Tag Archives: Cecil County

Love Trumps Politics for Some Maryland Officeholders

By JEREMY BARR
Capital News Service

WASHINGTON – Tari Moore’s first Valentine’s Day as a married woman did not go as expected.

Her husband, Steve, forgot, so he did what anyone would do to keep a new union afloat.

“He got me a dog because he was so mortified,” said Moore, who in November was elected as Cecil County’s first executive and is the state’s only female county executive.

Valentine’s Day is a special time for Maryland’s politicians; a chance to sneak away from the office and spend time with loved ones.

Unfortunately, the realities of governing cut into the Moores’ plans this year. The two are putting off a trip to Las Vegas until after the county executive submits her budget to the County Council, required by March 1.

But it’s time together with her husband of 32 years that Tari Moore values most, as the two have very busy schedules. She leads a county of more than 100,000 people, and he’s a vice president for the Missile Products Division at ATK, a Fortune 500 company.

“Sometimes we take our loved ones for granted. We need to take these opportunities to tell them that we do love them,” Moore said.

Since that fateful, forgetful Valentine’s Day moment, Moore said her husband has been “incredibly considerate” and always remembers to get her a card.

For Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Valentine’s Day is “a moment to take a deep breath and get some time away” with his wife and two young daughters.

Scheduling time together is a “constant balancing act,” he said. “We’re very creative with my schedule.”

Ulman met his wife, Jacqueline, when they were both students — and student government members — at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was a legislator and she was treasurer. They’ve been married 13 years.

“I have a wonderful, patient, loving wife who puts up with me,” said Ulman, who is serving his second term as county executive and is considering a run for governor in 2014.

He surprised her this year, planning a “special day” of shopping and a visit to the movies after the two spend the night in Baltimore.

“I just try to make her happy,” Ulman said.

Valentine’s Day has a little extra meaning for Frederick Mayor Randy McClement and his wife, Maryjane, whose birthday falls three days before the holiday.

“I usually just try to make time for her,” he said.

Since they sold the bagel shop they owned for 12 years, the McClements, who have been married for 21 years, have had far more time to celebrate together.

“Valentine’s Day during those years was almost non-existent,” Mayor McClement said. Maryjane baked during the week and did the books, while Randy baked on weekends.

Now, the couple generally exchange modest gifts to celebrate, even when the mayor protests.

“She usually goes to the dollar store to find me something,” he said.

And for his wife? “She loves just a little box of chocolate. Nothing big and fancy.”

County Executive Tari Moore shared another secret about her relationship with her husband, whom she met because she was dating his best friend at the time.

“He proposed on our first date, though he’ll never admit that,” she said.

Coalition Announces County Clean Water Ratings

Six of Maryland’s 23 counties received the top rating from an environmental coalition for their Chesapeake Bay restoration plans. The Clean Maryland Waters coalition announced that Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester and Montgomery Counties submitted the strongest plans. Nine counties got the lowest ranking. They are Allegany, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Somerset, Washington and Worcester Counties. The coalition says the drafts they submitted were skeletal and did not commit to clear implementation strategies. The counties submitted their plans to the state, which submitted its plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is spearheading a new federally led bay restoration effort.

Maryland’s Largest Tree Damaged

Maryland’s Largest Tree is now in Montgomery County, after high winds severely damaged a silver maple in Cecil County. Officials at the Department of Natural Resources said the Elkton maple had been the state’s largest tree since 2006. The new title holder is an American sycamore located in the C&O Canal National Historical Park, about 300-feet from the Potomac River.

Maryland Humanities Council Announces Sites for Statewide Smithsonian Institution Exhibit Tour

The Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) has announced the five sites chosen to host Journey Stories, a national Smithsonian exhibit which will travel throughout Maryland from May 2012 to January 2013, through a partnership between the MHC and the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MOMs) Program.

Curated by William Withuhn, curator of transportation for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Journey Stories explores tales of how we and our ancestors came to America – a narrative which is a central element of our personal heritage. Maryland partners will add their local stories and programs exploring travel and migration in our State.

MHC Executive Director Phoebe Stein Davis says “We are so proud of Between Fences, our most recent Museum on Main Street exhibit, and happy to continue to partner with communities across the state to bring such high‐quality programs into local venues. Maryland’s Journey Stories are vast and deserve closer exploration.”

