Saturday, May 31, 2008

5-foot-long black rat snake at Wyman Park

My husband took the kids to the dog park in Wyman Park today and they saw a black rat snake that was at least 5 feet long and thicker in diameter than a tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls. It was sitting on the edge of the field then it slithered away into the woods. Getting fat on Baltimore's rats.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Summer Reading program at Baltimore County libraries

Details here.


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Tornado watch until 5 p.m. today

Details here: http://www.wbaltv.com/severeweather/549986/detail.html


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Kids' eyes: don't get them cheap sunglasses

My husband pointed out to me, once when I put cheap sunglasses on one of the kids, that bad sunglasses do more harm than no sunglasses. Makes perfect sense, but I hadn't thought about it. Here's some info from The New York Times:

Do not assume that the darker the lens, the better the protection. Tint reduces glare (infrared rays), but not ultraviolet radiation. In fact, dark lenses without polycarbonate coating can be more dangerous than no sunglasses at all. In bright light, the pupils constrict. A dark lens fools the pupil into expanding, permitting ultraviolet rays to reach the retina. -- full article


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Grill recipes from The Sun

Some ideas for things to throw on the grill this weekend.


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Today is Dumpster Day

Here's info on what you can and can't dump: http://www.forgeflyer.com/2008/05/dumpster-day-in-rodgers-forge-is-this.html


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Friday, May 30, 2008

Tommorw is Dumpster Day!

For Rodgers Forge residents. From 8 a.m. to noon for Rodgers Forge residents. Bulk-trash collection at RF Elementary School parking lot. May 31.


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Thursday, May 29, 2008

50% off at Talbots Kids in Cross Keys

I was shopping in Talbots today at Cross Keys and noticed that the kids' section is closing so they can expand the women's section. All kids' stuff is 50% off. I got a pair of boy's sunglasses (100% UVA and UVB protection, which can be hard to find) for $5. Sale goes through June 7, when the section closes for good. Honestly, even at 50% off I think it's pretty pricey, but others may be into it.


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Don't let scammers fool you

This was written by Rob Williams and sent to me by Karl Pfrommer of Citizens on Patrol:

I was speaking with a neighbor who was approached by a guy last week. Same guy came to my house. His name is Mack. We received 3 flyers in 2 days. Mack said he could scrape and paint the porch railings for $65. I spoke with a contract painter today. He said a job like that would cost at least $200. He said paint alone costs $40. When Mack quoted me the price, I knew it was too low.

There've also been guys coming around wanting to clean out gutters for $40. My neighbor thinks Mack was a part of that crew too.

Here are some tips all our neighbors should know.
1) Contractors need to have a MHIC License #. If they aren't licensed and they do work on your property and they are injured, the liability becomes the burden of the homeowner. [Karl's note: if they don't have a license, call 911]

2) Without a written estimate, you maybe quoted a price at the beginning and when the work is done, that price may change.

3) If a contractor states he or she has done work elsewhere, have he or she supply a specific name and address.

4) Do not hire someone at that immediate time. Get a flyer. Get a number. Ask for any previous work they have done and call that reference to validate the contractor's claim.

My personal opinion. NEVER hire anyone going door to door. Contractors get hired by personal discernment or by word of mouth. Contractors don't come to you, you go to them.

- Rob


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Adults over 60 urged to get vaccine for shingles

I just heard this on NPR today about shingles, which is basically adult chicken pox:

... "The pain is like having a jagged knife in your chest and just turning it," she says. "I mean, it's the worst pain I think a person could ever go through."

Patients tell doctors that the pain of shingles is worse than that of giving birth. Worse than a heart attack. ...

A vaccine for adults, approved in mid-2006, does the same thing, but very few people have had it. This may change with the CDC's recommendation that adults 60 and older get vaccinated. ... full story


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Will traffic-calming plans really calm traffic?



This comment came in about the traffic-calming plans for Stevenson and Dumbarton.

If the county is planning to put the same kind traffic calming islands they put on Stevenson in the Stoneleigh/Wiltondale area, they're useless. Those islands only slightly narrow the lanes and from what I've seen, barely slow traffic. Effective traffic calming needs to have a component on the sidewalk side also. The ones on Bellona in the city just beyond Northern Parkway are like this. They compel drivers to manuever through them which requires slowing down.

I tend to agree. I drive that stretch of Bellona daily and the structures they implemented (top picture) definitely make you slow down. I don't think the ones on Stevenson in Wiltondale (lower picture) do much to slow traffic. I know I don't slow down much, if at all, for them. I think the key is that you need to make drivers actually maneuver around the structure, as the comment notes, rather than simply narrowing the road. Not sure if this would have a negative affect on street parking, though.

Sounds like more community input might be helpful; the county and RF board seem very open to ideas in this process.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Helicopter over Rodgers Forge and Stoneleigh

There's a police helicopter flying over Stoneleigh and Rodgers Forge tonight. Police tell me someone called in a report of suspicious-looking people, and given the recent thefts in the area, the police are on the hunt. They're still in the air; no word yet on if they caught anyone.


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Rash of crimes in Stoneleigh and Rodgers Forge

The list is too long to put in this post, so you can read the info here. Sounds like teens went on a car-smashing rampage in Rodgers Forge, and lots of other goings on have been reported, including stolen cars.


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Toy cell phones and hooded sweatshirts recalled

1. Children's Hooded Sweatshirts Recalled by Adio Footwear Due to Strangulation Hazard

2. Kids Station Toys Recalls Little Tikes Toy Cell Phones Due to Choking Hazard

Details here.


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Bradford Bank asks middle schoolers to behave

This was passed along to me by Citizens on Patrol's Karl Pfrommer from Bradford Bank officials:

We are having an issue with some of the middle school kids cutting through our lots. I have had to on several occasions stop them from skate boarding on our lots for their own safety. In addition, some of our employees ride motor cycles to work and at least twice a student sat on the bikes. One of the motorcycles has been scratched.

I have called [Principal] Nancy Fink at Dumbarton and asked her to make an announcement.


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No roundabout for Dumbarton at Pinehurst



You may have read here and/or in the Rodgers Forge Association newsletter that the county was planning to build a roundabout at Dumbarton and Pinehurst to slow traffic. That plan is dead, according to Don Gerding of the Rodgers Forge board.

He says the county floated the idea after it was proposed by a homeowner in the area. But it drew a negative reaction. If you go to that intersection, you can see paint marks for the latest plan, which is to narrow Pinehurst where it hits Dumbarton. Residents have complained that drivers, especially at the beginning and ending of school days, drive the wrong way on Pinehurst and then take a left onto Regester. Don said he went and sat on the field one day to see if this was the case and he witnessed it many times. Narrowing Pinehurst would, officials hope, discourage that practice. (One might think the fact that it's a one way going the opposite way would also discourage people, but apparently that's not enough for drivers who are in a hurry.)

The current proposal is said to not cost any parking spaces and even adds one. Additionally, 75% of the residents whose homes are adjacent to that area need to formally sign off on the plan before it can go forward, so this is not something the county will do without community input, Don said.

Traffic-calming islands are planned on Dumbarton in front of the elementary and middle schools, as well as on Stevenson at Lanark. There will be community meetings for affected residents about those proposals.


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Crime Alert for Stoneleigh, Anneslie, Rodgers Forge, Wiltondale and Knollwood

Police say:


Capt. Jones reports that a rash of property crimes occurred during the early morning hours of today.

