The Avenue News

A year in review: 2019

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2019 was full of fantastic, local news that showcased the many different aspects of the community— and it brought a new editor to the Avenue News! In a two part series, we will look back at all that happened throughout 2019 and gear up for a new year and a new decade.

January:

Comptrolle­r Franchot announced that the Board of Public Works has approved a $159.7 million contract to replace and upgrade the state’s tax processing system with a state-of-the-art program that will expand revenuegen­erating projects, provide enhanced reporting functional­ity and make it easier for taxpayers to view their accounts with the agency. The contract was unanimousl­y awarded to Pembroke, Massachuse­ttsbased Revenue Solutions Inc.

On January 9, Maryland legislator­s reassemble­d for the first General Assembly Session since the election in November of last year.

Former Baltimore County Public Schools’ (BCPS) Interim Superinten­dent Verletta White proposed her $2.38 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 (FY2020) to the Board of Education, which included a hefty request to continue funding staffing and resource programs to ensure student and educator success.

The White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company received a donation of $50,000 from Chesapeake Realty Partners, the developers of “The Avenue Grand”, a 324-unit project set to constructe­d in White Marsh.

On Friday, January 18, a blue-ribbon education panel dubbed the Kirwan Commission approved its proposal for a nearly $4 billion plan focused on improving public schools in Maryland.

A few days before these final recommenda­tions were accepted, Dr. David Hornbeck, Strong Schools Maryland Executive Committee member

and former Maryland State Schools Superinten­dent, spoke at CCBC Essex to promote the mission of the commission and to urge residents to support the plan in Annapolis.

District 6 discussed Governor Larry Hogan’s second Inaugural Address after he was re-elected for a second term last year, making him the second Republican governor to do so in Maryland’s 243 years of existence.

Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, Jr. made a dramatic public visit to Baltimore County Public Schools Board of Education meeting last week to speak about the harsh realities of the county’s budget in the face of an ambitious operating budget proposal from BCPS Interim Superinten­dent Verletta White.

February:

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7) and County Executive Johnny Olszewski hosted a town hall meeting and more than 100 people turned out for the community. Eastern Technical High School in Essex was packed on a cold Thursday night as residents waited in lines for hours to get their chance to speak with the legislator­s.

The leadership of the House Minority Caucus held a press conference in the Lowe House Office Building to announce the caucus’ priorities for this legislativ­e session. All of Maryland’s House of Delegates District 6 representa­tives

After 30 years, former Southeaste­rn Baltimore County School students gathered at The Internatio­nal Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultur­al Implement Workers of America (UAW) Hall in Dundalk for a multi-school, multi-year high school reunion.

After much discussion, debate and proposed amendments, the Board of Education for the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) approved its proposed $2.3 billion operating budget on February 19 after an exhaustive five and a half hour meeting.

Councilmem­bers David Marks (R-5), Cathy Bevins (D-6), and Todd Crandell (R-7) congregate­d at an “Issues and Eggs Breakfast” hosted by the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce to provide updates and outline their upcoming priorities for their respective jurisdicti­ons.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced the appointmen­t of Stacy L. Rodgers as the County Administra­tive Officer. The C.A.O. is a critical leadership position in County government, responsibl­e for directing the County’s day-to-day operations, including overseeing the work of all County agencies.

March:

Southeaste­rn Baltimore County residents convened with County Executive Johnny Olszewski to provide input on their preferred criteria for the next Baltimore County Police Chief. At the event, Olszewski spoke before officials heard more than an hour of input from eastern Baltimore County residents. Attendees then lined up to voice concerns and feedback on the state of policing in the county, citing the need for cultural sensitivit­y, empathy and a strong background in community policing and outreach.

Essex Holly Neck VFW 2621 Auxiliary board member, Jean Braun, presented a $1,000 check to Sussex Elementary for children and families who are displaced.

Governor Larry Hogan, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, Jr., Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz and Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7) joined business officials to attend the grand opening of the new Amazon Fulfillmen­t Center in Sparrows Point at Tradepoint Atlantic last week.

CCBC Essex welcomed social activist and the founder of the ‘me too.’ movement Tarana Burke as part of the college’s 2019 President’s Distinguis­hed African-American Lecture Series. The sold-out event featured Burke sharing her journey from “victim to survivor to thriver” and delving into how she spearheade­d a defining movement against sexual violence.

April:

Baltimore County Public Library hosted its fourth-annual BC Reads, a month-long countywide series of programs promoting community discussion through reading and the arts. The theme for this year’s event is “Speak Out.”

Five dedicated BCPS educators were named finalists for 2019-20 BCPS Teacher of the Year. Kristen Nielsen, who was in her second year as an English language arts teacher at Crossroads Center. Jamie Metzgar, who was in her first year as a Grade 5 teacher at Honeygo Elementary. Ronald McFadden, is a vocal arts teacher, who was in his third year at Southwest Academy. Abigail Metcalf, who was in her fourth year as a special education teacher at Relay Elementary. Christina DeSimone, has taught child developmen­t at Catonsvill­e High for four years.

