Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No Charges In WL Middle Incident

Dear Parents/Guardians and Friends of WLMS,
On May 20 a female student at Wilde Lake Middle School reported that a sexual assault had occurred inside the school.
  Following the incident, we held a meeting for members of our community, during which we committed to provide follow-up information about the alleged incident.  We have now been notified by the Howard County Police Department and State’s Attorney’s Office that charges will not be filed in the case.
  This concludes the Howard County Police Department's investigation.
  If more information becomes available, we will keep you updated.Thanks for your interest and continued support of WLMS.
Scott Conroy

Population Growth Slows

We're still growing faster than most other parts of the state, but the increase is smaller than in past years. The Sun quotes a county planner speculating that many people are now looking for more affordable housing outside the county. Howard's population totaled 274,995 as of July 1, 2008, according to the county's latest estimate.

In 1969, two years after Columbia's first houses were built, only 60,092 people lived in Howard County, just over one-fifth of the current population. On average, the county grew by 4 percent a year, though that rate declined this decade to an average of 1.38 percent. Over the past five years, the average dropped even more, to 1 percent.

Peak one-year growth occurred in 1990, when population rose by 9,719 people. The smallest population growth occurred in 2005, when just 2,218 new residents arrived. The year from 2004 to 2005 also represents the smallest percentage growth at only 0.84 percent. The rate fell below 2 percent for the first time in the year from 2001 to 2002, when it was 1.6 percent.

It'll be interesting to see what the numbers look like after 2008, given the turmoil in the mortgage markets and the economy in general.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Last Day Extracurriculars

Public schools wrapped up today, but not before some excitement at Cradlerock.


Dear Parents,

This letter is being sent to inform you about a situation that occurred at the school earlier this morning.

A false alarm was pulled at the school. Shortly afterwards a small self-contained fire was discovered in the boys' bathroom. This set off a sprinkler along with a second fire alarm and the fire department was contacted. The fire presented no threat but water from the sprinkler flooded the hallway.

At that point, we went into a modified lock-down.

As a result, some students were not allowed to get to their lockers to clean them out for the summer. Students may collect items from their lockers at any time over the next several days. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, but as always, the safety of our students was our primary concern.

Please have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Jason McCoy


Why The Jonas Bros Don't Come Here

The Sun's ExploreHoward blog reports that the operators of Merriweather have filed a federal antitrust suit against the world's largest concert promoter, claiming Live Nation is blocking acts from coming here.

The 11-count complaint claims Live Nation controls 19 of the top 25 regional markets in the country and wants to eliminate all competition so it can dominate all aspects of the music business. Live Nation signs deals with artists for entire tours and requires them to perform at only Live Nation-owned venues, the suit states.

That means major artists are performing at Nissan Pavilion, in Bristow, Va. and are skipping Merriweather. In 2008, fewer major acts performed in Columbia than in past years, the suit claims.

As an example, Merriweather points out that the Jonas Brothers performed at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore rather than Merriweather, because Live National refused to let them play at Merriweather. Other acts that have performed in the past at Merriweather, including Maroon 5 and Pearl Jam, signed contracts with Live Nation that keep them from performing at the venue.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Real Lawn Chairs Are Web-Savvy

We couldn't resist this plea from River Hill...

Subject: Precision Lawnchair Marching Dads need CHAIRS!

River Hill Residents -- Do you have any of those "old fashioned" aluminum frame lawnchairs? If you do, then here is an opportunity for you: The Precision Lawnchair Marching Dads -- a highlight of our Independence Day Parade -- is in need of this kind of chair for its performance in the annual parade. The "Dads" can't find these chairs anywhere to purchase, thus, they are requesting help from the community. Even if your old chair needs rewebbing, that's okay.......the "Dads" have webbing to repair chairs.

If you can donate an old aluminum framed lawnchair to the "Dads", please contact Chris Wertman at cwertmanATaol.com or 410-531-0170.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Finally, A Proper Pharmacy...

....may be coming to our side of town. According to the Baltimore Sun, a HoCo hearing examiner has overruled the planning board and approved plans for a Walgreen's at Thunder Hill Road and Route 175.

Then again, there's this from a former member of the Columbia Council:

Barbara Russell, one of a group of residents who oppose the store, said they are considering pursuing legal action to block it.