In the 5900 blk of Avondale there was a theft from auto.
Between the 200 and 400 blocks of Hopkins Rd. there were multiple destructions of property (autos).
There was a recovered stolen auto at Edgewood and Dunkirk and a theft of auto from 6906 Wardman.

During the past few days there was a theft from auto at Garden and Knollwood as well as a theft of a dirtbike from under a tarp at 501 Wilton Rd.

Please remain alert to any and all suspicious activity and persons and call 911 immediately! Remember we would rather be safe than sorry.

Patrols will be stepped up in the area as well.

Sergeant Stephen Moffett
Precinct 6 Community Outreach Team &
Hillendale CSAFE Team
6877 Loch Raven Blvd.
Towson, MD 21286


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Story on changes to downtown Towson traffic circle

The Towson Times reports:

Weather permitting, the newly configured Towson Roundabout will make its debut June 17.

The change is part of a "comprehensive plan to strengthen Towson's retail and restaurant district" through making it pedestrian-friendly, according to a joint statement issued by Baltimore County and the State Highway Administration. full story



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Volunteers needed for Dumpster Day this Saturday

Rodgers Forge Association says:

Friends and neighbors--
Dumpster Day is this Saturday, May 31, from 8am to 12pm at Rodgers Forge Elementary School.

I need help to keep things moving smoothly.

The needed help ranges from helping to load the containers, managing traffic flow, dues collection, passing out flyers for the RF Picnic/Forge Fest, etc.--it's not all heavy lifting!! We have one shift that requires someone to monitor the containers until they are all removed from the site. This shift may run from 12pm until about 2pm, depending upon how quickly the contractor can get all the containers to the dump.
You don't have to help for the whole time--every little bit helps.
The weather is supposed to be nice: Partly cloudy with highs in the mid 80s.
Ask your friends and neighbors if they have some time to help, too.
Thanks in advance.
Please email me back to let me know that I can expect you this Saturday.
Lawrence Swoboda
Rodgers Forge Community, Inc.
lswoboda(at)mtb.com


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Towson block parties start Friday nights in June

Feet on the Street:

The events will be every Friday evening, starting June through September from 6-9 pm (roads will be closed 5:30 – 9:30) on Allegheny Avenue between York Road and Washington Avenue. Free parking will be available at the lot above Towson Fitness Center for patrons (on the corner of Allegheny & Washington) and the Allegheny surface lots will remain as they are normally.

The Towson Chamber will bring live music, food, children’s activities, beer, wine and FREE parking to our fantastic town. Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, Bass Ale, Lite FM 101.9, Towson Times and COPT, these events will attract plenty of people into the area and provide our merchants with active Friday nights! ... details


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Dumpster Day in Rodgers Forge is this Saturday

Time to get rid of all that crap.
8 a.m. to noon.

Rodgers Forge Association says:

Bulk Trash Items Will Be Collected At The Rodgers Forge Elementary School Front Parking Lot. Simply drive up and our volunteers will direct you to the correct dumpsters (since if trash is not properly placed in the correct Dumpsters, our community will be charged extra.) Please note, you must be a Rodgers Forge resident to use our dumpsters for disposal purposes on that day. Do your neighbors a favor, too, and pick up and bring any bulk trash in your alley to the dumpsters.

ACCEPTABLE ITEMS FOR DUMPSTERS:
Yard Waste, Paper, Mattress, Carpets, Metal Waste, and Appliances with Freon, rocks from yard

UNACCEPTABLE ITEMS FOR DUMPSTERS
(Absolutely Not Permitted):
Tires, Paints, Gasoline containers, Explosive Materials, i.e., No Propane Tanks

Can you volunteer to help unload? Just show up to lend a hand and back.
Volunteers are advised to wear work clothes and bring a pair of work gloves.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

circuit breakers recalled

Counterfeit Circuit Breakers Recalled By Specialty Lamp International Due to Fire Hazard. Details here.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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"Honey, wake up! I think I heard something downstairs."

Here's the Towson-area crime report for the past week. Lots of burglaries while people were home asleep. C-R-E-E-P-Y.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Teens hardwired to be tired in the morning, so why do high schools start so early?

Have the schools in the Baltimore area ever debated having high school start later in the morning? Here's an interesting story about teens' sleep in The Washington Post.

... Sleep deprivation can affect mood, performance, attention, learning, behavior and biological functions, said Stephen Sheldon, chief of sleep medicine at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and an associate professor at Northwestern University.

"Sleeping is like eating," Sheldon said. "It is performing a biological function that is required."

... In 1996, the suburban school system of Edina, Minn., changed its start time for 3,000 high school students from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Two years later, Minneapolis followed suit for more than 50,000 teenagers.

Teachers reported that students were more alert, and research conducted by Wahlstrom showed a range of benefits to students and teachers -- and contradicted some of the biggest fears about the change: that after-school sports and jobs would suffer.

With the later start time, teenagers were less depressed, and it turned out that employers did not have big problems with students getting out of school later, Wahlstrom said. Although student grades did not rise significantly, the trends have been upward, she said. And some sports practices were shortened, but Edina and Minneapolis teams have played just as competitively as they had before. ... full story from the Post



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City to make it harder for magnet high schools to unload struggling students

The Sun reports:

Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso is making it harder for the city's elite magnet high schools to remove students who are struggling academically.

Alonso says that the schools are already getting the city's brightest students and that they have an obligation to work with them. Historically, he said, a significant number of students who began as freshmen at Polytechnic Institute, City College and Western High were not still enrolled four years later at graduation. ... full story


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Spanish Navy tall ship will be available for tours

Through June 1. Go to sailbaltimore.org for details.


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Another account of the poor communication between BCPS and county

Gina Davis of The Sun reports:

The Baltimore County school system's recent handling of requests for state money for its building projects was riddled with missteps, including late submissions, continual changes and lack of documentation, according to a memo from the head of the state's school construction program.

"It appears that communication between the local government and the [school system] is very poor, resulting in miscommunications, hasty changes of scope, and lack of direction on major projects," David G. Lever, executive director of the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction, wrote in the April 22 memo to the other members of the panel. ... full story


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Be wary of potentially deadly pool drains

I had no idea I had to worry about this. Some pool drains have such strong suction that they can pull kids down and the kids get stuck. It can take several adults to free them and sometimes by then it's too late. Congress recently passed a law regulating pool drains.

Here is a story in The Washington Post about a girl who drowned in a hot tub because of the drain's suction. Also, in Minnesota, a girl's small intestine was sucked out of her body by the drain she was sitting on -- she was in a wading pool. She survived but will have to be fed intravenously forever and use a colostomy bag.


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Monday, May 26, 2008

Know anyone looking for a part-time job?

Bediboo, the hip kids' store in Lauraville, is looking for a quality person to work part time. Contact bediboo@gmail.com or 410-444-6060.


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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lauraville home/garden tour and merchant block party

June 8

There are 7 houses in the tour throughout our member neighborhoods. There will be beautiful gardens, historic renovations, children's activities and family fun at every home! Then from 2-6PM the Lauraville Merchant's Association is hosting a block party in the 3000 block of Montebello Terrace.

Activities include Candy Tasting by Rock Candy, Children's Earth Party with Tim Foresman, Shiatsu Massage by Great Soul, Bee Hive Hair-Do's by Hairy Production, a Garden Swap, Native Plant Sale (HRWA), and the Red Canoe Singers! ... Details here.


