Friday, February 29, 2008

Blogging From Bangalore

HoCo Exec Ken Ulman has been blogging from Bangalore, we learned from the Flier. You can see it here. In one of his final posts, he boasts that he filed entirely from this Blackberry.

There are no dramatic revelations but you get a flavor for the trip. He seemed to get into it, as his postings got longer and longer.

That got us thinking. Back during the campaign, several contenders launched blogs etc, and some folks were real chatterboxes. But once the results were in, not so much.

We say if it's good for Bangalore, it's good for Howard. Why stop now?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Cost Of Quality Care

We've had occasion to make several trips to HoCo General over the years, and we are grateful for the professionalism. But there's always a measure to sticker shock when the bills arrive.

Health care costs keep going up. Employers keep shifting more of the cost of insurance onto employees. And now here's another hit to the proverbial pocketbook.

From the county:

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Ken Ulman recently announced a $4 million grant award to Howard County General Hospital, which was approved by the County Council to help with the large-scale capital project currently underway to renovate and expand the Johns Hopkins-owned facility. Per the agreement, Howard County General Hospital will receive the first installment of $3.5 million now with a follow-up payment of $.5 million in April.

“Since Howard County General Hospital first opened its doors thirty years ago, they have been providing the very best in quality health care to our community,” said Ulman. “As our population has grown, so has the demand for patient care, and that is not likely to change as the first wave of baby boomers turn 60. This new pavilion and parking garage will help the hospital meet those increasing health care needs.”

“The entire hospital family, including our 1,700+ employees, 800+ members of our medical staff and 1,000 volunteers are very grateful to County Executive Ulman and the five members of the County Council for this outstanding, and generous investment, which will allow us to expand and enhance our health care services, and transform how we care for the community,” said Vic Broccolino, President and CEO of Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine is a private, not-for-profit community health care provider. First opened in 1973 with 59 beds, the hospital has evolved into a 219-bed comprehensive, acute-care medical center. Last year alone, the hospital had nearly 14,000 admissions; performed nearly 13,000 surgical procedures; delivered over 2,800 babies; and treated more than 75,000 patients in the Emergency Department

The hospital hopes to raise a total of $30 million in private donations to complete the project which is expected to cost a total of $105 million. The pavilion is scheduled for completion in late 2009. The entire project will be complete in 2011.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Teen Gets 13 Years For Fatal Brawl

From WaPo:

By Raymond McCaffrey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 27, 2008; B03

The former 189-pound high school wrestling champ barely filled out his suit yesterday as he stood in a Howard County courtroom, searching for words to explain how a life of Scouting and athletics had brought him to a midnight brawl outside a school, where he fatally struck another teen with an aluminum baseball bat.

Kevin F. Klink, 19, briefly apologized to the friends and family of Robert Brazell Jr., the Ellicott City 18-year-old who died of injuries he suffered during a fight Feb. 24, 2007, involving about two dozen people outside Mount Hebron High School.

"I never intended or hoped for this to happen, and I'm very sorry," Klink said quietly moments before he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Klink, who graduated in 2006 from Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, pleaded guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter and carrying a dangerous weapon. According to a statement of facts attached to his plea agreement, one person saw Klink "use a full 'homerun' swing as the bat hit the back of Robert Brazell's head." Brazell was unarmed, and Klink was initially charged with first-degree murder.

Defense attorney Sam Truette said Klink, a former Boy Scout, never intended to kill Brazell at the confrontation, which authorities say was an arranged rematch of a fight involving young men mostly connected to Mount Hebron or to Hammond High School in Columbia. According to the statement of facts, Klink said he was defending a friend under attack from Brazell.

Robert Brazell, the victim's father, said after the sentencing that he opposed the plea agreement and thought Klink should stand trial.

"I can't say I accept it," he said. "I'm still going through the year of feeling the way I feel."

The elder Brazell said he also objected to the defense attorney's description of Klink. "They made Kevin Klink to be a Boy Scout and a wrestling champion," he said. "That doesn't mean nothing.

"He took a young man's life," he said. "At the end of the day, his parents are going to see him. We won't see Robby no more."

Circuit Court Judge Lenore R. Gelfman described the killing as "senseless" and "tragic" but called the outcome "a fair plea agreement."

Klink told police that he became involved in the fight when a friend "was being beaten by three males," and the statement said he "honestly, but unreasonably believed that the force that he used was necessary."

