Crandell skips debate, candidates discuss Tradepoint TIF and government center

Crandell skips debate, candidates discuss Tradepoint TIF and government center
In crowded Dist. 7 council race, four candidates tried to get some separation on Monday night’s League of Women Voters forum held at the North Point Library.
- Article & photo by Patrick Taylor -

Four of the five candidates running for county council in District 7 participated in a debate on Monday night, with the main focus on development and overcrowding. Notably absent from the debate was Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7).

Crandell informed the League of Women Voters, hosts of the debate, two weeks ago that he would not be attending.

The East County Times reached out to Crandell, as well as two aides, Doug Anderson and Ron Metzger, on Monday for comment on his absence, but as of Tuesday received no response.

Crandell’s absence was felt, with multiple candidates taking aim at the incumbent’s decision.

“It’s a shame that the Republican candidate couldn’t show, and I think it’s very telling,” said Dave Rader, a write-in candidate, toward the end of the debate.

Alongside Rader for the debate were Democratic candidate Brian Weir, Libertarian candidate Doug Stanley and another write-in candidate, Tim Fazenbaker. For over an hour on Monday night the four candidates discussed a wide range of issues, from overdevelopment and overcrowding to tax increment financing (TIF) at Tradepoint Atlantic and general safety issues.

When asked about their priorities, there was a decent amount of crossover. Both Stanley and Rader listed improving the area’s infrastructure, which Stanley referred to as “outdated and falling apart.”

Weir primarily focused on safety issues as his top priority. The Democratic nominee said that he would like to see more police hired. Aside from needing more police, he also added that the police need to be utilized the way they should. Instead of acting as crossing guards for schools at the beginning and end of the school day, Weir said he would like to hire senior citizens looking for part time work, which would have the twofold benefit of providing work for seniors while keeping police on the streets.

Fazenbaker, a former health care executive, made a push for better school infrastructure and improved jobs. “We don’t have what we should be getting [in this district],” said Fazenbaker, adding that “Crandell isn’t delivering” on jobs promises.

With the Tradepoint Atlantic site being  built up, Fazenbaker hammered home the point that the jobs they are bringing in need to be jobs with good wages, like manufacturing jobs, biotech and federal jobs. He also said he would like to see the TIF deal tied to school improvements.

Weir expanded on that idea, telling the audience of 60 or so people gathered at the North Point Library that they should “take it to the next level” and add $50 million to the deal with the caveat that Tradepoint would have to provide funding for major school improvement projects.

While the overall attitude seemed to be one of resignation that the TIF deal was all but done, Fazenbaker agreed that more could be gotten out of it for the district.

“If we want to stop it, we can. If we want it to go through, we can get a better deal,” said Fazenbaker.

Rader, who identified as a Democratic Republican in the mold of Thomas Jefferson, added that he didn’t think it was a done deal, and that the people of the community could petition to halt the deal for at least four years. He said he was “generally opposed to billionaires getting taxpayer money.”

“They have received over $100 million in tax breaks,” said Rader, adding that the group who purchased the former Bethlehem Steel yard bought it for $110 million in 2014. “The have been making money left and right,” Rader added.

Stanley agreed with Rader, saying Tradepoint should “not have corporate welfare,” but he was less enthusiastic about the odds of stopping the deal. “There’s a high probability the state goes around the community and pushes it through,” said Stanley.

On the subject of the North Point Government Center, Stanley lamented the prospect of developers getting hold of the property that has long been the subject of fiery debates about its function in the community.

“I do not want to see the government center turned into another large chunk of asphalt,” said Stanley.

Stanley said he would like to see the building utilized more. The Libertarian candidate added that the building space could be utilized by Baltimore County Public Schools to help alleviate overcrowding issues.

Weir, who has years of experience working with Baltimore County Recreation and Parks, said he would like to see a state-of-the-art theatre on that property, but that he would want to speak with community leaders and recreation and parks to find out what they want.

On the opioid epidemic, Weir took a hard line on medical marijuana.

“I am the only candidate in favor of medical marijuana,” said Weir, before going into a heartfelt speech about how cannabidio oil helped his late son with seizures before his untimely passing. “In this area we need better solutions, beds and immediate treatment,” Weir said.

Fazenbaker told the audience there needed to be better treatment options than methadone clinics, and that when those clinics are brought to communities there needs to be community input to make sure these clinics aren’t being placed near schools.

Rader, providing no evidence, theorized that millions of dollars earmarked for opioid treatment have gone missing, and that, if elected, he would uncover those funds and use them to treat the epedemic the way it should be treated.

“That money could go to a new facility,” said Rader.

On safety around Dundalk Avenue, all candidates agreed that more collaboration with Baltimore City was necessary to combat the quality of life issues that have many local residents avoiding the area. Rader, however, took it one step further.

“We have to do everything we can to work with the city on this issue,” said Rader. “If they can’t handle it, we should annex it.” read more

County’s elementary schools can’t crack elusive ‘Top 100’ list

County’s elementary schools can’t crack elusive ‘Top 100’ list
(Updated on Sept. 28)

- By Marge Neal -


A website specializing in ranking the nation’s schools according to a variety of criteria recently released lists of the top elementary schools in each state.

Niche.com’s Top 100 Elementary Schools in Maryland is notable for the jurisdictions that dominate the list as well as the absence of any Baltimore County Public Schools.

Montgomery and Howard counties rule the Top 100 list, with 65 and 25 entries, respectively. Frederick County breaks into the list with Centerville Elementary at the no. 44 spot, and finishes with seven schools total, while Worcester makes appearances at no. 72 with Ocean City and no. 97 with Pocomoke. Anne Arundel County was the fourth and final jurisdiction to break onto the list with West Annapolis in the 94th spot.

Asked about the relevance and importance — or lack thereof — of rankings such as these, and the significance

of no Baltimore County elementary schools in the Top 100, the East County Times received this response from school system spokesman Brandon Oland: “BCPS is routinely well represented on lists put out by prominent media organizations, including U.S. News and World Report and The Washington Post. BCPS is also home to 24 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, 14 of which are elementary schools.”

Blue Ribbon schools are so recognized for either one specific year of high standardized test scores (top 15 percent in the state) or three to five years of marked improvement in closing achievement gaps between sub-groups of students, according to Maryland and National Blue Ribbon School criteria. For example, an elementary school named a Blue Ribbon School for exemplary test scores in 2000 received that recognition based on that year’s fifth-grade student scores, according to Darla Strouse, the executive director of Office of Partnerships and Recognition for the Maryland State Department of Education.

Because the awards recognize high achievement for a specific period of time, winning schools that choose to use the Blue Ribbon School logo on banners or other means of advertising must include the year the award was won, according to the National Blue Ribbon School website.

While the Top 100 schools received the most attention in the niche.com report, the organization ranked all of Maryland’s elementary schools. Baltimore County first entered the list at no. 157 on the back of Pinewood, and six more Towson-area schools received nods from no. 160 (Lutherville Laboratory) through 189 (Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technology).

Northeast Baltimore County first appears with Chapel Hill at no. 221; Middle River’s Vincent Farm makes the list at no. 315; Essex is first represented by Middleborough (no. 382), Edgemere gets on the list with Chesapeake Terrace at no. 474, and the Dundalk area gets its first mention with Charlesmont at no. 492.

The final Baltimore County school on the list is also an Essex-area school, with Deep Creek Elementary getting spot no. 673.