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Bediboo store profiled in The Sun

Elizabeth Large of The Sun reports on this new kids' store in Lauraville:

... Bediboo the store is as cute as the name. The tiny, freshly painted storefront has unusual baby presents (and a gift registry), books, strollers and clothes for children up to 4 years old. The toys are what Pike calls "open-ended," leaving much to a child's imagination. No batteries or plastic included. ... full story


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How to cut a mango

So I bought a mango the other day and then realized I don't really know how to cut a mango. To find the answer, I did what I usually do: Googled it. "How to cut a mango." That brought me to a ton of links, including some YouTube videos on mango cutting. I'm glad they're there, but I also find it pretty astounding that so many people have posted fruit-cutting videos.


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"You need another burger, Sen. McCain?"

Maybe it's normal protocol, but I keep giggling just picturing what this weekend barbecue with potential vice president picks at John McCain's home must be like. "Elimidate" for the political set. Will Charlie and Mitt get in a cat fight over who can refill McCain's drink? Who'll put the suntan lotion on his back?


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Have you been to Child's Play in Cross Keys?

A couple of people have told me they love this toy store and that they always get great service and the staff always can help them pick out great items. I, on the other hand, have had only neutral to bad experiences there. The first time I was there, I was holding my then-less-than-1-year-old son who was gnawing on the packaging of a product we were going to buy. A saleswoman barked across the store, "Are you buying that?!" I guess some people would let their kid chew on something they weren't going to buy, but I'm not one of them and there might have been a nicer way to ask.

Never once have I been asked if I needed help finding anything. When I do have a question about a toy, the reaction seems to be annoyance that I interrupted a private conversation between employees. I went there today because I needed to run in to Williams-Sonoma to get something (where the staff is always nice!) and the kids really wanted to visit the toy store. We were the only customers, but neither of the saleswomen greeted us or asked if I needed any help. They weren't rude, just not interested.

I'll stick with Shananigans in Roland Park where they're always friendly and helpful.


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Newsweek says smaller high schools are better

Something to keep in mind when considering whether to do additions or build new schools. Thanks to Towson Families United for finding this article and posting it on their blog.

Fifty years ago, they were the latest thing in educational reform: big, modern, suburban high schools with students counted in the thousands. As baby boomers came of high-school age, big schools promised economic efficiency, a greater choice of courses, and, of course, better football teams. Only years later did we understand the trade-offs this involved: the creation of lumbering bureaucracies, the difficulty of forging personal connections between teachers and students. SAT scores began dropping in 1963; today, on average, 30 percent of students do not complete high school in four years, a figure that rises to 50 percent in poor urban neighborhoods. While the emphasis on teaching to higher, test-driven standards embodied in No Child Left Behind resulted in significantly better performance in elementary (and some middle) schools, high schools for a variety of reasons seemed stuck in a rut. ... more


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O'Malley reads the Towson Families United blog

I love this post from the TFU site. It shows what affect a grassroots effort can have.

Apparently, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is among the readers of the Towson Families United blog.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Public Works, the governor leaned into his microphone and called for TFU chairperson Cathi Forbes to approach.

The governor said he wanted to let TFU’s membership know that the state has given Baltimore County considerably more for school construction in his first two years in office, than in the first two years of his predecessor’s administration.

He then handed Ms. Forbes a sheet of paper that compared the two levels of funding. “I hope you will post this chart on your fact-filled website,” he told her, smiling. ... full post


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Clinton's RFK comment:
give me a break

The story about Clinton mentioning Robert F. Kennedy's assassination was at the top of the New York Times' website yesterday (now it's second to the top). We don't have cable but I'm guessing it's all over CNN, etc.

I voted for Obama, but I think this "uproar" is silly. Isn't it clear she was just trying to show a time line? Can we focus on real issues or is that too much to ask?


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Friday, May 23, 2008

Safety tips for the pool or beach

My pool had an article posted a couple of years ago that said most kids who drown in pools do so when people are "watching" them. I can see why. When my daughter was 1 we took her and her older brother to the kiddie pool and my husband and I were playing with them and chatting. All of a sudden I noticed my daughter was floating on her belly with her head under water. I rushed over and she was fine, but I always think about what could have happened if our conversation had been a bit more involved and if I'd waited just a minute more to check on her.

Here's a list of water-safety tips from The Examiner.


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State blocks funds for expansion at Loch Raven High

The Sun reports:

The state Board of Public Works took the unusual step yesterday of withholding full approval of Baltimore County school officials' request for nearly $4 million to help expand Loch Raven High School - a move that fell short of calls to reject the project outright.

The board's conditional approval was a response to mounting questions from local legislators and residents about the school system's plans to build the addition to alleviate crowding at high schools in the county's central and northeast regions.

Some local legislators and residents say the county should construct a new high school instead. ... full story


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Thieves posing at water inspectors

Sun: The Baltimore Department of Public Works is warning residents to be on the lookout for impostors who are trying to get into people's homes by claiming to be water bacteria inspectors. Officials said two men, one carrying a pen and pencil and wearing orange shirt and jeans, recently tried this ploy in Arbutus.

"The impostors pose as Bureau of Water and Wastewater employees and seek to gain illegal admittance into your home, distract you and steal from you," according to a statement from DPW. ... full story


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Back to the Future

I don't know why this SNL video popped into my mind recently. It's pretty funny in a bittersweet way so I'm posting it here.






Oh, and you've probably seen this one but it's pretty hilarious, too, so what the heck?


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New A.C. Moore has crafts every Saturday

A.C. Moore has a new store near the Towson Target, in the strip mall where the Staples is. They have free crafts every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Some are aimed at kids, some at adults. Call store for details. They also have classes for a fee throughout the week.

803 Goucher Blvd.
(410) 296-8702


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Anneslie Home & Garden tour will be June 7

Anneslie Home and Garden Tour
June 7, 2008
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tickets on sale @ 9:30A at Villa Anneslie (525 Dunkirk)

The Anneslie Home and Garden Tour provides Anneslie residents and the community-at-large the unique opportunity to explore and tour some of the most beautiful homes and gardens in this charming neighborhood.
Brief remarks by Jeff Lees, architect and Anneslie resident, about the significant architectural details of Anneslie kick off the tour at 10AM at Villa Anneslie.
Proceeds benefit the Anneslie Community Association.
As many of our neighbors’ homes and gardens may not be child-friendly, the tour is intended for adults, babes-in-arms, and well-mannered children.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

If you have bought anything in the past year, you might want to check these recalls

There are eight. Details for all here.

1. Disney Store Recalls Pirates of the Caribbean Sleeping Bags Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

2. United Scientific Recalls Magnets Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

3. West Music Recalls Shaker Guiro Instruments Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

4. Char-Broil Recalls Two-Burner Gas Grills Sold Exclusively at Mills Fleet Farm Stores Due to Fire, Burn Hazard

5. Disney Store Recalls Tinker Bell Wands Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

6. Sure Grip Paint Brushes Recalled by Early Childhood Resources Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

7. American Scientific Recalls Magnets Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

8. Floppy Friends Horse Toys Recalled by Toy Investments Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Bike Jam is this Saturday!

Ride in the Red Ride
Play on the moonbounce
Do fun art activity
Get a free helmet and do a ssfety rodeo
See a pro bike race, women 12:30, men 2:30
See normal folk race, all day
See live bands
Check out the festival
See cool stunt shows
Be a pig in a pie eating contest
Eat, drink and be merry, all day!

In Patterson Park. Details here.


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State school official critical of communication between County Executive and BCPS

Here's an interesting new post from Towson Families United:

The official responsible for recommending state funding for county school construction projects has sharply criticized the “poor” communication between county school officials and Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith, Jr.

