Monday, February 28, 2011

Qdoba coming to Pei Wei and Wells Liquor strip mall



According to this story. (Right in Chipotle's back yard, practically.)


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

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Latest crime report

Read it here.


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Please attend RFES PTA meeting tomorrow

Rodgers Forge Elementary prides itself on its parental involvement, but the PTA has not been able to vote on several issues for the past few months because not enough people are attending their meetings. They need to pass their revised budget, which includes money for the drama club and after-school clubs -- something that many families want to participate in.

The meeting is Tuesday, March 1, at 7:00 pm in the RFES library. Please try to be there if you can.


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

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Science and baseball, today at Towson U

Towson U: Our next Saturday Morning Science program will be this Saturday February 26 and will feature Dr. Patricia Ponce from Towson University speaking on "Batting a Thousand: The Science Behind Baseball."

Programs will begin at 10:00 am and again at 12:00 noon and will take place in Smith Hall room 326 on the Towson University Campus. Following each program we would like to invite you stop by a special traveling exhibit at the Cook Library titled "Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience". Besides the exhibit, you can meet Doc, the Towson University mascot and participate in other fun activities.

We hope you will join us for a fun-filled morning of science and baseball! (Free and open to anyone.)
http://www.towson.edu/HackermanAcademy/Calendar_of_Events/index.asp


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Friday, February 25, 2011

Is Verizon adding charges to your FIOS bill?

From a Flyer reader: "I wonder if anyone else has had the same problems as me with Verizon FIOS. Verizon keeps adding charges to my bill for Internet services like a security back-up that they call “Protection Pak” and “extras” like “Unlimited Games & Starz Play Pak”. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve called to dispute that I ever ordered these services and to cancel them, yet they either don’t get canceled or – after a few months, they reappear. And, because Verizon auto-deducts my bill, I really have to be vigilant to review it in detail each month.

I cannot believe that others around us in Verizon FIOS land haven’t had the same experience. And, I’m no conspiracy theorist – but – given the number of times that these charges have suddenly reappeared on my bill, I wonder whether Verizon automatically (I mean, accidentally) includes them. In any event, I’m dying to know whether I’m the only one who’s been having these kinds of issues with FIOS."


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

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Spring soccer academies

SPRING SOCCER ACADEMIES FORMING FOR GIRLS AND BOYS (6-9 YEARS OF AGE)

Pipeline Soccer will hold spring sessions for 10 weeks, beginning March 21st. There is a program for girls (Tuesdays) and a seperate one for boys (Mondays). Both will be held in the Towson area. This is for players who love the game and who want improve. Learn more about this and other soccer programs at www.PipelineSoccerClub.com



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Some FYIs from Councilman Marks

We have been informed that part of Pennsylvania Avenue will be closed on March 11 and 12 due to the demolition of the Charles Village Pub. The area affected is between York Road and Washington Avenue. The road will be closed from 8 p.m. on March 11 until 8 a.m. on March 12.

and

At my request, the Department of Public Works will meet with the community regarding the water relining project on Kenilworth Drive. The project involves slip lining the existing 48 inch water main with a 40 inch steel pipeline. Failures to the existing pipeline occurred in 2002 and 2004.

This meeting will take place on Thursday, March 3, 2011 at the BYKOTA Senior Center at 611 Central Avenue at 6:00 p.m. Representatives of DPW will be on hand to present their plan of action and respond to questions. Should you have questions, you may contact our office by e-mail or phone at 410-887-3384.

and

First, I wanted to report that the County Council passed two bills for which I was a chief sponsor.

Bill No. 2-11 creates a Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, an all-volunteer panel which I hope will help neighborhoods like Rodgers Forge with pedestrian issues. I know the Rodgers Forge Community Association is very interested in a Safe Routes to School program, and I will do whatever I can to support this initiative. Bill No. 3-11 changes the development review process so that a Community Input Meeting should be held within a certain distance of the affected area.

Second, I will be assembling a task force to examine residential standards in the Towson area. This is a special area in Baltimore County with unique pressures, such as student overflow from Towson University and Goucher College, and I believe we should consider an overlay zone that regulates standards within this area. Former Councilman Wayne Skinner will chair this task force.

Third, our county and state officials are working in a bipartisan way to solve overcrowding in the Towson area. This overcrowding is driven not by development, but by changing demographics. You’ve seen it in Rodgers Forge, as older couples sell to younger families with children. I’ve been working to get the addition finalized for Hampton Elementary School and to get design money for a new addition at Stoneleigh Elementary School. Additionally, Councilman Huff, Councilwoman Almond, and I have sent a letter to the school system to ask that they enter into negotiations with the Archdiocese of Baltimore for possible use of vacant schools, such as Towson Catholic High School. We simply want to preserve options if space is needed.

Finally, I asked the owners of the properties along 100 York Road to demolish several vacant buildings that were an eyesore along this corridor. There is a lot of good redevelopment occurring in Towson, such as the new neighborhood on Burke Avenue and the renovation of the Investment Building near the circle. Vacant, vandalized buildings send the wrong message. I thank the owners at 100 York Road for removing these structures.

Please feel free to contact me at any time.

Councilman David Marks


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Balt County senators derail hybrid school board

Baltimore Sun: Efforts to create a partly elected Baltimore County school board were defeated Thursday in Annapolis as the county Senate delegation instead threw its support behind a bill that would appoint a task force to study the issue. 