And while Montgomery and Howard counties dominate the top 100 elementary schools list, the City of Baltimore pretty much owns the bottom 100 of the more than 900 schools studied. Prince George’s County has 14 of the bottom 100 schools while Baltimore owns the other 86.

Rankings in the middle of the pack can be misleading simply because of the shear number of elementary schools in the state. For example, Baltimore County’s highest ranking school, Pinewood at no. 157, would at first appear to be a mediocre ranking. But the school received an overall letter grade of A-minus. In its more detailed report card, Riderwood received an A in academics, an A-minus in quality of teachers and a B-plus in diversity. It was described as a “highly rated school.”

The county’s last school on the list — Deep Creek, which did not receive a numerical ranking in accordance with niche.com’s methodology but was listed in the 673rd spot — received an overall grade of C, with a C-minus in academics, C-plus for teachers and a B-plus in diversity.

The website also ranked school districts in Maryland, and again, at first glance, Baltimore County’s showing at no. 14 of 24 jurisdictions appears to be a less than stellar placement. But the system received an overall grade of B, and was described as an “above average” public school district with 38 percent of students testing at “at least proficient “ in math and 40 percent in reading.

Howard County, judged the state’s top public school district, was described as a “highly-rated” system with 59 percent of all students at least proficient in math and 58 percent in reading.

Niche.com gave both numerical rankings and letter grades to schools that satisfied all of the judging criteria requirements, according to the site. Reviewers issue numerical rankings and overall grades based upon criteria using a process described in detail on the site under “methodology.”

The rankings were developed using a combination of categories, including academics, diversity, events and clubs, quality of teachers, student-teacher ratio, state test scores, student and parent reviews and U.S. Department of Education statistics, according to the website.

A “rigorous analysis” of the data resulted in the rankings as published.

Schools missing more than 50 percent of the factors were excluded completely from the list and received neither a ranking nor a letter grade. Schools that had at least 50 percent of the factors but lacked one or more of the required factors were not included in the numerical rankings but were assigned a grade in accordance with methodology protocol, according to the site.

The final Baltimore County school to receive a numerical ranking from niche.com was Joppa View at no. 407 and the final overall ranked school was numbered 461. Numbers higher than that were assigned in order of appearance by the Times simply for reference to placement on the list of about 925 schools.

While county schools spokesman Oland refused to expand on the county’s response on the value of the study when asked, MSDE’s Strouse said she “very much” sees the value of such studies and subsequent rankings.

“I appreciate these studies and think there’s merit to them, but I’m not a statistical guru like others are and I’m not in a position to say this one’s great and that one’s not,” she said. “I think the truth is, when all those criteria are combined and studied, the resulting rankings are important — they give you an overall picture of the institution.”

Such studies can help parents decide where to live, where to send their kids to college and be used as a tool by specific schools to improve academics and other elements of the school experience, Strouse believes.

  read more

More new buildings planned for Tradepoint Atlantic

(Updated on Sept. 28)

- By Virginia Terhune -


Tradepoint Atlantic plans to add more than 100 acres to its space for automotive roll on-roll off operations at the redeveloping former Bethlehem Steel mill in Sparrows Point.

Pasha Automotive Services leased 21 acres off Shipyard Road in 2016 to import foreign cars by ship to Tradepoint docks for processing and delivery to  inland customers.

A plan to provide more space for similar roll-on, roll-off services by additional tenants was endorsed on Sept. 11 by the county’s Development Review Committee, a group of department representatives that reviews preliminary plans.

The plan shows several buildings on a 115-acre site,  including two processing centers, body shop, quality shop, car wash and fuel station.

A recommendation by the DRC allows Tradepoint and its tenants to apply for building permits  without a public hearing but with further plan review by county agencies to ensure compliance with county regulations.

The DRC also recently endorsed Tradepoint’s concept plan to build  a 1.6 million-square-foot distribution building to the east of the automotive area that can accommodate one or more tenants.
“In the last four years, we’ve leased 4.5 million square feet, with 3 million of it being new space,” said Tradepoint spokesman Aaron Tomarchio about redevelopment to date during a Sept. 11 bus tour organized by the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce based in White Marsh.

To help the company compete with other logistics and industrial centers for tenants, Tradepoint also recently formed Revitalize Sparrows Point, a coalition of community, business and labor
organizations to support Tradepoint’s request for a TIF.

The requested TIF, or tax increment financing agreement, would  provide up to $150 million to finish building and upgrading roads and water and sewer lines on the 3,200-acre former Bethlehem Steel site.

Baltimore County has commissioned RKG Associates based in Alexandria, Va.  to do a feasibility study of the proposal.

If approved by the County Council before the end of the year, the TIF would enable the sale of  bonds through MEDCO (Maryland Economic Development Corporation), a quasi-government body based in Baltimore that sells revenue bonds to generate capital for a varity of construction projects.

Tradepoint would have the money to spend early next year, and bond holders would be repaid over time from part of the additional tax revenue due the county and state that will be generated by higher assessments on the redeveloped steel mill.
In the meantime, Tradepoint has already invested millions of dollars to upgrade its rail and docking facilities as it continues to prepare sections of its property for a range of industrial, commercial and retail tenants.

Tomarchio said Tradepoint is taking down some remaining buildings from the steel operation while simultaneously doing environmental cleanup work and juggling new construction projects.

“We look at the sites like a Rubrik’s Cube,” he said. “There are different combinations and every day it’s changing.”

Already built by Tradepoint and still to be leased is a 1 million-square-foot building that could serve one or more tenants next to Fed Ex’s distribution center off Bethlehem Boulevard.

Tradepoint also built a 1.3-million-squar-efoot building for Under Armour due to open in the spring and a 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center built for Amazon, which has started to hire 1,500 people to fill warehouse jobs before the holidays.

It also built two logistics buildings totaling 350,000 square feet near its wharf on the Patapso River to accommodate bulk importers such as Perdue AgriBusiness, which imports organic grains.

Also in the works is a 70-acre retail and restaurant complex off Bethlehem Boulevard at the north end of the site that will include a Royal Farms store that is expected to open in 2020 after Amazon and Under Armour are up and running with thousands of employees.

Cutting through the retail site from east to west is the Tin Mill canal that formerly carried  wastewater from steel making operations towards Bear Creek.

Contaminated soil from the canal is being removed section by section and the channel relined to accept stormwater from the redeveloped site.

Tradepoint has scheduled its annual fall open house for the public on Thursday, Oct. 18, starting at  6 tp.m. at the Tradepoint offices off Sparrows Point Boulevard.

For more information about Tradepoint Atlantic, visit www.tradepointatlantic.com or facebook/ www.facebook.com/TradepointATL. For more information about the TIF coalition, visit revitalizesparrowspoint.com.

Study: Many county residents struggle just to survive

(Updated on Sept. 28, 2018)

- By Marge Neal -


The stock market might be at record high levels and the state’s and nation’s unemployment levels at or near record lows.

But those numbers don’t mean much to struggling working class people who have no money to invest in the stock market and are working part-time jobs at wages insufficient to pay the most basic of living expenses.

In Baltimore County, 38 percent of all households live below what has been dubbed the ALICE threshold, according to a recent study published by United Way of Central Maryland.

ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and is used to describe individuals and families that have enough income to put them above the federal poverty level but not enough to comfortably afford basic necessities as determined by the cost of living in each jurisdiction.