The Columbia Desert

Except for all the kid-sports cancellations, we've enjoyed the relative cool, green spring this year. Then we spent some time noodling over the government's latest climate change report, which made us appreciate the weather a little more.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Rolling Playground

This is how the HoCo PD rolls this summer:

To encourage constructive activities for youth during the summer, the police’s youth division has developed the mobile Community Athletic Program, or CAP, which consists of a traveling trailer filled with sports gear, games and video game equipment and staffed by school resource officers and other youth services officers.

Funding for the mobile CAP is provided by an anti-gang grant from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The concept is for police to engage with youth in areas where young people congregate during the summer. The CAP will differ from the unstaffed open space and sports facilities throughout the county. It will provide positive options for youth in their own neighborhoods – and in locations where crime tends to increase in the summer, including near shopping centers, apartment complexes, foot paths and tot lots – under the supervision of police and on a drop-in basis. The CAP’s prevention/intervention model will target middle- and high-school-aged youth who do not yet have transportation but are too old for traditional, supervised summer activities.

The trailer will visit a different neighborhood each day of the week and then return to that neighborhood on the same day in subsequent weeks. It will better utilize school resource officers by deploying them to work with youth throughout the summer. During past summers, SROs had been assigned throughout the agency while school was out.

The CAP will be integrated into the agency’s multi-faceted crime-fighting and anti-gang strategy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coyote Talk

From Town Center:


Thursday, June 18, 2009

7:00 p.m.

Historic Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Road

Presented by Robert Colona
State Furbearer Project Leader
Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Hurry and register!! We need twenty people registered for this program to run.
Call 410-730-4744 or email tcstaff@columbiavillages.org to register.

Sponsored by the Town Center Community Association

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Traffic Flows Both Ways

Our Montgomery County friend over at the Just Up the Pike blog recently put together a list of "68 things I love about east county (part two)" that included these observations:

Merriweather Post Pavilion. Some of the biggest names in music/comedy/whatever have performed just ten minutes away from home - and, unlike those suckers in Howard County, we don't have to deal with the traffic from it.

Columbia Pike/Colesville Road/Route 29. Dr. Gridlock joked that it's becoming "95-Lite" because of the new interchanges on it, but says it's still a better bet than 95 if you're heading downtown.

We would just like to add that some of us HoCo suckers are happy to accommodate the occasional Merriweather crowd in exchange for the hospitality MoCo-ites extend us every day as we pass through their fair county on 95-lite. ;)

Graduates: The Compleat List

OK, we might be biased on this subject because we happen to be related to one member of the Class of 2009 who walked across the Merriweather stage this year, his diploma handed to him by another member of Team Talk. But ExploreHoward did a nice job providing the full list of every student. See it here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beware "Dad" The Paver

Living in a neighborhood where the paving crews are scheduled to arrive any day, this warning from HoCo PD certainly caught our attention:

Howard County police are urging residents to beware of a scam in which two thieves posed as driveway pavers and stole valuables from an elderly couple.

The suspects approached the victims at their home on Montgomery Road in Ellicott City and offered driving paving services. Once the victims agreed to retain the services, the suspects distracted the victims, entered the home and stole a safe containing jewelry and cash.

The suspects are described as white males with foreign accents. The first suspect is between 50 and 60 years old and has a heavy build. The second suspect is younger with a medium build and called the older suspect “dad.” The suspects drove a copper-colored Ford truck.

Police urge citizens to be cautious when approached by a peddler or solicitor. Peddlers and solicitors are required by the county to present an identification card obtained from the Office of Consumer Affairs. They are also required to affix a metal tag issued by the Office of Consumer Affairs to the right rear side of the vehicle. If you ask a peddler or solicitor to leave, they must do so immediately.

Finally, soliciting is only permitted between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. For more information on peddling and soliciting in the county, call the Office of Consumer Affairs at 410-313-6420.

Police are asking anyone with information or who may have been a victim to call 410-313-3200. Callers may remain anonymous.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Recycle Those Analog TVs

From HoCo gov:

On June 12, 2009, all broadcast television stations in the United States will transition from an analog broadcast to a digital broadcast, impacting any television that is not directly connected to cable or satellite television. The Howard County Bureau of Environmental Services is asking residents who have decided NOT to continue using their analog TVs to recycle those TVs instead of throwing them away.

Howard County Government suggests two options for TV recycling:

· The Alpha Ridge Landfill Resident’s Convenience Area at 2350 Marriottsville Road is open to residents Monday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and accepts televisions, computers, keyboards, printers, scanners, laptops, VCRs, radios, cables and more for recycling. Residents are reminded that the County does not recycle electronics through the curbside recycling program.

