Thursday, June 30, 2011

Groupon for half off at Bread and Circuses in Towson


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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Code enforcement says rat problem not widespread

Councilman David Marks requested a code enforcement sweep of Rodgers Forge, but the department could not do a full neighborhood sweep until August, but it agreed to do a limited sweep near the Tot Lot. Here's what they found. Councilman Marks said he'd like to bring code enforcement reps to a RF board meeting, too, to discuss their findings and how the community can avoid rats.

Councilman Marks,

With regard to the playground at Rodgers Forge, while we are certain that rats and other rodents/animals are extant in Rodgers Forge, there is simply no evidence to support the claim of widespread rodent activity in or around the Tot Lot as stated by the community association, and reported in at least two on-line news services.

Inspector Chen and I personally walked the entire grounds of the property to include the sand boxes, swing and play areas, the areas around and under trees, shrubs and trash cans as well as other open areas of the playground. We inspected the rear areas of the homes on both sides of the alley as well and no evidence of burrows, droppings or "rat runs" were seen in or near any portion of the area.

The only thing we saw that may be attractive to rats were the several open top 55 gallon drum type trash cans on the site. These were covered with flies and were found to contain dirty diapers, discarded food items and animal feces. Our recommendation would be to remove these cans and encourage park goers to take these kinds of items home with them as they would certainly attract animals of some kind.

Additionally, we will deploy a third inspector into the area on Monday [two days ago] to take a closer look at other areas. Let me know if there are any specific sites or homes in the area that need our attention or how we may be of further service in any way.


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Information about Rodgers Forge covenants

The proposed kitchen expansion at 300 Hopkins that the board is seeking to halt has people asking some interesting questions: What exactly are the covenants, and what do they allow and what do they prohibit? Why have some covenants expired and others have not? Why haven't I seen the covenants and where can I find them?

I'm not a lawyer and I have no expertise in property law, so please understand that this post is just a layman's view of the situation; it is not a legal opinion nor is it legal advice.



Covenants are legal documents that run with the land and they are filed in the county courthouse. They are similar to your deed and they say what may or may not be built or altered on your property. Many neighborhoods, including Wiltondale, Homeland and Gaywood, post their covenants online. Stoneleigh is no longer governed by covenants.

Covenants should not be confused with the “guidelines” that are published in the Rodgers Forge phone directories that discuss height of fences, size of decks, color of awnings, not keeping a bike on your porch, etc. A covenant is basically a legal way of saying, "We, the developers, are setting up a few basic rules for these homes and later if individual owners want to alter the exterior of their homes, they must get permission." Covenants can only be changed through specific legal channels and with homeowners' signed approval.

The guidelines, on the other hand, are what the board has created in order to tell homeowners what types of changes it will and won't approve. The guidelines can change at any time as long as a majority of board members agree to the change. (More on the guidelines in a moment.)

Originally, the Keelty Company had the right to enforce the covenants, but in 1960 it signed over that right to the Rodgers Forge board.

ASSORTED COVENANTS

There is no single set of “Rodgers Forge covenants.” They vary depending on when the homes were built. Some covenants cover several blocks and some cover only one side of one block. Some set up restrictions on the property and the house, and some set up restrictions only on the house.

While they can vary from street to street, over the years the board has determined that there are basically three general types of covenants in Rodgers Forge:

The first type covers the blocks of Regester, Murdock, Dunkirk and Hopkins from Pinehurst to York Road, which is the original or “old” section of the neighborhood. These covenants state that they run through 1960 at which time they will “cease.” Click here to see an example of these types of covenants.

The second type of covenant is still in effect and says that “no building shall be erected placed or altered on any building plot in this subdivision until the external design and location thereof have been approved in writing” by the board. There is no mention of changes to the land (fences, landscaping, lawn ornaments, etc.). Click here to see an example.

The third type of covenant is much more detailed and talks about fences and awnings, etc. Click here to see an example
.

WHICH COVENANTS APPLY TO YOU

The board has looked into the issue of covenants at least twice in its history. In 2005, the board created an "architecture task force" to, among other things, determine what covenants covered which blocks; see which covenants were enforceable; get community input on the guidelines; and set up "specific, clear and understandable architectural standards." The task force didn't get very far and fizzled out before any of those goals were completed. But it did hire a title searcher to look up some covenants. In 2007, the leader of that task force wrote a letter to an incoming board member to explain to him what had been found in terms of the covenants.
Click here to read the letter.

Additionally, the board apparently researched covenants extensively in 1967 and issued a detailed list of each block of Rodgers Forge and indicated which block was covered by which general type of covenant. I have not verified that these are all correct but it might be a helpful tool for those interested in seeing the types of covenants that likely run with their property.

In the report you'll see references to documents such as "2043/449." What that means is that the covenant is recorded in the courthouse in book #2043 starting on page 449.

