October 23, 2023

Dear Friends,

Howard County remains one of the best places to live, work, play and grow in part because of our collective work and transformative vision. From investing in our educational system, expanding our environmental initiatives, prioritizing public safety, and growing our economy, we remain a regional and national leader.

Join me for my 2023 State of the County Address tomorrow, Tuesday, October 24th at 6:00 p.m. at Howard Community College. Learn more and reserve your seat here.

Community Updates

Coming HOME

Like many counties and regions across the nation, Howard County is faced with an ongoing housing crisis. The rising cost of housing impedes many of our residents from realizing and continuing their dream of calling Howard County home. Our comprehensive new Housing Opportunities Meant for Everyone, or HOME, package aims to address our housing challenges head-on through policy changes and programmatic initiatives targeted at improving housing affordability and stability within our community, as well as protecting tenant rights.

Last week I, with the assistance of Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day, Department of Housing and Community Development Director Kelly Cimino, and other community leaders and advocates, unveiled the HOME package and its bold and innovative solutions to address Howard County’s housing challenges. To learn more, click HERE.

Be the Guiding Light

Recently, we have seen increased terror, turmoil, and despair in Israel and Palestine. The shock. The pain. The grief from these events continues to reverberate across our community. The unconscionable attacks on innocent people, including young people, babies, and the elderly must be condemned in the strongest terms. 

As we feel increased division in our community, let us be the guiding light for those who are hurting most, even as many of us hurt. It is times such as these where we begin to see hate reverberate in our community through antisemitism or Islamophobia. 

Let us say, in word and deed – hate has no home here.

Preserving our Human Rights

As we reflect upon the recent Howard County Commission on Human Rights' Award Ceremony, my heart is filled with admiration and gratitude. Each accolade earned by the recognized individuals and groups signifies their unwavering commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in our community. Howard County is immensely fortunate to be home to such passionate advocates, especially those focused on ensuring a brighter and more inclusive future for our young people.

Their contributions go beyond awards and ceremonies; they deeply influence our societal fabric, promoting unity and driving progress. As we celebrate their achievements, we're also reminded that the journey towards a fully inclusive community is ongoing. It's through collective efforts and events like these that we renew our dedication, drawing inspiration to set even higher standards of equality and understanding.

A heartfelt thank you to all our awardees, community leaders, and everyone who supports these causes. Your endeavors are shaping both the present and future of Howard County, laying the groundwork for a harmonious, equitable, and thriving community. Together, we are forging a legacy of unity in diversity.

Excellence Through Leadership

As home to more than 150 incredible towns and cities, the Maryland Municipal League helps foster a space where we can reach excellence through leadership. During their annual Fall Conference in College Park, it was wonderful to meet and connect with so many leaders as we forged partnerships between cities and counties. Thank you to 2023 MML President Mayor Carroll, Executive Director Theresa Kuhns, and the entire MML team for a successful conference!

A Regional Transit System

No matter where in Maryland we are, we remain connected in every way, from the way we travel to the way we work and live. The Baltimore Metropolitan Council works collaboratively with leaders across our region to foster a community where we can always remain connected. 

During our fourth, and final, board meeting of 2023, we discussed the importance of a regional transit system so residents can seamlessly travel throughout our state. It was also a pleasure to hear from Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld on the future of a regional, and collaborative transportation system.

Visiting Our Neighbor

As President of the Maryland Association of Counties, I had a wonderful time joining Executive Director Michael Sanderson on our tour in our neighboring jurisdiction, Baltimore County. As the third most populous county in Maryland, Baltimore County, the county where I grew up, is home to more than 854,000 residents with a diversified economy. 

In engaged conversations with the Baltimore County Council and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, we discussed the implementation of the Blueprint, prioritizing public safety, and more. It was especially humbling to visit memorials in Towson, honoring those who fought for our country, those who serve in our police and fire departments, and our educators who help foster learning amongst our youngest. Together, we will continue our collaborative efforts to ensure that every resident can have the best quality of life for all.

Staying Warm

As the weather gets colder, we continue working to ensure that every resident has access to the resources they need to be warm. I stopped by the MultiService Center's annual cold weather gear giveaway at the North Laurel Community Center to help distribute coats, hats, scarves and gloves to Howard County residents of all sizes, ages, and abilities. I appreciate the hard work of our team to ensure that our residents are seen and supported, with dignity and compassion!