American history is filled with stories of people leaving behind everything – families and possessions – to reach a new life in another state, across the continent, or even across an ocean. Transportation history is more than trains, boats, buses, cars, wagons, and trucks. Journey Stories examines the intersection between modes of travel and Americans’ desire to feel free to move. The story is diverse and focused on immigration, migration, innovation, and freedom. It is accounts of immigrants coming in search of promise in a new country; stories of individuals and families relocating in search of fortune, their own homestead, or employment. The exhibit is also dedicated to addressing harrowing journeys of Africans and Native Americans forced to move.

Journey Stories uses engaging images, audio, and artifacts, to tell the individual stories that illustrate the critical roles travel and movement have played in building our diverse American society.

Journey Stories Sites and Schedule
MAY 26, 2012 – JULY 6, 2012
Harford County Public Library, Abingdon
Partner: Harford County Department of Community Services

JULY 13, 2012 – AUGUST 24, 2012
Cecil County Arts Council, Elkton
Partners: Cecil County Public Library, Historical Society of Cecil County

AUGUST 31, 2012 – OCTOBER 12, 2012
Brunswick Railroad Museum, Brunswick
Partner: Frederick County Public Library

OCTOBER 18, 2012 – NOVEMBER 30, 2012
Mosely Gallery UMES, Princess Anne, MD
Partners: Frederick Douglass Library at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Princess Anne Main Street

DECEMBER 7, 2012 – JANUARY 18, 2013
Prince Georges Arts and Humanities Council, Oxon Hill, MD
Partner: Prince Georges County Memorial Library System

At www.journeystories.org users can view exhibitions created by host states and communities and browse through their collections. Visitors are encouraged to share their journey stories with the Smithsonian, their state humanities councils, local communities, and the world through the “Share Your Story” link. Stories will be added to the site’s archive.

About the Maryland Humanities Council
The Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) is a statewide, educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that utilizes the humanities to encourage informed dialogue and increased civic engagement. MHC encourages Marylanders with different backgrounds and viewpoints to see, hear, and learn more about others and themselves because only informed engaged citizens can build healthy, democratic societies. Since 1973, the Maryland Humanities Council has brought humanities programs to communities across the state and provided grant funding for nonprofit organizations to create their own humanities programs. To learn more, visit www.mdhc.org.

Journey Stories: Press Release Quotes from Participating Sites

“The city of Brunswick is defined by its history as a Chesapeake and Ohio Canal town and a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad company town, providing the city with a vibrant population of adventurers, immigrants and entrepreneurs. We are delighted that the exhibit will be housed in the historic Kaplon Building in downtown Brunswick, which was built by one of the first Jewish settlers to the region, and served as the area’s main department store for decades. Brunswick’s roots as a transportation hub are still visible in the C&O Canal’s towpath, the Potomac River, and MARC rail commuter services. We can’t wait for the arrival of ‘Journey Stories’ to help us celebrate Brunswick’s past, present, and future!”
‐‐‐Rebecca O’Leary, Curator, Brunswick Railroad Museum

“With the Smithsonian Institution’s ‘Journey Stories’ exhibition, the Maryland Humanities Council offers us an opportunity to expand our efforts at enhancing ‘town and gown’ relations. It enables us to bring together a diverse group of people with many journey stories to tell and highlights the positive aspects of the historical community that is Princess Anne, Maryland.”
‐‐‐ Anke Van Wagenberg, Mosely Gallery Director, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

“Cecil County Arts Council is thrilled to have been chosen as a host site for the upcoming Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, ‘Journey Stories.’ Our gallery space, partnered with the Historical Society’s knowledge of local traditions and the Cecil County Library’s vast, theme‐supportive programming creates a unique, first‐time collaboration opportunity for us all.”
‐‐‐ Heather Morrissey, Executive Director, Cecil County Arts Council

“We are honored and thrilled to be selected as one of the sites for ‘Journey Stories’. The opportunity to host a Smithsonian exhibit and collaborate with the Harford County Department of Community Services and other local organizations, in bringing the story of immigration, transportation and migration to our community, is very exciting.”
‐‐‐ Mary Hastler, Director, Harford County Public Library

“The Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council is honored to join the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System to bring heightened focus to the rich cultural history of our county through the ‘Journey Stories’ traveling exhibition. Our stories are what make us a welcoming place to live, work and play for residents and visitors alike.”
‐‐‐ Lionell Thomas, Executive Director, Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council

As More Snow Falls, Debate Continues Over State Aid to Counties

By BRADY HOLT
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS – As repeated snowfalls further erode county road budgets already decimated by large-scale state cuts, some legislators nonetheless feel counties have yet to bear the brunt of the economic downturn.