According to the report, here is the block-by-block breakdown of the covenants:

If you live here:
Dunkirk 200-427 both sides
Hopkins 200-427 both sides
Murdock 200-427 both sides
Pinehurst east side
Regester 200-427 both sides
then your house is probably covered by covenants similar to the 965 set


If you live here:
Dumbarton 151-427 odd side
Dunkirk 1-128 both sides
Glen Argyle 109-135 both sides
Hopkins 100-158 both sides
Murdock 1-150 both sides
Overbrook 100-428 both sides
Pinehurst west side
Regester 1-169 both sides
then your house is probably covered by covenants similar to the 1870 set


If you live here:
Brandon 100-252 both sides
Dumbarton 128-206 even side
Lanark 7200-7237 both sides
Stanmore Court 7400-7424 both sides
Stanmore Road 101-344 both sides
Stevenson 101-242 both sides

then your house is probably covered by covenants similar to the 2043 set (note: page 459 is where the more relevant language begins)


If you live here:
Chumleigh 408-426 both sides
Dumbarton 330-340 even side
Dumbarton 402-426 even side
Heathfield 7008-7127 both sides
Heathfield 7128-7140 even side
Heathfield 7129-7133 odd side
Old Trail 400-440 both sides
Rodgers Court 417-425 odd side
Rodgers Court 7100-7122 both sides
Stevenson 401-419 odd side
York 7000-7116 even side
then your house is probably covered by covenants similar to the 2678 set


If you live here:
Old Trail 300-377 both sides
Stevenson 311-323 odd side
then your house is
probably covered by covenants similar to the 2928 set

Again, these are not necessarily the covenants for your particular house, but they are, according to the 1967 report, very similar in language to the ones that run with your property.

COVENANT LAWSUITS

The Rodgers Forge board, on advice from its attorney,
J. Carroll Holzer, maintains that it still has the authority to enforce the covenants that expired in 1960, although it has offered no specifics on why it takes that position. The board declined to comment on questions about covenants because it is waiting to hear the results of the 300 Hopkins variance. (While covenants are not technically at issue in the variance question, the board told the homeowner's attorney that if the variance is granted and she moves ahead with construction, it will file suit to stop her based on covenant restrictions.) The board indicated it might discuss at its next meeting, which is August 31, the possibility of at some point commenting on covenants.

The board has filed several covenant-related lawsuits in the past. A few years ago it sued homeowners on Lanark Road, which is in the newer section where the covenants have not expired, after the owners put a roof over their deck without first seeking board approval. The homeowners decided to tear down the roof and move to a new neighborhood rather than fight in court, so no ruling was ever made.

I'm not aware of any case in which the board sued someone on the basis of a covenant violation in the expired section after 1960. Indeed, about 15 years ago the owner of 300 Hopkins (in the "expired" section) enclosed her front porch with glass windows even after the board denied her request to do so, and no action was taken.

When the board went to court to fight a kitchen expansion at 201 Murdock (also the "old" section), the covenants were brought up but Holzer did not provide the judge with a copy of the covenants, according to the ruling, which was in favor of the homeowners.

CHANGING THE COVENANTS

While the covenants are often considered to be written in stone, they can be changed. Near the end of each covenant document, as evidenced in the above examples, there is language that explains how this can be done (except for those that expired in 1960). Generally, it requires a certain percentage of homeowners in the given area to sign off on the change.

That’s what one Rodgers Forge resident did when he wanted to put skylights in his house and the board said no. (He now has the skylights and the board did not take legal action.)
His home is in the non-expired section. Click here to read the abrogation that allowed the skylights.

(The abrogation issue raises an interesting question in my non-law-schooled mind. There is such a thing as a "rule against perpetuities," which means property
contracts can't go on indefinitely; they must have an exit clause. This could be an expiration date, or automatic renewal unless a specified action is taken to stop the renewal, or a process by which the contract can be changed or nullified. But if the board takes the position that the expired covenants have not actually expired, where is the exit clause? There is no mechanism for altering that set of covenants, so without an expiration date they would remain unchanged and in force forever -- in other words, in perpetuity.)

GUIDELINES

Now on to the guidelines.

The Rodgers Forge board has the authority to enforce the covenants. To do so, the board has come up with a set of guidelines. These guidelines, however, should not be confused with the covenants.

The covenants are very limited in their directives. Take the "2043" covenants -- they basically say:
  • you can't carry out a noxious or offensive trade on your property or do something that could become a nuisance to the neighborhood
  • you can't put a shack or barn on your property and live in it
  • garages must be brick, not metallic, and you can't park on your property except in a garage
  • sun rooms are not allowed where plans call for open space but bay windows are OK
  • you can't change the exterior of your home without first getting approval; there is no directive, except for the above points, about what types of changes should or should not be approved
The board is not required to draw up the guidelines such that they enforce all of the covenants. That is left to the board's discretion, per the 1960 transfer of power. For example, some covenants prohibit parking pads and say fences can't be taller than 3.5 feet, but the board allows both parking pads and 6-foot fences. Conversely, the board could perhaps use the "nuisance" section of the covenants to sanction residents who routinely leave trash strewn about the alleys or those who consistently leave large amounts of dog feces in their yards.

Over the past few years, the guidelines have gotten more expansive. For example, the 1995-1996 guidelines (pictured below) took up about half a page of the directory: Today, the guidelines take up five full pages in the directory. Click here to view guidelines dating back to 1992. The guidelines are created by the board’s architectural committee and approved by the board. The guidelines can be changed at any time should a majority of board members vote to do so.

Lastly, it is now possible to look up most covenants online for free, although it can be a somewhat complicated process. I will have an explanatory post on how to look up individual covenants within the next few days.


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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Honor an officer who's got our back

Please join the Baltimore County Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) in honoring Ofc. Heyman as the Officer of the Year for 2010.

About 12 months ago, Ofc Heyman responded to a suspicious subject seen in a neighbor’s yard on Blenhiem Road. The suspect was no longer around when he responded. Ofc. Heyman spent some additional time in the area and noticed a vehicle that did not appear to fit into the area. Upon further investigation, he found the vehicle belonged to an individual in Baltimore City. Ofc. Heyman watched the vehicle and identified the suspect at 3:30 in the morning. He was apprehended. This suspect was also responsible for several cat burglaries in Rodgers Forge.