If you know someone who may be of need, I encourage you to contact Valerie Mathis at 410-313-0242 or [email protected].

15 Years of Ten Oaks!

Please, join me in congratulating Ten Oaks Tavern on their 15th anniversary! Since the restaurant opened in 2008, Matthew Best and his team have provided an enjoyable dining experience to our Glenelg community. Whether it’s bar munchies or a gourmet entrée, there is something delicious that everyone will enjoy.

Thank you for choosing to grow in Howard County. Here’s to another 15 years of success and beyond! To see their menu, join their team, or order carry out, please visit https://www.tenoakstavern.com/

Healing Both Skin and Body

I had the pleasure of being at the grand opening of LaRaydiance Wellness Spa Boutique in Savage. Nestled in the heart of our community, this LaRaydiance offers an intimate, serene and secure environment. With a dedicated staff boasting more than 30 years of clinical experience in the Health Sciences field, they provide a unique focus on healing both the skin and the body by addressing fundamental concerns, be it diet, hormones, lifestyle, or stress. From their customized DMK treatments and HydraFacial to their therapeutic massages, every service is tailored for rejuvenation. 

Furthermore, their reception/retail boutique, "Chateau de LaRaydiance", offers an exquisite selection of botanical pharmaceutical-grade products, ensuring that the healing and care continue at home. It's heartwarming to see them also support local makers and businesses, retailing products that resonate with their core philosophy of care. Best wishes to the entire team at LaRaydiance for their commendable endeavor in enhancing the wellness landscape of Howard County.

To learn more about LaRaydiance Wellness Spa Boutique, please visit www.thelaraydiancedifference.com

A Sweet Option

I was thrilled to join the Ellicott City Partnership and Howard County Economic Development Authority to welcome Sugar Plum Tea and Pastry Shop to Historic Ellicott City! From their wide variety of bubble teas to their delicious desserts, Sugar Plum offers tasty options to all who visit.

Thank you to Tina and Ming from Sugar Plum for making Historic Ellicott City your home and growing your small business in our community. We look forward to many years of success and sharing your love of tea and pastries with Howard County!

Breathing New Life into Route 1

Transformations in our community are always inspiring to witness! As part of the Route 1 Tax Credit Program, property owners in Howard County can now benefit from a significant property tax credit. This initiative is designed to breathe new life into the Route 1 Corridor, making it even more vibrant and attractive. With up to $100K available for qualified façade and landscape enhancements, visible from the Route 1 Corridor, we're inviting all eligible property owners to invest in our community's future. This program supports a wide range of improvements, from building façade upgrades, new signage, and exterior painting to enhanced exterior lighting and landscaping.

The transformational potential of this initiative is evident in the impressive 'Before' and 'After' visuals, showcasing the positive change that can be achieved. It's a testament to what we can accomplish together when we invest in the places we call home.

Together, let's envision a brighter and more prosperous Route 1 Corridor!

Just Shred It

We're taking a proactive approach against identity theft in Howard County. In light of the rising cases of identity theft, I'm pleased to announce “The BIG Shred” on Saturday, October 28th. This expanded event will provide residents with three convenient locations to safely and securely shred sensitive documents from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., or until the trucks are full. The shredding locations include the Long Gate Park & Ride in Ellicott City, the overflow parking lot at Elkridge Landing Middle School in Elkridge, and the North Laurel Community Center in Laurel. 

Residents are encouraged to bring up to three bags or boxes of documents containing personal information such as account numbers, signatures, Social Security numbers, and more for onsite shredding. However, it's important to note that non-sensitive papers, such as junk mail and office paper, should be directed to curbside recycling collection.

For more information or questions regarding this event, please visit: www.howardcountymd.gov/bureau-environmental-services/recycling/document-shredding. 

Recognizing our Champions

In Howard County, we understand the importance of a diverse workforce that reflects our community and is inclusive of employees with disabilities. This year’s winners have made significant contributions to improving the lives of people with disabilities. Thanks to their efforts, Howard County continues to be recognized as a model community, where all are welcome and able to live a full life. Employment is empowering and it is through the removal of economic and other societal barriers that we can achieve equity.

Check out this The Baltimore Sun article that highlights this year’s winners of our Commission of Disabilities 2023 Disability Awards.