“ALICE isn’t going away, and as this latest report shows, the numbers are only increasing,” United Way of Central Maryland President Franklyn Baker said in a statement releasing a summary of the study. “We must continue to work together to help remove barriers in areas such as housing, transportation and child care that prevent so many of our citizens from leading a stable, secure life.”

The results of the study were released via a webinar for journalists and other interested parties on Sept. 12.

For purposes of the study, basic necessities are defined as housing, child care, food, transportation and health care. This year’s ALICE survival budgets also include the cost for a smart phone for each adult, which United Way no longer considers a luxury but a must have tool in terms of communications, job hunting, web searching and other day-to-day tasks.

The study results earlier this month are based on 2016 income and costs of living, according to the report.

In Baltimore County, 38 percent of all 312, 921 households live on incomes at or below the ALICE threshold, according to the study.

In Maryland, the ALICE survival budget is $69,672 for a family of two adults and two children and $26,052 for an individual, while the federal poverty level is set at $24,300 for a family of four and $11,880 for an individual.

The United Way study determined that an individual living in Baltimore County needs to make a full-time hourly wage of $14.13 just to make the survival budget, which is $2,355 a month or $28,260 annually, according to the report. A family of four would need to make a combined $38.17 per hour hour just to provide basic necessities, which cost $6,362 per month or $76,344 annually.

In eastern Baltimore County, the percentage of households at or below the ALICE threshold (including poverty) varies from slightly below to considerably above the state average.

Kingsville and White Marsh residents fare the best with 27 and 28 percent, respectively, of all households struggling to survive. The Dundalk area, the largest east side community with 23,425 households, has an ALICE/poverty level of 58 percent, with Essex (14,748 households) at 53 percent, Middle River (9,791) at 49 percent and Parkville (12,579 households) at 48 percent.

Contributing to workers’ struggles to make ends meet is the domination of low-wage jobs, according to the report. Half of all jobs pay less than $20 an hour, and more and more workers depend on “gig” work and contractual jobs that offer no benefits and little to no stability or permanence.

In addition, survival budgets are increasing at a rate far surpassing the rate of inflation, according to the study.

From 2010 to 2016, Maryland’s survival budgets have increased by 27 percent, as compared to a nine-percent inflation rate for the same time period, according to the United Way summary.

“At United Way of Central maryland, the ALICE findings have reinforced our fight to ensure strong, healthy families in the neighborhoods we serve,” Baker said in the statement. “This updated research underscores the work still to be done in both advocating for and providing services to this vulnerable population.”

Asked during the webinar how the data would be used specifically to help vulnerable and struggling citizens, Baker said the data will arm advocates with the information needed to promote legislation for things like increased minimum wages and to better design programs that serve and assist citizens in their quests to improve the quality of their lives.
 

Perry Hall Apple Festival pushed back a week due to incoming storms

Perry Hall Apple Festival pushed back a week due to incoming storms
(Updated on Sept. 13, 2018)

- Article & photo by Patrick Taylor -


The Perry Hall Apple Festival, orginially scheduled for Sept. 15 and 16, has been pushed back a week due to the impending storms slated for the weekend.

The festival, hosted by Chapel Hills Farm & Nursery in conjunction with the Perry Hall Improvement Association, will now take place on Sept. 22 and 23, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. each day.

“We’ve been doing this for six years and we’ve never had a rain-out,” said Chapel Hills owner Russell Berk “This would be the first one.”

When news of inclement weather hit, Berk said that Dennis Robinson, former president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, began working to see if the crafters would be able to make a rain date the following weekend happen, should the weather cancel this weekend’s event.

Despite the rain delay the Perry Hall Apple Festival is once again promises to be a great time. Arrow Horse, a wildly talented five-piece bluegrass group, is set to play from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, perfectly timed for those who need to take a little breather after the 11:30 a.m. pie contests scheduled for each day. Arrow Horse is being sponsored this year by Al Redmer, a former Perry Hall delegate who is running for County Executive.

“[Arrow Horse] has played the last two years on that weekend and they do very well,” said Berk.

Councilman David Marks is sponsoring an Amish apple butter demonstration, while Delegates Christian Miele and Joe Cluster, along with candidates Joe Boteler and Joe Norman, are sponsoring the return of Masters of the Chainsaw.

“The Amish from Chester County come on Saturday, and they won’t be around on Sunday,” said Berk. “So if people have an interest in that they should make sure they’re here on Saturday.”

And for those unfamiliar, Masters of the Chainsaw is a group of the nation’s top professional chainsaw sculptors, dedicated to promoting and preserving the integrity of the art form and it’s performance. The performers quickly and skillfully work to transform a three-foot tall log into a true work of art. Anywhere from one to four sculptures are usually finished within an hour.

As always, there will be pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting by Fantasy Artz, hayrides and a whole lot more.

“The hayride is number one here,” said Berk. “We have a lot of people that come back each weekend to do it, and we do it
for seven weekends.”

Since its inception six years ago, the Perry Hall Apple Festival has attracted approximately 5,000 visitors each year. And for those familiar with the festival, community is what it is all about.

“The Perry Hall Apple Festival has become a tradition in our community, and I am delighted to once again serve as a sponsor,” said Marks. “It is a salute to our agricultural past, and an acknowledgement of all the great businesses and organizations in Perry Hall.”

Berk said that there will be some new crafters at this year’s festival, and DeNiro’s Beer, Wine and Spirits will be handling the wine tasting. The newly restored wooden firetruck will also be returning to the festival after a hiatus.

“That was missing for a couple years. The kids love to climb all over that,” said Berk.
For more information on the weekend’s events and vendors, feel free to visit www.perryhallapplefestival.com. read more

Woman slain in Overlea a witness to double-homicide

Woman slain in Overlea a witness to double-homicide
(Updated on Sept. 13, 2018)

- By Patrick Taylor and Marge Neal -


Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger confirmed to the East County Times on Monday afternoon that Tracey Elizabeth Carrington, who was murdered in Overlea on Sept. 7, was a witness to a double homicide that took place earlier this year.

“I can confirm that she was a witness in a double-homicide that happened in Towson,” said Shellenberger.

Reports that Carrington was a witness began circulating over the weekend, but went unconfirmed by Baltimore County officials until Monday afternoon. Shellenberger declined to give more information on the case.

Carrington, 25, was shot multiple times and killed as she and a friend were leaving S & S lounge at 6800 Belair Road shortly before 9 p.m. A dark SUV fled the scene in an unknown direction.

Police are investigating this as a targeted crime because no robbery or other crime was committed during the shooting and Carrington’s friend was unharmed.

Carrington was being called as a prosecution witness in the killing of Stanley B. Brunson Jr., 29, and Shameek Davone Joyner, 28 in Towson in April. Two brothers, Norwood Thomas Johnson Jr., 29, and Nyghee Nicholas Johnson, 21, have been charged with the killings.

The Johnson brothers had visited Brunson and Joyner at the Lambourne Apartments complex with the intention of executing a drug deal, according to police. Carrington was at the apartment complex when the killings took place.

Witness protection

On Tuesday morning, Shellenberger said he could not confirm that she was targeted as a witness. “We don’t know why she was targeted,” said Shellenberger. But if it does turn out that Carrington was targeted because of what she knew, it would not be the first time a witness was killed in Baltimore County.

In 2011 a Gwynn Oak man was shot and killed who was a witness in a drug and gun case. Clifford Carroll Butler and Derius Donald Duncan had first tried bribing Ronald Givens, the witness in question, before ultimately killing him.