Cake and Ice Cream will be served. Several Baltimore County Elected Officials have also been invited to attend. Please come by to thank Ofc. Heyman for making Rodgers Forge a little safer.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 – 7:30 PM
Police Community Resource Center
1055 Taylor Avenue


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Friday, June 24, 2011

More runners needed for Team CASA


Join Team CASA at the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival and help abused children reach safe, permanent homes! Team CASA is a team of 100 runners who will run in the full marathon, half marathon, team relay or 5k to raise awareness and funds for Maryland CASA, a nonprofit organization based here in Towson that provides trained volunteers – Court Appointed Special Advocates – who speak up for the best interests of children who have suffered abuse and neglect.

We need 40 more runners to register by June 30th to be accepted as a charity team. Runners who register with Team CASA will pay the lowest registration rates, will receive an official Team CASA nylon running shirt and other promotional items, a free breakfast and lunch on race day, and will be eligible for prizes at various fundraising levels! Go to www.GoTeamCASA.org to register today! For more information, please call 410-828-6761. Thanks!


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Public input accepted for school-board advisory commission

The commission that will look at the "elected vs. appointed" school board issue will hold three public meetings at which the public can testify. Read more in Patch:
http://towson.patch.com/articles/school-board-commission-named-meeting-dates-set


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Rodgers Forge resident to serve on county bike advisory committee

From County Councilman David Marks' office: [Marks] has announced the formation of the Fifth District Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, which will provide input on pedestrian and bicycle issues in Towson, Loch Raven, Parkville, and Perry Hall.

Earlier this year, the Baltimore County Council passed legislation sponsored by Councilman Marks and Councilman Tom Quirk that created a Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. That same law allowed each Councilmember to form their own version of the committee within his or her district. The Fifth District version will meet three times a year.

Members of the Fifth District Committee are Robert Carson; Nate Evans; Ann Greenbaum; Tom Henry; Allysha Lorber; Allan Massie; Pat Rooney; Tom Rose; Wendy Samuels, and Stu Sirota [of Rodgers Forge]. Members come from throughout the Fifth District.

The first meeting of the Fifth District committee will be held on Wednesday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the offices of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, 44 West Chesapeake Avenue. There is parking along the street. Stu Sirota from Rodgers Forge will be talking about that community's Safe Routes to School initiative, and Nate Evans will be discussing some of the ways Baltimore City has made its transportation system more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. The public is welcome to attend.

For more information, contact Councilman Marks at (410) 887-3384.


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kids' Creativity Workshop this Saturday

Saturday, June 25 -- Noon -3pm FREE, at Green Spring Station

"Take a break from the pool and play all things creative with us and some great “creative” friends including Urban Farmhouse, Charm City Kids and Chesapeake Cupcakes.

Schedule of Events:
1pm: Charm City Kids Club “Minishakers” music class

Ongoing Noon – 3pm: Pastry Chef for a Day with Chesapeake Cupcake. Plenty of cupcakes on hand to allow your little one to create their very own cupcake specialty decorations. Urban Farmhouse invites the kids to explore the use of herbs and spices in the culinary arts. Kids will be asked to describe a variety of herbs and spices based on how they look, smell, and taste, and will learn about their culinary uses and even make their own special blend! And, Charm City Kids Club will lead the little ones in a unique duct tape craft."
http://greenspringstation.com/events/


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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fireworks in Baltimore County


Here's a list from Patch.com of where you can see them:
http://towson.patch.com/articles/baltimore-county-announces-2011-fireworks-displays


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Rats: No "sweep" for RF but county will look at specific properties

The official RF blog reported that the county would be doing a code-enforcement sweep of the neighborhood looking for code violations (trash cans without lids, etc), but now it turns out the county is too booked to do it right away.

From Councilman Marks:

"We were told that due to limited staffing, a coordinated sweep for rat infestation would not occur until August. That is simply too long, so our office pushed for Code Enforcement to have an inspector walk the neighborhood to look at specific properties that the community association may feel could be contributing to the problem. ... Thanks, David"

The RF board asks that you alert it to any particular trouble spots in the neighborhood. You can contact wtylermays@gmail.com. (Please don't post any specific addresses in the comment section of this post b/c I won't publish them for privacy reasons. Thanks!)


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hail to the Chief (of Rodgers Forge Elementary's SGA)

Congratulations to Luke Millard, who was just elected president of the Student Government Association of RFES for next year, when he will enter 5th grade. Here's a Q&A with Luke:

Why did you decide to run for president?


I wanted our school to become an even better place.

What was your platform? (What did you tell students you would do as president?)

I wasn't allowed to make any promises. I was allowed to say what my traits are, like honest and open-minded.

What are you hoping to accomplish as president?

I am hoping to accomplish a garden in the place where the trailers used to be.

What's the best thing about Rodgers Forge Elementary?

There are many things. One is the amazing teachers, and fun events by the SGA.

Are you still required to do chores around the house, or does that no longer fit into your schedule?

Yes, my Mom says being President does not effect my chores! LOL

What else would you like to say to the people of Rodgers Forge and the students of RFES?

I would like to say that I am open to any recommendations.


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Monday, June 20, 2011

Recap of variance hearing for 300 Hopkins

The hearing on the requested variance at 300 Hopkins was held on Friday. The Rodgers Forge Community Association was there to oppose the variance, and several area residents were there to speak in support of it.

The owner, Christiane Rothbaum, is seeking to enclose her back porch in order to extend her kitchen and add a powder room to the back of the kitchen. She suffers from incontinence, had an unsuccessful operation three years ago to cure it, and has a note from her doctor explaining that she needs a first-floor powder room.