At the hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Danielle Duclaux read a statement on behalf the victim's mother, Leslie Brazell, who described her son as a "hero" whose donated organs helped save the lives of five people ranging in age from 7 months to 51 years old.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


There are days when we wake up, it's chilly and damp out, the kids have a cold, mom is away, and we just grow weary thinking about the day ahead. And then we read another story about Rayna DuBose, the remarkable basketball star out of Oakland Mills who lost her limbs to bacterial meningitis while playing for Virginia Tech.

And she's smiling!

The Examiner has a special report on Rayna in today's paper (though for the life of us we cannot seem to find a link on its Web site. But you can see her Web site here. And the Sun has a nice photo gallery here. And here's one from WaPo.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Credit Today, Gone Tomorrow

WaPo had a story over the weekend on folks who are not so happy to see banks renege on home equity lines of credit.

In one brief phone call, Nancy Corazzi's lender yanked away what was left of the $95,000 home equity line of credit that she and her husband took out five months ago.

The lender informed her that her Howard County home had plummeted in value and the company did not want the risk that she would owe more than the house was worth.

"I got off the phone and I was shaking," said Corazzi, who was using the money to pay preschool tuition for her twins ."I was near tears. We needed this credit line to get us through some tough times."

We can debate the wisdom of holding onto a line of credit that puts a home at risk. But this is just another example of the fallout we're seeing from the turmoil in the credit markets. Today, WaPo reports that local governments are coming up with a hole in their budget because the Fed's recent cuts in interest rates, intended to stimulate the economy, have sharply reduced the income localities receive from investments. Meanwhile, the Examiner reports that Howard County officials are considering whether to set up a trust fund to tackle the looming burden of funding future retiree benefits.

Establishing a trust fund would provide officials more flexibility to invest the money and ensure it couldn’t be spent when budget times are tight.

Later, the paper quotes Christopher Summers, president of the conservative Maryland Public Policy Institute, who says jurisdictions should consider cutting or renegotiating the benefit programs rather than just putting more money aside.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Maybe it's the weather. We'd rather be out playing in the snow than schlepping to work. Whatever. We were just in a mood today.

* We take no position on the merits of economic development junkets. it fair to say taxpayer money plays no role? Here's the Examiner's report on where the money is coming from to pay for HoCo Exec Ulman's trip to India.

The trip, which begins this evening, costs about $35,000 for the three officials and a reception, and is being paid for by the Howard County Economic Development Authority, Economic Development Authority CEO Dick Story told the paper.

Taxpayers are not footing the bill, he said, because the money comes from company investments in the authority. One hundred companies pay a total of $300,000 a year for the authority to promote economic growth in Howard.

The county also provides more than $1 million to the authority in annual grant funding.

* We love restaurants in Oakland Mills. But...the Flier has a story about the Fire Rock Grill closing and quotes folks saying things like: "It's one thing to go get your dry cleaning, but if you can get lunch while you're there then you get those synergies that we need." What about Lucky's? Vennari's? Bangkok Garden? Heck, even Sam's? We so want to read rhapsodies about these longtime pillars of the community in the mainstream press. We did our part to frequent Fire Rock but truth be told the menu didn't seem exactly right for a neighborhood family joint, service could be spotty, and ownership, at least from what we read, never really seemed all that accessible, given the troubles getting launched and now the sudden, no-warning closing. Fire Rock was not Last Chance in our humble assessment.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bangalore Or Bust

HoCo exec Ken Ulman is jetting off to India. Bangalore to be specific, home to some of the world's big outsourcing giants. One of the "featured" meetings for traveling so far is to learn more about a radar built here in Howard by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab, according to his PR shop. The release also suggests cultural benefits, explaining that the largest proportion of the immigrant population here is from Asia, a place we imagine is just a wee bit bigger than India.

Anyways, here's the full release:

County Executive Ken Ulman will embark on an economic development mission to Bangalore, India, on Friday evening, February 22, 2008. The County Executive will arrive in India on Sunday, February 24, and begin three full days of site visits and meetings in India’s “Silicon Valley,” Bangalore. The trip is sponsored and funded by the Howard County Economic Development Authority.

India is the second fastest-growing major economy in the world, and several Howard County businesses now have offices in India. The largest proportion of immigrant population in Howard County is from Asia (54.5%).