In an April 22 letter to state school Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and four others, David Lever, executive director of Maryland’s Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC), calls the county’s most recent request for funding “very deficient” and replete with errors. Portions of the letter were read out loud yesterday at a Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis, at which the county attempted to make its case for state funding of projects including a controversial 400-seat addition to Loch Raven High School. ... more details here



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County lawmakers ask state to reject funding for Loch Raven High expansion

The Examiner reports:

“Keep your money” was what Baltimore County lawmakers told the state Board of Public Works on Wednesday, rejecting $3.9 million for an addition to Loch Raven High School.

The unusual plea by politicians to withhold funding for a project in their districts put them at odds with County Executive Jim Smith. But the board took the rare step of asking for another review of the project, at the same time it approved the full $41 million for public school construction in Baltimore County. ... full story



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What do you think of Congress berating oil executives for high gas prices?

I don't like high gas prices, either. But unless these companies are engaging in price collusion (which some people allege they are), there is nothing illegal about charging a lot of money for a product. Obviously this is not just supply and demand; it's getting as much money as you can for a product. Isn't that what capitalism is all about?

Instead of complaining to oil executives, lawmakers should be putting them out of business by funding research into other forms of energy. And by the way, the oil companies will be out of business within our kids' lifetimes, experts say, because we'll run out of oil by then anyway. Let's do something real instead of just getting press coverage for wagging fingers.


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Martin, are you wussing out on us?

C'mon! Sign it or veto it, preferably the latter. What is this stuff? California has The Governator. Do we have The Governeuter? ... I like O'Malley pretty well overall, but this disappoints me.

The Sun reports:

Despite intense pressure from public health advocates and parents, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced yesterday his support for a bill that ensures that popular flavored malt beverages would continue to be widely distributed and subject to a lower tax rate than other alcoholic drinks.

O'Malley said he would allow the bill to become law without his signature but signaled that during next year's General Assembly session, he would pursue legislation to change the way "alcopops" are regulated. The Democratic governor had pulled back from signing the bill during a formal ceremony last month, but last night he announced that he would not veto the bill. His last formal bill signing is scheduled for today. ... full story


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Restaurants struggle in tight economy

The Sun has a story today about restaurants having trouble filling tables as gas and food prices rise. I have to say, when my friends and neighbors talk about which grocery stores have the best prices, I never have anything to say because I don't really pay attention to prices. Not that I have a ton of money to blow, but I just can't keep that info in my head. I'll compare prices between products in a store, but I can't remember that cheese costs 30 cents less at at the store down the road.

However, I was at the Giant on York Road the other day (I love the redesign!!!) and even I freaked out at the total bill. Food is always our biggest expense after the mortgage, but this is insane. No more letting my daughter eat a third of an apple and tossing the rest.


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new home listing in Stoneleigh


sponsored post

"Truly Terrific Restored Tudor. One of Stoneleigh's architecturally IMPRESSIVE homes. Stone porch entry, large sunny rooms, fresh int & ext paint. NEW BATHRMS, PREMIER KIT w/ Italian porcelain floor, SS appliances, Corian counters, Custom Maple cabinets. Breakfast rm overlooking Mahagony deck & great yard. Large BRs. Newly finished LL w/ Dupont flooring. Spectacular baths. Brick patio, 2-car garage."

More details and photos (click the camera icon at top left of page) are here.


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Burglary in Cedarcroft

From Karl Pfrommer of Citizens on Patrol:

Here's a stark reminder to make sure our doors and windows are locked when we go to bed at night.

From: Cedarcroft Board
To: Rodgers Forge COP
Subject: purse stolen
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 12:11 PM

A purse was stolen from a house [in the 400 block of ] Lake Avenue on Tuesday night while the occupants were sleeping. A door had been left unlocked.

Make sure all doors and windows are locked, especially now that the weather is getting warmer!
-Karl


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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Details about the drug arrests on Dunkirk

The Towson Times reports:

Neighbors, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said they witnessed what appeared to be drug transactions in front of the house. Cars would pull up and people would come out of the house and make an exchange through a car window.

A memo from Councilman Vince Gardina to residents in the neighborhood said that police had gone through the trash and were able to determine that there was drug activity at the home.

During the raid, police found heroin and cocaine residue as well as "needles and crack pipes." According to court records, police found multiple capsules containing drug residue.

Also note that anyone with problematic neighbors, especially renters, should contact Don Gerding of the Rodgers Forge board to log a complaint. Find his number in the RF directory; he lives on Old Trail. You can also look up who owns properties at this site. (Here's the info about the Dunkirk house.)


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Lanes closed on North Charles near GBMC beginning today

Dear Constituents,

Today, I was informed by David Malkowski from the State Highway Administration (SHA) that the milling and resurfacing project on Charles Street (MD 139) from GBMC Drive/Malvern Avenue south to Bellona Avenue will begin today, Wednesday, May 21st. This $584,000 highway maintenance project should be completed by mid-June, weather permitting.

Temporary lane closures and flagging operations will occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. SHA and the contractor, Gray & Son, Inc. of Timonium, appreciate residents' patience during the construction period.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Michael Boardwine at 410-321-2764 or Mike Wetzel at 410-321-2766 in SHA's Maintenance Section.

Very truly yours,
Delegate Susan L.M. Aumann
District 42 - Baltimore County
303 Lowe House Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3258; FAX 410-841-3163
susan.aumann@house.state.md.us


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Lawmakers question Baltimore County's need for charter school

Jaime Malarkey of The Examiner reports:

... Imagine Discovery, a 415-seat school that will initially offer kindergarten through fourth grade, will be the county’s first charter school when it opens in August. But more than 60 percent of the 760 students who applied for the Woodlawn school currently attend private schools, and some lawmakers said that defeats the purpose of the charter system.

“It’s just providing a free alternative to private school,” said Councilman Vince Gardina. “Charter schools should be designed to address problems at failing and overcapacity public schools. It should be limited to those students.” ... full story

Aren't all public schools free alternatives to private schools?


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Baltimore County to revamp student report cards

Gina Davis of The Sun reports:

... The new computerized report cards, which are more detailed, are customized at each grade level and are designed to give parents a better understanding of how the school system's curriculum becomes more complex from kindergarten to fifth grade. ... full story


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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Four recalls

1. Master Toys & Novelties Inc. Recalls Little Rider Toys Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

2. K2 Sports Recalls Snowboard Bindings Due to Fall Hazard

3. The Home Depot Recalls Candle Holders Due to Fire Hazard

4. Douglas Co. Recalls Children's Blankets Due to Strangulation Hazard ... details for all here.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Perry Hall asks for petition signatures for new high school, which would in part alleviate crowding at Towson High

To: Baltimore County Government

We support construction of a new high school in northeastern Baltimore County. It is time to end overcrowding at our schools and plan for future growth in Baltimore County. We support the efforts of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, the Northeast Area Educational Advisory Council, and other organizations to accelerate construction of the high school, restrict development near overcrowded schools, and require developers to help finance new schools.

Click here to go to petition.


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Sun story on Loch Raven High addition

Gina Davis reports:

... In a letter dated May 16, Smith and county schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston reiterated the system's request for $3.9 million in state funding.

"The school system's enrollment projections indicate a need for additional high school seats in the northeast and central areas," the letter states, which adds that the school was chosen for the addition because it is one the county's smallest high schools. "With this addition, Loch Raven will remain an average-size high school with a capacity of 1,375 students."

Mohler said that while the high schools are overcrowded, the numbers do not meet the state's threshold to qualify for state funding of a new school, so an addition is the most financially feasible solution. ... full story


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Monday, May 19, 2008

County Council questions BCPS about additional seats for students

Towson Families United reports:

... Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz led the questioning. He told Dr. Hairston that the Council appreciated the new elementary school planned for Towson, but wanted to know what other plans were underway to find the additional 400+ seats to meet projected enrollments.