The board was represented by David Lampton, an RF resident who used to be on the board, who is still on the architectural committee, and who appeared on behalf of the board for free. He argued that in order for the court to grant the variance, the homeowner must prove the following two conditions, as established by the case Cromwell v. Ward: 1) that her property is unique and therefore specially affected by the zoning regulations, and 2) that she faces a hardship if the variance is not granted.

Rothbaum's attorney, Francis Borgerding, argued that because her home as built does not meet current zoning rules (which were established a decade or so after the home was built), she faces a unique situation. That is, the mere existence of her home is against county code. He said her yard also tapers and creates even less space than neighbors have. The incontinence is the hardship.

Lampton argued that if her home is unique, then every home in the older section of RF is unique. Later in the hearing, when testifying as simply a resident, Lampton said that he doesn't want to open the door to additions because he likes to grill and that he places his grill close to his house. If his neighbors on both sides built additions, he said, the smoke would have nowhere to go.

The two sides debated whether it was possible to add a powder room without bumping out the kitchen. The board said it had been done in other homes, and pointed to an example at 400 Old Trail, with photos. Her architect said the bathroom there did not meet today's standards and probably wouldn't meet code. One of Rothbaum's supporters then dashed off to the zoning office and came back with a report saying there was no record of a permit for that bathroom. (It was added to the house before the current owner bought it.) Rothbaum's architect said that it would not be aesthetically pleasing to have a bathroom in the corner of of the dining room or in the corner of the living room.

Jean Duvall, a board member for the past 40 years and the head of the architectural committee, testified that Rodgers Forge can't allow any home additions because it has already lost too much open space. When the neighborhood was created in the 1930s it was surrounded by farms and open land, she said. But today it's surrounded by Towson University, GBMC, St. Joseph's, etc., and those entities block airflow and light into the community. She also said the tall wood fences that have become prevalent in Rodgers Forge also mean air and light are blocked -- and so we can't have more home additions.* The board circulated a letter stating as much, pictured above, and asked people to sign it and submit it to the judge. I don't know how many signatures they garnered.

*After the hearing I asked Mrs. Duvall why the board allows 6-foot fences if they are so detrimental to the flow air and light. She said because the county allows them and people want them. I noted that the county allows many things that the board prohibits, and she then ended our conversation. I personally thought it was relevant because if my neighbors on both sides got rid of their chain-link fences and instead put up 6-foot-high privacy fences, that would change my yard's atmosphere quite a bit. But I digress.

Ms. Rothbaum's architect testified that he walked through her alley and estimated that 25 percent of the homes have similar additions, although Lampton contended that some were several feet smaller. Duvall argued that although anyone can stroll through the alleys of RF and see dozens of additions similar to what Ms. Rothbaum wants, those additions were built at the same time the homes were constructed and that for the above reasons (air and light) the board can't allow any more of them.

Ms. Rothbaum's architect disputed this. Based on numerous architectural rules that would have applied to the porches in the 1930s -- mainly that they would have had slate roofs and had a certain pitch -- he was quite certain many of the additions were not original to the homes.

Lampton asked Duvall if the board goes around the neighborhood looking for architectural violations and she said, "No, we are not a vigilante group." He then asked if she could think of a case where someone put an addition onto a home that the board had not approved and that the board later did not contest. She didn't answer the question directly but said that she didn't "recall acting as a participant in building anything new."

Duvall also mentioned that RF is governed by covenants, and later Rothbaum's attorney asked if it was true that the covenants in Rothbaum's part of RF expired in 1960. Lampton jumped out of his seat and objected to the question, saying that was a legal issue, that Duvall is not an expert in this area, and that this case is not about the covenants. The judge, Lawrence Stahl, pointed out that it was Duvall who raised the issue of covenants. Duvall then stated that the covenants are still in effect and "we've had a number of attorneys go over it."

Roxanne Rinehart, a board member, suggested that Rothbaum should add a chair lift to access the second floor and also put a potty chair in the living room, as Rinehart has done for her 99-year-old aunt who lives with her.

Rothbaum's attorney asked Rinehart if she was aware of a certain home on Regester that had put a brand-new addition on recently and she said that she gets home from work fairly late and had no knowledge of it.

Carol Zielke, another board member, said she spent a lot of time cutting and pasting pieces of paper together to show the judge how Rothbaum could fit a bathroom into her first floor without bumping out her kitchen. The judge politely said that was not really the issue at hand because she is not an architect, and asked her to jump to her conclusion. Zielke said houses in that part of the neighborhood had additions when she moved in, but she complained that they have gotten new exteriors and gotten bigger. She said "We [I don't know if she meant her family or the board] complained to the county but nothing was done."

Board president Jennifer Helfrich was at the hearing but had to leave before it was her turn to speak (the hearing lasted 3.5 hours) and turned in a handwritten statement in lieu of testifying.

Rothbaum had several signed documents from neighbors, including the owners of the house next door, saying they were in favor of the enclosure. Additionally, several RF residents spoke in favor of it:

Jeff Blomgren said he is a structural engineer and that from a design perspective he thinks her plan is appropriate for the neighborhood. He said he loves the eclectic nature of Rodgers Forge and that no block, save for the red brick and the 6-over-6 windows, is the same.

Laurence Fogelson testified that his house has a bump-out in the back that was there when he bought it more than 10 years ago. He said he thinks Rothbaum's proposed addition would be aesthetically pleasing and an improvement over how it looks now.