On Aug. 27, Attorney General Brian Frosh announced the indictments of 13 gang members involved in murder and other acts of violence, firearm trafficking, narcotics distribution, witness intimidation and more. While most of the charging papers involve criminal activity in Baltimore City, a section alleges that an associate of the gang, Wayne Zeigler, stabbed and killed Gerrod Greenwood, of the 400 block of 52nd Street in Dundalk.

While locked up in Baltimore County Detention Facility, Zeigler learned the identity of a witness and shared that information with other members of the gang via mail. Gregory Randle, a member of the gang, then posted photos of the correspondence with Zeigler online, identifying the witness. Randle referred to the witness as a “rat” in a post and subsequently tagged other members of the gang.

“We do have money in our budget for witness protection. Either the police department or the witness themselves need to come forward and let us know they’re concerned about these things,” said Shellenberger. “That could be either from a threat that was made or a police officer or detectives knowing certain amount of information about the case.”

Shellenberger said that, on all felonies, when a witness gives a statement to police, identifying information such as address and phone number are shielded, but a person’s name is not masked.

The Baltimore County State’s Attorney told The East County Times that “for many years now, getting witnesses to come to court has been getting more difficult.”

Remembering Tracey Carrington

Carrington, who lived in Essex at the time of her death, was a 2011 Dundalk High School graduate, where she was a standout athlete and a smart, outgoing and energetic student, according to Kristy Anelli, who was Dundalk’s assistant principal at the time.

“I was absolutely shocked, just crushed, when I heard the news about Tracey,” Anelli told the East County Times on Tuesday. “I was just in disbelief that she could be lost to such a crime.”

Anelli, who is now a supervisor in the county school system’s Office of Title I, recalled a student who lit up a room when she entered it and a student who went out of her way to veer away from trouble.

“Tracey was level-headed and mature,” Anelli said. “She was never the student who was attracted to trouble — she stayed the course, she had her basketball and college to look forward to and she didn’t let anything get in the way of that.”

The administrator lauded Carrington for finishing her college degree in four years, which she said can be difficult for some students who report to the high school without a strong academic background or are lacking some key subjects like algebra. Carrington took her studies seriously and would stay after school to do school work or ask for extra help when she needed it, Anelli said.

Carrington graduated from Morgan State University in 2015, receiving her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor course of study in criminal justice. She also played basketball for the Morgan Bears.

The disciplined athlete made a name for herself while playing for the Dundalk High Owls. She was a three-time letter-winner in basketball and finished her high school career with 1,615 points, 727 rebounds and 97 blocks, according to her Morgan State online bio. She averaged 27.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.5 steals per game and was named to the All-Metro First Team by the Baltimore Sun. She was named to the Sun’s All-Metro Second Team in both her sophomore and junior years.

“I believe that there hasn’t been a better female basketball player either before or since Tracey played at Dundalk,” Anelli said. “All the teachers, all the coaches, everyone knew we were watching greatness.”

Carrington had an equally big impact on the basketball team at Morgan, where she put up impressive game statistics and was named to the MEAC All-Rookie Team her freshman year, according to her online bio. In that first year, she played in 24 games while making four starts. She averaged 7.5 points and ranked third on the team in rebounding with 5.3 per game.

Anelli noted that Tracey had a twin brother, known as “Bubba,” with whom she enjoyed the typical close twin relationship, and said she can’t stop grieving for Carrington’s family as they deal with this senseless loss of life.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” Anelli said.

Carrington will be remembered for her sense of humor and her love of laughter and the ability to make others laugh, according to Anelli.

“She loved her family, she loved God and she loved her friends,” Anelli said. “She was such a beautiful spirit and I can’t believe she’s gone.” read more

‘Pristine waterfront gem’ on display at Marshy Point Fall Festival

(Updated Sept. 13, 2018)

- By Marge Neal -

Marshy Point Nature Center Director Ben Porter is so excited about the gift of the Chesapeake Bay that he throws a party twice a year to share the natural resource that for many people defines Maryland.

The center and its dedicated volunteers invite the community to attend Marshy Point’s 11th annual Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22.

“We do this to raise money to help support the work of the center — it all goes back to our nonprofit to help with animals, exhibits and that sort of thing,” Porter said of the twice-yearly festivals. “But the real purpose is to raise awareness and knowledge of this wonderful place in our backyards.”

Admission to the event is free, as is parking, but several activities do involve a small cost to participate, according to Porter.

“We’ll have many exhibits, activities and demonstrations that are free,” he said. “But some crafts, hayrides and the obstacle course, for example, will have small fees.

In addition to activities that have become time-honored festival favorites, Porter said new activities this year include a demonstration on wool spinning and the hayrides in the meadow.

“I think they might have done hayrides about 10 years ago but not since then so we’re bringing them back,” the naturalist said.

Representatives from the Phoenix Wildlife Center — an animal rehabilitation center — will visit with birds of prey, according to Porter, and another organization will visit with exotic parrots and a cockatoo.

Musical entertainment will include an acoustical guitarist in the morning and a performance by The Wild Leeks — the nature center’s resident band — will take place in the afternoon.

In-water demonstrations will feature Chesapeake Bay retrievers and reenactors will offer scenes depicting life in the 18th century, Porter said. Canoe and boat trips on Dundee Creek will be offered at a small cost, and food and craft vendors will sell their goods.

“And we’ll have a solar telescope for people to look at the sun,” Porter said.

The day’s events are all about the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, according to Porter, who encourages all local residents to come enjoy the “gem” that is Marshy Point Nature Center.

All of the county’s nature centers have their own, individual identities, according to the naturalist, and Marshy Point is proud of its bay heritage, according to Porter.

“We like to remind people that Marshy Point is one of the largest chunks of undeveloped land on the upper bay,” Porter said. “Marshy Point backs up to Gunpowder State Park which backs up to Aberdeen Proving Ground.

“I really encourage people to come out and enjoy this beautiful, pristine spot.”

The nature center is at 7130 Marshy Point Road in Middle River. For more information about the festival or the center and its many programs, call 410-887-2817.

Nepali center in Glen Arm proposes alternative entrance

Nepali center in Glen Arm proposes alternative entrance
Bonaparte Mansion in Glen Arm.
(Updated Sept. 13)

- By Virginia Terhune -


The Nepali American Cultural Center in Glen Arm has proposed an alternative entrance and exit off Harford Road in hopes of winning State Highway Administration approval for a required access permit for its planned transition from a large house to a worship center.

Center members recently purchased the 31-acre former Bonaparte estate at 12231 Harford Road south of the Mt. Vista Road roundabout for use as a Hindu and Buddhist place of worship. The two religions’ observances are intertwined in the Himalayan country located between northern India and Tibet.

Neighbors are concerned that added traffic could make things worse on that section of two-lane Harford Road, which is a commuter route to Towson and the site of accidents because of two sharp turns near the entrance.

Right now there is one driveway across from Bonaparte Avenue serving vehicles entering and leaving the property. An alternative presented a county Board of Appeals hearing on Sept. 6 would reserve that point on Harford Road as an entrance only and create a second point about 70 feet north around one of the curves as an exit only.

In addition, the SHA has indicated it would routinely trim trees in its right-of-way near Bonaparte Avenue to also improve site distance for drivers, said engineers for the center at the hearing.

Talks are ongoing with the SHA, which has not yet decided whether to issue a permit for the changed use of the property, they said.