The complete article can be viewed at:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-hybrid-board-vote-20110224,0,2362527.story


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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Second Maple Syrup weekend at Oregon Ridge


Feb. 26 & 27: Meet us at the Sugar Shack between 10 AM and 4 PM, for an invigorating hike to the sugar bush to learn to identify a maple tree and tap the sap. Once back at the Sugar Shack, watch as we make sweet syrup from the collected sap. It’s all FREE. Syrup can be purchased in the gift shop. Kids crafts and face painting take place in the Nature Center. (Pancake breakfasts are March 5 & 6.) www.oregonridge.org


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

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Winter Carnival February 26

Please Join Us For a Day of Family Winter Fun
10:30 to 1:30
The Redeemer Parish Day School
5603 North Charles Street
*Snow Date February 27, 12:30-3:30*

Games, Crafts, and Inflatables
Food & Beverages
Live Children’s Musician


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

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If you support a hybrid school board, let senators know now

As you may know, there are two bills in the state Senate right now. One would create a task force to study the issue of how the Baltimore County school board is elected (Senate Bill 397), and the other (Senate Bill 141, and co-sponsored by Sen. Brochin) would actually create a hybrid (partially elected, partially appointed) school board.

Baltimore County parent Laurie Taylor-Mitchell points out that no less than three studies* have already been done on this topic. Do we really need another?

She says: "There is going to be a vote tomorrow (2/24) in the Senate on whether or not the Baltimore County delegation of Senators will sponsor Senate Bill 141 that would permit the creation of a hybrid school board in Baltimore County. The Chair of the Delegation is Senator Kathy Klausmeier, and it appears at the moment that she is not going to support this bill.

Klausmeier has called for additional study of the issue – she has introduced a bill to create a task force for further study Senate Bill 397. If she does not support Senate Bill 141 co-sponsored by Zirkin, Brochin, and Getty, it is a major blow against it because she is Chair of the Delegation, even if the other Senators vote in favor of it.

What you can do: Contact Senator Klausmeier and all other Baltimore County Senators immediately and give them your opinion on this issue. My question: why is additional study needed after 18 years and three studies of the issue in Baltimore County?"

BOTTOM LINE: If you support a hybrid school board, which many feel would make the board more accountable to parents and the community, then you need to let your lawmakers know now.

bobby.zirkin@senate.state.md.us

jim.brochin@senate.state.md.us

joseph.getty@senate.state.md.us

norman.stone@senate.state.md.us

jb.jennings@senate.state.md.us

katherine.klausmeier@senate.state.md.us

delores.kelley@senate.state.md.us

edward.kasemeyer@senate.state.md.us

* Past studies:

1993: a Baltimore County government task force studied the issue.

2007: Baltimore County PTA does a study on the issue. See it here.

2010: the League of Women Voters did a very comprehensive study of the issue of hybrid/appointed/elected school boards. See it here.


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

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Gino's returning to Baltimore

OK, you Baltimore natives, tell me about Gino's and why everyone on Facebook is talking about it (not to mention this story in The Sun).


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BCPS says Rodgers Forge can't do annual Dumpster Day

Update: BCPS has contacted the community association and said Dumpster Day would be allowed after all, as long as the group signs an agreement to leave the school in the condition it was found. Apparently there had been problems with other events at other schools in which trash was left on the grounds. Cleaning up after the event certainly seems a reasonable thing to expect.


Baltimore County Public Schools denied the Rodgers Forge Community Association's application to hold its annual Dumpster Day event in the parking lot of RFES. (Note: It was approved at the school level.) Councilman David Marks said he's looking into the matter. He told me in an email:

"I found out about this yesterday and immediately emailed the Superintendent that it needed to be reversed. Our office has also left a message for Bob Barrett, who is the Superintendent's liaison with the Council. In the event the application is still denied, we will follow up with a formal letter.

So please let everyone know we are working on this and I think this is completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, according to our legal counsel, the County Council has no control over BCPS facilities. We can only use the power of pressure to force BCPS to change its mind."

I suppose this goes hand-in-hand with BCPS refusing to let PTAs have craft fairs on their property.


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Meeting for parents concerned about school lunches


From the Baltimore County Healthy Kids Coalition: "Calling all parents of BCPS students: Please join us the evening of Monday, Feb. 28, to get an update on what the coalition has done so far, and to help us plan for future initiatives." Details here.


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Stoneleigh overcrowding meeting is tonight

Stoneleigh Elementary School is significantly over capacity - with 131 more students than the school was built to educate. Overcrowding is disrupting the children’s daily needs and education and is creating an environment of unequal access to educational resources. We are concerned that the safety of Stoneleigh students is at risk due to this overcrowding. No major changes are currently underway or funded for Stoneleigh. We have dropped in priority on the Capital Budget Request list!

A critical community-wide meeting is being held on:
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 7:00pm at Stoneleigh Elementary School, 900 Pemberton Road.

Baltimore County Public Schools’ Office of Strategic Planning representatives are attending. Please come hear how the county plans to meet upcoming challenges. We need a large community turnout out at this meeting. You have already successfully raised a school house and alleviated a great deal of overcrowding for Rodger’s Forge. We are impressed. Please come to support your larger community at this meeting!


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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Latest crime report

Read it here.


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Monday, February 21, 2011

When will school systems pay attention to this?