Upcycling Art Classes

Through our innovative Youth Engagement Programming (YEP!) grants, we are coming together to empower our young people to be leaders in our community and support one another. Clarksville Youth Care Group (CYCG) is a student-led nonprofit organization and one of our YEP! Partners. Through its regular programming, Clarksville Youth Care Group offers art classes, camps, and engagement opportunities for young people throughout the county.

Throughout the fall, CYCG will be hosting free, monthly upcycling art classes at the Howard County Library – Elkridge Branch. To learn more and sign up to participate, visit www.clarksvilleyouthcaregroup.org/cycg-yep-envsmart-2023.html

Howard County’s Own Award-Winning Storyteller

This Black Fine Arts Month, we are happy to celebrate one of Howard County’s very own, Phill Branch. In 2019, Phill received the Maryland State Arts Council’s Solo Performance Artist Award as well as a Rubys Art Award. He works in film, theater and writes creative nonfiction. He has directed award-winning films and series and still makes time to mold the next generation through his work as a professor. We are so proud of the work that he’s done and know that he will continue to have a positive impact on the community.


To learn more about Phill, you can check out his website at https://phillbranch.com/.

The Safest in the State

I'm delighted to share that Columbia has been recognized as the safest city in Maryland by WalletHub's "Safest Cities in America" report. Being the only Maryland city to make it to the Top 160, this accolade isn't just a title, but a testament to the relentless efforts of our first responders, social workers, and community members.

We have consistently prioritized public safety, from increasing the Police Department's budget to funding new firefighter positions, helping to ensure our community's well-being. A big shoutout to Police Chief Gregory Der and Fire Chief Louis Winston, whose departments have continuously strived to uphold the safety standards that our residents deserve.

Let's Give 'em Pumpkin to Talk About

Did you know that pumpkins are grown on every continent in the world, except Antarctica? 

This autumn, I encourage you to support our local farmers and embrace the season by selecting a pumpkin grown right here in Howard County. Consider stopping by one of these fantastic local pumpkin patches: Clark's Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Sharp's at Waterford Farm in Brookeville, or TLV Tree Farm in Glenelg. Let's celebrate the season together, locally!

It’s Paws-itively Helpful!

It’s no secret that in Howard County we love our furry friends like family. That’s why I was glad to visit Hector Ocasio, the amazing CEO of Pet Connect Business at the Innovation Center, with Jennifer Jones, CEO of EDA. This app simplifies the grunt work by enabling people to readily explore over 100,000 pet-friendly businesses and resources. 

This way pet owners can keep their resources to one app, as opposed to them being spread between many. This Hispanic Heritage Month, please join me (and my dog Bear) in thanking Hector Ocasio for helping us care for our furry friends.

A Testament to Hard Work and Dreams

I had a great time attending the dual ribbon cutting for Campanaro Strength and Conditioning as well as Herlong Sports Physical Therapy in Clarksville. It's inspiring to see how Nick Campanaro transformed a personal passion, born in the basement of his family's River Hill townhouse, into a full-fledged fitness facility that empowers people of all ages. Similarly, Shawn Herlong's dedication to sports rehabilitation bridges a crucial gap in the industry, ensuring athletes can return to their sport stronger and more resilient than before.

Howard County is proud to support these local businesses that are not only a testament to hard work and dreams realized but also vital additions to our community's health and wellness landscapes.

Best wishes to both Nick and Shawn on their ventures! Learn more about Campanaro Strength and Conditioning at www.campanarostrength.com/youth-performance and Herlong Sports Physical Therapy at https://herlongsportspt.com/.

A Champion of Inclusion and Accessibility

I am truly inspired by the commitment and dedication of Susan Potts, our esteemed Therapeutic Recreation and Accommodation Services Manager at our Department of Recreation & Parks. Since joining us in 2007, she has championed inclusion and accessibility, helping to ensure that our parks and programs are welcoming for all. Her vision helped lead to the success of the “Play for All Fest” and the introduction of the groundbreaking inclusive playground at Warfield’s Pond Park in Glenwood.

Recently, The Baltimore Sun wrote a wonderful piece about Susan and all that she had done for our community.

Expanding Homeownership and Wealth Creation Opportunities

We continue prioritizing expanding homeownership and wealth creation opportunities. During the months of November and December, our Department of Housing Community Development (DHCD) will offer a Homebuyer Education Workshop to promote more successful homeownership in Howard County. 