Joan Haas testified that she walks her dogs all over RF and that Ms. Rothbaum's house is the most beautiful in the neighborhood. She said she's seen many trashy homes that are not being addressed by the board and that the board is shooting itself in the foot by questioning people who are working to improve the community.

Mark Stein, who rents the home next door to Ms. Rothbaum, said that her home raises property values in the area. Ms. Rothbaum trims the grass edges with a scissors to make sure they are perfect and that she always decorates beautifully at the holidays, he added.

Art Buist, a former board member, testified that he collected signatures of 25 homeowners in the area that support her addition. (Lampton questioned the authenticity of one of the signatures.) He said the additions in RF are not uniform and are randomly placed.

Karl Pfrommer, a former RF resident and former board member, testified that the board had in fact approved additions in the past, particularly one on the odd side of Glen Argyle Road that is made of brick.

Judge Stahl said he will issue his decision in the next two to three weeks. If either party appeals it, the case will start again from scratch and none of the testimony at Friday's hearing will be taken into consideration.


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Lost dog

Dog was lost in Dumbarton area yesterday. Call Beth at 410.200.3835 if you have info.


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Latest crime report

Includes the armed robberies at 7-11 and Royal Farms. Read it here.


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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Towson COP honors safety leaders

At the recent Feet on the Street -- read about it and see photos in Patch.com.


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Towson University says compaints about students decline

Here's the story in Patch.com.


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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Raising money for cancer research

"I want to let as many people as possible know that every weekday from Noon-1:30pm June 20th thru July 8th I will be selling “refreshments” outside at Dumbarton Middle School.

All the money I raise will go to Spencer’s Friends Foundation. SFF was founded by close friends of mine after they lost their son, Spencer, to cancer. SFF is a non profit organization whose fundamental belief is that children should not suffer from cancer. It’s mission is to provide funding for pediatric cancer research and to assist those children and their families suffering from cancer.

So many of us have been touched by cancer. Please come out and support me as I attempt to raise money to support children and their families battling cancer."

--Abby Osmeyer


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Friday, June 17, 2011

Owner of Padonia Park charged with having child porn

Here's the story from WJZ, which first reported it, and a short piece in The Sun.

He is not charged with having improper contact with children, but it's still very disconcerting. Are you a member here? What's your reaction?


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Futon bunk beds recalled after death


Details here.


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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival this Saturday


This sounds pretty neat!

Hey Kris,

I wanted to let you know about a festival I’m producing this weekend at Creative Alliance in Highlandtown. I live in the Forge with my wife and kids. I’m the folklorist at the Maryland State Arts Council, where I co-direct Maryland Traditions. Maryland Traditions presents events and programs that document and celebrate traditional arts and culture in Maryland.

This Saturday (June 18) is the Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival. It’s a rain-or-shine event, indoor-and-outdoor, with two stages of music featuring 14 performing groups. The festival will be at Creative Alliance on Eastern Ave in Highlandtown – a couple blocks from Patterson Park, and runs from 10am-7pm. There’s free parking and free shuttle service running from the Brewer’s Hill parking lot, which is only .5 mile from the festival site.

The music at the festival will be fabulous – from country blues and gospel to honky-tonk and West African music. The headliners are Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun (dieselbilly/honky-tonk), the Legendary Orioles (doo-wop), and Billy McComiskey (Irish). There will be over 50 artists participating – all from Maryland – and there will be a large tented causeway where different artists will be demonstrating their work. We’ll have instrument-makers, weavers, decoy carvers, Smith Island cake bakers, and so on. The whole thing is organized in a way where people can talk to the artists about what they do, and learn a little about the communities behind the music.

We’ve made a point of creating this as a family-friendly event. So there will be some of the usual staples of that – face painting, balloons, ice cream, etc. – but there will also be some pretty cool workshops that people typically don’t get to get their kids involved in. We’ll have several master folk artists teaching free workshops – aimed at kids – on Ukranian egg painting, Mexican folk dancing (they can dance to a live mariachi group), Screen Painting (Baltimore painted screens – old local folk tradition), and Indian kolam painting (South Asian sand paintings) to name a few.

Lastly, the food will be excellent – we’ll have German, Mexican, Nepalese/Indian, BBQ, Stuffed Ham, Crabs, locally-made Ice Cream, and Soul Food.

You can find info about the festival here: www.marylandtraditions.org/festival


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Careful parking near the schools today and tomorrow

Hey Kris, it's too late for today but you might want to post something concerning illegal parking during graduation ceremonies. A guy from Baltimore County Parking Enforcement is out
on Dumbarton now ticketing people left & right. I've only seen him in the neighborhood when big events occur at the schools. I bet he'll be out in the Forge tomorrow.
We all know the trials concerning parking in the neighborhood and I'm sure people don't want to come out & find a ticket on their vehicle after such a joyous and important occasion such
as graduation.
Thanks.
Rob


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Hearing on 300 Hopkins is tomorrow



The hearing on whether the owner of 300 Hopkins will be granted a variance for her proposed addition will be held on Friday, June 17, 2011, at 10:00 am in the county office building at 105 W. Chesapeake Avenue, room 104. The homeowner wants to enclose her existing porch in the back. (See photos above of the porch she has and the proposed enclosure.)

The Rodgers Forge board is fighting the variance in order to prevent the addition.

Anyone can come to the hearing and share their thoughts. You don't need to sign up ahead of time; just show up, sign in, and when the judge asks if anyone wants to speak, raise your hand.

When I called to get hearing details, the county clerk told me people can also write letters to the zoning department, which will go to the judge. Letters can be submitted before the hearing or at the hearing, but nothing will be accepted after the hearing.