Chronicle of Higher Education: "The Case for Play" ... The message is this: The emphasis on standardized testing, on attempting to constantly monitor, measure, and quantify what students learn, has forced teachers to spend more of the school day engaged in so-called direct instruction and has substantially reduced or eliminated opportunities that children have for exploring, interacting, and learning on their own. Recess has, in many districts, vanished from the schedule entirely. After school, parents shuttle their kids from activity to activity, depriving them of unstructured time alone or with friends.

That matters, according to researchers, not just because play reduces stress and makes children more socially competent—which evidence suggests that it does. It matters also because play supposedly improves working memory and self-regulation; in other words, it makes kids sharper and better-behaved. So, ironically, by shortchanging them on play in favor of academics, we may actually be inhibiting their development. Hirsh-Pasek, a psychology professor at Temple University, considers the move away from play to be a crisis, even comparing it to global warming, in the sense that it may take years for the consequences to be felt. When it comes to the value of play, she declares: "The science is clear."

full story: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Case-for-Play/126382/


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Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Maple Sugar Weekend at Oregon Ridge

February 19, 20, 26 and 27 - Meet us at the Sugar Shack between 10 AM and 4 PM, for an invigorating hike to the sugar bush to learn to identify a maple tree and tap the sap. Once back at the Sugar Shack, watch as we make sweet syrup from the collected sap. It’s all FREE. Syrup can be purchased in the gift shop. Kids crafts and face painting take place in the Nature Center. (Then the pancake breakfast, with the syrup that they made, is in March.)
http://www.oregonridge.org/


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

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Baseball exhibit at Towson U

PRIDE AND PASSION: THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN BASEBALL EXPERIENCE
Towson University's Cook Library 3rd floor 

Thursday, February 24 - Friday, April, 8, 2011

Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience is a traveling exhibition that examines the challenges faced by African-American baseball players as they sought equal opportunities in their sport beginning in the post-Civil War era.

http://cooklibrary.towson.edu/baseball/


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Part of Towson Library to be temporarily off limits

Details are at Patch.com.


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Ikea cribs recalled

IKEA Recalls to Repair Cribs Due to Mattress Support Collapse; Cribs Pose Entrapment and Suffocation Hazards,http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11135.html


Sent from my cell. 


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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Plague of stink bugs expected to hit

WUSA9: Scientists warn the warm temperatures are waking a plague that's likely to hit biblical proportions: Billions of stink bugs -- far worse than last year -- hitting by the end of the month.
http://wusa9.com/news/watercooler/story.aspx?storyid=136418&catid=148


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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Car-parts theft

FYI, from a Forge reader: "Tuesday, February 15, 2010, my Acura was stripped while parked on Lanark, between Brandon and Stevenson. Thieves unhooked the battery to disable the alarm, broke out the side window, and took the entire front bumper with headlight assembly. The entire front of the car was gone. They also took the airbag. No one heard or witnessed a thing. The police indicated that it was one of several such incidents in the area last night, all involving the same model cars."


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Exploring the Moon with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Launched on June 18, 2009 the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft has been orbiting the moon ever since mapping its surface and looking for potential resources that future astronauts could use. Learn more about this exciting mission and the engineering that went into building this lunar satellite.

This Saturday morning at Towson U, part of Saturday Morning Science. Free and open to anyone. Details here.


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Recap of last night's meeting about TU arena

Patch.com and the Sun covered the meeting and quotes Rodgers Forge board members who were there (Pat Foretich and Ginny Allen).

http://towson.patch.com/articles/at-tu-arena-meeting-questions-answered

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-residents-review-arena-plans20110215,0,439840.story


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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kate Fleming at Ryan's Daughter this Friday

Idlewylde resident Kate Fleming plays acoustic guitar and sings from an eclectic setlist live at Ryan's Daughter in Belvedere Square this Friday night, February 18th, from 8:00 to 12:00. Come out and enjoy Ryan's cozy, relaxed atmosphere, great food, drink, and live music - all wonderfully close to home. Find Kate's music on Facebook (search Kate Haughey Fleming), originals at www.myspace.com@kateflemingmusic and on You Tube (search KateFleming1). Photo by Russ Haire.


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

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Reminder: Town hall meeting about Towson U's new arena is tonight

Details here.


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

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Meeting this Thursday about gangs in Baltimore County

The Central Area Educational Advisory Council will be presenting a meeting on gangs at 7:00 pm on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, at Pleasant Plains Elementary in Towson. A police officer will discuss signs, symbols, behavior, history and presence of gangs that are seen in Baltimore County. RSVP to tlmullen4(at)verizon.net if you plan to attend.


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

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Latest crime report

Includes a break-in at the Rodgers Forge Apartments. Read it here.


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

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Walmart partners with cosmetic company to target girls 8-12 years old


EcoSalon: The big sell is that Geo Girl is an eco-friendly and therefore healthy brand for children who just happen to wear makeup. Unlike other real makeup that may irritate babyfat with regular use, Geo Girl is real makeup that won’t irritate anything except people with a moral compass.

http://ecosalon.com/walmart-geo-girl-cosmetics/


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

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Hybrid school board, or a study to look at the issue?

At first blush, I would support the bill from Sen. Zurkin that would create a hybrid school board (part elected, part appointed) instead of the bill from Sen. Klausmeier that would create a task force to study how board members are seated. (Does that really require a study?) But I'm wondering if the task force route might bring about a board that was 100% elected with no appointed members. Is that in the cards at all?