CROMWELL VALLEY A POSSIBILITY

While Dr. Hairston was not ready to commit to any specific plan, he did indicate that one possibility will include some use of the Cromwell Valley technology magnet school. Mr. Kamenetz asked whether the school could be converted over time back to a traditional elementary school, by allowing existing magnet-program students to finish their schooling. Dr. Hairston said yes. ... more



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State lawmakers try to block addition to Loch Raven High

Towson Families United reports:

Senator Jim Brochin and Delegates Susan Aumann, Bill Frank and Steve Lafferty will attend a Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis Wednesday in an attempt to thwart state funding for a controversial addition to Loch Raven High School.

Last week, the bipartisan delegation from the 42nd District sent a letter the governor, comptroller and treasurer, the three people who make up the Board and must approve requests for funding. The letter asked the Board to withhold funding at least until Baltimore County allows for public input on the proposed addition. ... more



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Do your kids "go out to play"?

Interesting column in today's LA Times via The Sun:

... But today, for most middle-class American children, "going out to play" has gone the way of the dodo, the typewriter and the eight-track tape. From 1981 to 1997, for instance, University of Michigan time-use studies show that 3-to-5-year-olds lost an average of 501 minutes of unstructured playtime each week; 6-to-8-year-olds lost an average of 228 minutes. (On the other hand, kids now do more organized activities and have more homework, the lucky devils!) And forget about walking to school alone. Today's kids don't walk much at all (adding to the childhood obesity problem).

Increasingly, American children are in a lose-lose situation. They're forced, prematurely, to do all the un-fun kinds of things adults do (Be over-scheduled! Have no downtime! Study! Work!). But they don't get any of the privileges of adult life: autonomy, the ability to make their own choices, use their own judgment, maybe even get interestingly lost now and then. ... full column


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Changes coming to the Towson roundabout

Here's some info from The Sun's Mike Dresser. Note, the roundabout will be closed the evenings of June 16-18. I hate that roundabout! Now they're going to narrow it to one lane. I sort of see the logic there, but won't that make it even more of a bottleneck?

Erin S. Kuhn, the SHA's assistant district engineer, said the agency is hoping to take some of the guesswork out of navigating the circle by narrowing it to one lane at three key points - in effect reducing the driver's decision-making burden.

At the point where traffic in the circle exits onto East Joppa Road, the engineers will pinch the travel lanes down to one to slow traffic and give pedestrians an easier crossing. "Flex posts" will narrow the roadway on the southern end to help cut down on weaving. FULL COLUMN


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Mt. Washington art show rescheduled for Sunday

Because of rain. Here's The Sun's story and details.


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Try a sample Music Together class

"It's Groovy Baby Music and Movement offers sample classes --- free of charge and offer just what you might think; an abbreviated class in Music Together format. We present the kind of activities we do in a regular 45 minute class of mixed aged children birth to age 5. It's a great way for you and your child to try it out! In order to plan them well, your reservation is requested. Interested families can register at www.itsgroovybaby.com or by calling
(443) 895-4802."

Dates & Times:
June 5, 5:45-6:30 P.M. @ Divinity Evangelical Lutheran Church 1220 Providence Road, Towson, MD 21286
June 13, 10:30-11:15 A.M. @ Divinity Evangelical Lutheran Church 1220 Providence Road, Towson, MD 21286

June 3, 10:30-11:15 A.M. @ Owings Mills JCC 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue, Owings Mills, MD 21117
June 6, 9:30-10:15 A.M. @ Owings Mills JCC 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue, Owings Mills, MD 21117
August 27, 4:30-5:15 P.M. @ @ Owings Mills JCC 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue, Owings Mills, MD 21117


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Kids' sports for the fall

Someone on the Rodgers Forge listserv was asking about how to sign up kids for fall sports. I know about this one: http://www.towsonsoccer.com. And this: http://www.towsonrec.com.
Anyone have others to share?


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Towson crime report for May 12-18, 2008

Here's the report, including the murder of the Riderwood mom. Karl Pfrommer also reports that he's heard that the renters at 217 Dunkirk, some of whom were arrested for drug-related crimes, will be out of the house by the end of June.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pediatricians not fond of Similac Organic baby formula

The New York Times reports:

... Parents may be buying it because they believe that organic is healthier, but babies may have a reason of their own for preferring Similac Organic: it is significantly sweeter than other formulas. It is the only major brand of organic formula that is sweetened with cane sugar, or sucrose, which is much sweeter than sugars used in other formulas.

No health problems in babies have been associated with Similac Organic. But to pediatricians, there are risks in giving babies cane sugar: Sucrose can harm tooth enamel faster than other sugars; once babies get used to its sweeter taste, they might resist less sweet formulas or solid foods; and some studies suggest that they might overeat, leading to rapid weight gain in the first year, which is often a statistical predictor of childhood obesity. ... full story


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Babies shouldn't drink water

I just saw this on Charm City Moms and did a double take. My kids are older now so it doesn't apply to me, but I don't think I'd ever heard this before. Here's what Johns Hopkins says:

It’s a recurrent summer-time scenario in the pediatric emergency room and doctors from Johns Hopkins Children’s are sounding the alarm on it: An otherwise healthy infant is brought in by panicked parents after suffering a seizure, which turns out to be caused by drinking too much water. ...

Breast milk and formula are the best way to keep a child under 1 year of age who is not eating solid foods hydrated, Walker says, and straight water should be avoided. Over-diluted formula can lead to water intoxication as well. Electrolyte-enriched pediatric drinks are not recommended for routine hydration. ... more

(Click the link below if you want to email this post to someone with an infant.)


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Imagine no posessions, I wonder if you can

This has a certain appeal to me.

New York Times: Like many other young couples, Aimee and Jeff Harris spent the first years of their marriage eagerly accumulating stuff: cars, furniture, clothes, appliances and, after a son and a daughter came along, toys, toys, toys.

Now they are trying to get rid of it all, down to their fancy wedding bands. Chasing a utopian vision of a self-sustaining life on the land as partisans of a movement some call voluntary simplicity, they are donating virtually all their possessions to charity and hitting the road at the end of May. ... full story


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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rodgers Forge teen found passed out drunk in alley, and more patrol cars on York

From Karl Pfrommer:

"Captain Al Jones, Commander of the Towson Precinct gave a brief monthly synopsis of trends in the precinct to the GTCCA on Thursday night.

You may have noticed more patrol cars on York Road. BCPD has launched a new "Crash/Crime" program, adding 101 police hours weekly to surveillance and traffic stops on York Road from the Beltway to the city line. This effort has been implemented along every major county artery leading into the city. It's too early to give specific statistics and comparisons. However, indications are that this is an effective program and is likely to be continued. In the first month,Towson officers have found two hand guns in two vehicles stopped for traffic violations.

Towson University Tiger Fest was unusually rowdy this year. Between 6:30 pm. Friday, April 25 and 12:00 am. Sunday, April 27, Towson Precinct responded to 366 calls. 79 of those calls involved Towson University. Captain Jones had assigned four extra officers because of Tiger Fest. However, student behavior began so early that six additional officers were required to continue working beyond the end of their shifts.

Police have developed a zero tolerance policy for loud and boisterous houses. If residents of a house require a police response three times in two months the tenants will be cited. Any subsequent citations will be issued to the owner.

