Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hands Off

On Friday, a new Maryland law goes into effect requiring hands-free gear when using the phone in the car.

We saw this in a Verizon Wireless press release today.

Maryland will join the District of Columbia and seven other states (Calif., Conn., Del., Wash., N.J., N.Y., and Oregon) that require drivers to use a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle. The new law will be a secondary offense, meaning that a driver must first commit a primary offense, such as speeding or reckless driving before they can be ticketed. The fine for a first offense is $40 and subsequent offenses will cost a driver $100.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Stink Over Bugs

The infestation of marmorated stink bugs has been a big topic at Talk Headquarters. There's been all sorts of debate over whether they should be killed or sent back outside. (Personally, we show no mercy).

Here's ExploreHoward's take.

The best line of defense, experts say, is to try to prevent the bugs from entering one’s house by sealing and caulking windows, foundation cracks and other points of entry and to be sure that window screens are in good condition. The bugs typically are more attracted to light-colored houses and the south side of buildings, she added.

“These are nuisance pests, but they’re not going to bite you,” McComas said.

WaPo's dos and don'ts.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Whole Lotta Lockdowns

It must be the lingering effects of the recent full moon. Here's a few notices sent by school officials to parents today:

From Oakland Mills High:

1:40 p.m. Today at approximately 8:25 Mr. Eastham was notified by the Howard County Police that they were arriving at the school to implement a drug scan on cars in the parking lot. This action was being taken as part of a partnership agreement between the Howard County Public School and the Police Department in an effort to maintain a drug-free school environment.

Mr. Eastham immediately took the emergency action of placing the school into Lock Down. This action was taken to ensure all students remained in their assigned classroom. Approximately 50 minutes later the police concluded their drug scan and students and staff were released from classrooms and resumed their regular schedule.

I am please to inform you that no students were found to be in violation of Howard Public School System Policy. I would like to remind parents that all belongings in a student’s car are considered to be in the possession of that student. Please make sure you inspect your child’s car regularly to ensure no items that would violate school policy are stored in the vehicle.

If you have any questions regarding this action, do not hesitate to call me.

Mr. Eastham

From Long Reach High:

2:35 p.m. There was a police matter in the area and we were instructed by the Police Department to get all of the students in the building and go on a lockdown. This happened at approximately 2:05 pm., and lasted 13 minutes. All suspects were apprehended

If you have any issues or concerns, please feel free to contact the school.

Mr. David Burton

From Jeffer's Hill:

2:14 p.m. Dear parents,
Currently JHES is on lock down per the direction of the Howard County Police Department. This is due to an outside circumstance. Please remember that students may not be picked up until we are given the notice that the lock down has been lifted. Please continue to monitor your email for updates.

2:20 p.m. Thankfully we were alerted that the lock down has been lifted. This was due to a home invasion in the area. We are back to normal activity.

From Oakland Mills High, again:

3:15 p.m. Parents,

This is to inform you that this afternoon we needed to implement the emergency procedure of Lock Down under the direction of the Howard County Police Department. This was the second Lock Down that we had today. Please see a previous email regarding the first Lock Down.

At approximately 2:00 pm we were directed by the Howard County Police Department to put the school in Lock Down. This action was taken to ensure the safety of our students and staff members. A situation was occurring in the neighborhood that may have put our students at risk if we had dismissed on time.

If you have any questions regarding this action, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Frank Eastham

And Oakland Mills Middle:

3:25pOMMS Families,

This is to inform you that this afternoon we needed to implement the emergency procedure of Lock Down under the direction of the Howard County Police Department.

At approximately 2:00 pm, the school implemented the Lock Down procedure. This action was taken to ensure the safety of our students and staff members. A situation was occurring in the neighborhood that may have put our students and staff at risk.

Our students and staff promptly responded to this situation. Student behavior during the Lock Down was commendable.

If you have any questions regarding this action, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Shiney Ann John


A word of warning from HoCo PD:

On Saturday, Sept. 25, motorists are advised to expect traffic congestion and delays in the area of Merriweather Post Pavilion and The Mall in Columbia due to the Virgin Mobile FreeFest, which is expected to draw more than 30,000 concertgoers.

Starting at 10 a.m., police will be directing traffic on Little Patuxent Parkway, Brokenland Parkway, South Entrance Road and Hickory Ridge Road. Delays are also expected on U.S. 29. Police will be using message boards and additional signage to assist motorists.

