk community to join in the celebration.

With an array of classic cars on display, the Norris and Cook families discussed the history of the dealership, which stretches back to 1917.

George Norris was in the buggy business when things started, and when he heard about Henry Ford he traveled out to Michigan to meet with him. Just a couple weeks later, Norris and Ford had a dealership agreement, with the first dealership located on Dundalk Avenue where Pinland Lanes currently sits.

“Norris Ford is not only a pillar of our community, it’s part of the fabric of Dundalk,” said Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7). “We look forward to having you here for another 100 years.”

Over the years, Norris Ford has shown great ability to adapt. When economic downturn halted new car sales, they started selling used cars and parts. Eventually, they realized they had a golden opportunity with wholesale part sales and committed to that endeavour. Now, they sell approximately $2.5 million worth of wholesale parts monthly, which puts them in the top 10 wholesale parts dealers in the nation.

“It’s just an incredible accomplishment,” said Diane Craig of Ford. “What makes our company so special is family businesses which is what we have in Norris/Cook. Continuous ownership in a single community is just fantastic.”

Craig noted that Henry Ford’s mission wasn’t just to make money, but to give back to the community.

“You’ve done so much to give back to the community,” Craig continued. “It really is a role model store. This is the face of Ford in this community, and it’s the people who make it special.”

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