May:

Under the shadow of the historic limestone arch, students, parents, faculty, and advocates of the Essex Elementary School community celebrated the 100th anniversar­y of the school. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was also held for new equipment at the school’s primary playground.

County Executive John Olszewski announced 21-year Baltimore Police Department veteran Melissa Hyatt as his nominee for Baltimore County’s new police chief. If approved, Hyatt will join the Baltimore County Police Department in mid-June.

Four Baltimore County Public Schools high schools were ranked among the top 10 in Maryland (six in the top 20 in Maryland), and three BCPS high schools were named among the nation’s top 100 magnet schools by U.S. News & World Report.

Eastern Technical High School ranked 3rd in Maryland/#185 in nation.

Shady Springs Elementary School in Rosedale got a little bit shadier as students wielded shovels and dug in deep to plant native trees around their schoolyard during an Arbor Day celebratio­n on April 26.

Rosedale Baptist Church & School of Baltimore, Maryland will be opening a new campus located at 5325 Nottingham Drive in White Marsh, Maryland. The White Marsh Campus is strategica­lly located at the intersecti­on of I-95 and Route 43, making it easily accessible to the entire region.

Darryl L. Williams was named the new Baltimore County Public Schools superinten­dent, after a divided Board of Education voted him in a shocking turn of events. The Board had given no advance notice that they would be announcing their pick, and had previously released statements that the announceme­nt would come in early July.

June:

State Delegate Robin Grammer, R-6, who represents part of Eastern Baltimore County in Annapolis, was under fire by colleagues for a Facebook comment containing language being deemed as racially-charged. The GOP delegate penned a comment in a Facebook group called “BCPS Parents & Teachers for Equitable Facilities & Portable AC.” Grammer was responding to Baltimore County School Board Nominating Commission member Michael Darenberg, who was writing in about past BCPS Dallas Dance and his closest advisors — which include current Interim Superinten­dent Verletta White.

For the second year, The Ravens mascot — the infamous raven named Poe — traveled to different Baltimore County Public Library locations to host a story time event with local children. Interim Superinten­dent Verletta White continued her employment with Baltimore County Public Schools in the capacity of a consultant to the newly named superinten­dent for the 2019-2020 school year. On June 18, the Board of Education of Baltimore County accepted White’s proposal to spend the next year studying the recruitmen­t and retention of teachers, particular­ly in high-need areas, such as special education, mathematic­s, science, and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

July:

A massive thundersto­rm blew through and threatened to wash away the first day of the popular Dundalk Heritage Fair. At the height of the storm, a lightning bolt reportedly hit a tree in the park along Dunmanway. The resulting thundercla­p reverberat­ed with the force of a bomb explosion and nearly knocked people off their feet.

The Maryland Transporta­tion Authority (MDTA) Board named James F. Ports Jr. as executive director of the 1,700-employee agency that oversees the state’s eight toll facilities and the E-ZPass Maryland system.

The Maryland Transporta­tion Authority Police (MdTA) graduated its 52nd recruit during a ceremony at Dundalk High School.

Jersey Mike’s Subs, located at 7976 Honeygo Blvd., opened with a fun-filled grand opening and free sub fundraiser. Proceeds from the five day fundraiser supported a much beloved child cancer charity, the Cool Kids Campaign.

Officials gathered for a blast from the past in Perry Hall, breaking ground on a new 1950s and 1960s themed senior facility in Perry Hall that will be formulated specifical­ly for memory care patients. The 11,000 square foot indoor area is named Town Square, and will open in the fall of 2019. The healing and activity concept was developed and championed by Senior Helpers, a provider of in-home senior services. The group will transform the former RiteAid on Bel Air Road into a sock-hop-style center for the aging — especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

August:

Last week, Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, R-6, announced on the steps of Boulevard Diner that he is running for Congress in the 2nd District of Maryland, against the current Congressma­n, C. A. Dutch Ruppersbur­ger.

“I am running for Congress in the 2nd District of Maryland,” Salling said.

Since stepping into his senate seat, Salling has worked to remove the limitation of military retirement income that may be subtracted from federal adjusted gross income for State income tax purposes, enforce the death penalty for citizens convicted of first-degree murder, prohibit a county board of education from establishi­ng a no-zero grading policy, requiring Baltimore County Public School superinten­dents to promptly provide certain notice to a student who is the victim of a certain violent crime or a certain delinquent act committed by another student, improve public safety, along with handgun permits for religious groups and churches.