In January a county administrative law judge granted the center a special exception that enables a religious institution in a rural zone, provided it comply with nine provisions. One of them is not appearing to be “detrimental to the health, safety or general welfare of the locality involved.”

Local residents appealed to the Board of Appeals, which met on July 19 and Sept. 6 with additional hearing days scheduled for Sept. 12, Oct 11 and 23, and Nov. 1 and 29 in Towson.

Renovations that had begun on the house are now on hold pending the outcome of the case. read more

Calvary Baptist honors public servants at annual service

Calvary Baptist honors public servants at annual service
The Baltimore County Fire Department Honor Guard participated in Calvary Baptist’s Public Servant Appreciation Day on Sept. 9. Photo credit: Richard Lippenholz, Executive Office of the Governor
- By Marge Neal -

It’s not a common sight to see a lot of people in various emergency uniforms filing in to a church. And it could be easy to assume it’s bad news if such a scene is spotted.

But when it happens at Dundalk’s Calvary Baptist Church, regulars know it must be the group’s annual Public Servant Appreciation Day.

The congregation held its 14th annual service to honor elected leaders, first responders, nurses, doctors and even a few judges on Sept. 9.

“I haven’t been on staff that long, but I’m pretty sure this started as a result of Sept. 11,” school and church secretary Emilee Plumstead told the East County Times, referring to the multi-pronged terrorist attacks of 2001. “We try to hold it on the Sunday closest to Sept. 11 if that fits with our schedule.”

This year’s event attracted about 15 elected office-holders, including Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, and about 30 firefighters, police officers, EMTs, doctors, nurses and judges, according to Plumstead.

“And the honor guards from the Baltimore County fire and police departments were there,” she said.

The music and the message is customized to recognize the special guests. Baltimore County Police Officer Tim Thulion shared his talents by singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” for those in attendance.

The annual service is popular with church members, who usually fill the pews to express their appreciation, Plumstead said.

A highlight of the program came when church member Nellie Rainier was surprised with a Governor’s Citation thanking her for  her decades-ago service in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to Plumstead. The citation was presented by Rutherford on behalf of Gov. Larry Hogan.

As a token of appreciation all guests of honor were offered gift cards from Mission BBQ and all were invited to join the congregation for a meal after the service, according to Plumstead.

“This is just a small way for us to say ‘thanks’ for all the do,” Plumstead said. “We really do appreciate their service to our community and our nation.” read more

Group opposes townhouse plan for Essex

(Update on Sept. 13, 2018)

- By Virginia Terhune -

A plan to build 125 townhouses on a wooded parcel off Back River Neck Road in Essex run into opposition last week from a nearby community association that would prefer to see lower-density development.

“We’re looking to revitalize our area, which has excessive amounts of multi-family,” said Kim Goodwin, referring to the decades-old apartment complexes that border two sides of the 22-acre site.

“We think [the property] is appropriate for single-family homes,” said Goodwin, president of the nearby Rockaway Beach-Turkey Point Improvement Association.

Goodwin spoke during a public hearing about the plan before a county administrative law judge on Sept. 7 in Towson. The judge is expected to issue a ruling within a few weeks.

Proposing the project called Hyde Park Overlook is Canterbury Property LLC and local developer Ed Gold, who was also associated with the Preserve at Windlass Run townhouses in White Marsh.

If approved, the new three-story townhouses will likely boost enrollment at Deep Creek Elementary, which is currently overcrowded by 117 students, according to a county analysis. Overflow students would go to either Mars Estates, Middleborough or Sandalwood elementary schools, which are under capacity

The wooded site owned by the Hendersen-Webb apartment company is bounded by apartments along Middleborough Road and Southeastern Boulevard (Route 702), a shopping center and a bar on Hyde Park Road and a row of single-family houses on the opposite side of Back River Neck Road.

Opponents argued that the townhouses would add to pressure on schools, roads and utilities. They also said the Eastern Baltimore County Revitalization Strategy Action Plan of 1996 recommends low-density development.

“This is high density, with a lot of people packed on that piece of property,” Goodwin said.

Attorney for developers argued that the project will boost the supply of new for-sale housing in the area, and that the site falls within areas in the 2010 and 2010 county master plans recommended for infill development.

The developers also asked for setback variances, which opponents argued did not meet the standards for approval and were a way of squeezing in a few more units to maximize profits.

A 1988 plan for the site for an office-retail center was succeeded by an approved alternate plan in 2007 for an allowed 180 apartments.

Total allowed units in the latest townhouse plan is 184 but nearly half the property is unbuildable because of forest, wetland and stormwater management regulations, reducing the total units to 129.

Because of earlier plan approvals, construction can proceed under stormwater regulations in place before 2009.

First day of BCPS features new schools, school closings

First day of BCPS features new schools, school closings
(Updated 9/5/18)

- By Patrick Taylor -


Tuesday marked the first day of school for districts around the state, and while there was plenty of excitement in Baltimore County as the first day marked the opening of multiple new and rebuilt schools around the county, the school system also ran into familiar problems with 10 schools closed due to extreme heat.

Despite the setback for some schools, excitement was in the air on Tuesday as Interim Superintendent Verletta White toured multiple schools on the east side, including the brand new Honeygo Elementary School in White Marsh and the rebuilt Victory Villa Elementary School in Middle River.

“I’m thrilled beyond belief,” said Councilwoman Cathy Bevins (D-6), who represents the Victory Villa community. “It’s beautiful, and when you have a school like this that’s so beautiful it’s a sense of pride [for the community].”

Victory Villa, whose students were moved to the Rosedale Center over the last couple of years while construction was taking place, was bustling with students, faculty and parents Tuesday as everyone tried to get acclimated.

Marge Roberts, the principal at Victory Villa, said that everyone was “really just awestruck” by the new facility.

“We worked hard to get here,” said Roberts.

The construction projects at Victory Villa and the new Honeygo Elementary were planned as part of Baltimore County’s “Schools for Our Future” project. The projected timeline for finishing the project was originally 2023, but after a well-publicized spat between late County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and the tag-team of Comptroller Peter Franchot and Governor Larry Hogan - who make up two-thirds of the Board of Public Works and oversee capital dollar allotments for school systems - Baltimore County opted to forward-fund the projects. In total, the county forward-funded about $240 million worth of capital improvement dollars for the school system.

“We have only received about $40 million of that back so far,” said acting County Executive Don Mohler, Kamenetz’s former chief of staff.

Heat closures
While the mood was mostly celebratory around the county, 10 BCPS schools were closed on the first day due to excessive heat. The announcement to close the schools, which included Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts along with Berkshire, Colgate and Dundalk elementary schools, was made Monday night. The aforementioned schools are getting new buildings - with the exception being Patapsco, which received renovation funding - which will include air conditioning. But until those schools are finished they have to abide by the heat policy set forth by the school system.

The new Dundalk Elementary is set to open in 2019, with Berkshire and Colgate set for 2020. Until then, they will have to abide by the heat policy.

“You don’t like to miss the first day of school, but it’s for the children’s safety and the teachers’ safety,” said Delegate Ric Metzgar (R-7).

Despite the closures, Metzgar was impressed with what he saw at Victory Villa, telling The East County Times he hopes that the schools in his district get the same treatment.