· Best Buy’s Customer Take-Back Program allows customers to bring in their old TVs (32 inches or smaller) at no charge. Customers are limited to two televisions per person, per day and console TVs are not accepted.

For more information about recycling an old TV or other electronics, contact the Bureau of Environmental Services at 410-313-6444 or visit them at www.howardcountyrecycles.org.

Pygmy Goats!

We love animal stories. The HoCo conservancy's blog has pics of the farm's newest livestock. Pygmy goats. They are soooo cute. (We hope they don't mind if we repost a pic)

What is the Howard County Conservancy?

The Howard County Conservancy is a land trust headquartered at Mt. Pleasant Farm in Woodstock, Maryland, a 232-acre farm that is 300 years old. In addition to providing information about land conservation, the Conservancy and its many volunteers offer year-round environmental education and special events for adults and children.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Local Man Indicted In 2003 Shooting

The ExploreHoward blog reports that a grand jury has handed down an indictment in a previously unsolved 2003 shooting. No word on what was the break in the case.

Clarence Mitchell Banks, Jr., 26, formerly of Stevens Forest Road, has been indicted for first-degree murder in the shooting death of Terrence Armstead, 34, of Columbia, Wayne Kirwan, a spokesman for the Howard County state’s attorney said Thursday.

Armstead died after being shot several times in the Dorsey’s Forge Apartment complex, in Oakland Mills, in the early morning hours of July 26, 2003.

His killing was one of three homicides that occurred over a 10-month period in Oakland Mills in 2002 and 2003.

Banks is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for the Dec. 12, 2005 armed robbery of a Columbia gas station and is in the custody of the Maryland Division of Corrections, according to Kirwan.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Merriweather Makeover

The ExploreHoward blog says the folks over at Merriweather Post Pavilion spent $1 million sprucing up the place.

A new building that houses a concession stand and bathrooms was built to be energy-efficient, following the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The roof will include live grass that collects rainwater and helps avoid runoff.

Other green improvements include a biodiesel fueling station and the addition of several hundred trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. The improvements include new sculptures and landscaping, such as a 15-foot-tall chicken made out of farm equipment, a grass maze and a 26-foot-tall boulder sculpture.

Visitors can also play rock-and-roll-themed pinball machines as part of a new “Music Pinball Hall of Fame Arcade.” Games cost a quarter and proceeds from the attraction will go towards establishing a National Pinball Museum in Maryland...

The revamped Merriweather will have three times as many bathrooms as it does now and is expanding its menu to include quesadillas, pitas, crab cakes and pizza

Monday, June 1, 2009

Turning Away Ambulances

WaPo reported in Sunday's paper on the problem of hospitals across the region diverting ambulances carrying all but the most critically ill and injured patients because of emergency room overcrowding.

The newspaper said the diversions force many less-critical patients to travel farther for care, increasing costs and potentially causing dangerous delays.

Here's what the paper said about HoCo General:

Different jurisdictions use different criteria about when to limit ambulance traffic. Maryland has two categories -- yellow alerts for when emergency rooms are too crowded to accommodate additional patients and red alerts for when emergency rooms lack beds for patients who require monitoring, such as those with cardiac problems.

Hospitals and local health authorities have tried to improve but have come up short.

Howard County General Hospital was on yellow alert 8 percent of the time in 2004 and 26 percent last year, The Post analysis found. It is the county's only hospital, so during those alerts, ambulance patients might be sent to Montgomery, Prince George's or Baltimore counties. Depending on where the patient is picked up, travel could take twice as long and tie up emergency medical service crews longer than authorities would like. Hospital officials said that despite the alerts, they rarely send patients to other hospitals but that those who are less critically ill face longer waits because of crowding.

Hospital officials in Howard said part of the problem can be attributed to population growth in the county, especially among elderly residents seeking care. This summer, Howard General will expand its emergency room for the second time in eight years, adding 18 beds. But that probably will not be enough with 5,500 new homes planned in Columbia and significant growth expected around Fort Meade because of military base realignment in the region. The issue has prompted the Howard County Citizens Association to form a task force to examine emergency care in the county.

"We're trying to make [the emergency room] as streamlined and efficient as possible to see the maximum number [of patients] we can see, but space continues to be a limitation," said Walter Atha, head of the hospital's emergency room.