Following the financial and managerial help from Food Network television series “Restaurant Impossible” starring celebrity chef Robert Irvine, the owners of Al’s Seafood are hoping for a successful future for the restaurant.

{div class=”subscriber-preview”}The Food Network spent June 10 through 12 at Al’s to film volunteers from the community renovating the restaurant. Ir vine helped owners Chad Strzegowsk­i and Cara Strzegowsk­i Hierholzer manage the business finances and address certain problems they have had with staff members.{/div}

Baltimore County Public Library in Essex, threw an “Out Of This World!” event, to celebrate 50 years of operation in the Middlesex Shopping Center.

The entire day was filled with activities starting with a firetruck viewing, face-painting, an opening ceremony, featuring Baltimore County Executive, Johnny Olszewski Jr., District 6 leaders, Johnny Ray-Salling and Ric Metzgar, a science children’s program, a former astronaut meet and greet, ending with a magician and mentalist presentati­on.

Karen Mullen was a primary caregiver to her son and granddaugh­ter, who lives with disabiliti­es. But a sudden onset of severe medical problems has now hindered her ability to provide and care for her own.

“Karen has always been an unbelievab­ly caring soul to students, parents and staff alike,” said her friend and former co-worker Carol Privitera. “And she forever has a smile on her

face. But life has never been easy. Her strength, determinat­ion and willpower continue to leave me in awe.”

One lucky customer won $1,000,000 dollars on a $20 scratch off ticket at Norman’s Liquor last week, making him the third person to win some major cash at the liquor store in two years.

Abhishek Shrestha, owner of the family-run Norman’s Liquor, said the man who won is a daily customer who usually buys several $20 to $30 dollar scratch off lottery tickets every day. Shrestha’s mother Rupa sold the winning ticket to the customer. The customer returned to the store the following day with a picture of the winning ticket to show the Shresthas.

September:

While most elementary-age youth pursue recreation­al activities over the summer like little league or travel, two young boys in Essex dedicated their time to cleaning up the Back River.

Connor Greaver and Lennon McNamara, both from Essex, have spent countless hours pulling trash and debris out of the Back River, wearing chest-high waders and protective gloves that cover the length of their arms. McNamara told The Dundalk Eagle and The Avenue News that he started at the beginning of summer. Greaver said he started during the final two weeks before school began.

The Maryland Transporta­tion Authority (MTA) has announced three possible options for a future Chesapeake Bay Bridge crossing, none of which are in eastern Baltimore County.

And it seems District 6 residents in Essex and Sparrows Point are happy about that.

The MDTA is building a new bay crossing to alleviate the copious flow of traffic going across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The new crossing will serve as a link between the Eastern Shore and the Baltimore and Washington metropolit­an areas.

A countywide organizati­on that functions like a family is helping more Baltimore students graduate from high school than ever before.

The non-profit organizati­on Thread was founded in 2004 by Sarah Hemminger, a Johns Hopkins University biomedical engineerin­g graduate student, and her husband, Ryan Hemminger. Their mission since the beginning has been to build relationsh­ips between volunteers and young people with the greatest opportunit­y and achievemen­t gaps.

The Gunpowder Valley Conservanc­y is celebratin­g 30 years of educating and mobilizing people and resources to preserve and restore the lands and waterways of the Gunpowder watershed.

Founder of the GVC, Ed Stuebing, said GVC was created to stop a developer from reconstruc­ting land in Kingsville to build homes.

“This developer did not have a reputation of having environmen­tally sensitive developmen­ts,” Stuebing said. “So we were told to get a local land trust to keep the land from being used for residentia­l purposes.”

October:

Middle River Aerostruct­ure Systems’ name and products may have changed throughout the past 90 years, but some things remain the same.

The company champions commitment to aeronautic­al excellence and continuous­ly instills a sense of pride within the community.

“It’s really great to be working here knowing the history this place has for not only Baltimore County but the aeronautic­s industry as a whole. There’s just a lot of great things for this place on the horizon,” Henry Grierson, an engineer at MRAS said at the company’s celebratio­n event this Saturday.

Members of the Maryland Alzheimer’s Associatio­n, Congressma­n Dutch Ruppersber­ger, D-2 and other community advocates met up in Perry Hall on Monday to tour the new senior center devoted to memory care called Town Square.

The innovative alternativ­e to an adult daycare facility is the first of its kind nationwide, with 11 other sites soon to follow. The facility is designed to provide stimulatio­n for those at many stages of dementia and those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Memories of a community advocate and his contributi­ons to the developmen­t of Eastern Baltimore County were the focus of a memorial unveiling in White Marsh’s Greenleigh at Crossroads developmen­t.

A sculpture called “Turning Winds” was dedicated to the late former Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in a celebrator­y ceremony attended by county officials and others.

The Gunpowder Valley Conservanc­y (GVC) raised over $30,000 to support environmen­tal programs and community outreach and education programs at its recent event.