Also, the commenter at the bottom of this story makes an interesting point: Why is County Executive Kamenetz sitting out this issue? So what if he's new to the job, shouldn't he be tackling problems right away?

http://www.explorebaltimorecounty.com/news/111374/baltimore-county-delegation-continues-debate-over-school-board-selection-options/


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

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Another interesting home interior in Rodgers Forge






Check out the lovely french doors leading to the screened-in porch. And the built-ins (?) in the bedroom look somewhat similar to what we plan to do around our dining room windows. See more photos here (and buy the house if you want; it's for sale.)


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

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Rodgers Forge students' art on display at Towson Library





It's a very impressive collection. There's more on display at the Board of Ed headquarters on Charles Street, too.


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

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Interesting story in The Sun about Hairston and BCPS

Many angles on this one -- Hairston's endorsement of a product that was purchased without a bidding process, the ban on craft fairs, cutting teachers as enrollments rise .... A must read.


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

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Rodgers Forge board wants to know about vacant houses

If you know of run down, vacant homes in Rodgers Forge, the board would like to have that info.
http://rodgersforgecommunity.blogspot.com/2011/02/report-vacant-homes.html


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Three cheers for Sen. Jim Brochin: supporting same-sex marriage

He sent out an email today saying this:

For years I have held the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. I have also felt just as strongly that all of our citizens, gay and straight, deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and responsibilities. With these thoughts, last Tuesday I walked into our hearing on Same-Sex Marriage promising to keep an open mind, but fairly certain of how I would vote on the issue.

What I witnessed from the opponents of the bill was appalling. Witness after witness demonized homosexuals, vilified the gay community, and described gays and lesbians as pedophiles. I believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, but rather people are born one way or another. The proponents of the bill were straightforward in wanting to be simply treated as everyone else, and wanted to stop being treated as second-class citizens.

While, in my mind, civil unions with all the same rights as marriage is the best option, this is no longer the choice. The votes in committee are not there for this approach. I will still offer an amendment doing just that, but if it fails, I simply cannot turn my back on decent hard-working families who just want the same rights and dignity as everyone else in our great state.

For me, the transition to supporting marriage has not been an easy one, but the uncertainty, fear, and second-class status that gays and lesbians have to put up with is far worse and clearly must come to an end.

Sincerely,

Senator James Brochin
42nd Legislative District


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Jim Smith wants to be president of Towson U

The Towson Times is reporting that former county executive Jim Smith wants to be the next president of Towson University. The audacity is strong in that one, most definitely. Has he read the bios of area college presidents? I have -- they're posted below, and one thing kind of stands out: They have strong backgrounds in higher education. Crazy, right?

If he becomes president of TU, the good old boy network around here is even stronger than I thought it was.

Robert L. Caret became Towson University's 12th president in 2003. Dr. Caret served as a faculty member, dean, executive vice president and provost of Towson University for 21 years before leaving to assume the presidency of San Jose State University in 1995.

Dr. Reginald S. Avery officially assumed the presidency of 108-year-old Coppin State University on January 14, 2008. Dr. Avery, who was serving as Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of South Carolina Upstate, becomes Coppin’s fifth president. He brings more than 35-years of experience in higher education to Coppin State and vows a strong allegiance to its mission and a pledge to advance excellence and effectiveness.

Dr. David Wilson brings a wealth of skills and a long trail of accomplishments to his new position as the 12th president of Morgan State University. Dr. Wilson holds four academic degrees: a B.S. in political science and an M.S. in education from Tuskegee University; an Ed.M. in educational planning and administration from Harvard University and an Ed.D. in administration, planning and social policy, also from Harvard. He comes to Morgan from the University of Wisconsin, where he was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and the University of Wisconsin–Extension. Before that, he held numerous other administrative posts in academia, among them: vice president for University Outreach and associate provost at Auburn University, and associate provost of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Sanford J. Ungar became the tenth President of Goucher College on July 1, 2001. ... Prior to assuming his position at Goucher, Mr. Ungar was Director of the Voice of America, the U.S. government’s principal international broadcasting agency, for two years. From 1986 until 1999, he was Dean of the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC.

The Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., President of Loyola University Maryland, brings a wealth of experience as an educator deeply immersed in the Jesuit traditions of academic excellence and the promotion of faith and justice. A native of Massachusetts, he formerly served at a sister Jesuit institution, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, as assistant dean and associate professor of Religious Studies. Fr. Linnane joined the Religious Studies department at Holy Cross in 1994. His scholarly publications are extensive, covering the disciplines of fundamental moral theology, health care ethics, and virtue ethics. He served as assistant dean at Holy Cross from 2003-05 and was named a Loyola College Trustee in 2000. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the College of the Holy Cross; the Institute of Christian and Jewish Studies; the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Baltimore; and the Board of Directors of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. He is president of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, secretary/treasurer of the Executive Committee of the Maryland Independent College and University Association, a member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, and a representative to the American Council on Education (ACE) Board of Directors for the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU).