“When I first drove up it felt like I was going to a university,” Metzgar quipped. “The space, the lighting, the openness, it’s great.” read more

Jealous wades into Hogan territory to pick up environmental endorsement

Jealous wades into Hogan territory to pick up environmental endorsement
David Smedick (center) announced the endorsement from the Sierra Club of Ben Jealous (right) and his running mate Susie Turnbull. The solar array chosen as the site for the announcement, located between two fields of soybean crops, was an example of such facilities taking the place of what is considered prime productive farm land. Photo by Devin Crum.
(Updated 9/5/18)

- By Devin Crum -


Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous (D) made a daring foray into Kingsville Friday, Aug. 31, to visit a solar farm and pick up the endorsement of two environmental advocacy groups.

Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in Kingsville by nearly 2-to-1, and Governor Larry Hogan won there in 2014 with 94 percent of the vote. But the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters chose a solar farm on Pfeffers Road, operated by WGL Energy in conjunction with Mom’s Organic Market, as the site for their announcement to make a point about renewable energy.

Among his campaign pledges, Jealous has promised to set a deadline for 100-percent clean and renewable energy produced in the state.

“Mr. Jealous is running on a strong environmental agenda that aligns with many of our current campaigns and priorities,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Karla Raettig in a statement. “In particular, we are inspired by his commitment of our shared goals for Maryland to lead on renewable and clean energy and his focus on smart growth for all of Maryland’s communities.”

David Smedick, campaign and policy director for the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, called Jealous an “environmental champion” while noting that the state, country and the planet are at a critical juncture regarding environmental protection and leadership.

“As we continue to face smoggy summers, litter and debris flowing into the Chesapeake Bay and the threat of dangerous climate disruption, we must look to our leaders to put forward bold and innovative solutions to protect our beautiful natural resources and firmly establish our state as a leader in the clean energy economy,” he said. “Over the last four years, we’ve seen too much zigging and zagging on priority environmental issues from the Hogan administration.”

Smedick criticized Hogan for his action in 2015 to “block and eventually gut” clean air protections for coal power plants instituted under former Governor Martin O’Malley, and for his veto in 2016 of the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act which “set us on a path to increase our renewable energy standard and grow solar in Maryland.”

The state legislature overrode Hogan’s veto, however, and the act became law in 2017.

He also criticized the governor for scrapping public transit projects such as the Red Line light rail in Baltimore while noting that transportation is now the leading source of “dangerous climate pollution” in the country.

However, Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment, Ben Grumbles, told the East County Times the bay is cleaner than it has been in three decades and noted that air pollution, including particle pollution and ozone, continues to improve.

“Interstate smog is a continuing threat,” Grumbles acknowledged, “that has prompted the Hogan administration to take bold actions to ensure EPA enforced the federal Clean Air Act.”

He also said the state is on track to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goals and is embracing a robust science-based, collaborative approach to meeting its 2030 goals.

“The administration is putting an unprecedented priority on pollution prevention into the Chesapeake Bay with its 2015 phosphorus management regulations and 2018 initiatives on Conowingo trash and debris.”

As bold and innovative solutions go, Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse noted the administration included a historic $4 billion in the state budget over the course of FY 2016 - 2019 for bay restoration efforts.

“Under Governor Hogan’s leadership Maryland has an unparalleled environmental record and is recognized as a regional and national leader in improving air and water quality,” said Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse. “Our administration has taken bold, bipartisan actions and made critical investments in environmental initiatives ... that are delivering real results and enabling us to preserve our vital natural resources for generations to come.”

Smedick said Jealous, however, has a “steadfast commitment to environmental protections and climate action” and a “fundamental grounding in the principles of environmental justice and equity.”

He said analysis shows if the state meets the 2030 and 2050 goals in place for greenhouse gas reduction, the state will see nearly $3 billion and $15 billion in climate benefits, respectively.

“We can get more businesses and industries in the clean energy economy here in Maryland with the courage to lead,” he said.

Jealous told the modest crowd of supporters he has spent his life in the green movement, and the first protest he ever chose to attend was an anti-clear cutting rally at age 12. He touted his work as an investigative reporter looking into cancer-causing industrial pollution as well as his time on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund and philanthropic investments in clean energy.

The candidate said leaders need to act urgently on environmental issues. And if they don’t we all pay a price, like young people dying unneccessarily from asthma, having to raise boating docks on waterfront properties or people losing their way of life because the community gets flooded, he said, referring to events in Ellicott City and other towns around the bay.

“And it’s only a matter of time before our state capitol is impacted,” he said.

Jealous said the state now has an opportunity to create a “clean and green future.”

“When you build more mass transit, you create more jobs; when you build more wind turbines, you create more jobs,” he said. “We should be building those turbines in Baltimore and floating them right down the bay - creating jobs in both places - and shipping them over to create wind farms on mountains in western Maryland.”

Jealous told the Times one of his clean jobs initiatives specific to Baltimore County would be that the area around the Port of Baltimore in southern Baltimore County “will become an epicenter of the green economy that we build in the state,” he said referring in part to Tradepoint Atlantic’s redevelopment of the 3,250-acre former steel mill site.

He said since Baltimore’s port is the only deep-water port in the eastern U.S., “we should be building our turbines right next to it in Dundalk and shipping them straight out,” adding that the port will play a big part in the future of both wind and solar power in the state.

Chasse reiterated that the governor generally supports the development of offshore wind projects, such as those proposed off the coast of Ocean City, provided they do not negatively impact local tourism and quality of life.

She told the Baltimore Sun in 2017, “We will continued to advocate for any construction to take place as far offshore as possible to protect and preserve the natural beauty of our shoreline and the vital tourism industry that employs thousands of Marylanders.”

With respect to solar, the candidate said we will have to create a distributed grid, with solar panel arrays not just in rural open fields, but incentivizing them on rooftops in residential, commercial and industrial areas as well.

Some advocates in the county, including in Kingsville, have pushed for restricting the amount of solar facilities that can be built on what is considered prime productive farm land, hoping instead for more rooftops to be used for that purpose.

“Ultimately our goal in solar is to be producing more in the state and installing as much as possible, and that means a distributed grid on some of the rooftops,” Jealous said.

He noted that Montgomery County recently passed new regulations to allow for community solar projects so people can buy solar panels as part of a solar array with other investors, rather than just individual homeowners installing them on their roofs. Similar projects are slated to begin soon in Baltimore County.

“It also means, quite frankly, leveraging bonds at the state to make it easier to finance, easier for entire communities to buy solar to go across their rooftops, and not just leaving it to wealthier individuals to put solar on their roofs - making it more possible for all of us,” Jealous said.

Councilman David Marks (R-5) also took some issue with claims the groups made and their choosing of his district for their announcement.

“We don’t see much from the Sierra Club in Baltimore County except when they are endorsing Democrats in partisan elections,” Marks said. “They were nowhere to be found when I was downzoning thousands of acres of land to protect places like Kingsville and played little role when we were developing solar farm legislation.” read more

District 8 senate race promises to be tight in last two months before election

District 8 senate race promises to be tight in last two months before election
Incumbent Senator Kathy Klausmeier (left) will face challenger Del. Christian Miele in this year's race for the District 8 State Senate seat.
(Updated 9/5/18)

- By Patrick Taylor -


This weekend marks two months until the 2018 gubernatorial election, and there are some tight races with major implications in Baltimore County.

Perhaps the most important race in the county is the race for the District 8 Senate seat, currently occupied by incumbent Kathy Klausmeier (D). First-term Delegate Christian Miele is challenging Klausmeier, and as the campaigns begin to wind down, Miele is looking like he will be the biggest test of Klausmeier’s political career.