Officials at many counties say they have needed to reduce services, lay off or furlough employees or dip into reserve funds to cover the 95-percent cuts they saw in state highway user revenue funding over the summer — even before this winter’s first record snowfall in December.

“If the state had left us alone, we’d be fine. But unfortunately their problem became ours,” said John Borders, county administrator for Queen Anne’s County.

Queen Anne’s has laid off 22 employees and cut back on its capital projects during the 2010 fiscal year of July 2009 through this June. The county is further considering placing the burden of snow removal on side streets onto the shoulders of the streets’ residents.

Some state officials counter that for every budget cut made by Maryland’s county governments, the state has had to do even more.

“We’re both in horrible shape, but the state has been worse off longer,” said Warren Deschenaux, who briefs the General Assembly on the state budget. “Counties have been able to maintain their commitments to employees until fairly recently.”

More than 200 state employees have been laid off in the current fiscal year, and those who remain have needed to take furlough days. Only seven of Maryland’s 23 counties have had both layoffs and furloughs, and nine have had neither.

“We’ve not had to do anything drastic yet,” said St. Mary’s County Administrator John Savich. “So far we’ve not flat-out eliminated anything, so it’s probably just that some things are taking a little bit longer. I think that’s really it.”

In Cecil County, budget director Craig Whiteford said employees were hardest hit by stricter thermostat policies: a 74-degree maximum for the county offices this winter.

“Of all the things we’ve done, it’s probably the most controversial, internally,” Whiteford said, adding that any layoffs or furloughs “would be an option of last resort.”

Other counties have cut back more, with Montgomery cutting bus lines and Worcester slashing its health department services, and most have reduced or eliminated non-emergency road resurfacing.

Delegate John Bohanan, D-St. Mary’s, said the cost-cutting measures the state government has seen are even more drastic.

“We’re all sympathetic to the difficulties local governments are having … but we’ve taken some tough actions. We’ve taken very difficult reductions,” Bohanan said. “Our state agencies have taken a much larger whack than local governments.”

Some county officials have argued, however, that they have avoided severe cuts by being simply better prepared than the state for the economic downturn.

“No county should be penalized for sound fiscal management,” Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold said.
County officials may have an ally in Gov. Martin O’Malley, who previously served as the mayor of Baltimore. O’Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec said in a written statement Thursday that the governor remains committed to funding local governments.

“As a former mayor, Governor O’Malley understands the importance of state assistance in building and maintaining a budget,” the statement said.

O’Malley’s position was attacked early in the legislative session by Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr., D-Calvert, who told the Baltimore Sun last month that the governor’s “gallantry” in maintaining county funding has been harmful to the state and “cannot continue.”

Even as snow removal budgets stretch increasingly thinner across the state, Miller maintained that same sentiment when he spoke Wednesday to reporters.

“I don’t see what snow has to do with it … everything needs to be cut,” Miller said. “Nothing can be sacred when you have to balance a budget.”

But cutting aid to counties is merely a politically palatable method of cutting spending for education and health, said Delegate Murray Levy, D-Charles, a former Charles County Commissioner President.

“The counties are also responsible for funding these (programs),” Levy said. “When we cut the county, we cut public education, community college, health and libraries — and we do it beneath the radar.”

After all, a struggling county facing an immediate need must take money from somewhere, Levy said.

“Nobody wants to hear about a fiscal problem when there’s a foot of snow on the streets,” he said. “The issues which counties deal with affect people on a very immediate level.”

The state, too, is struggling with the snow that has already fallen on its highways this winter and must now deal with an additional major snowfall this weekend, said state Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley, speaking Wednesday to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

The state has budgeted $60 million to remove snow from state roads and other transportation facilities this winter and had already spent $54 million as of Tuesday night, Swaim-Staley said. Repairing roads damaged by the weather will force further spending this spring, she added.

But if, as will likely happen this weekend, the Department of Transportation exceeds its snow removal budget, it’s not clear how the state will close the gap. Andrea Mansfield, associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties, said she hopes the state doesn’t take that money out of counties as they scramble to “juggle” their own budgets in the wake of multiple snowstorms.

“I’d say we feel that we’ve taken our fair share of reductions,” Mansfield said. “We’re working hard to protect what we have.”