JAMES T. SMITH, JR.
County Executive (Democrat), 2002-10
County Executive, Baltimore County, December 2, 2002 to December 6, 2010. Member, Advisory Council for Port Land-Use Development, 2002-05. Board of Visitors, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical System, 2002-10. Member, Baltimore Regional Transportation Board, 2002-10 (chair, 2010); Fort George G. Meade Regional Growth Management Committee, 2007-10; Local Government Subcommittee, Base Realignment and Closure Subcabinet, 2007-10. Chair, Board of Directors, Baltimore Metropolitan Council, 2010 (member, 2002-10; vice-chair, 2004; chair, 2005).
Associate Judge, Baltimore County Circuit Court, 3rd Judicial Circuit, November 25, 1985 to September 6, 2001. Resigned September 6, 2001. President, Maryland Circuit Judges Association, 1993-95. Chair, Executive Committee, Maryland Judicial Conference, 1995-96 (vice-chair, 1994-95). Member, Family and Domestic Relations Law Committee, 1997-99, and Public Awareness Committee, 1999-2001, Maryland Judicial Conference.

Deputy Public Defender, District 8, Baltimore County, 1973-77. Member, County Council, Baltimore County, 1978-85 (chair, 1982, 1985). Chair, Charter Review Commission, Baltimore County, 1989-90.

That's a pretty strong bio Mr. Smith has, but it doesn't really scream "university president."



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Sun says: Baltimore County needs a new school board

Sun editorial: The story is getting a little too familiar: Baltimore County Superintendent Joe A. Hairston decides that someone he has worked with has developed a unique and crucial product, and the school district adopts it on his say-so, without checking to see if someone else could do the work better or cheaper. That was what happened in the case of the Articulated Instruction Module grading system developed by Mr. Hairston's former top deputy, and it was the case with the EduTrax data management software, which was created by a man who worked for Mr. Hairston when the superintendent ran a school district in Georgia. ....

... That's why the most important reform for the Baltimore County school district being considered in Annapolis this year is legislation sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Del. Dan Morhaim, among others, to change the governance structure of the school board. Their approach would make the board a hybrid of elected and appointed members — a good compromise between an all-elected board, which can become overly political, and an all-appointed one, which, as experience in Baltimore County shows, can become complacent. And that is the crux of the problem in Baltimore County. Some of Mr. Hairston's decisions have been questionable, but the board's lack of scrutiny has been inexcusable.

Read the full editorial here.


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No-bid contracts for former Hairston colleague

Liz Bowie of The Sun reports: The Baltimore County school system has paid a Georgia software company hand-selected by Superintendent Joe A. Hairston at least $4 million over the past decade without seeking competitive offers from other companies.

In doing so, procurement experts say, the school system did not follow commonly accepted purchasing practices that would have required the system to fully explore whether similar products were on the market. ...

The school system first awarded the contract, for a student data tracking system, in November 2000 to EduTrax, four months after Hairston left the superintendent's job in the Clayton County public school system in Georgia to come to Baltimore County. EduTrax is owned by Steve Holmes, who worked as Clayton County's technology officer under Hairston and started the company that year.
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-county-software-contract-20110208,0,171096.story?page=1


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Jump Rope for Heart needs volunteers


RFES is in need of volunteers for the Jump Rope for Heart event on February 28th. The volunteers would be helping to managing the jump stations as well as transitioning groups from station to station. Ideally, we are looking for about 20 people to help from 3:45 to 5:15. (So far only five people have signed up.)

Please contact Trisha Schwab if you can help out at this fun event.
trishaschwab(at)verizon.net


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Stoneleigh overcrowding meeting set for Feb. 23

Their past two scheduled meetings were canceled because of snow closings. The new one is Feb. 23:

Third time’s a charm, right? A critical community-wide meeting on overcrowding at Stoneleigh Elementary has been rescheduled:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 7:00pm at Stoneleigh Elementary School, 900 Pemberton Road, in the cafeteria.

Baltimore County Public Schools’ Office of Strategic Planning representatives are attending. Please come hear how the county plans to meet upcoming challenges from overcrowding.

We need a large community turnout at this meeting. Even if you do not have children presently at Stoneleigh, please come to support your community at this meeting!

If Baltimore County Public Schools are closed for inclement weather that day, the meeting will be cancelled.

from Stoneleigh United
stoneleigh-united@googlegroups.com


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BCPS meeting tonight will discuss craft-fair ban

A message from the folks fighting the ban on craft fairs:

PLEASE ATTEND THE BALTIMORE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, TO HEAR ABOUT RULE 1300 AND THE PERMANENT BAN ON CRAFT FAIRS

The open session of the meeting begins at 7:00, in the ESS Building, Room 114, on the Greenwood Campus, 6901 Charles Street, in Towson. BCPS has prepared a report on the use of school facilities and Rule 1300.

We need a big turnout at this meeting!

If your school and/or your PTA, or local group, have been affected by BCPS prohibiting community-based activities that benefit your school, please come to this meeting!

There is public comment time at the end of this meeting: 10 people will be chosen to speak, each will be allowed 3 minutes of speaking time.

Link to story on Fox 45 news on the banning of Craft Fairs in late January:

http://www.foxbaltimore.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wbff_vid_6453.shtml

Link to Baltimore Sun article on the ban:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-school-officials-ban-craft-f20110114,0,3148573.story


Hope to see you at 7 pm! Some of us will wear red tape to express our frustration with BCPS and their interpretation of this rule! You can too!


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Disney moves to market it hasn't yet tapped -- newborns

This New York Times article just makes me sick to my stomach. When is this rampant consumerism going to stop? And photographers coming through maternity wards promoting Disney products without disclosing their relationships? It's just wrong.