Captain Jones said that the investigation of the residents of 217 Dunkirk Road is continuing. There will be no more information about their arrests until they are charged.

One of our COP patrollers found an unconscious resident teenager lying in an alley at 2:30 am Saturday. He had been abusing alcohol. Police and an ambulance responded and took the boy to the hospital for treatment."


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Friday, May 16, 2008

Bullying will be defined, as will its punishments

The Examiner: ... The state school board must define bullying and cyberbullying, and local school leaders must adopt punishments, prevention programs and counseling for victims, under a bill Gov. Martin O’Malley signed this week, creating one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying laws in the nation.

“We cannot wait for a Columbine to happen here and sit on our hands and do nothing,” said Marcie Goodman, a Pikesville mother who wrote the bill and founded Watch Our Words, an anti-bullying nonprofit. ... full bullying story


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Baltimore County Public Schools want to know what you think

BCPS is conducting a stakeholders' survey to get community feedback. Here's a link if you want to give them your two cents. http://survey.bcps.org/Surveys/TakeSurvey.aspx?surveyid=1001


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Baltimore County parents must verify kids' addresses for school

Here are details in The Sun.


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carbon monoxide/smoke detectors recalled, along with 4 other produts

1. Maran Inc. Children's Hooded Jackets with Drawstrings Recalled Due to Strangulation Hazard; Sold Exclusively at TJ Maxx

2. Maple Chase Co. Recalls Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Monoxide/Smoke Combo Alarms Due to Alarm Malfunction

3. Manhattan Group Recalls Infant Rattles Due to Choking Hazard

4. Fuel Cells Used With Framing Nailers Recalled by Paslode for Fire Hazard

5. Shindaiwa Corp. Recalls Backpack Blowers Due to Laceration and Impact Hazards

DETAILS HERE


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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Details of drug arrests on Dunkirk

TO: To whom it may concern
FROM: Vincent J. Gardina
Councilman, Fifth District
SUBJECT: 217 Dunkirk Road
DATE: May 14, 2008

Per my staff’s discussion with Sergeant Darren Calhoun, of the Towson Precinct, let this memo serve as a description of what took place in the early morning hours of May 12, 2008 at 217 Dunkirk Road in Rodgers Forge. Acting on a complaint from the Rodgers Forge COP representative, the police department was able to determine via trash that was left at the curb, that there was drug activity going on in the household. With a warrant, the police entered the property and were able to ascertain residual evidence of heroin and cocaine. This included needles and crack pipes. Four residents of the house were arrested.

Sergeant Calhoun also indicated that the property is a rental and that they had contacted the owner of the property. This landlord indicated that he was aware that there was some issues with these tenants and that they would be “kicked out” by the end of June. My office advised Sergeant Calhoun that this Landlord has made similar claims in the past but has not followed-thru. Sergeant Calhoun assured my staff that they would follow-up with the Landlord to make sure that this happens.

VG:amh


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So, where did life start?

My son asked me at dinner something along the lines of, "What did fish evolve from and how did what they evolved from get on our earth?"

Ugh. I'm somewhat OK when it comes to discussing the Big Bang and evolution, but I'm a little fuzzy on how the first speck of life came to be on the planet. Any smart people out there want to share an answer that would satisfy a 5-year-old (and his parents, who clearly missed class that day)?

Of course, if my father were there to hear the conversation, he would find it the perfect opportunity to discuss Intelligent Design, but I was hoping for something more scientific.


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Police arrest teenage son in murder of Riderwood woman

Update: Her son was arrested. Here's the latest. And it's pretty damn freaky.


The Sun reports: Baltimore County police said they have arrested a suspect in the killing of a 39-year-old Towson woman who was found dead in her home Wednesday morning.

Police did not release the name of the suspect in the death of Donna Rosemarie Campbell-Powell, 39, an employee of the Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance, because he had not been charged. ... full Campbell-Powell story


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Red-State Update: Just pick one!

A friend just sent me this and it's pretty funny. Rated R for language.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Umarex Air Pistols That Can Fire Unexpectedly Are Recalled

Hazard: The air pistols can accidentally discharge, posing a risk of serious injury if the air pistol is loaded and pointed at the user or another person when it discharges.

Incidents/Injuries: Umarex USA has received one report of an injury involving the recalled air pistols. The pistol reportedly fired a pellet unexpectedly and struck the user in the lower leg causing swelling. recall details


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Police investigate woman's death in Towson

Baltimore County police are investigating the death of an unidentified woman whose body was found in a quiet, middle-class Towson neighborhood today around 10 a.m. ... more from The Examiner


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Meeting May 21 on school funding

Towson Times story on the plan to solve overcrowding in Towson. Sounds like we should all plan to be at this meeting, which we mentioned here a few days ago:

... Now, as school officials begin developing the capital spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1, 2009, they are considering solutions -- and public input -- to relieve overcrowding in other Towson-area schools.

"Clearly we know we need more seats," said Michael Sines, facilities director for the Baltimore County school system.

"The county administration is working with us, and they're as cognizant of the problems as we are," said Sines, who estimates the Towson area will need 400 to 500 more seats over the next three to four years.

County residents interested in speaking out on where those seats should go are invited to a public hearing May 21 on the schools' budget requests for the fiscal year that begins this July for construction, repairs and other facilities projects. ... full story


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Towson Times on Rodgers Forge arrest

As we mentioned here recently, several people were arrested on Dunkirk for alleged drug activity. Here's the Towson Times story from today:

Baltimore County Police have charged four people and are holding a fifth in connection with a raid on a home in Rodgers Forge in the early morning of May 12. Neighbors said police told them that they were serving a search warrant related to drug activity. ... more on arrests


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School budget and other issues considered by Baltimore County council

Laura Barnhardt of The Sun reports:

Baltimore County Council members looked yesterday at buying police officers fewer new flashlights and sending less trash out of the county. But it remained unclear whether proposed cuts in the $2.58 billion budget would be enough to address school crowding, fund an agricultural center and pay for salary increases of some police officers.

... The council will meet at 2 p.m. tomorrow to review the proposed school budget and possible cuts identified by the county auditor, and to consider the entire spending plan. ... full budget story
And if you want to contact your council member about the budget, here is council contact info.


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Maryland home sales drop more than anywhere else in nation

Jamie Smith Hopkins of The Sun reports:

Sales in January through March dropped nearly 39 percent in Maryland compared with the same months last year, the National Association of Realtors said. Close behind were Washington, D.C., where sales were down almost 35 percent; Utah, down almost 34 percent; and California, down about 33 percent. ... full home-sales story


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Resident doesn't want a traffic-slowing roundabout

I thought this was an interesting comment. I hadn't thought about it from an environmental perspective, just from the viewpoint of slowing traffic near kids.

"I don't want a roundabout on my street, or speed humps, or anything else that will cause vehicles and all the many school busses to slow and accelerate constantly sending more pollution into the atmosphere and wasting more fuel, and adding to the noise in our community - I would really just prefer the more constant presence of the county police enforcing the speed limits throughout our neighborhood - this roundabout scheme is the cheap fix. Why hasn't anyone heard about this idea before now, and why haven't we the residents been brought into the process - more Baltimore County government planning department strong-arm-tactics."
Here's the original post that details the roundabout plans near Rodgers Forge Elementary and Dumbarton Middle.


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New recycling schedules on the way

County says: "Residents living in the Ruxton, Rodgers Forge, and Lutherville areas or the Sparrows Point and Dundalk areas, if their trash/recycling collection schedules expire this month, should look for their new four-year schedules in the mail by the end of May. The approximately 17,700 households in these areas that need a new schedule will receive one.