These classes provide an excellent opportunity to learn about local housing resources and help realize your vision of homeownership. Through these efforts, DHCD shares information on the County’s Settlement Downpayment Loan Program and Moderate Income Housing Unit program, which provide access to affordable homeownership opportunities.

Classes include one four-hour group workshop and two hours of one-on-one counseling with a HUD-approved credit counselor. Registration is required to participate in these classes. To learn more and sign up, please visit www.howardcountymd.gov/housing-community-development/homebuyer-education.

Here for the Right Riesling

Penn Oaks Winery, beautifully located in the heart of Howard County, represents the passion and dedication of Jan Luigard and his family. Since 1997, this winery has been gracing our community with finely crafted wines, drawing inspiration from Germany's old-world Riesling grape traditions. Visiting Penn Oaks is more than just wine tasting – it's an immersion into a family's legacy and commitment to excellence.

To delve deeper into the flavors and history of Penn Oaks Winery, visit www.penn-oaks-winery.com. For a broader view of Howard County's rich agricultural heritage and to discover other local farms, please check out www.hocofarms.com.

Please support the unmatched brilliance of our local wineries and farms.

Take Charge! Protect Your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card from Thieves

The Maryland Department of Human Services is reminding Marylanders they now have an easy way to protect their food and cash benefits from being stolen. Card Lock/Unlock allows our Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) customers to block new charges when they’re not actively shopping. The feature is available through the ConnectEBT mobile app (Apple & Android app stores) or directly from www.ConnectEBT.com.

Help spread the word! Here are 3 simple steps you can take to help our EBT customers lock their cards when not in use and keep their benefits safe:

  1. Watch our new video. Learn how to use the card lock/unlock feature.
  2. Share our flyers. Download and share our flyers in English and Spanish and learn additional card safety tips you can pass on to others. Visit https://dhs.maryland.gov/prevent-ebt-theft/.
  3. Amplify on social media. Share our social media posts promoting Card Lock/Unlock.  

Help us encourage Marylanders to lock their EBT cards so their food and cash benefits stay safe. More information on EBT theft protection and reimbursement for stolen food and cash benefits can be found at https://dhs.maryland.gov/ebt-reimbursement/.

¡Tome las Riendas! Proteja su Tarjeta de Transferencia Electrónica de Beneficios (EBT) de los Ladrones

La comunidad de Maryland ahora tiene una manera fácil de proteger sus beneficios de alimentos y efectivo de personas ladronas. La opción de Bloquear/Desbloquear la tarjeta permite que nuestros clientes de la Transferencia Electrónica de Beneficios (EBT) bloqueen gastos hechos cuando no han estado haciendo compras. La opción está disponible a través de la aplicación móvil de ConnectEBT (en las tiendas de aplicaciones Apple y Android) o directamente de www.ConnectEBT.com.

¡Ayúdenos a compartir la noticia! Usted puede seguir estos tres pasos sencillos para ayudar a nuestros clientes de la EBT a bloquear sus tarjetas cuando no las estén usando y proteger sus beneficios:

  1. Vea nuestro nuevo video. Para entender cómo usar la opción de Bloquear/Desbloquear la tarjeta.
  2. Comparta nuestros volantes. Descargue y comparta nuestros volantes en inglés y español y conozca otros consejos sobre seguridad de las tarjetas que pueden servirle a otras personas. Visite https://dhs.maryland.gov/prevent-ebt-theft/.
  3. Compártalo en las redes sociales. Comparta nuestras publicaciones en las redes sociales que promueven Bloquear/Desbloquear la tarjeta.  

Ayúdenos a animar a la comunidad de Maryland a bloquear sus tarjetas EBT para proteger sus beneficios de alimentos y en efectivo. Encontrará más información sobre la protección del robo de la EBT y el reembolso de beneficios robados de alimentos y en efectivo en https://dhs.maryland.gov/ebt-reimbursement/.

Join My Team!

My office is currently looking to fill several vacant positions. To learn more and apply, please click the respective link below.