After the June primary, Miele received some fundraising help from Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). And just last week he enlisted the help of Governor Larry Hogan, the popular Republican governor who is battling Democratic nominee Ben Jealous for the governor’s mansion.

Miele’s moves have not gone unnoticed by Klausmeier.

“He’s certainly pulling out the heavy hitters,” Klausmeier said.

Miele will certainly need the help if he is going to flip Klausmeier’s seat, which she has held since 2002. Before winning the District 8 Senate seat, Klausmeier previously sat as a member of the House of Delegates from 1994 - 2002.

Her lengthy spell as an elected official has become a point of ire for Miele, who called for term limits to be enacted at a fundraiser at Columbus Gardens in Perry Hall last Tuesday.

“We need term limits. Having career politicians in office for 34 years is not ok,” said Miele. “We need to move in a new direction and I hope to be your voice.”

Klausmeier brushed aside Miele’s concerns about “career politicians.”

“I get up and go to work everyday, I listen to my constituents, and if they want to paint me as a ‘career politician’ it’s inaccurate,” said Klausmeier, noting that she has moved from the House of Delegates to the State Senate.

“I work very hard and will continue to work very hard,” Klausmeier continued. “And when it isn’t fun anymore and I don’t want to work anymore then I’m out. But right now I’m here.”

Miele told the audience gathered at Columbus Gardens that internal polling showed him neck-and-neck with Klausmeier after starting his campaign down 16 points. In an area as purple as District 8, getting the support of a popular governor and centrists like Rubio can go a long way.

The Maryland Republican party views Klausmeier’s seat as one of six Senate seats that is vulnerable. As it stands, there is a veto-proof majority in the Senate, which has taken a toll on some of Hogan’s initiatives. With Hogan representing the best chance the GOP has had in decades of securing a second term in the governor’s mansion, they feel they have a window to effectively push Hogan’s agenda.

Miele has made a name for himself over the last few years, most recently pushing an anti-bullying campaign in Baltimore County Public Schools, whose discipline policies have come under scrutiny of late. For Kimberly Merriken, a Perry Hall resident who describes herself as “apolitical,” it’s that type of work that makes Miele a palatable choice.

Merriken said she reached out to Miele regarding bullying, and since that time she has leaned on him for help in other areas of need.

“I am apolitical. I don’t want to identify with a party,” said Merriken. “I identify with a candidate who speaks to me, and Christian certainly does that.”

Klausmeier gave Miele credit for the work he has done with his bullying and discipline initiatives. She noted, however, that whether he knows it or not she had a hand in helping his bill, which established an anti-bullying task force to review disciplinary policies, pass. And Klausmeier credits her clout and longevity for getting it passed.

“He probably doesn’t even realize it but with his bullying bill, it would have been dead,” said Klausmeier. “But because I was the chair of the Rules Committee [in the General Assembly], I said the bill had to come out. It’s an important bill. But he put it in late, and if it hadn’t been for my experience and my longevity, I wouldn’t have been the chair. And had it been your average Democrat in Annapolis it wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”

With the election just two months away and both candidates sitting with hundreds of thousands of dollars, the only certainty about this race is that it is going to come down to the end. While there has been a lot of talk in national media about a “blue wave” of Democratic voters, Hogan sees things differently.

“We’ve got great candidates in Baltimore County. With your help we are going to elect a Republican county executive, a senator, a council member and lots more delegates,” said Hogan. read more

Assisted living facility planned in White Marsh

(Updated 9/5/18)

Building would provide up to 16 beds

- By Virginia Terhune -

A general contractor in White Marsh won county approval last week to build a two-story assisted living facility for senior citizens near the southwest corner of Philadelphia Road and Ebenezer Road.

“We’re planning something that’s very eye appealing to the community, that’s in a residential setting,” said Keith Randlett, founder and owner of Superior Design and Restoration which is headquartered nearby on Cowenton Avenue.

The family-owned company has recently grown to the point that Randlett is buying property at or near the intersection to accommodate his vehicles and employees.

“Business has been booming,” Randlett said. “I think it’s the economy. In the last two years, we’ve doubled in size.”

He recently bought three buildings on the southwest corner of Philadelphia Road and Ebenezer Road that he is rehabbing for company use.

Last year he bought the adjacent lot at 5407 Ebenezer Road for $215,000, according to state property records.

His plan is to raze the existing two-story house, built in 1912, and a smaller building behind it and replace them with two new buildings.

The new assisted living facility with up to 16 beds would sit on the front of the lot, while a new two-story, 4,900-square-foot building at the rear would provide space for a possible company showroom on the first floor and offices upstairs.

The plan was reviewed and recommended for approval by the county’s Development Review Committee on Aug. 28.

“In 2016 we had five employees and now we have 40 full-time employees,” said Randlett about his need for more space.

Meanwhile, also expanding across Ebenezer Road on the southeastern corner of the intersection is the An-Nur Foundation mosque, which plans to add 15,558 square feet to an existing 8,400-square-foot vacant building on its property.

The expansion would enable relocating Friday and holiday prayer services from a smaller building that faces Ebenezer Road.

A May 31 public hearing in Towson before a county administrative law judge was continued pending a suggested informational meeting between the mosque and community organizations.

However, the meeting did not come to pass, and the mosque subsequently resubmitted the plan to the DRC, which approved it with a request it show the future uses of the expanded building.

Mosque officials did not return a request for comment about the plan.

Both Superior Design and the mosque fall within the county’s Cowenton-Ebenezer Commercial Revitalization District, which provides tax credits and other incentives to spur redevelopment of older properties.

While good for the economy, the expansion projects, plus a new development by the Keelty Company of 311 apartments and a retail center on the northwest corner of the same intersection, are likely to add to traffic backups on Philadelphia Road during evening rush hours.

In July, the Maryland State Highway Administration adjusted traffic signals, which seems to have eased the traffic flow heading east on Philadelphia Road toward Bowleys Quarters.

“I believe the SHA changes have made a difference, at least for the pass-through traffic on Philadelphia Road,” said Sarah Halford, chief operating officer for Global Substation Services, Inc., located on the northeast corner of the intersection.

SHA has also proposed adding an eastbound through lane on Philadelphia Road, but funds have not yet been committed to the project, which could be years in the future.

“I can only have faith in the system that someone has taken a good, hard look at the impact this will bring to the community and daily commuters,” said Halford about the development projects under way on three corners of the intersection.

Amazon starts hiring for Sparrows Point warehouse jobs

Amazon starts hiring for Sparrows Point warehouse jobs
(Updated 9/5/18)

Apply online, interview by invitation only
- By Virginia Terhune -

Amazon has begun hiring to fill more than 1,500 warehouse jobs at its new fulfillment center at the Tradepoint Atlantic site in Sparrows Point that is expected to become fully operational before the holidays.

Available are full- and part-time jobs that involve working with robotic systems to pick, pack and ship items such as electronics, household goods, toys and books. Applicants must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

To apply, job seekers must first fill out an application online by going to www.amazon.com/baltimorejobs.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development is also asking applicants to register online with the Maryland Workforce Exchange at https://mwejobs.maryland.gov. The state-run program operates centers in Eastpoint, Hunt Valley and Randallstown that help applicants find jobs.

Qualified applicants are then invited to schedule an appointment to interview with Amazon officials during one of a series of hiring events being held in September at the Tradepoint Atlantic offices in Sparrows Point, the Sollers Point Multipurpose Center in Dundalk and the Community College of Baltimore County campuses in Essex, Hunt Valley and Owings Mills.

