Council approves Kamenetz’s capital spending plans
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 14:42

Community Center to receive funds

By Ben Boehl

The Baltimore County Council approved County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s supplemental appropriation to the FY 15 budget capital budget by a 5 to 0 vote last week.
Council members Cathy Bevins and Wade Kach were absent for the Feb. 17 session, which was rescheduled after the regular Monday meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The 2014-15 Capital Budget and the Capital Improvement Program FY 2016-2020 calls for $131,645,500 for items such as street rehabilitation ($6 million) roadway resurfacing ($8.3 million) alley reconstruction ($ 1.7 million) and curbs, gutters and sidewalks ($6.5 million), which are countywide projects.
Seventh District County Councilman Todd Crandell voted for the measure and said that the southeastern area of the county will benefit.
“The 7th District is part of the $22 million for countywide roadway resurfacing, alleys, curbs, gutters and sidewalks,” Crandell said.
“We should know exactly what projects are planned in a few weeks, as weather plays a role in what decisions are made, and it’s been a rough winter.”
According to the Baltimore County FY15 Supplemental Appropriation report, over $11.7 million was approved in school air conditioning projects, but none of those projects are slated for Dundalk or the 7th District.
Crandell said that he was not in office when the original budget was passed.
“The school air conditioning projects in the 7th district that were slated for [the 2015 fiscal year] are complete. Any new air conditioning projects will have to be addressed in the 2016 budget,” Crandell said.

CCBC celebrates after winning national achievement award
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 14:39

School earns Leah Meyer Austin Award



Dust off a spot on the mantel — CCBC has earned yet another award.
The school recently announced that it had received the Leah Meyer Austin Award.
Established in 2008, the award serves to recognize colleges that demonstrate a marked improvement in student achievement.
The award is given each year by Achieving the Dream, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving community colleges. 
All Achieving the Dream member colleges are eligible to apply for the award. More than 200 colleges across 34 states are members.
CCBC, a member since 2009, received the award in recognition of a series of improvements.
In recent years, CCBC has doubled the completion rate for students completing developmental and gateway courses.
In addition, the school posted a 55 percent increase in degree and certificate completetion between 2010 and 2014.
“At CCBC, we make student success both a mantra and a mission,” CCBC president Dr. Sandra Kurtinitis explained. “It’s in our DNA.”
“Our Achieving the Dream Student Success agenda has been transformational for students, both in and out of the classroom.”
CCBC shared this year’s Leah Meyer Austin Award with Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Va.
The schools were selected for the award by a committee made up of representatives from Achieving the Dream and other member institutions.
As part of the award, CCBC received $10,000 to support continuing student achievement initiatives.

Grammer introduces bill to repeal the Firearm Safety Act of 2013
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 14:33

Bill introduced without Democratic sponsors

By Ben Boehl


Emboldened by the election of a Republican governor and gains for their party in the General Assembly, GOP state legislators  have wasted no time in trying to reverse laws enacted under the previous Democratic administration.
Having already introduced legislation to repeal the stormwater management fee known as the “Rain Tax” and to stop the automatic increases in the state’s gas tax, Republicans are now pushing a bill to repeal the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a gun-control law the party has long opposed.
The lead sponsor of the repeal bill is 6th District Del. Robin Grammer.
Grammer explained that the Republican Party does not mandate who will submit bills, but every member of the caucus comes to session with a different set of priorities and is free to submit legislative proposals.
“The District 6 delegation had discussions at the beginning of the session as to the issues we wanted to focus on. The gun issue is one issue we agreed to work on as a team. Each member of our delegation took a handful of the bills that they felt strongly about,” Grammer said.

Long introduces bill to create sales tax-free periods for college textbooks
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 14:36

Bill would create two-week tax-free period

By Ben Boehl

Del. Bob Long wants Maryland college students to save money on their textbooks, so he is introducing  a bill —HB 875 Sales and Use Tax - Tax-Free Periods - University and College Textbooks — that would create a sales-tax-free period for university and college textbooks for two weeks around the start of the spring and fall semesters.
“It is a good idea. We have to help out our college students,” Long said. “I met a student that spends over $5,000 on text books. We could save him $300.”
The bill is being co-sponsored by 18 Republicans and four Democrats. Among the GOP cosponsors areLong’s 6th District House colleagues Ric Metzgar and Robin Grammer.
Long said he thinks the bill stands a good chance of passage, given its bipartisan sponsorship and the fact that House Ways and Means Committee chairperson, Democratic Del. Sheila Hixson is a co-sponsor of the bill.
“We have to work together with the Democrats, and having [Hixson] as a sponsor definitely helps,” Long noted.
A version of the bill cross filed in the Senate also has co-sponsorship from both Democrats and Republicans.
One of the sponsors of the Senate bill is 6th District Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, who was unavailable for comment as of press time.

Former Norwood student gives back to school for Eagle Scout project
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 14:29

Wilson just one step away from earning top Scout rank


For Ben Wilson, Scouting is a family affair.
Wilson, a junior at Dundalk High School, first joined Boy Scout Troop 304 at St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church four years ago, at the urging of his two younger brothers — both Scouts themselves.
Now, like his grandfather before him, Wilson has set his sights on the highest award a Scout can earn — the rank of Eagle Scout.
The process of earning the Eagle Scout rank is extensive. Scouts must make it to the rank of Life Scout, earn at least 21 merit badges and complete an Eagle Scout project.
Wilson presented his project, hand-made bookshelves, to the students of Norwood Elementary  School last Wednesday.
Wilson, himself a former Norwood student, said he knew from the beginning that he wanted his project to benefit the school.
“Norwood is like my second home,” he noted.
After speaking with Norwood principal Pat Goldys, Wilson decided to build hand-crafted wooden bookshelves for the school.
Though he received help from family, friends and fellow Scouts, Wilson coordinated every part of the project himself.
(Leadership of a team of volunteers is traditionally part of the standard by which Eagle Scout candidates are evaluated.)
He organized a series of fundraisers to raise money for materials, and collected books for the shelves by purchasing withdrawn books from libraries and soliciting donations.
Finally, using wood donated by The Home Depot, Wilson and his team got to work building the sturdy wooden shelves. They plan to add varnish when the weather improves.

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