Letters should go to:
Managing Administrative Law Judge Lawrence Stahl
105 W. Chesapeake Ave.
Room 103
Towson, MD 21204

The county says be sure to include the case number (2011-0302-A) and the home address (300 Hopkins) at the top of your letter.

Read more about the proposed plan here:
http://www.forgeflyer.com/2011/05/rodgers-forge-board-hires-lawyer-to.html


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Latest crime report - Towson mall armed robbery

Read it here. Includes armed robbery with semi-automatic at Towson Town mall. Read more about this in Patch.


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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New pick-your-own farm

It's organic! Located in Baldwin.

OPENING JUNE 18TH FOR PICK YOUR OWN BLUEBERRIES!!!!

At Hybridoma, we grow the berries -- and invite you to come join us in the harvest!

As the stewards of Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm, we are committed to good stewardship of this farm and its land. We believe that food grown organically is better for the environment, the body and the soul. We are excited to invite you to visit the farm and experience for yourself, in season, the delicious fruits of our labor!
www.hybridomafarm.com


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7-11 on Charles at Stevenson robbed last night

A Rodgers Forgian asked me today what all the commotion was last night at about 8:00, as there were numerous police cars flying down Stevenson toward Charles and a police helicopter was flying overhead. I didn't hear any of this, but just called police and they say the 7-11 was robbed. The robber showed a handgun and told the clerk to open the register. The suspect grabbed a bunch of money and ran out of the store. No one was injured, and the robber has not been caught.


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Citizens on Patrol rally at Feet on the Street this Friday

Towson Tims: "It's one of the best nights of the year for both organizations," said chamber executive director Nancy Hafford. "It gives us more feet on the street that night and it gives COP more attractions to draw people to the rally."
http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/baltimorecounty/news/ph-tt-tacop-rally-0608-20110607,0,2640824.story


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Councilman Marks works to overturn in-state tuition to illegal immigrants

Read about his door-to-door campaign in Patch.com. What do you think about his efforts?


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Monday, June 13, 2011

Craft Fair submissions being accepted

Attention Crafters: Space available at a Craft Fair on October 1st at Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church. Table space $25, plus 1 item donated for a silent auction. Bring your own table/display. This is a juried show; hand-crafted items only, please.

Send inquiries and a photo of your art/craft to Maria Wong at MLWong67@gmail.com, or call 410-377-0974. Proceeds from the silent auction benefit mission work of Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church.


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RFCA takes up anti-rat cause

Tyler Mays, vp of the Rodgers Forge board, has contacted Councilman David Marks' office about the rat problem, and they said they are talking to code enforcement about it. Here's Mays' email:

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns regarding a reported rat issue around the Tot Lot area in the Rodgers Forge Community. Please accept this as a formal written request on behalf of the Rodgers Forge Community Association to run a sweep in the Community to address this problem.

I have copied [the homeowner] in this e-mail. She is the concerned resident that I spoke with this morning. Her house borders the tot lot on Dunkirk. The Tot Lot is located in the alley between Blenheim (part of the Gaywood Community) and Dunkirk (Rodgers Forge) and runs
perpendicular to Bellona Avenue. The Tot Lot is county owned property.

She informed me that she noticed a rodent problem within the last few weeks (saw what appeared to be pellets and some holes). After moving some debris this morning at a neighbors house to search for nests, they saw 5 baby rats that scattered immediately. [OH MY GAWD! I WOULD HAVE FREAKED.] She also reports that her husband saw a rat recently.


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Just visited MOM's Organic Market in Timonium


I visited MOM's Organic Market today for the first time. I liked it a lot. It was really clean, well lit, the aisles were wide and they had a ton of stuff. I particularly liked the large bulk section. It's located off York Road in the plaza with Michael's, Kohl's and Old Navy. Photos here:


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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rat problem near the Tot Lot

A homeowner on Dunkirk whose back yard faces the Tot Lot posted on the Rodgers Forge listserv the other day that she and her neighbors have been seeing a lot of rat burrows in their yard and rat droppings in their garages. She said she was hiring an exterminator and wondered if anyone else had problems and wanted to get their yard taken care of and possibly get a group discount.

I spoke to her today and she said she got about 15 emails from neighbors, some of whom live several blocks away. One woman she spoke with, who lives near Blenheim and Bellona, said she had an exterminator come and he opened her trash can and out jumped a three-pound rat that quickly scurried away.

"I put sod down about a month ago and I noticed that something had peeled it back," she told me. "I thought my son had done it but then I noticed about five or six slanted holes that are larger than a golf ball and I realized we had a problem."

A while back she and her neighbor were sitting in her back yard when something a bit larger than a squirrel walked toward them then went around to the front of the house. They realized it was a rat, screamed, and it ran onto Dunkirk where it got hit by a car.

She knows of someone else a few blocks away who had a whole nest of them in his wood pile, and he exterminated them himself by grabbing a shovel and beating them to death.

Atlantic Pest Control is coming to her house on Monday to treat her yard and garage and those of two neighbors. She is hoping others will also get their yards serviced and be good about picking up dog feces and getting rid of bird feeders (both of which attract rats). She's also worried that the rats might be attracted to the sand in the Tot Lot sand box. (Ewww!)

She talked to the county but all they will do, they said, is issue citations to people who leave trash cans unlidded, etc. They won't actually do anything to get rid of the rats.

Here are some rat-control tips from Baltimore County:

Be neat. Keep your yard free of trash, debris, high grass or accumulations of building supplies. If you must store materials or equipment outside do so neatly. Organizing and/or elevating stored items helps to reduce harborage and allows you to inspect under and around them more easily.