Little Patuxent Parkway from Brokenland Parkway to South Entrance Road may be closed temporarily at times as a traffic control measure.

Full access to Town Center businesses, including The Mall in Columbia and
Toby’s Dinner Theatre, will be available.

Motorists should plan ahead and allow extra travel time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A "Patch" For Us

AOL is finally bringing one of its Patch local news sites to our neighborhood. We learned this from a Twitter follower by the name of David Greisman.

Columbia Patch will go live on October 15! In the meantime, if you've got story ideas for before then or after then, please drop me a line.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bringing The Broadband

If at first you don't succeed, try try again.

HoCo won a piece of a federal stimulus grant to bring more broadband to the state, after an earlier application was rejected. We're a little late with this news, but we enjoyed Frank Hecker's analysis (essentially, the money is nice but the county's share is probably no more than $10 million plus a required $2 million match).

Here's the county's Sept. 17 release:

Today Howard County, in partnership with the State of Maryland and the Maryland Broadband Cooperative, received a $115.3 million broadband stimulus award (Broadband Technology Opportunities Program) from the Department of Commerce under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This award will be used to directly connect over 1,000 community anchor institutions across the state including 458 K-12 schools, 21 community colleges and institutions of higher learning, 262 public safety agencies, 44 libraries and 221 other government facilities. In addition, it is anticipated that the award will save or create over 1,700 jobs.

“Not only will this investment interconnect 715 community anchor institutions throughout Central Maryland and create jobs, it will also open up countless economic development opportunities including public and private partnerships and reach areas that are currently unserved or underserved by broadband,” said County Executive Ulman. “This grant is going to provide us with the critical infrastructure we will need for the future.”

Of the $115.3 million received by the state, $72 million will be directed to Howard County (a grant sub-recipient) who will be chairing and managing the creation of the first ever Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN), on behalf of 10 government jurisdictions across Central Maryland. ICBN member jurisdictions are: Anne Arundel County, City of Annapolis, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll County, Frederick County, Harford County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. The ICBN will directly connect the community anchor institutions, interconnect government networks, provide enhanced public safety interoperability, allow for limitless educational opportunities, high-speed internet, and data and resource sharing capabilities. It is also estimated that once complete, the ICBN will provide local governments more than $28 million in annual cost savings.

President of Columbia Telecommunications Corporation Joanne Hovis commented on this significant award saying, “this grant would not have been possible without the leadership of County Executive Ulman and the hard work of his staff over the last 18 months. This was a highly competitive grant, and they deserve the credit for making this possible.”

Monday, September 20, 2010

Free Trees

We received this from Oakland Mills High:

Howard County is offering free trees as part of its "Plant (It) Green" program by launching "2010 MORE Trees in 2010." Each County residence can sign up for one free native tree. Registration will remain open until all trees have been reserved.

Each County residence that did not receive a free tree in the spring giveaway is entitled to choose one free native tree: a Red Maple (Acer rubrum), a Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), an Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), or a Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida). Trees will be provided in two- to five-gallon containers and may measure five feet in height. Tree selections are subject to availability.

Details and order forms are available online at and must be completed and submitted by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 22.

Trees will be available for pickup only by residents on Friday, October 1, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. or Saturday, October 2, 7:00 a.m. to noon. There are two pickup sites (in West Friendship and Columbia) from which a resident may select when he/she completes an order form. The County may redirect residents to a new pickup site should traffic flow concerns arise.

Residents should consult with their homeowners' or neighborhood associations to determine any planting restrictions. The County is unable to guarantee the survivability of the free trees.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Body Discovered At Long Reach High

Police say there's no evidence of foul play, according to ExploreHoward blog.

From principal's note to school community:

Dear Parent/Guardian,

We have some sad news to share with you relating to a tragic incident which was discovered at Long Reach High School on the morning of September 15, 2010. As many of you have probably heard, a deceased person was found on school property by a community member. The police are continuing to investigate this incident; no other information has been made available to us at this time.

Throughout the day, school administrators, Student Services staff (school counselors, school psychologist, and health assistant/nurse), and members of the school system’s Crisis Team were in the building and available to provide guidance and support for students. Many students were already aware that something had occurred at Long Reach this morning and had questions about what happened, so we wanted to make sure that we addressed their concerns as soon as possible. The Long Reach High School Student Services staff members will be available to provide ongoing support throughout the rest of this week for students.