  • Strategic Outreach Coordinator - Executive's Office - This position also receives, researches, and responds to incoming constituent services issues related to Police, Fire and the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ).
  • Senior Administrative Analyst - Public Works, Director's Office – performs advanced professional level administrative work, which may include supervisory responsibility, under general supervision from an administrative or technical superior. Work includes the analysis and coordination of complex administrative matters; researching, reviewing, and analyzing legislative, budget, personnel, purchasing and policy issues; and supervising one or more major functional office programs or activities.
  • HMIS Manager and Data Analyst - (Technical Services Support Specialist II) - Community Resources & Svcs. – plays a leadership role in the coordination and evaluation of homeless services using the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and the Comparable Database for Victim Services, as required by the Continuum of Care of Homeless Services (CoC), under the leadership of the Office of Community Partnerships. This position is responsible for the management of the County's HMIS/Comparable Database (including software configuration, report creation/generation, and user support and training) And will provide data, interpret trends, and assist with development of strategies and deployment of resources that prevent and end homelessness.
  • Civil/Human Rights Investigator-Human Services Specialist II-Office of Human Rights and Equity – This is advanced, technical work, identifying and investigating complaints of violations of Section 12.200 - 12.220 of the Howard County Code in the Office of Human Rights and Equity (OHRE) under the supervision of the Lead Investigator and the Administrator. The incumbent has primary responsibility for investigating complaints of alleged discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations, financing and law enforcement. The incumbent is also responsible for investigating complaints cross filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) through the contract OHRE has with EEOC. The investigator carries a caseload of individual cases which may vary between 20 and 50 at any one time.

I encourage interested persons to apply today! To find a full listing of available positions, please click here.

LIFT Up Your Small Business

Howard County Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Leveraging Investment for Future Transformation Fund, or “LIFT” Fund, enables EDA to provide microloans ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 to Howard County small businesses for a three-to-five-year term. The loan program primarily serves small businesses including minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned and other socially disadvantaged groups. The ideal candidate would be a Howard County business that is generating revenue, who is looking for funds to lift and empower their business towards growth.

EDA also has resources at its Maryland Innovation Center (MIC) to supplement the funding, with the goal of better positioning the loan recipient for success. For example, if a small business wants to obtain a microloan and EDA determines that the owner need business coaching/training as a requirement, the owner will find resources available at the MIC.

To learn more about this program and/or to apply, click HERE.

Government Updates
Department of Community Resources and Services

Offering Free Family Workshops 

The Howard County Family Institute is an education, information and community outreach program of our Department of Community Resources and Services’ (DCRS) Office of Children and Families (OCF). The mission of the Family Institute is to assist parents and guardians in their parenting role by providing education that enhances caregiver skills, knowledge and behavior with a vision that all children will start life with a strong foundation. The October issue of OCF’s newsletter, Parent Pages, lists multiple free workshops to help educate families and provide caregivers with resources, including:

October 25th and November 1st, 8th and 29th – Positive Solutions for Families

October 26th – Hatchlings: New Baby and Me

October 24th – DIY Toy Workshop

To learn more about these free family workshops and/or to register, visit OCF’s website.

Final Long-Term Care Education Series Session Focuses on Care Options 

Do you have a long-term care plan in place for yourself or your loved ones? If not, I encourage you to join DCRS's Office on Aging and Independence’s (OAI) Maryland Access Point team for its final Long Term Care Education Series session, “Care Options," tomorrow, October 24th at 2:30 p.m. in the Great Room at the East Columbia 50+ Center.

OAI’s Maryland Access Point teams Long Term Care Education Series provides resources and offers guidance to caregivers and relatives of older adults on how to prepare for your loved one’s future and ensure they always receive the care they need. Tomorrow’s session will focus on different care options available, from in-home care and home health care to hospice care, medical adult day care, assisted living care and nursing home care, as well as the difference between care, the cost of care and things to think about when arranging.

To learn more about the Long-Term Care Education Series and/or to register, click HERE

Tips and Tricks to Staying Safe Online

It is vital that each of us does our part to make sure our online lives and personal data are safe and secure. To help you out and ensure you are taking the necessary steps to protect yourself, this Cybersecurity Awareness Month, DCRS’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is focuses on sharing online safety education tips on how to protect you, your family and your business from digital forms of crime. To heighten your awareness of cyber threats and what you can do to stay safe online, be sure to check out this month’s OCP newsletter. You can also find consumer tips shared every Tuesday on DCRS’s social media channels (Facebook and X). 

October is Residents' Rights Month 

Residents’ Rights Month honors residents living in long-term care facilities and those receiving care in their home or community. Each year, OAI’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program takes this opportunity to focus on and celebrate the dignity and rights of every individual receiving long-term services and supports in Howard County. This year’s theme, “Amplify Our Voices,” emphasizes a community of long-term care residents coming together to make their voices heard. 

