Saturday, July 25, 2009

Howard Unemployment Hits Record

According to the Sun's ExploreHoward blog, we've hit a new high, although we're curious how far these records go back.

The county’s unemployment rate climbed from 5.1 percent in May to 5.8 percent in June, the highest unemployment rate on record for the county. Montgomery County was the only county with a lower rate, with 5.7 percent unemployment.

Howard's unemployment rate amounts to about 9,100 people out of work, according to the state Division of Workforce Development.

Federal statistics, which date back to 1990, show Howard County never reached 5 percent unemployment until this year. Last year’s average unemployment rate was 3.1 percent.

Howard County’s climb also mirrors the state as a whole, which saw its unemployment rate climb from 7.1 percent in May to 7.5 percent in June. Baltimore City has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 11 percent.

Compared to the rest of the country, however, Maryland is doing comparatively well when it comes to jobless numbers. The national unemployment rate has been rising steadily all year, climbing to 9.5 percent in June.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Cedar Lane Roadwork Ahead

From HoCo gov:

A Howard County construction project on Cedar Lane at Harriet Tubman Lane is scheduled to begin on or about Monday, August 3. The project will extend an 8-inch diameter PVC sewer main, approximately 800 linear feet, to serve the new Robinson Nature Center. Weather permitting, the project should be completed by mid-September.

The majority of the work will take place along Harriet Tubman Lane, crossing Cedar Lane; therefore, the impact on residents in the surrounding area should be minimal. There may be delays during the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week as a result of slow moving traffic. Flagging operations will be in place to direct traffic as needed, and signs will be posted to advise motorists of the construction.

For questions or concerns about Capital Project S-6272, contact Lisa Brightwell, Public Works Customer Service, at 410-313-3440, or by e-mail to

Summer Reading

We are way late in discovering the library's Highly Recommended blog, but figure others might enjoy. Here's a link and a description:

Visit Highly Recommended, the Library's new blog, for reviews on adult fiction and non-fiction books, DVDs, audiobooks, music, as well as information on upcoming Library classes and events. Staff recommendations available 24/7 at the click of a mouse!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lyme Disease On The Rise

Blame all the deer and white-footed mice around our parts -- they typically harbor the nasty little ticks that carry Lyme disease.

The county was tops in the state for the number of recorded cases, according to the ExploreHoward blog.

There were 369 confirmed and probable cases reported in Howard County in 2008, according to the report, 11 more than in 2007.

Montgomery County, which had been tops in the state, was second to Howard in 2008 with 314 cases, down from 475 the previous year.

Statewide, the total decreased from 2,576 cases in 2007 to 2,216 in 2008.

The county's health department suggests anyone who finds a tick consider getting checked out, though a tick generally needs to be attached to the skin for about 24 hours to become infected. Click here for more deets.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step For Us

MSNBC ran a wire story listing some of the technological advances to come out of NASA's space program, like Tang and freeze dried food.

Turns out there is a local tie-in:

Enriched baby formula: In the early 1980s, NASA conducted experiments with algae, to gauge how it might be used on long space flights involving humans to provide food, oxygen, or help with waste disposal. Scientists realized the algae could provide nutritional supplements, like two fatty acids previously found only in human milk. A Columbia, Md.-based company called Martek Biosciences Corp. formed in 1985. It developed life'sDHA and life'sARA, nutritional additives which are the same fatty acids found in human breast milk. The products are believed to help with mental and visual development. The company says its DHA is now found in more than 100 foods and drinks and about 99 percent of the baby formula sold in the United States.

Friday, July 17, 2009

At Least You Can Read While Waiting

Tired of waiting at the Post Office to file your passport paperwork? Soon you can get the job done at the East Columbia Library, according to this item on the Sun's ExploreHoward blog.

The U.S. Department of State approved the library becoming a "passport acceptance facility," and starting Aug. 10, people can apply for passports and purchase passport photos at the library.

Passport hours will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays at the library, located at 6600 Cradlerock Way, in Columbia.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shhhh! The Library Offers Earplugs

We received this from HoCoMoJo's Twitter feed, which passed on something it saw on a library Tweet...Don't ya jus luv nu media? - New disposable earplugs for Central Library's quiet study rooms.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How's My Driving?