The loss of life of a person is certainly a shock and we are never quite prepared for a situation such as this. When we hear news like this, many of us feel different emotions. Some of the emotions a parent or student may have are fear, sadness, anger, confusion and guilt, which are all normal. Young people often react differently from an adult to news such as this. It is important that you deal honestly and directly with your child’s questions and give him or her the opportunity to express his/her feelings. Please feel free to contact an Administrator or your child’s school counselor if you have questions or need additional information.


David P Burton


Council Race In Brief

Howard County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty bested Democrat Alan Klein in the only contested council primary Tuesday.

ExploreHoward has the full rundown.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Bargains

From the River Hill village association:

Come out and find your treasures at the River Hill Community Yard sale tomorrow [Sept. 11]from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Red balloons will mark the following participating streets: River Run, Autumn Wind Circle, Whistling Winds Walk, Flowering Water Trail, Folded Leaf Square, Enchanted Key Gate, Distant Thunder Trail, Morning Light Trail, Grateful Heart Gate, Mellow Twilight Court, Wild Orange Gate, Lilac Bush Lane, Western Sea Run, Blue Point Court, Tender Mist Mews, Gentle Call, Garden Walk, Trumpet Sound Court, Guliford Road, Indian Summer Drive, Bright Flow Muse, Rippling Water Walk, Jeweled Hand Circle, Laurel Leaves Lane, Countless Star Run, Gleaming Sand Chase, Nodding Night Court, Floating Clouds Path and Linden Lithicum.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Police Charge Man in Jeffers Hill Fire, Death

(Update: Police charge man with killing his ex-wife.)

From HoCo PD:

Howard County police have charged a Columbia man with killing his ex-wife and setting her apartment on fire. Damon Willie White, 34, of 6007 Majors Lane, has been charged in an arrest warrant with murder and arson. He was injured in the incident and is currently being guarded by police at Shock Trauma. He remains in critical but stable condition and will be taken into police custody when doctors clear him for release from the hospital.

Investigators believe the victim, 35-year-old Thelma Wynn, was stabbed to death by White in a domestic assault. Detectives learned White has been temporarily staying in the residence. Police and fire investigators also believe White intentionally set fire to the apartment after stabbing Wynn. Investigators found a knife in the apartment that they are analyzing as the possible murder weapon.

Wynn had four children who lived in the residence. The two girls, ages 17 and 15, and two boys, ages 11 and 6, are in the custody of family members. They were not home at the time of the incident.

Fire and rescue personnel responded to Majors Lane at 2:42 p.m. Sept. 7 for a 911 call from a neighbor reporting a fire. Investigators found White injured and Wynn deceased inside the apartment.

The fire was contained within the apartment where Wynn and White resided. No one else was injured in the incident.

(Original post)

HoCo police suspect something else killed a mother of four in an apartment fire in the 6000 block of Majors Lane shortly after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to this WBAL report. A second person, a man, was found inside critically injured.

Police said they don't believe the fire caused the woman's death. Officials said both victims appeared to have injuries that were unrelated to the fire, but it's too early to tell if it was a domestic incident or if a third party injured the couple.

"We don't think that their injuries or the death of this woman were caused by the fire. It looks like there was another cause which we're still working to determine," said said Sherry Llewellyn of the Howard County Police Department.

The man was taken to Shock Trauma in critical condition.

Both victims appeared to be in their 30s and lived at the apartment, police said. Neither has been identified.

Friends told 11 News that the woman was the mother of two girls and two boys. The children range in age from 6 and 17.

"All of them are very good kids -- well-mannered, well-behaved. I wish I had the space, and I'd take them in myself, because she was an exceptional mom to those kids. To know those kids, their mom is gone now, it's heart-wrenching," said neighbor Maureen Burris.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wilde Lake Lockdown

From an e-mail notice to the Wilde Lake High community:

Good morning Wilde Lake Nation,

In an effort to keep the Wilde Lake community updated, I want to share that today we received a call from the area Police Department, informing us of two men who had been involved in disruptive actives in the community. As a precaution,we went on a modified lockdown for approximately 1 hour. At no time during this hour were students or staff in any danger. After receiving updated information from the police, the modified lockdown was lifted with nothing out of the ordinary occurring. As always thank you for your support.

Restia Whitaker

Dedging Up A Detour

The Oakland Mills Village folks sent out this piece of advice:

Due to the dredging of Lake Kittamaqundi there is currently a temporary mulch path on the Lake Kittamaqundi side of the Route 29 footbridge. Ample signage is in place to direct people to the mulch path (which is a detour).