Don’t feed the rats. You may not realize that pet food, dog manure, open garbage cans or cans without tight fitting lids or bags of garbage, bird seed or other food scraps left outside are an open invitation for rats to visit you and establish a home in your yard. Never put household garbage or food scraps in compost piles.

Cut off their water supply. Dump pails, unused flower pots, toys or equipment in which water can accumulate (standing water also provides a breeding area for mosquitos during the summer months).

Read more here: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/permits/ridrats/ratcontrol.html

Have you seen rats where you live?


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Rodgers Forge picnic is June 18

Picnic is Saturday, June 18 from 11 am to 3:00 pm behind RFES. No pony rides this year, per Baltimore County Public Schools rules that are now more stringently enforced, and no moon bounce because apparently the power kept going out last year and it would deflate. They are supplementing with other games.


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Thursday, June 9, 2011

County schools closing 2 hours early Friday

As per usual.

Sent from my cell.


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Ladew Gardens concert June 12

Concert: Deanna Bogart

Sunday, June 12 - This Maryland-based blues pianist/saxophonist combines the energy of boogie piano with contemporary blues. 6:00 - 8:00 pm. www.deannabogart.com

Concerts are held in the Great Bowl Sunday evenings from 6–8pm. Tickets are available at the door. Admission includes the gardens: Members $7, Adults $15, Seniors & Students $13, Children $3. Picnics, blankets and chairs are welcome, but please, no pets, alcohol or athletic equipment. Food and refreshments are available for purchase. If concerts are cancelled due to weather, a message will be recorded on the information line at least three hours prior to the start of the event. Call (410) 557-9466 and press 5 for event cancellations.

http://www.ladewgardens.com/index2.html


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Are you going to HonFest this weekend?

We used to live in the neighboring area of Wyman Park and went to HonFest a few times but were pretty underwhelmed. Aside from the way it makes fun of a certain type of Baltimore women (I don't think they're being "celebrated"), the fact that Denise Whiting, the owner of Cafe Hon who famously trademarked the word "Hon", is trying to ban politicians from walking on public streets during the festival and not letting anyone else sell cat-eye glasses has put the nail in the HonFest coffin for us.

Read more about the controversy here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bs-ae-honfest-flap-20110603,0,648548.story


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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Campus Hills community yard sale is this Saturday

Starting at 8 a.m.
www.campushills.org


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Baltimore County schools closing 2 hours early Thursday, June 9

BCPS: Due to extreme heat and humidity, all schools will close two hours early on Thursday, June 9, 2011. http://www.bcps.org/status/


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Tech Trek total and PTA news

At the Rodgers Forge PTA meeting last night it was announced that the 2011 Tech Trek netted $19,820.59, so the school will be able to supplement its technology purchasing budget by that amount. Great work, everyone!

Mrs. Deise announced that some staff members are leaving RFES. They include: Ms. Rodriguez, Ms. Fluharty, Dr. Rainwater, Ms. Sarnovsky, Ms. Coletta, Ms. Callanan. I think I'm missing one; I'll look into that.

The PTA held its election for officers. After hard-fought, very heated elections*, the winners by unanimous vote are:
President - Trisha Schwab
VP of Volunteers - Amanda Kastner
VP of Chairs and Committees - Jessica Brown-Strott
Treasurer - Katy Maranto
Recording Secretary - Karen Oakjones
*joke


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Spirit wear on sale tomorrow at RFES

On Thursday, June 9, the RFES Spirit Store will have an inventory sale after school. There will be a table in front of the school at pick-up time so bring your wallets/checkbooks and find some bargains!


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Why aren't parents fighting for AC in the schools?

Here is an excellent opinion piece in Patch.com by a parent activist who is still fighting for AC in schools even though her son has moved on to a school that, I think, has AC. She posits that one reason this issue isn't tackled is that the kids suffer but then move to a new school a few years later and no one keeps up a sustained fight.

We have a school right here in Rodgers Forge, Dumbarton Middle, that doesn't have AC. Maybe someone with a kindergartner at RFES will take on this issue. It really is ridiculous that the schools are so hot that it makes kids and teachers sick. And not to state the obvious, but how do you think Joe Hairston and Kevin Kamenetz would do without AC in their offices?

"[Former County Executive Jim] Smith, as well as Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger and the previous county executive, bear the primary responsibility for why only half of Baltimore County Public Schools have decent climate control, while we are surrounded by counties with 100 percent air conditioning in their schools. Those politicians simply wouldn't pay for it.

What long-term position on climate control in schools will be taken by current County Executive Kevin Kamenetz remains to be seen. Kamenetz was instrumental in obtaining air conditioning for Ridgely and nine other schools in the 2011 school capital budget, but no requests for retrofitting older schools with air conditioning were included in the 2012 school capital budget. Since BCPS did not ask him for this funding, he didn’t have to take a position.

The second responsible party is the BCPS administration and the Board of Education. Unlike their counterparts in surrounding counties, they have never made a sustained commitment to climate control in schools. Superintendent Dr. Joe Hairston refused to meet with Ridgely parents for three years about the terrible heat there." Read the full piece here.


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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tomorrow night's RFCA board meeting closed to most residents

Update: The board updated its blog post, so if you have a matter you intended to bring to the board tonight, you may still be able to do so. They also clarified the reason for the school not being available. Details here.

From the Rodgers Forge board's blog: "Because schools are closed for the summer, we no longer have access to RFES's "cafetorium". The meeting will be held at an undisclosed member's house. Due to space restrictions, this meeting will be conducted closed door."

http://rodgersforgecommunity.blogspot.com/2011/06/rfc-meeting-for-june-8th-moved.html


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County schools closing 2 hours early Wednesday

Because of heat.
http://www.bcps.org/status/

Sent from my cell.