Amazon’s staffing vendor, Integrity Staffing, will also be scheduling in-person interviews Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

After applying online, applicants will get a return email that either invites them to schedule an interview at one of the hiring events or with Integrity Staffing, or tells them they are no longer being considered for a job at this time.

Those invited to a hiring event for interviews who are chosen for jobs will be asked to undergo a background check and fill out an I-9 form, which is used by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to verify the identity and legal authorization to work of all paid employees in the U.S.

Those interviewed who are not chosen for jobs will have a chance to talk to county officials, also attending the events, who will advise them about the county’s Job Connector program and the Maryland Workforce Exchange job seeker services.

The hiring events listed below are held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and they are not open to the general public. They are by invitation only and walk-ins will not be accepted.

* Friday, Sept. 7, at CCBC-Hunt Valley, 1101 McCormick Road.

* Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Tradepoint Atlantic, 1600 Sparrows Point Blvd.

* Thursday, Sept. 13, at CCBC-Essex, HTEC Building, 7200 Rossville Blvd.

* Monday, Sept. 17, at CCBC-Owings Mills, Room 509, 10300 Grand Central Ave.

* Friday, Sept. 21, at Tradepoint Atlantic, 1600 Sparrows Point Blvd.

* Wednesday, Sept. 26, at CCBC-Essex, HTEC Building, 7200 Rossville Blvd.

* Friday, Sept. 28, at Sollers Point Multipurpose Center, 323 Sollers Point Road, Dundalk. read more

Care package Angels need a new home - and quickly

Care package Angels need a new home - and quickly
Irene Spatafore (right) has ridden atop a convertible in many recent Dundalk Fourth of July parades. Courtesy photo.
(Updated 9/5/18)

- By Marge Neal -


Angels Supporting Your Troops Inc. founder Irene Spatafore is in need of an angel herself.

The longtime Dundalk resident founded Angels nearly nine years ago to gather and send supplies to troops serving abroad. She and a loyal handful of volunteers collect donations, store them and then gather three Sundays a month to pack boxes filled with goodies and ship them to war-zone troops in need of a little piece of home.

Since the inception of the program in January 2010, Spatafore has enjoyed the generosity of Sonshine Fellowship Church on Sollers Point Road in Dundalk, which donated a dedicated room for the group to use. But Spatafore was recently told the church plans to open a Christian school and needs the room that she has been using as her base of operations.

“They gave us until Oct. 18, so we don’t have much time to find another place,” Spatafore told the East County Times. “And if we don’t find another place, we’re going to be out of business.”

The Rev. Terry Turbin, pastor at Sonshine, told the East County Times that the church did ask Spatafore to move her program because of the need for more space for church programs and the plan to eventually open a Christian church.

“We gave her until the end of October but we aren’t going to kick her out if she doesn’t have a new place by then,” he said. “But we want them to be actively looking.”

While the proposed school is at least one year away, and most probably two, according to Turbin, the church is in immediate need of additional space because of the congregation growing.

The Angels organization is strictly volunteer, according to Spatafore. All “staff” members are volunteers, and any monetary donations received are used for shipping. There is no money to pay rent for a space, so she is hoping a business or organization with spare room will step forward and offer it to the group free of charge.

“It is so expensive to ship these boxes,” she said. “That’s the hardest part of this project - getting enough money to send the packages.”

Donations of all sorts of small items, from hard candies to paperback books and magazines, come in on a consistent basis, but raising money for postage is a constant challenge, Spatafore said.

“We spend between $10,000 and $12,000 a year just on postage,” Spatafore said. “Every penny we raise goes to pay for shipping.”

The group sends out about 38 packages a month, each weighing about 25 pounds. That’s 456 packages a year, filled with a total of 11,400 pounds of personal hygiene items, snacks and candy, books, socks and other items that are sometimes difficult for soldiers to obtain otherwise.

Spatafore and her small band of loyal volunteers - daughter Valerie Spatafore, Terry Burton, Shirley Monk and Sharon and Frank Baker - also spend their own money on supplies in addition to donating countless hours per year collecting donations, inventorying goods and packing and mailing boxes.

“I’m really proud of this project and our volunteers who do so much for our troops,” Spatafore said. “It would be really sad if we can’t find another place and we have to close down.”

The head angel is doing the best she can to work the phones and is talking with a couple of local churches that might be able to help out.

“I’m in touch with one church that might have two rooms for us to use, but nothing has been decided yet,” Spatafore said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Spatafore said she is grateful for the generosity of Sonshine over the years and she hopes to find a similar relationship with an organization or business that recognizes the value of the project.

Turbin said that, while Sonshine’s Board of Trustees has to look out for the mission of the church first and foremost, “it has been a blessing to have them here and we will work with them while they are looking for another place to meet.”

To make donations of either goods or cash, or to offer the group space they can use to continue this project, call Spatafore, 410-284-5275, or send an email to baker81057@aol.com. read more

Todd’s Inheritance Defenders Day celebration to include displays, reenactments, flag unfurling

Todd’s Inheritance Defenders Day celebration to include displays, reenactments, flag unfurling
(Updated 9/5/18)

- By Marge Neal -


Fresh off a dress rehearsal of sorts at last weekend’s Defenders Day celebration at Fort Howard Park, Todd’s Inheritance Historic Site volunteers are busy putting the finishing touches on their own Defenders Day gathering this weekend.

The lawn of the historic Todd home will come alive with a variety of activities and demonstrations to celebrate Defenders Day, officially recognized on Sept. 12 each year in Maryland to commemorate the successful defense of North Point and the City of Baltimore on Sept. 12-14, 1814.

“We will have our War of 1812 displays, reenactments and Scott Sheads will be giving a lecture on Hampstead Hill,” said Fran Taylor, a member of the historic site’s board of directors.

Among the more unique artifacts on loan for the event will be the original spy glass, passed down through generations of the Todd family, that was used during the Battle of North Point to spy on the British as they marched up the North Point peninsula, according to Taylor.

“And we will have an original sword that belonged to Bernard Todd, who owned the house at the time of the invasion,” he said.

Sheads, a local historian and former Ft. McHenry park ranger, will deliver a talk on Saturday, Sept. 8, titled “The Last Stand at Hampstead Hill.”

Another crowd favorite to take place on Saturday only will be the unfurling of a giant, 30-foot by 42-foot American flag, with spectators helping to unfurl and display it, according to Taylor.

Reenactments will be held on Saturday, with several groups in attendance, Taylor said.

On display throughout the weekend will be Native American artifacts, period muskets and bayonets and the regular displays on exhibit inside the house.

“We will also have a diorama of the Battle of North Point which was made by Joe Szymanski, a collector and very knowledgeable local historian,” Taylor said. “It’s really pretty neat.”

Members of Patapsco United Methodist Church will attend with a display of Methodist Meeting House memorabilia, according to Taylor.

The Todd’s Inheritance Defenders Day celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8 and 9, at the historic home at 9000 North Point Road in Edgemere. Weather-permitting, activities will be held outside on the lawn as well as inside the restored home.

Activities on the lawn are free and attendees are also welcome to tour the Todd family cemetery free of charge. Inside activities and house tours are available with an admission of $10 for adults and $7 for senior citizens. Children 15 and younger are admitted free of charge. Family memberships, good for unlimited visits for one year, cost $30.

For more information, visit the Todd’s Inheritance Facebook page. read more