One of the featured meetings is with leaders from the Indian Space Research Organization Leadership Satellite Center, where Executive Ulman will learn more about the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR). The MiniSAR was built in Howard County by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and funded by NASA; it will be one of two US scientific instruments on board India’s first mission to the moon, the Chandrayaan-1.

In addition to meeting with targeted prospects, the objectives of the mission include promoting increased cross-investment between Howard County and India, providing firsthand market information and business contacts and developing and expanding strategic relationships with key Indian and U.S. organizations.

“Howard County is already on the international scene - we are visible to foreign governments, aerospace companies, universities, research centers, and many diverse commercial ventures,” said Ulman. “Bridging international cultures, developing relationships, and exploring mutual opportunities for this County are all part of this Administration’s goal of making a great County even better.”

“Executive Ulman’s visit to India is an excellent opportunity to help us highlight Howard County as a location for Indian businesses that want to expand in the U.S.," said Michael Galeone, Chairman of the Economic Development Authority. "Howard County is an attractive home for Indian companies because of our location, labor force, technology base and infrastructure, and we welcome the opportunity to expand our relationships with the Indian business community.”

Ulman will also meet and tour Prism Microsystems, Incorporated, in Bangalore. Prism is a leading integrated Information Technology solutions provider whose U.S. office is located in Columbia, Maryland. Ulman also has meetings scheduled with: Wipro Technologies, the third largest IT services company in India; US Commercial Service representatives; the Regional Director of the National Association of Software and Services Companies; and the IT Secretary for the Government of Karnataka.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Colombia" Is The New Towson

We just had to smile at this reference on the Baltimore City Paper's Web site. We don't know what's sillier, the misspelling or the comment about reporters not needing to be based near the seat of county government.

The Baltimore Sun is closing its news bureau in Towson to make room for a new publication aimed at “Generation Y,” a spokesman confirmed.

About eight reporters and editors based in the Baltimore County bureau were told today that their office will be closed and their desks moved either downtown or to the Howard County office adjacent to the Mall in Colombia, according to Sun spokeswoman Linda Yurche.

“They’re not in their office most of the time anyway," Yurche says. "They can go out to Glen Burnie or Reisterstown from here just as quick as they could from Towson. We’re not cutting back on that coverage at all. Their desk[s] will be in a different spot.”

The City Paper's reporter does add later:

Linda Yurche says I misquoted her, though she is unsure of her own exact words. “The way you’ve represented it makes it sound much worse than the way I said it to you,” she says. “I want to make it clear that it is a big deal for the people who are being relocated.” She also points out that “being centrally located in a place will allow [the reporters] to cover a county that wraps around the city,” which is very close to what she told us in our first conversation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

HoCo PD ID Suspect In Motel Shootout

A couple press releases from HoCo PD:

The Howard County Police Department has identified the man shot and killed early this morning during a warrant service at a hotel in Laurel as 31-year-old Aaron Mason Lowry of Washington, D.C.

The Prince George’s County Sheriff’s deputy shot during the incident has been identified as Cpl. Cal Bowers. He remains in serious but stable condition at Shock Trauma.

Members of the US Marshal Capital Area Regional Task Force were attempting to arrest Lowry around 3:30 a.m. at the Econo Lodge in the 9700 block of Route 1 on several outstanding warrants, including warrants for attempted murder and robbery. When officers made entry into his hotel room, Lowry fired upon them, striking Bowers. Members of the task force returned fire, killing Lowry.

Three additional people were located inside the hotel room and were taken into custody by Howard County Police. They remain in custody at this time and police anticipate charging them this evening with a variety of drug and weapons violations.
Any additional information will be disseminated as it becomes available.

And this one:

The Howard County Police Department is investigating an early morning shooting that took place in the 9700 block of Route 1 in Laurel that left a Prince George’s County Sheriff seriously injured and the suspect who shot him dead.

Members of the US Marshal Capital Area Regional Task Force, which includes members of the US Marshals Service, Prince George’s Sheriff’s Office, Prince George’s Police Department and Metropolitan Police Department, went to the Econolodge on Route 1 around 3:30 a.m. searching for a man wanted by police for several warrants, including attempted murder and robbery. As task force members made entry to a room containing the suspect, they were shot at and were forced to return fire. A deputy, who is not being identified at this time, was shot and has been transported to Shock Trauma in critical condition. The suspect died from his injuries.