... “To get that mom thinking about her family’s first park experience before her baby is even born is a home run,” [a Disney executive] said, adding that a surprisingly large number of families do not become consumers of Disney products until their children reach preschool age, when they start to watch Disney Channel programs like “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/business/media/07disney.html?_r=2&sq=disney%20baby&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=1&adxnnlx=1297170023-HICqpt34OMFMUBldERscBg


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Monday, February 7, 2011

County approves expansion of speed cameras

Read about it in Patch.com. (BTW, did you know Patch is owned by AOL, which is now buying the Huffington Post?)


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Share your love story with The Sun


My friend Leeann asked me to post this. She is very nice and would make this fun: "The Baltimore Sun is looking for people who are willing to share the story of how they fell in love for a video Valentine’s Day feature. You would go to The Sun's office and it should only take a few minutes. We’re looking for a variety of couples. If you’re not camera shy and are willing to share your story, please email leeann.adams@baltsun.com."


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"Stoneleigh United" is formed

We wanted to inform you of a new Google group that was recently created to keep the community informed about the efforts being made to address overcrowding at Stoneleigh Elementary School. Whether you have children at Stoneleigh now, will have children at Stoneleigh in the future or are just a member of the Stoneleigh community this issue impacts you. The health of our community elementary school is vital to the health of our neighborhood and our property values. Please read the information below and consider signing up.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stoneleigh United was created by a group of parents who feel very strongly that the growing and worsening overcrowding situation at Stoneleigh Elementary School must be addressed. For those who are not aware, SES was not funded for an addition this year as the community had expected. Our schoolhouse is 130 students over capacity, and is one of the oldest schoolhouses in the county. With narrow hallways, aging plumbing, and lack of classroom space, we are running out of adequate solutions. If you have questions, would like to stay informed about the progress on this issue or want to participate in our discussions and activities, please contact us by e-mail at stoneleighunited@gmail.com or visit us at http://groups.google.com/group/stoneleigh-united
to join.


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Latest crime report

Including a burglary on Heathfield. Read it here.


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Art volunteers needed at Rodgers Forge Elementary

Your child’s art teacher, Ms. Kotapish, needs volunteers to help her prepare Rodgers Forge students’ artwork for display in three up coming art shows and throughout the school. Come to the ART ROOM after school this Wednesday to meet Ms. Kotapish and to help get the fabulous works of art ready for show. Refreshments will be available and helpful children are welcome.

If you can’t make it on Wednesday or would prefer to come in during school hours, just let me know when you’re available so that Ms. Kotapish knows when to expect you. She is spending most evenings at school these days and would be glad for help then as well.

Remember, all volunteers must have attended a training session.

Please come in to say “Hello” and lend a hand!

Amanda Kastner

Volunteer Coordinator

amanda.kastner1 (at) verizon.net


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Football primer

Re-running this primer for any non-regular-football-watchers who, like me, are going to a SuperBowl party and will have more fun if they sort of understand what's going on:

Basically, each team has four chances to go 10 yards with the ball, before possession of the ball is given back to the other team. Each chance is called a "down," so, for example, when a team first gets possession of the ball, the referee will say, "First and 10," meaning that it is the first down and the team has the full 10 yards to go. During each down, a "play," or strategy, is used to best move the ball down the field. During each play, only one forward pass is allowed, but lateral or backward passes are always acceptable.


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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chocolate, Music and More: An Evening of Decadence

Presented by Govans Presbyterian Church and the New Wave Singers

Saturday, February 12th
8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Govans Presbyterian Church

Enjoy an evening of chocolate, wine and entertainment just in time for Valentine’s Day. Live music will be performed by the New Wave Singers. Sample unique chocolate creations and vote for your favorite. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners and door prizes are included in the fun. The cost of $25 per person includes food, wine and live music. Tickets are limited, so don’t delay!

This event is co-sponsored by Govans Presbyterian Church, a welcoming, progressive Christian church, and The New Wave Singers, a choral community of LGBT and straight singers in Baltimore making music that matters. All proceeds will benefit Govans Presbyterian Church and the New Wave Singers.

You can enter a delectable chocolate creation in the competition!


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Friday, February 4, 2011

Delegation wants task force on Baltimore County school board selection

Towson Times: The chairs of the Baltimore County Senate and House delegations, Sen. Kathy Klausmeier and Delegate John Olszewski Jr., this week introduced legislation in Annapolis that would create task force charged with deciding how Baltimore County Board of Education members are selected.

The task force would be charged with determining various methods of selection, including appointment, election or a hybrid of appointment and election — and the use of a nominating convention. ... Read more here.


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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rodgers Forge resident flips it to Google street view

This is from a friend of mine in Rodgers Forge, who is, as you can see, hilarious. Consider this a cautionary tale, and remember that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you.


"I went through a period of time when most of my rants were directed toward Google earth and how weirded out and privacy-invaded I felt because when you look at the street view of my place, you can totally see into my backyard and kitchen. I felt it made a potential criminal's job much easier, and of course, worried that "the man" was watching.

I floated, and rejected for good reason, several Google-thwarting ideas:

1. A "F... Google Earth" banner on my deck, rejected out of respect for my neighbors and the newly literate children on the street

2. Just hanging out naked in my back yard all the time so that they would not be able to show my back yard, also rejected out of respect for my neighbors

3. Spelling out "F... Google" on my roof, so that it could be seen from space, rejected because of my fear of heights.

I kept ranting, of course, and one day, last summer, a car drove down our street while we were hanging out outside. It had a weird piece of equipment on top and was driving quickly. I saw my chance to peacefully protest! Nobody believed that it was a Google-mobile and chided me for my total lack of class.