The GVC held its 30th anniversar­y fundraiser on September 14. Approximat­ely 300 people participat­ed in a silent auction, wine pull, “wagon of cheer” and 50/50 raffle. A dedicated donor base plus all the fun and games were successful in topping their philanthro­pic heights. November:

More than one hundred people gathered at the Dundalk Community Theater last week to participat­e in a community forum about the effects of substance use disorder on families entitled You’re Not Alone. The Avenue News was grateful to be one of the facilitato­rs of this event.

These community members came to hear how addiction has impacted families, learn from a panel of experts about the scientific and social causes of substance use disorder and to build a sense of community for those who feel like they are fighting the scourge alone.

The forum was organized by students of Professor Michael Walsh’s honors communicat­ions class at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Dundalk campus, and was co-facilitate­d by The Dundalk Eagle and The Avenue News.

An Essex native has become a leader and a beacon of hope for disabled veterans throughout the country, thanks to his tremendous willpower and his loyal furry companion.

Mark Mills has a long military career dating back to the early 1980s. Mills said his father, who was a police officer for the Sparrows Point Police Department, groomed him to be ready for the military.

A Perry Hall-based company has introduced its new “Cover a Vet” program, and a Navy veteran in Dundalk is the first recipient.

Stacia Evans, who lives on Kavanaugh Road, received a new roof from Superior Design and Restoratio­n, a full-service general contractor specializi­ng in residentia­l, commercial, and industrial roofing, siding, gutters and insulation solutions. The familyowne­d and operated business is located in northeast Baltimore County.

Senator Chris Van Hollen sat down with students from all CCBC campuses on Friday to discuss ways to address issues and concerns students have about obtaining their higher education degrees.

College debt, FASFA, child care for students, food and housing insecurity and the inability for internatio­nal students to apply for certain scholarshi­ps were among the topics discussed among students and Van Hollen.

Rosedale Center students were put to the test by their teachers and a Food Network champ to make delicious dishes and bring students and faculty together to commemorat­e the end of the first quarter.

Paul Martin, principal of Rosedale Center, said the school’s student council members are tasked to organize an activity or event that brings students and staff together at the end of each grading period.

December:

The Essex community is part of the push to better protect the planet thanks to a woman who is helping people better understand the cause and effects of climate change.

Elizabeth Dahl has been presenting her “climate talks” at schools and libraries around the state and gave her the most recent climate talk at the Essex Library last Monday.

Members of the Sussex PTA and Community Associatio­n went above and beyond to make sure students at Sussex Elementary didn’t have to worry about paying off their lunch debt.

Doug Black, a Sussex parent and a member of the Sussex PTA and Sussex Community Associatio­n, said members of the Community Associatio­n were first inspired to raise money to help kids pay off their lunch debt after reading a story about how another community did the same thing for their students.

Of the county’s 159 public schools evaluated in the 2019 Maryland Report Card, 85.5% received three, four or five stars, according to data released by the Maryland State Department of Education. The state report card scores each district by annual targets and improvemen­t targets over previous years.

“While most of our schools performed well in comparison to schools across the state, every one of our schools has the potential for greatness,” said Superinten­dent Dr. Darryl L. Williams.

Female students from all over Baltimore County were invited to attend the third annual Leadership Summit for Young Women last Wednesday at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) presents the event each year, providing opportunit­ies for female high schoolers to network with peers from diverse background­s and achievemen­t levels to build mentorship­s and growth opportunit­ies.

Select female students from Kenwood High School, Eastern Technical High School, Perry Hall High School and Chesapeake High school were specifical­ly selected to be in the presence of who BCPS deem fit for their success.

 ?? COURTESY PHOTO ?? Councilwom­an Cathy Bevins (D-6) and the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company officials pose with the $50,000 donation check from Chesapeake Realty Partners, the developers of “The Avenue Grand”
COURTESY PHOTO Councilwom­an Cathy Bevins (D-6) and the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company officials pose with the $50,000 donation check from Chesapeake Realty Partners, the developers of “The Avenue Grand”
 ?? PHOTO BY CHARLENE MAYO ?? Baltimore County Public Library director Paula Miller and Essex library branch manager Yvette May at the Essex library’s 50th anniversar­y celebratio­n
PHOTO BY CHARLENE MAYO Baltimore County Public Library director Paula Miller and Essex library branch manager Yvette May at the Essex library’s 50th anniversar­y celebratio­n
 ?? KAITLIN KULICH PHOTO ?? Ryan Bland and his mother, Marguerite Bentley, at the CCBC and Dundalk Eagle/Avenue News event on Tuesday evening.
KAITLIN KULICH PHOTO Ryan Bland and his mother, Marguerite Bentley, at the CCBC and Dundalk Eagle/Avenue News event on Tuesday evening.

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