The subject that was shot in today’s incident was also involved in a shooting yesterday in D.C., where he shot a Metropolitan police officer as they tried to arrest him on outstanding warrants in the 3100 block of 7th Street.

Three other people, two males and one female, were located inside the room where the shooting took place and are being detained by the Howard County Police Department in regards to this investigation.

The deputy remains in Shock Trauma in serious but stable condition.

Additional information will be disseminated to the media as it becomes available.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tell 'Em What You Think

General Growth has set up a Web site to solicit comments and provide updates for the planning process shaping downtown.

We missed the earlier stories on this but the Sun's site brought us up to date on the schedule for some upcoming public meetings sponsored by the company, all to be held at 7:30 p.m. at General Growth’s headquarters building, at 10275 Little Patuxent Parkway.

On Wednesday, March 5, Alan Ward, a principal at the landscape architecture firm Sasaki Associates, Inc. will meet with residents. Ward is the company’s principal landscape architect, who worked on landscape plans for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Reston Town Center, in Virginia.

On Wednesday, March 19, Gail Dexter Lord, president of Lord Cultural Resources, will meet the community. Lord, who specializes in museum and cultural sector planning, has worked on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Smithsonian’s National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The Wednesday, April 2 session will feature Keith Bowers, the founder and president of Biohabitats, an ecological restoration design, planning and assessment firm. Bowers’ background includes restoration ecology, ecological planning and landscape architecture.

The final session on Wednesday, April 9 is with Jaquelin T. Robertson. Robertson, a founding partner of the architecture and urban design firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners, has worked on projects in Daniel Island, S.C., New Albany, N.Y., Celebration and WaterColor, in Florida, and Val d’Europe, in France.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Columbia Fitne$$

It's going to cost more to use Columbia's sports and fitness clubs, according to this story in the Flier.

The CA board approved a 3 percent rate increase starting in May, apparently because it is worried about the health of the economy.

In other action, renovations to the Stevens Forest pool will have to wait until at least 2010 and money was cut to fix up the water slide and snack area at the Swim Center. The board decided that the People Tree needs some sprucing up and there will be some modest repairs to a retaining wall by Lake K, but the association will hold off on other changes downtown.

The Flier said the CA board cut funding in its budget for a new headquarters building and other renovations until it sees what General Growth plans for downtown.

On Jan. 31 board members cut from the budgets projects to replace the boardwalk, gazebo and bell tower next to the lake and to upgrade the sitting area around the statue called "The Hug" near the lake. On Feb. 6, members also cut $3.6 million for the construction of a new CA headquarters downtown.

Members said they cut the projects because they do not yet know the contents of a plan to redevelop Columbia's Town Center that is being drafted by General Growth Properties Inc., the predominant property owner downtown.

General Growth is set to release a draft of a plan in April that will outline ways to add residential and commercial density to Town Center over the next 30 years, while making it more accessible to pedestrians.

"Since General Growth is coming forward with a plan, we should not invest money into something we might want to alter," board chairwoman Barbara Russell, of Oakland Mills, said of the vote to cut the proposed funding for the projects.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Search Is On

The response was not exactly overwhelming, but this week's public forum on the next president of the Columbia Association marks the start of the process. Here's the Sun's account:

Independence, an institutional memory and an understanding of Jim Rouse's vision are among the qualities that Columbia residents would like to see in the next president of the Columbia Association.

About a half-dozen people offered ideas during a public forum Monday night to discuss a job description for the person who will replace Maggie J. Brown, the current president, in May 2009.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh-bama, McCain By A Mile

Both Obama and McCain claimed 57 percent of the vote in Howard County. Janet Siddiqui, Ellen Flynn Giles and Diane Butler were the top three vote getters for two seats on the school board; six people will compete in all.

Here's a link to the full results at the HoCo Board of Elections.

Did You Win $2.85 Million?

WBAL is reporting that a $2.85 million winning "Multi-Match" ticket was purchased at the River Hill Sunoco.

We knew we should have filled up there when we had the chance!

The winning numbers were 24, 28, 29, 33, 35 and 43. The winner must match all six numbers on the same line.

The retailer will receive a $2,850 bonus for selling a top-tier winning ticket.