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Accident at York and Stevenson

Avoid that area. Accident involved police car and another car, both drivers going to hospital to be checked out but injuries are said to be minor.


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Reminder: PTA needs you at the meeting tonight

From the PTA: "Just a reminder about the PTA meeting tomorrow evening. Please try and bring a friend as we need bodies from the general membership to vote on officers for next year. 17 is the magic number." The meeting is at 7:00 pm tonight, June 7, in the RFES library.

Do you think they'd care if I came in my terrycloth swim cover-up straight from the pool?


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Sale at SuperFresh in Towson


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5K fundraiser this Saturday

Two Lutherville moms volunteered last year to put on a 5K to help raise money for the Cool Kids Campaign’s Learning Center and they helped raise over $15,000 for the charity. They’re back for a second year, and they are hoping you will join them on Saturday, June 11th.

Registration starts at 7am, 5K race begins at 8am, and the kids 1 mile fun run starts at 8:30am.
Face painting, raffle prizes, and other fun activities will be set-up.

www.coolkidscampaign.org/lutherville5k


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Yard sale in West Towson this Saturday

There will be a multi-family yard on Park Avenue in West Towson this Saturday, 6/11 from 8 am - 12 pm


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Kratt brothers at the zoo June 26

Click image for info.


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Monday, June 6, 2011

Ball lightning Saturday night?


Kris,

Saturday night around 10:15 my husband, daughter, and I were driving up Dumbarton Road and saw 6 bright orange balls of light in the sky. They moved slowly up and across the sky (Like going from above the Dumbarton Field to above Regester Ave) before fading out one by one. It took about 2 minutes for them all to disappear. We had no idea what we had just seen and so I looked on the internet to see if I could figure it out. It turns out to be a rare phenom called Ball Lightning. I was wondering if anyone else saw it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_lightning

Jen

I missed it. Anyone else see it?


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Latest crime report

Nothing in RF but some scary stuff in Towson area. Read it here.


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Towson farmers' market starts this Thursday


Read details in this Towson Times article.


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PTA meeting for RFES tomorrow night

From the PTA: "Just a reminder about the PTA meeting tomorrow evening. Please try and bring a friend as we need bodies from the general membership to vote on officers for next year. 17 is the magic number." The meeting is at 7:00 pm on June 7 in the RFES library.


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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Free movies in June at Cross Keys

The merchants of The Village of Cross Keys present MovieFest — a month-long series of free movies in the Cross Keys courtyard (5100 Falls Road) on Saturday nights throughout June. Showtime is at sunset.

This year’s theme is ‘Academy Award Winners.’ Open captions will be provided for all movies. The MovieFest festivities begin at 6:00 pm with pre-movie dinner specials offered at the Cross Keys restaurants. Many of the retail shops will offer extended hours and will offer shopping specials. Guests are invited to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets; limited seats will be provided.

June 11 — The Blind Side
June 18 — The King’s Speech
June 25 — Slumdog Millionaire
Rain date is Saturday, July 9

http://www.villageofcrosskeys.com/events/movie-fest


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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rodgers Forge board member wins coaching honor

Jay Dunn, the editor of the Rodgers Forge newsletter and author of its Nobody Asked Me, But... column, has been named NCAA Mid-East Assistant Track Coach of the Year. Read details here and here. Congratulations, Jay.


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Multi-Family Yard Sale

Saturday, June 4th, 8 am - 1 pm
100 Block of Cedarcroft Road (corner of Bellona and Cedarcroft)


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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gunpowder River Artfest this Saturday


Sponsored by the Northern Baltimore County Art Foundation, this festival will feature: juried fine art and american crafts, food and music workshops and demos, children's activities. Music will be performed by The Jody Westerlund Band, and Nelly's Echo. The event will be held rain or shine. For more info, visit www.nbcaf.com.


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Date set for hearing re: home addition -- letters accepted, too



The hearing on whether the owner of 300 Hopkins will be granted a variance for her proposed addition will be held on June 17, 2011, at 10:00 am in the county office building at 105 W. Chesapeake Avenue, room 104. The homeowner wants to enclose her existing porch in the back. (See photos above of the porch she has and the proposed enclosure.)

The Rodgers Forge board is fighting the variance in order to prevent the addition.

Anyone can come to the hearing and share their thoughts. You don't need to sign up ahead of time; just show up, sign in, and when the judge asks if anyone wants to speak, raise your hand.

When I called to get hearing details, the county clerk told me people can also write letters to the zoning department, which will go to the judge.

For letters that will be received before June 10 (the county's preference), write to:
Arnold Jablon, Director
Baltimore County Office of Permits, Approvals and Inspections
111 W. Chesapeake Ave.
Room 111
Towson, MD 21204

For letters that will be received after June 10, write to:
Managing Administrative Law Judge Lawrence Stahl
105 W. Chesapeake Ave.
Room 103
Towson, MD 21204

The county says be sure to include the case number (2011-0302-A) and the home address (300 Hopkins) at the top of your letter.

Read more about the proposed plan here:
http://www.forgeflyer.com/2011/05/rodgers-forge-board-hires-lawyer-to.html


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Painting Workshop has drop-in art classes today

School Out Early?

We have Air Conditioning! We have ART!

Join us for a cool, comfortable afternoon of art! Just drop in!

Both locations:
12:00-4:00 $35
Or drop in for an hour or two: $10/hour
http://www.thepaintingworkshop.com/


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