This month, we are highlighting the importance of listening to residents who live in nursing homes, assisted living and board and care facilities. To raise awareness of residents’ rights and increase visibility of the local long-term care program, our OAI’s ombudsmen have created this video

For questions and/or more information about nursing homes, assisted living and board and care facilities, call 410-313-6423 (voice/relay) or email [email protected]

Office of Veterans and Military Families Hosts Inaugural Veteran Owned Small Biz Expo 

DCRS’ Office of Veterans and Military Families (OVMF), in partnership with EDA, will host its first-ever Veteran Owned Small Biz Expo this Saturday, October 28th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at EDA’s Maryland Innovation Center in Columbia.

In celebration of Howard County Business Appreciation Week and National Veteran’s Small Business Appreciation Week, the Expo will highlight veteran owned small business such as books, authors, baked goods, local services and more. Other featured organizations include HERO Dogs, Dog Tag Bakery, Blue Star Families, Escape Velocity Academy soccer with a drone demonstration, the Orioles Bird and the Health Department Office of Suicide Prevention. The event will also feature family friendly games, giveaways, music by the Washington Tattoo military and veteran musicians, and food provided by 1936 Food Truck and Double BBQ & Soul Food Experience. 

Admission is FREE; however, the first 25 people that register and attend are guaranteed to receive a free, fun-filled swag bag! To register, click HERE today.

HoCo Community Chat’s October Episode Has Dropped

For this month’s October episode of DCRS’s HoCo Community Chat podcast, Director Jackie Scott is joined by the County’s Office of the Local Children’s Board Administrator Kim Eisenreich and the Community Action Council of Howard County, Inc.’s Food Bank Services Director Carrie Ross to discuss food insecurity in Howard County. I encourage you to tune in this month to learn more about this problem that many members of our community sadly face and the resources available to help those in need.

Be sure to check out HoCo Community Chat wherever you listen to your podcasts, and if there is something specific you want to hear about, I encourage you to email DCRS at [email protected]

Department of Fire and Rescue Services

Staying Safe Around the Fire Pit

With a crisp fall chill in the air these days, our Department of Fire and Rescue Services is reminding residents when using a fire pit, to be sure to place it at least 15 feet away from your home, tree, deck and any other flammable material in your yard. Also, once finished using, be sure to always allow ashes to cool for at least 48 hours. When it’s time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down. Only use an approved metal ash bucket that has a tight-fitting metal lid to safely store cooled ashes.

Howard County Health Department

October Equals Walktober

Howard County Health Department’s (HCHD) Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC) is encouraging all residents to get out there and “Walk, Roll, Ride and Move” this Walktober. The LHIC has joined forces with community partners to create a calendar of more than 30 accessible walking/moving events to be held across Howard Count this month to make it easy for community members to get moving this fall. A complete list of events and activities can be found online at www.howardcountymd.gov/walktober

Residents can participate in Walktober and keep moving all year long using the one-mile maps (found online) developed by HCHD and the County’s Department of Recreation & Parks. 

Community Flu Vaccine Clinics

It's fall and that means it's respiratory virus season. To help, the HCHD will once again be offering its free seasonal flu shot clinics. For a list of upcoming flu clinic dates and registration information, visit HCHD's Seasonal Flu webpage today. Individuals can also call 410-313-6284 for registration assistance.

Department of Housing and Community Development

MIHU Homeownership October Enrollment Period Now Open!


DHCD is now accepting applications for its Moderate Income Housing Unit (MIHU) homeownership program October open enrollment period. Held quarterly throughout the year, this inclusionary zoning program provides eligible individuals and families the opportunity to purchase quality new homes at reduced sale prices. 

Applications are available online and are available in Spanish. Due by no later than 4;00 p.m., next Tuesday, October 31st, completed applications can be submitted online, mailed to 9820 Patuxent Woods Drive, Suite 224, Columbia, MD, 21046, or dropped off at DHCD’s Patuxent Woods Drive office by appointment only.


Applicants looking to find out more about the program should visit DHCD’s “Open Enrollment” website, where you can find the presentation from a previous homeownership informational workshop. Frequently asked questions and answers explaining the program’s eligibility requirements and application process can also be found on DHCD’s “MIHU Homeownership Program” webpage. For additional questions, email DCHD at [email protected]


Please keep in mind, if you are interested in DHCD’s MIHU rental program, prospective renters may apply directly to a participating rental community at any time during the year. For more information on the MIHU rental program, including a list of participating communities, visit DHCD’s "I Want To Rent A Home In Howard County" website.