The jackpot has been rolling since Oct. 6, 2007, when an $850,000 winning ticket was sold at Seitz Liquors in Oxon Hill. The ticket remains unclaimed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Patuxent Primary

OK, lets see how well you've really been paying attention. Other than Barack and Hillary, McCain and Huckabee, who else is still officially on the HoCo ballot for pres? Give yourself the day off if you get them all.

How about the school board? Here's a quick quick primer from the Sun on the school board races.

Here's the Flier's voters guide.

For all the excitement we read in WaPo about this race, we've been surprised by the relative lack of yard signs, car-wavers and robo-calls. And where are all the Ron Paul fans?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who Said You Have To Be 18 To Vote?

We saw this on an Oakland Mills HS e-mail list:

On February 8th, the State Board of Elections ruled that 17 Year-old registered voters may vote in the non-partisan primary election for Board of Education members in addition to the Democratic and Republican Primary contests.

To arrive at the polls prepared to vote for candidates in the Board of Education primary, and all other contests, you may refer to the League of Women’s Voters’ Guide.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ho-Hum, Another Lockdown

The Examiner reported that four Howard County schools were briefly placed on lockdown Thursday when a state prison inmate escaped from a work crew on an Ellicott City highway.

Nicholas Wachter, 47, apparently walked away from a prison crew while picking up trash on Route 29 near Route 40 about 9 a.m. He allegedly hopped in a cab and went home to Bel Air. It wasn't really clear from the account how he was able to do that without his guards noticing.

Police called out the dogs and a helicopter to search for Wachter, who is serving six years for burglary and forgery at Brockbridge Correctional Facility in Jessup. Witnesses reported seeing the inmate get into a cab, and the company told investigators where Wachter had been taken and he was apprehended without incident.

Mount Hebron High School, Patapsco Middle School, and St. John’s Lane and Hollifield Station Elementary schools were locked down from about 9:35 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Let's pick up the Examiner's account:

Mount Hebron senior Sean McCarthy was in the middle of calculus class when the lockdown began, but he said no one panicked. McCarthy said the principal announced someone who had escaped from a correctional facility was seen near the school.

“We just had a lockdown like three weeks ago because the police brought the dogs in to search for drugs, so we knew it was serious right away,” McCarthy said.

“It really didn’t affect us since it wasn’t like we had to get on the ground and get away from the doors and windows. We just kept learning, and when the class was over, we went to the next class.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Bad Trend

Bad things come in threes. Another pedestrian death; another instance where the police say the driver was not at fault. The police are urging pedestrians to use more care. It can't hurt -- and might also help -- to urge drivers to also be vigilant.

From the HoCo PD:

The Howard County Police Department is investigating a fatal collision that occurred early this morning on Route 108 in Ellicott City. The collision occurred around 5:55 a.m. when a pickup truck traveling northbound on Route 108 struck and killed a pedestrian who was walking in the roadway.

The investigation revealed that a 20 year old male, who has been identified as Brinn Kenastian Green of the 9800 block of Route 108, was walking northbound in the northbound lane of Route 108 just prior to Brothers Partnership Ct. A 2008 Ford F250, being driven by 59-year-old Earnest Wayne Foster of Savage, was unable to avoid Green as he came upon him walking in the slow lane. Green was transported to Howard County General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The incident is still under investigation. Preliminarily, police believe the collision was caused by pedestrian error. Police noted that Green was wearing dark clothing in an unlit area of 108 and was walking in the travel portion of the roadway.

Police are advising citizens to be especially vigilant while walking on or near the roadways, especially after dark. This incident is the third pedestrian fatality of 2008, all of which occurred in the evening or early morning hours, and all the victims were wearing dark clothing. Pedestrians who choose to walk on or near roadways should always take precautions, including wearing reflective clothing, walking in well-lit areas after dark and walking against the flow of traffic.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Our Turn To Vote

Super Tuesday is gone, and our turn is coming up. There's more than a presidential race on the ballot. We'll be voting for school board candidates, a circuit court judge, congress people and party delegates. Do you know who the contenders are?

Perhaps it's time to study up. You can start by stopping by the Board of Elections Web page, go to polling places, click on yours and you'll find sample ballots.