The new collection schedules include information about Baltimore County's trash and recycling program on the reverse side, making it even easier for residents to reference information about regulations, collection holidays, materials accepted in the County's recycling program, and more.

This is the eleventh of eighteen schedule distributions the Bureau of Solid Waste Management is conducting around the county between June 2007 and February 2009."


What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

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Upcoming Irvine events

For details, go to www.explorenature.org

Sat. 5/31
Tree ID for Beginners (Adults)
Don’t have any idea how to recognize common trees? Learn some clues to use, and then we’ll head outside to find some native trees “in the wild.”

Fee: $8, members $6
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Registration Deadline: May 28

Wed. 6/11
Lake Roland Bird Walk (Adults)
Join us for an early morning bird walk along the trails of Robert E. Lee Park to search for and learn about our resident birds. Bring binoculars (Irvine has extra if needed). Meet at the bridge beside the dam.
No fee
Time: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Registration deadline: June 10

Sat. 6/14
Gardening for the Future (Families)
Learn how to have an environmentally friendly garden that encourages biodiversity. We will work in Irvine’s gardens while learning about sustainable gardening practices. At the conclusion of the program, you will be able to pot native seeds to take home.
Fee: $8, members $6
Time: 10:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
Registration deadline: June 12
Ages: 5 & up


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Lauraville booming

Did you catch the recent article about Lauraville in The Sun? There are so many neat places there, including kids' store Bediboo (a Flyer sponsor), Red Canoe bookstore and Chameleon Cafe, which I just tried the other night for the first time. It was divoon. Here's the article, including a photo slideshow.

A reader just mentioned that this new place is good, too. I'll have to check it out: http://www.bmoreclementine.com/restaurant.php


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Ayd Hardware saved us $50


I'm lovin' Ayd Hardware on York Road. Our Ikea faucet freaked out on us a few days ago and the main part just flew off. My husband, who pretty much singlehandedly tore out our old kitchen and put in a new one, said he didn't know how to fix it and we should get a new one. He's going to re-do our bathroom in August and so any faucet we get now might not be with us much longer, and for our sink the cheapest we could find was $50. That just seemed ridiculous.

Luckily, he went out of town before he could buy a new one. I took the faucet to Ayd and asked Vince, the owner, if there was a ring or something I could use to fix it. He noticed that there was a depression in the faucet and suspected there was a screw in the back that just needed tightening. He was right. Kind of a forehead-slapping moment, but I was so thankful. I can only imagine what would have happened if I had gone to Home Depot with the same question.


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Inner Harbor's floating trash reigned in

Tom Pelton of The Sun reports:

Normally, rain flushes garbage down Baltimore's storm drains to float in stomach-churning blobs around the Inner Harbor's tourist attractions.

But yesterday looked different. After one of the heaviest downpours of the year, not a single plastic foam cup or dead rat bobbed around the National Aquarium. Instead, a mound of litter had been caught by a garbage-grabbing gizmo installed in February where the biggest outfall dumps into the harbor. ... full garbage story


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Towson's Hampton site gets federal funds

Sun: The Hampton National Historic Site in Towson has received a $195,000 matching grant as part of the National Park Service's Centennial Challenge. ... details


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Fire forces evacuation of Towson high-rise

Sun reports:

Smoke and carbon monoxide from an underground electrical fire prompted the evacuation yesterday of a 15-story apartment building in Towson that houses elderly and disabled residents, according to Baltimore County fire authorities. ... more on the fire


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A note about Operation 451

Towson Families United sent out an interesting message today outlining all the plans they have for the future and advising people on whether they should keep their "451" signs up.

A number of people have been asking what Towson Families United plans to do next, now that a new elementary school has been approved for Towson.

The first thing we're going to do is stay together. Our group, more than 500 strong, has been incredibly effective. We've united people from different parts of Towson who might never have known one another. We've put their talents to work. And together, we've made a difference.

But there is still a lot to be done. ... read more from TFU


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Sun profile of Towson Families United's Cathi Forbes

Gina Davis reports: ... County schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston said he respected Forbes' leadership. "What impressed me most about the Rodgers Forge parents, and in particular Cathi Forbes, was that they were very tolerant and very patient throughout this process," Hairston said. "They've done their homework. They were looking for a genuine solution. They weren't looking for a quick fix." ... full Forbes story


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Ugh, is this story heartbreaking or what?

Lynn Anderson and Brent Jones report in The Sun that on Mother's Day, a woman gave birth to a baby right after her husband was stabbed to death while trying to pay for gas. Here's the article.


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Some Rodgers Forge residents will have yard waste picked up this Wednesday

County says:

A PRINTING ERROR WAS MADE ON SOME RODGERS FORGE TRASH/RECYCLING COLLECTION SCHEDULES REGARDING YARD MATERIALS COLLECTION DAYS IN APRIL AND MAY OF 2008.

For residents with a Tuesday trash collection and Wednesday yard materials collection the correct yard materials collection dates are:

Wednesday, April 16 and 30 & Wednesday, May 14 and 28

If you have questions, please call 410-887-2000.


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Suspected drug dealers arrested in Rodgers Forge

Karl Pfrommer of Citizens on Patrol reports:

Police arrested two suspected drug dealers this morning, Monday, May 12 at 217 Dunkirk Road. RFCOP members had been watching activity at this rental house for several weeks and shared information with BCPD.

This was a community effort.

RFC Inc. Board Governor Don Gerding requested that Rodgers Forge residents report rental houses so we could be sure they were registered and check for code violations. Newsletter Editor, Jay Dunn published Don's request. Forge Flyer Blog Editor, Kris, put it on her blog. I received many emails from residents about several suspected rental houses; one with unsavory characters who had been conducting transactions in the street. (They had 5 vehicles.) Subsequently, RFCOP reported our suspicions to BCPD. Police asked us to discretely monitor the situation. The neighbors became COP members and furnished specific information for the police. A month later BCPD had completed their investigation, and very effectively too. Hence, the arrests this morning.

Karl


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Precinct 6 crime report

Here's latest the crime report.


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Roundabouts planned to slow traffic in Rodgers Forge

In case you missed it, this was an interesting piece in the May newsletter from the Rodgers Forge Association:

Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Don Gerding has received plans proposed by the County Bureau of Traffic Engineering and Transportation Planning to slow speeders in Rodgers Forge. Bureau Chief Darrell Wiles submitted the plans that are intended to dampen the speeding on Stevenson Lane as well as the speeding and illegal turns currently being made by drivers from Dumbarton Road into Pinehurst Road.

The Dumbarton Road project, providing a roundabout and pedestrian island on Dumbarton between the elementary and middle schools, will be both a speed buffer during the heavy
school traffic times as well as preventing drivers from illegally turning the wrong way into Pinehurst so that they can drive onto Regester toward York Road.

The traffic calming changes on Stevenson are at Lanark Road, another school crossing area but also a place where drivers build up speed to race downhill toward Bellona. Though posted at 30 MPH, vehicles more often operate at 15 to 25 miles over that limit and would have little chance of stopping in time to prevent a collision or accident. A pedestrian island would be placed on the left side downhill lane of Stevenson to alert drivers and protect pedestrians.


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I don't mean to pick on Laura Bush, but ...

What is with her in these photos? I mean, I know people have made fun of her for looking robotic, but my gawd. Barbara is freaking me out, too.


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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hurt Girls -- sports and injuries

From the New York Times magazine: Everyone wants girls to have as many opportunities in sports as boys. But can we live with the greater rate of injuries they suffer? Here's the NYT story.