For questions and/or more information about the MIHU program, contact DHCD’s Housing Opportunities Programs Division at 410-313-6318 and select option two, email [email protected] or visit DHCD’s open enrollment website

Office of Human Rights and Equity

Know Your Local Leaders

Join our Asian American & Pacific Islander Commission, the County’s Office of Human Rights and Equity (OHRE) and Howard Community College (HCC) for an opportunity to meet and speak directly with your elected officials. We invite all interested to come out and join us for an informal meet and greet today October 23rd at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby of HCC’s Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center. Spacing is limited, so please click HERE to reserve your seat today!

Reading Human Rights – Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann

Reading Human Rights is an award-winning monthly book discussion group hosted by OHRE and Howard County Library System (HCLS) that encourages literary exploration and community dialogue around a variety of human rights concerns. It explores works of fiction and non-fiction to teach community members the various ways individuals, cultures and communities celebrate their identities and combat injustice.

In honor of Disability Rights Awareness Month, for its October book discussion – to be held this Thursday, October 26th (please note new date) at 6:30 p.m. at HCLS’s Elkridge Branch, OHRE will discuss the late great Judith Heumann’s Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history, Heumann tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job and just be human.

To secure your seat for this month’s event, click HERE today to register.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission to Honor Legacy of Dr. King with Annual Award and Student Contests

The Howard County Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission is seeking nominations for its annual “Living the Dream” award and student entrants for its 2024 essay, oratory, and poster contests. 

The annual “Living the Dream” award recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations (community, civic or religious) that promote the teachings and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through community involvement in Howard County. Whereas the essay and oratory contests are geared towards middle and high school students, while the poster contest is open to elementary, middle and high school students.

To learn more this about award and contests and how to apply, click HERE. The deadline for award nominations and contest entrees is 5:00 p.m., next Tuesday, October 31st.

Hate Has No Place: Reporting Hate Crimes and Hate Bias Incidents

I invite all to join OHRE and our Howard County Police Department (HCPD) as the two come together for a community dialogue on Wednesday, November 8th at 6:00 p.m. to learn how to report hate crimes and hate bias incidents (HBIs). HCPD officers will share how these reports are investigated and will facilitate small group discussions on how to increase reporting from community members. 

Co-sponsored by the County’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, the Howard County Sheriff’s Office, the Howard County Police Accountability Board and the Jewish Federation of Howard County, OHRE is excited to provide an opportunity for community members and HCPD officers to strategize on dealing with hate crimes and HBIs in Howard County.

To be a part of this important event, click HERE to register.

Humanity Matters 2024 Conference – Now Accepting Proposals

OHRE encourages all interested persons to submit proposals for its “2024 Humanity Matters: Envisioning Social Justice Through an Equity Lens” conference. We welcome submissions from community organizers, human and civil rights professionals in government, education, non-profit, business, DEI consultants, and Commissioners. 

With this conference, OHRE aims to provide innovative best practices, professional development and facilitate meaningful dialogue across counties and within our respective fields. 

All submissions should be emailed to Dr. Denise Boston at [email protected] by no later than Wednesday, November 15th; please enter “2024 Humanity Matters Conference Proposal Submission” in the Subject line.

For more information on this request for proposals, click HERE.

Department of Planning and Zoning

Route 1 Tax Credit Program


Our Department of Planning and Zoning is now accepting applications for this year’s Route 1 Tax Credit program! If you own a commercial or industrial property on the Route 1 Corridor, you may be eligible to receive up to $100,000 of tax credit for qualified façade and landscape improvements visible from the Corridor area. Eligible improvements include building façade upgrades, new signage, exterior painting and lighting, screening and landscaping, and other options. 

For more information or to apply, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/Route1TaxCredit.

Design Advisory Panel Meeting


This Wednesday, October 25th, our Department of Planning and Zoning’s Design Advisory Panel will hold a meeting (agenda found here) virtually starting at 7:00 p.m. to hear the following items:


To register in advance to participate in this meeting, click HERE. If you only want to listen to the meeting, call 1-650-479-3207 at the meeting time. When prompted, enter 2309 474 7499 as the event access code, password: deWHzMmr263 (33949667 from phones and video systems).