Is might be just us, but we've seen very little of any substance about the local races so far.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Another Pedestrian Death

Last month a 93-year-old gentlemen was hit on Cradlerock Way in Own Brown; now comes this from HoCo PD:

The Traffic Enforcement Section is investigating a fatal motor vehicle collision that occurred on Monday, February 4 at approximately 6:54 p.m. The collision, involving a female pedestrian, occurred on MD Rt. 175 near Pocomoke Drive in Jessup, Howard County.

A GMC Yukon was traveling in the slow lane of westbound MD Rt. 175 when the vehicle stuck a female pedestrian who was in the roadway. The pedestrian was knocked down an adjacent embankment after being struck by the vehicle. She was taken to Howard County General Hospital and pronounced dead.

The driver of the vehicle – Thomas William Ripple, 46 years of age of the 700 blk. Longview Drive, Catonsville was not injured.

At the time she was struck, the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing and was walking along a darkened section of the roadway. The pedestrian has been identified as Brenda Nae Ruby, 45, of no fixed address.

At this time it appears pedestrian error is the cause of the collision.

The investigation is continuing.

A New Front In The Grocery Wars

Harris Teeter is underway. Wegman's won't be long. And we meant to pass along this bit of news way back when -- The folks at Giant over in Owen Brown aren't planning to sit on their hands.

This from the minutes of the Owen Brown Village Board:

Keith Speed, General Manager and Mary Fincham, Customer Service Manager Giant
Food Owen Brown Village Center were present to speak with the Board regarding
various issues in the community. Mr. Speed reported that the store would be having a
major remodel in February 2008 with the addition of a Starbucks, expansion of the deli
and a layout change. The construction should take about 12 weeks and will not change
the footprint of the structure.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lance Armstrong Brings 24-Hour Cycling Event Here

It's called 24 Hours of Booty. Columbia is one of two cities for this fundraising event, to be held in September. Charlotte is the other. Riders will cycle endless loops around the Gateway Business Park (we're dizzy already).

Fifty percent of the proceeds benefits the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and 50% supports local charities like the Keep Pounding Fund at Carolinas Medical Center and the Brain Tumor Fund For The Carolinas in Charlotte and the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults in Columbia.

Registration for individuals or teams is now open.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Tower Developer Gives Back Deposits

The economic downturn takes it toll. The developer of the proposed downtown highrise, WCI Communities, recently averted possible bankruptcy. Now comes this news from the Balt. Sun:

WCI Communities Inc. has returned deposits to everyone with reservations for its Plaza Residences - the 23-story tower planned near the Columbia lakefront - while keeping the reservations intact, the company said in a statement this week.

"We appreciate their patience as we look forward to the continued successful development of the Plaza Residences," Robert H. Grabner Jr., vice president/senior project manager of the tower division of WCI Mid-Atlantic U.S. Region Inc., said in a statement. Grabner assumed responsibility for the Columbia project last month.

The glitzy Wincopin Circle showroom for the luxury condos is locked tight, and a sign at the front door announces that it is open by appointment only.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Making Movies

Our Facebook friend Ilana sent us this request, which we happily pass on:

The HoCo Student Film Festival is student-run organization with a faculty advisor, and is a juried competition. They accept submissions from any Howard County high school students, and filmmakers receive detailed notes from the judges about their style and techniques. It's a great opportunity for teens to showcase their media talents, so if you know any that may be interested, please pass the info along to them. Here's the festival's Web site.

Free Pretzels!

We're a sucker for free. Auntie Anne's at the mall is giving away pretzels on Saturday from 10 a to 4p.

From their Web site:

Auntie Anne's is turning 20! To kick-off our 20th birthday celebration, we're hosting a Free Pretzel Day, tomorrow - Saturday, February 2nd at stores nationwide! Stop by your local Auntie Anne's between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for one complimentary Original or Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel -- no strings attached. That's right; you can enjoy a free delicious, mouth-watering, freshly baked Auntie Anne's Pretzel.

Free Pretzel Day, February 2nd also marks the beginning of Auntie Anne's "What a Difference a Family Makes: A New Twist on Giving Back", a program that will recognize families who volunteer together to make a difference in their communities.

Whether it's cleaning up the neighborhood park, volunteering at a senior citizen center, or lending a helping hand at a local soup kitchen, any family who is passionate about giving back together is eligible. Twenty families will be awarded with grants up to $20,000 to help support their philanthropic activities. Starting tomorrow, visit to nominate your family or a family you know.