From HoCo PD:

Howard County police are asking residents to participate in an online survey through Aug. 12 about their concerns about and attitudes toward traffic safety.

The University of Maryland developed “Monitoring the Future of Maryland: A Survey of Highway Safety Issues” for the State Highway Administration and the Maryland Highway Safety Office.The anonymous survey takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete and is confidential. It is part of an ongoing effort to monitor beliefs, concerns and behaviors of Maryland motorists regarding traffic safety issues, especially at the local level.

In 2008, more than 2,600 citizens participated in the survey. Results showed that more than 62 percent of respondents were concerned about speeding and aggressive driving in their communities. Additionally, more than 50 percent were concerned about people who use cell phones while driving, yet almost 75 percent reported using a cell phone at least once in the past month while driving. To complete the survey, log on to and select Howard County.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Shooting Near The Owen Brown BB Courts

From HoCo PD:

Howard County police are investigating a shooting that occurred Thursday night in Columbia. The victim, 18-year-old Keontae Johnson of the 6500 block of Overheart Lane, is in stable condition at Shock Trauma after being shot in the torso.

Police were called to Johnson’s residence around 7:30 p.m. for a report that he was injured. Through investigation, police believe two groups of teenagers, including Johnson, became involved in a fight near a basketball court in the 6700 block of Cradlerock Way. During the fight, someone fired a handgun, striking Johnson. Johnson went home and a friend called 911.

Detectives are still investigating the cause of the dispute. Police are offering a $1,000 reward and are asking anyone with information to call 410-313-3200.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Trotter Road Done By August?

A River Hill correspondent sent this our way, and we are of course grateful.

Trotter Road has been closed to through traffic for the extension of water and sewer lines for a new residential development. The Department of Public Works expects that the contractor will be done with the construction phase in about 2 weeks. After that, the Bureau of Highways will repave Trotter Road. Repaving is expected to take a couple of days.

So, the whole project should be complete by the end of July (weather permitting)!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Amusement Park Discounts

From HoCo Gov:

The Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks, through the Maryland Recreation Parks Association, is offering discounted tickets to area theme and water parks. Tickets are for one-day visits and in some instances, season passes are available. Attractions include: Busch Gardens, Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags America, Water Country USA, Kings Dominion, Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland and Sesame Place.

Tickets may be purchased in person or by phone at the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks headquarters, 7120 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia, (410) 313-7275; or at the Glenwood Community Center, 2400 Route 97, Cooksville, (410) 313-4840.

Tickets may be purchased by credit card or cash only at these sites from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through August 28. Because tickets are discounted there may be some restrictions regarding use. For additional details regarding pricing, visit Recreation & Park’s Web site and click on “Amusement Park Tickets” under “What’s New.”

The Public Housing Windmill

An Ellicott City public housing project called Ellicott Gardens includes a real live windmill to generate energy, according to this post by the Washington Business Journal.

The windmill was a gift to the county by Old Town Construction, the project's general contractor and former owner. The company sold the property to the county over a year ago.

The windmill will contribute to the energy needed for the building's public areas including the corridors, lobby, parking garage, and gym. The windmill will generate about 400 kilowatt hours per month - to offer a little perspective, a compact fluorescent light bulb used all month would equal about 18 kilowatt hours.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Movies At The Mall For $1

We saw this offer on the mall's Web site:

$1 Movies for Charity. Wednesdays at 10am. All Summer Long.

All admission and concessions proceeds* from AMC Summer MovieCamp will benefit Variety – The Children's Charity and The Will Rogers Institute.

Families, schools and organizations alike are invited to see great kids' movies during AMC Summer MovieCamp. This fun-filled program brings you:

# $1 movies from June 17 – August 5
# Shows starting at 10:00am every Wednesday
# Great field trip opportunities – groups can purchase tickets one week in advance starting June 10 at the box office or online.

For more details, including a Movie Schedule, go here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

HoCo General Readies New Wing

The HoCo Hospital is about to show off some snazzy new digs, according to this story in the HoCo Sun:

Its 90 private rooms, centralized outpatient center and enhanced support services should add up to a "dramatic reduction" in emergency room wait times by next year, president and CEO Victor Broccolino said.

Two departments are already operating in the space and others are moving in this week, but patient rooms won't be ready until early August. Then, the hospital will boast a net increase of 18 beds, while it incrementally converts the rest of its semi-private rooms to private ones.