Then, yesterday, my neighbor looked up his address and lo-and-behold, this came up! Yes, that is me.

It is totally making me happy. Not my finest moment, but when things are quiet, I think of this and giggle to myself.

And, I'm really glad I didn't do the naked thing.
Peace."


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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Police say: Shovel your walk, and no chairs in the street


Good Afternoon All,

Winter has once again graced the Baltimore area and with the fall of snow comes the display of lawn furniture and other household items along the curbsides of our streets, the need to clear our walkways of the snow and the influx of many telephone complaints to our 9-1-1 system, Precinct and Outreach Office in reference to these issues.

Please get the word out to your residents and any businesses that may be part of your community that they are responsible for removing the snow from the sidewalks that are part of their property. I understand when the snow is deep and the plows pile more on top as they clear the roads that this is not an easy task but it is one that needs to be undertaken anyway.

The sooner we clear the sidewalks the safer it is for pedestrians and school children waiting for the bus--with this last snow a couple of people lost their lives because they had to walk in the street since the walks were not clear.

As for those communities that have many vehicles parked along the street please remind everyone that once they pull their vehicle away from the curb that spot is now available to the next driver who comes along looking for a parking spot. Public roads are just that--PUBLIC--meaning that an open parking spot along the curb is open to anyone who comes along.

I know that parking is a premium in communities such as Rodgers Forge, Ridgeleigh, Loch Raven and Anneslie to name a few here in Towson, but there are many other similar communities throughout Baltimore County and the City that face the same exact dilemma every time it snows. I recognize how time consuming and strenuous it is to dig one's vehicle out of the snow and then to not have that space available upon returning is frustrating but everyone needs to understand that's what happens in large residential communities that have limited parking which includes parking on the street.

Placing lawn furniture or other items in the street to "save" one's spot is actually a violation of State Law, these items are "foreign materials" and it is illegal to place such items in the roadway. Residents need to know that once they move their vehicle from the parking space it is no longer their space; their space is where ever they park when they return. Leaving unfriendly, angry, threatening notes on a vehicle that occupies a vacated space or actual verbal/physical confrontations are not acceptable and could lead to further Police involvement and actions.

So please inform your residents to do the right things during snowy weather and avoid the wrong things and before you know it Mother Nature is smiling down upon us once again as the calenders read June, July and August and the thermometers show 100 degree temperatures.

Thank You,
Sgt Fink
Towson Precinct

PS: Here's a story in Patch about chairs in the street in Rodgers Forge.


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When Hairston arrived on the scene in Baltimore County

THE BALTIMORE SUN

February 29, 2000, Tuesday ,FINAL

Ga. educator in line for Balto. Co. post; Announcement due today; superintendent would start in summer

BYLINE: Lynn Anderson and Jay Apperson

SOURCE: SUN STAFF

SECTION: TELEGRAPH ,1A

LENGTH: 1376 words



Joseph A. Hairston, a straight-talking administrator whose confrontations with school board members forced him to leave a job in the Atlanta suburbs, is expected to be named Baltimore County's next superintendent today.

The appointment will wrap up a nationwide search for a schools chief to replace Anthony G. Marchione, who is retiring. Hairston, who led the Clayton County school system for five years before resigning last month, is expected to take control of the county's 106,000-student system this summer, sources said.

"I've always been impressed with the Baltimore County school system and community," Hairston said yesterday. He worked for about 25 years in Prince George's County as a teacher, principal and area superintendent before leaving for Georgia.



As superintendent of the Clayton County, Ga., system, Hairston brought computers to every classroom and made sure teachers knew how to use them to help children. He held teachers and students to high standards.

But Hairston, 53, was also known to butt heads with community leaders and educators who saw him as a man who tried to push through policy changes and programs without first building support for them.

"What did him in wasn't his educational expertise but the good-old-boy network," said Drew Allbritten, executive director of the Georgia Association of Educators, which represents about 1,500 teachers, administrators and support staff in Clayton.

Members of the Baltimore County school board visited Hairston and interviewed former colleagues in Clayton County on Friday. Board members met Sunday at an undisclosed location to discuss their findings; the session's secrecy was typical of that surrounding the search since November.

Hairston resigned in Clayton largely because of political pressure from school board members.

"It's unfortunate that he got caught up in local politics," said Allbritten. "He became the Ping-Pong ball of various board agendas, which made his job virtually impossible."

Jonesboro, the Clayton County seat, is a small city whose Main Street hugs the Norfolk Southern rail line. It boasts of being the site of a key Civil War battle and the setting for the epic novel "Gone With the Wind."

Besides "Gone With the Wind" merchandise, the visitors center displays an item from more contemporary culture: an autographed glossy photograph of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. The cover of the group's "Pronounced" album shows the band members on Main Street.

For generations a farming community, Clayton County became a blue-collar suburb of Atlanta in the 1950s and '60s. But Atlanta's rise as an employment center changed the face of the county, with many middle-class and professional blacks settling in the area more recently, said Steve Rieck, president of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce.

Changes in runway configurations at nearby Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport caused a drop in property values, which led to the first wave of Hispanic and Asian migration, Rieck said.