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Happy Mother's Day!

Hey moms, hope you have a great day. My treat was that I got to sleep in (a good thing, too, because I went out with girlfriends last night, and didn't have to drive, and let's just say the pineapple martinis at Koko's are pretty darn yummy) and then my husband made waffles with fried bananas, strawberries and blackberries and whipped cream he whipped himself. They also gave me a gift certificate to Beadazzled because I've become obsessed with making jewelry.

Happy Mother's Day to all.


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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ratings up at WYPR after Steiner's departure

But audience for Dan Rodricks shifts, losing younger listeners and not quite making it up with older listeners. Sun story:

Months of tumult at public radio station WYPR, beginning with the Feb. 1 firing of veteran talk-show host Marc Steiner, have not led to a decline in its audience. In fact, the number of people listening to the station in the first three months of year has increased over the same period last year, from 153,600 to 166,800, ratings from Columbia-based Arbitron Inc. show. ...


For his part, Steiner said his old station and his old time slot "are so far removed from what I'm thinking about," especially now that he's preparing to take his interview skills to another of Baltimore's public radio stations, WEAA-FM (88.9).


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Friday, May 9, 2008

update on that helicopter over Rodgers Forge

On Thursday afternoon a helicopter flew over Rodgers Forge Elementary a few times. I called Precinct 6 to ask what was up and they said it was looking for juveniles on the roof. But Karl Pfrommer of Citizens on Patrol sent an email to the police spokesman who said it was just a routine patrol. Of course, there have been kids on the roof of RFES in the middle of the night recently, so maybe both accounts were correct.


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Here's the latest Rodgers Forge Association newsletter

This is the May 2008 newsletter in PDF form. Lots of interesting info, including about Dumpster Day and the Forge Fest.


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Isn't that bordering on an oxymoron, Mr. Governor?


I just think it's weird to discuss "fiscal responsibility" in relation to "the slots referendum."

WJZ: "We did a lot of difficult things. We did a lot of cuts, about $1.8 billion in cuts. We did $1.5 billion in new revenues including the sales tax. But the last remaining piece of restoring fiscal responsibility to our state's budget is this 25 percent of the solution which is the slots referendum," said O'Malley. ... full wjz story


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Magician at Towson Library, Sat. May 10

Books ... The Magic Is Real!
Family, children under 6 with adult

You'll be mystified as magician Joe Romano brings books alive with the art of magic and illusion.
May 10 Sat 10:30 AM at Towson Library.


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Not everyone got stiffed on raises

No raises for teachers, but some county employees did see a slight increase in pay, such as County Administrative Officer Fred Homan who got a $40,000 raise, making his salary $190,000, the Towson Times reports. (That's more than the county executive makes.)

Fred Homan, who was confirmed as county administrative officer just after the current budget year began in July, received a raise that makes him the third-highest paid county employee, excluding education officials.

Homan, who is completing his first year in the position, received a $40,000 raise, a 21 percent increase, bringing his annual salary to $190,000 for the budget year that began July 1, 2007. ... full compensation story


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Forge Fest and yard sale will be June 14

Starts with a community yard sale from 8 a.m. to noon. That is, it appears everyone is encouraged to do a sale in their own yards, not at a central location.

The picnic and festival, with moon bounce, pony rides, games, etc., will be behind RF Elementary from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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Dumpster Day in Rodgers Forge on May 31

From 8 a.m. to noon for Rodgers Forge residents. Bulk-trash collection at RF Elementary School parking lot.


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Raising "green" kids seminar

Wondering how to be a more eco-conscious parent?
The Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance presents Raising "Green" Kids in the City

Saturday, June 7, 2008, at 1 p.m.
Light Street Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library
1251 Light Street, Federal Hill

Guest speakers include:
* Washington Post reporter Mary Ellen Slayter, author of the article "Greening Up Baby: For the Eco-Conscious Parent, How to Be Gentle on the Earth and the Wallet."
* Deborah Cogan, Federal Hill mother of two and owner of Spoons Coffee Cafe, the first restaurant in Maryland to become certified green. As a leader in the Green Restaurant movement, their efforts they have made many strides in the areas of waste reduction, clean energy, water conservation, energy conservation, pollution prevention, and
supporting local farms and the local economy.
* Karen Fedor, former organic certification manager for the Department of Agriculture.

Topics include: How to shop responsibly for food; How to keep play areas safe from chemicals; How to handle the diaper dilemma: wash vs. toss; and What does organic even mean? Is it worth the money?

Plus many "green" giveaways.

This event is FREE, however there is an suggested $5 donation to fund future parenting seminars and events for downtown families.

RSVP to parentseminar@dbfam.org.


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and into the frying pan

New York Times:

Utah’s attorney general, Mark L. Shurtleff, sat before a room of perhaps 400 people, most of them fundamentalist polygamists, at a town hall meeting here on Thursday night. He asked for a show of hands. How many people, he wanted to know, were related to the children who were seized last month in a raid in Texas in an investigation of possible marriage and abuse of child brides?

Scores of hands shot up. Then Mr. Shurtleff asked his follow-up: How many of you would be willing to take those children into your homes? Without a moment’s hesitation, the same hands rose.

“We think it would be wonderful if that were to happen, and we’re going to continue to try to encourage that,” Mr. Shurtleff said, as the room exploded with applause. ... full Utah story



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Sun editorial on new school at Ridge Ruxton

I wonder what they'll call the new school. Maybe Ruxton Ridge, just for fun? Or how about TFU Elementary? Or maybe Oh, Alright Already Elementary?

Perseverance has paid off for Towson-area families who led the charge for a new school to solve a severe classroom overcrowding problem in their area. The Baltimore County school board also deserves credit for not relying solely on the county administration's solution to the problem. Its members pushed for an alternative that seems to satisfy the overcrowding concerns without uprooting a special-education program that also had fiercely loyal supporters. The result - a win-win for all, for now. ...

But parents must realize that a new school alone won't resolve the overcrowding entirely. An addition may be needed later on, and they will have to appeal to the next county executive to pay for it. Parents of disabled children at Ridge Ruxton also must recognize that such facilities are being phased out as more innovative ways to integrate special-ed kids into schools are found. ...
full editorial here


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A Very Special Mother's Day Story

Thought I'd post this once more in case you missed it earlier. It's a Mother's Day story from The New York Times:

There are mothers that zestily eat their young and mothers that drink their young's blood. Mothers that pit one young against the other in a fight to the death and mothers that raise one set of their babies on the flesh of their siblings.
Full story on mothers is here. (It's actually quite fascinating.)


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Friday night concerts at Belvedere Square start again today

The weather forecast says it will probably stop raining by tonight.

"It is back - the ever-popular Friday night outdoor concerts. Enjoy gourmet food and drinks from the restaurants and market at Belvedere Square all while listening to the sounds of summer through some of Baltimore’s hottest bands! Every Friday May 9 through September 5, 6-9pm."


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Waterfront festival is this Saturday

May 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ... Festival details here

Boating

  • Boat Display
  • Water Taxi Tours
  • Boat Docking Contest

Exhibits and Demonstrations

  • Water Rescue Demonstrations
  • Arts and Crafts Show and Sales
  • Nature Center Displays
  • Baltimore County Sailing Center Demonstrations
  • Environmental Displays

Music and Food

  • Live “Top 40” Music
  • Live Jazz and Choral Music from Baltimore County Public Schools
  • Food from Local Restaurants
  • Baltimore County’s Wineries – Boordy and Woodhall



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