The new rooms will be equipped with sleep sofas. (We sure could have used one of those after not one, but two members of the Talk Team spent the past year in extended stays. It can be darn hard to nap on a tiny armless chair).

We were curious about this passage:

"Patient safety and community expectations were the two main drivers," he said, stressing that private rooms are critical to preventing infections, disturbances and human error such as a patient's medication accidentally being given to a roommate.

How often does that happen?! Probably not much given the fact you can't get an aspirin without repeating your name and date of birth for the nurse to check.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fireworks On The 4th

The festivities officially begin at 5p at Lake K. on Saturday, but we all know the blankets reserving choice viewing spots will be out way before that. Here's a link to the county's brochure for the event.

And don't miss the River Hill and Longfellow parades!

River Hill's Tenth Annual Independence Day parade will be held this Saturday, July 4 starting at 9:15 a.m. Great Star Drive will be closed to all traffic starting at 9:15 a.m. through the duration of the parade. Howard County police will be on the streets monitoring traffic. In addition to the police officers, the River Hill Community Association is looking for resident volunteers to help direct traffic. Please contact Mary Harris at 410-531-1749 if you are interested in being a part of this wonderful community tradition.

The Longfellow parade starts at 10 am and begins at Longfellow Elementary School on Hesperus Drive and ends at Eliots Oak Road. Community softball game will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Cedar Lane Park, in Columbia.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

School Lunch Prices Hold Steady

According to the HoCo Sun, school officials decided to leave prices alone. (It would be interesting to see whether the school system is getting the kinds of breaks on food and transportation costs these days that is allowing groceries and others to cut prices).

Elementary lunch will cost $2.50, while lunches at middle and high schools will cost $3. The "signature" and "coaches corner" lunch options at high schools will cost $3.75. The price of breakfast at all schools will be $1.75.

The decision to maintain current prices was based, in part, on "a review of the current and projected financial condition of the food service program," and took into account the impact the poor economy has had on many families, according to a report reviewed by the Board of Education June 11.

According to the report, participation in Howard's school meals program decreased by 1,228 students during the 2008-2009 school year and close to 2,500 students over the past three fiscal years.

Police Say Baby Left In Car For 9 hours

WaPo once did a magazine story on this problem.

From HoCo police:

Howard County police are investigating what appears to be the heat-related death of a 23-month-old girl who was strapped into a child safety seat inside a car for approximately nine hours. The preliminary investigation indicates that the incident was likely accidental, although autopsy results are still pending. If the incident is determined to be accidental, charges likely would not be filed in the case.

Police were called to the 3100 block of Edgewood Road in Ellicott City by a neighbor June 25. Upon their arrival, officers found a child deceased in the back of a car parked in front of a residence. The child’s mother was present at the location, had discovered the child inside the car and was very distraught. The family’s name will not be released at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

Based on the preliminary investigation, police believe a change in the parents’ morning routine may have resulted in the child being inadvertently left in the back seat of the car.

Detectives are continuing to investigate the incident.

The National Safe Kids campaign suggests these tips for parents and caregivers:

• Place something that you’ll need at your next stop – such as a purse, a lunch, gym bag or briefcase – on the floor of the backseat where the child is sitting. This simple act could help prevent you from accidentally forgetting a child.

• Teach children not to play in, on or around vehicles.
• Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
• Always lock a vehicle’s doors and trunk – especially at home. Keep keys and remote entry devices out of children’s reach.

According to the Howard County Health Department, cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131° F - 172° F when outside temperatures are 80° F – 100° F. When the outside temperature is 83° F, even with the window rolled down two inches, the temperature inside the car can reach 109° F in only 15 minutes. In hotter weather, a vehicle can warm to dangerous, life-threatening levels in only 10 minutes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Earn $$ By Catching Skinnydippers

We saw this on the Town Center e-mail list:

A Aquatics Department Offers $100.00 Reward for information leading to the arrest of individuals trespassing at your CA Outdoor Pools.

If you see individuals inside the pool facility when the facility is normally closed, call the police at 911. After you call the police, call the Aquatics Office at 410-312-6332 and leave the same information. If the police make any arrests for trespassing, the Aquatics Department will send you a check for $100.

Be a good neighbor and help protect your pools and people from getting hurt.