Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Skimming from the ATM

From HoCo police:

Howard County police are asking the public’s help in identifying two men who installed an illegal device on an Ellicott City ATM and then fraudulently withdrew thousands of dollars from victims’ accounts.

Through investigation, police believe the suspects installed and removed a skimming device on multiple dates in October at a drive-through ATM at Columbia Bank in the 4400 block of Long Gate Parkway in Ellicott City.

Skimming devices fit over existing ATM card openings and record account information without the knowledge of the user. Thieves then download the account information and fabricate fraudulent ATM cards that are then used to illegally withdraw funds from victims’ accounts.

Victims began to report unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts in mid-November. To date, police believe the suspects have successfully withdrawn more than $90,000 from victims’ accounts. Investigators believe attempts were made to access more than 100 accounts in hundreds of transactions. The fraudulent transactions have occurred throughout the Baltimore-D.C. region at various ATMs.

Police ask anyone who may recognize the suspects to call 410-313-3200. Callers may remain anonymous. If you notice anyone acting suspicious at or around an ATM, call 911.

Residents are advised to carefully inspect ATMs before using them. Customers should look for unusual equipment, wires or other devices attached to the ATM. Check the device for loose attachments that are temporarily affixed. If a machine appears as though it has been tampered with, do not scan your card, and alert your bank immediately.

If you have been a victim of fraudulent ATM activity, report it immediately to your bank. If the illegal charges were made in Howard County or if you believe your card was compromised as part of this series, please call Howard County police to file a report.

Here's a link to the pictures.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Economic Development Chief To Step Down

From HoCo PR:

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced today that Richard “Dick” Story, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority for the past 17 years will retire effective March 1, 2011. Since 1993, Story has served as the CEO for the not-for-profit, quasi-private economic development corporation. He was responsible for implementing programs for business retention and expansion, new business attraction, public policy and other economic development initiatives in this strategically located County.


Prior to working for Howard County, Story was the Executive Director for the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission from 1989 to 1991. He obtained his Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration from Towson University using G.I. Bill benefits following a tour of duty in the U.S. Army; he served as Commanding Officer of the 84th Engineering Company in Nuremberg, Germany from 1968 to1969.

Over the next few weeks, County Executive Ulman will work with the Economic Development Authority Board in searching for a new CEO. Per the Howard County code, the Executive nominates a candidate for Board approval.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

General Growth's Shrinking Empire

The owner of Columbia mall is steadily casting a smaller shadow over these parts. From the Sun:

General Growth Properties is selling the Gateway Overlook Shopping Center in Columbia for $90 million. The shopping center, which opened in 2007, includes tenants such as Trader Joe's, Loehmann's, Costco, Best Buy and On the Border.

The sale is part of a strategy by General Growth, which emerged from bankruptcy this week, to sell non-core assets to boost its balance sheet. The sale of the shopping center located at Routes 175 and 108 will help the company reduce about $55 million in debt and generate $35 million in proceeds.

Turning Methane to Energy

From a Pepco release:

Pepco Energy Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM) and a leader in renewable energy projects, has been chosen by Howard County, Maryland, to implement a design/build construction contract at the Alpha Ridge Landfill, located near Baltimore.

The $3.9 million contract calls on Pepco Energy to design and build a new 1 MW landfill gas to energy generating plant at the Alpha Ridge Landfill on Marriottsville Road in Howard County, Maryland.

"Howard County continues to look for all possible options to save energy, money and the environment," said Evelyn Tomlin, Chief, Bureau of Environmental Services. "This Alpha Ridge Landfill gas to energy project is one of the most important green projects for Howard County."

Methane gas, which is currently burned in a flare at the landfill, will now be used as fuel for a reciprocating engine and generator to produce 1 MW of electric power. The completed project will export electric power to the local utility grid and provide power for electric vehicles used at the landfill.

"Pepco Energy is pleased to have been chosen to implement a comprehensive design/build construction contract for the Howard County Alpha Ridge Landfill," said John Huffman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pepco Energy. "The project demonstrates the county's commitment to optimizing its existing assets and to having a positive impact on the environment."

The plant will generate revenue for Howard County to help offset their landfill costs through the sale of the electricity produced. Additionally, as the plant runs full-time at full load, it will displace approximately 5,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year that would otherwise be produced from traditional fossil fuel power plants. Design and permitting are currently underway, and the plant is estimated to go into commercial operation by early 2012.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blandair Work About To Start

A contract for phase one has been awarded!

From HoCo gov:

Phase I is located on the west side of Oakland Mills Road and it will contain the following amenities: three lighted, synthetic turf multi-purpose fields; one playground; a parking lot for 270 cars; and pathways for pedestrians and cyclists that will connect into the County’s existing pathway system. A second contract will be let in November 2010 for the construction of a picnic shelter and comfort station. Phase I completion is targeted for December 2011.


When the entire park is completed, it will preserve the majority of existing forest, wetlands, meadows and a historic farm complex, while providing active and passive recreation experiences. This unique site will afford visitors the opportunity to learn more about the County’s agrarian roots and enjoy nature -- right in Columbia’s backyard.

The Phase I Contract Agreement was awarded to Urban N. Zink, Contractor, Inc. of Chase, Maryland.