Clayton County schools were slow to react to the change in ethnic and cultural diversity -- until Hairston arrived.

Hairston was a man of many firsts in Clayton County -- the first African-American superintendent, the first appointed superintendent and the first schools chief from another state.

But a fractured school board made Hairston's life miserable.

"Frankly, I'd have to characterize it as a dysfunctional board," said Rieck. "They have a hard time getting together on the simplest of issues.

"I sensed a growing frustration in terms of Joe's ability to help the school board" get what the issues were. "They have a tendency to want to micromanage the system; maybe he felt he was being undercut."

Hairston's most outspoken critic in Georgia was John Trotter, executive director of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators, who says the former superintendent shoved him during a 1997 board meeting. A magistrate later dismissed charges of simple battery against Hairston, a former football player.

Sour relations

"We didn't like him," said Trotter, referring to his group, whose members include three Clayton County school board representatives. "He was very heavy-handed, very impersonal, very distant and very aloof. He wanted to blame teachers for any shortcomings."

Trotter and other critics said Hairston never caught on to the Southern way of doing business -- and that it caused him trouble in his professional career.

"We're a little more gracious down here," said Trotter. "We have gentility. He came down here with his Northern ways and it just didn't work out."

Allbritten, the other union leader, said Hairston didn't like to play social and political games with elected officials and other community groups.

"He could have made more time to make better friends with the power brokers," said Allbritten, "but he came to a system that was in trouble -- he was always about kids."

Allbritten recalled a time when Hairston -- without speaking to union representatives -- implemented new performance reviews for principals. When the results were released and some principals were shown in need of improvement, Hairston caught a nasty backlash.

"What we were trying to do was at least hear him out," Allbritten said, referring to Hairston's ideas and proposals. "But that wasn't the agenda for other folks."

Criticized for bluntness

Hairston's bluntness and fast-paced management style didn't go over well with some system employees and community members.

"If there's a 'people' weakness anywhere, it's that Hairston says , 'I'm doing the right thing, and I'm sorry, if you can't see this is the right thing to do, then there isn't a whole lot we can do to make you see this is the right thing to do,' " said Rieck.

Word of Hairston's imminent appointment -- and his career history -- make some in the Baltimore County school system nervous.

"I understand that he is real good with technology, but I'm not sure he knows how to deal with teacher morale," said Mark Beytin, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County. "That's my biggest concern."

The Clayton school system lost about 1,000 teachers during Hairston's tenure, many of them because of morale problems, Trotter said.

" Employee morale hit rock bottom here," Trotter said. "It got so low you could scrape it up like Silly Putty."

Tried to work with teachers

Hairston said yesterday that he tried to work with teachers in Clayton. His wife, Lillian, has been a high school history teacher for 29 years, he said, adding that teachers in Baltimore County should "relax" because any decisions he makes will be "predicated on the values of the community."

At Clayton's Forest Park High School, there is mostly praise for Hairston, who was the driving force behind the school system's computer repair program, said Principal Jeff Hunt.

Students in the high school's "PC systems lab" learn to repair personal computers. Yesterday, in a room lined with two dozen computers, one student new to computers removed the cover of one to explore its inner landscape, learning to tell the mother board from a memory card.

Other, more advanced students were learning to move a small electrical conductor to allow a repair technician to bypass a user's password. Third-year students are eligible for apprenticeships at computer stores or at the school system's Management Information Systems division.

"It's all very tangible," Hunt said. "They get out of here at 2 o'clock, we give them an MIS radio and tell them, 'Go fix things.' "

'Time to move on'

Despite successes such as the computer repair program at Forest Park, the wear and tear of poor school board relations was too great for Hairston. In the end, he knew he had to leave or "go out the back door," former associates said.

"Joe was fast approaching the point where he had done all he could to bring new innovations into the system," said Rieck. "It was perhaps time for him to look at other opportunities."

Hairston said he felt that the timing was right.

"I played the role that I had to, but as far as my career is concerned, it was time to move on," he said. "It was time to move on to the next dimension."



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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flamenco workshop at Towson U dance

Date: February 12, 19, 26 & March 5, 12, 19
Time: 1:30-2:30 PM
Location: Center for the Arts – Studio 1006
Ages: 7-11
Cost: Cost $5 per workshop/ $30 for ALL 6…No registration fee!
Attire: Leotard, dance pants, dress shoes

Description: "An introductory workshop into the beautiful traditional Spanish Dance of Flamenco. Instructed by Pre-Professional Student Lydia Johnson Gallegos, students will learn the origin and preparatory skills of this dynamic style of this dance."

Please contact the TUCDD Administrative Office for further information and registration.

Lacey Marousek
Educational Services Assistant
Towson University Children's Dance Division
410-704-3495
http://www.towson.edu/dance/cdd/


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Spots still available for Valentine's cooking class this Sunday

All kids 8 years of age and up are invited to a special, just for fun holiday cooking class. We will make yummy Valentine's treats and there will be plenty to bring home. Your child will improve his or her cooking skills while having a great time making delicious treats!

This class is for kids only - parents take the afternoon off! Pre-registration is required. Sunday February 6, 2011 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e39szku81cf2fd7d&llr=8gkdxkdab


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County schools closed

If you checked earlier today you would have seen notice of a 2-hour delay. It was revised at 6:53 to fully canceled.

Sent from my cell.


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