The DAP process encourages excellence in project architecture and site design to improve design compatibility with surrounding development, to promote revitalization and to enhance property values. You can use DPZ’s DAP interactive map to see which properties may be subject to DAP review. For DAP’s Rules of Procedure, click HERE. For questions and/or more information about DAP, contact the DPZ at 410-313-2350 or email [email protected].

Department of Public Works

Bureau of Environmental Services

Entries Sought for Coloring Book Contest

Calling all Howard County third, fourth and fifth graders, our Bureau of Environmental Services invites you to participate in its annual Coloring Book Contest, which allows students to demonstrate their awareness and appreciation for our environment, while promoting the importance of the three R’s: “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” To learn more about this year’s contest and how to participate, click HERE.

Know Before You Dispose of Those Leaves

With autumn officially underway and the leaves getting ready to change colors, our Department of Public Works is reminding residents to keep the following in mind when dealing with those fallen leaves. 

Do not blow or rake leaves into the roadway in hope that they will be swept up by County street sweepers. Our sweepers are NOT designed to pick up leaves as large quantities of them will clog the sweeper's filters and result in the leaves being spread over a large area. Sweeper operators will in fact avoid areas of curb containing an excessive number of leaves.

Also, while Howard County crews work hard to maintain storm drains along more than 1,000 miles of County owned roadways, there are some simple approaches residents can take to help keep our storm drains free of debris to prevent roadway flooding and harmful nutrients from reaching the Chesapeake Bay:

  • Rake and collect your leaves in paper bags or reusable containers for yard trim curbside collection.
  • Mulch your leaves with your mower; they can help nourish your lawn.
  • Mix your leaves with grass clippings and vegetable refuse to make compost.
  • Participate in the Rake-and-Take program where “rakers” (residents who rake and bag leaves and grass) are matched with “takers” (people who want leaves and grass for composting).
  • When rain is in the forecast, check nearby storm drain grates and clear them of debris.

DFRS is also reminding residents the burning of leaves, trash, yard waste, refuse and building materials is NOT PERMITTED in Howard County. 

Transportation and Special Projects Division

MD 32 Alternate Bike Route Open House

DPW’s Transportation and Special Projects Division will hold an open house event on Thursday, November 2nd from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Media Room at River Hill High School in Clarksville, to present plans for a multi-modal travel improvement project along Ten Oaks Road from Brighton Dam Road to MD 108.

The informational open house event will offer attendees the opportunity to view two design ideas to separate bicycle traffic and vehicular traffic along Ten Oaks Road from Brighton Dam Road to MD 108. While there will not be a formal presentation, DPW staff and representatives from the design team will be on hand to answer any questions and gather public comment. Following the open house event, one preferred design idea will be selected to move on to final design, which is expected to be completed by fall 2024. Construction of the project is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2025. 

Ten Oaks Road from Brighton Dam Road to MD 108 was identified in the MD 32 Alternate Bike Route Study as a “pinch point” segment that presents challenges to cyclists sharing the roadway with vehicles. The Maryland State Highway Administration completed the study in 2019 to identify a viable and safe alternate bicycle route to MD 32, which permanently removed bicycle access from MD 108 to I-70.

Those unable to attend the open house who would like to view the exhibits and/or have questions, should contact Caitlin Kovel, PE of the Transportation & Special Projects Division at 410-313-6142 or email [email protected].

Bureau of Utilities 

Cryptosporidium Update

An independent, certified water quality laboratory confirmed for the third time that there was no detection of Cryptosporidium in the County's drinking water samples. The County's Department of Public Works (DPW) will continue to conduct weekly testing of our public water system to confirm the quality of our water through December. Additionally, Baltimore City DPW has also conducted four samples from Druid Lake with no detection of Cryptosporidium.

Per Baltimore City and State officials, the region’s water remains safe for the general public to consume. At this time, Baltimore City, the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Department of the Environment are advising people with severely weakened immune systems to continue to drink bottled water, boil water for one minute (and allow to cool completely) before consuming or use filtered tap water out of an abundance of caution.

With these three tests showing no Cryptosporidium in the water, the County will cease operations of the Mobile Water Tank at the Elkridge 50+ Center.

For the most up-to-date information regarding this matter, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/Cryptosporidium. 

Public Works Construction Report

Below are details regarding new, upcoming, completed and/or delayed Capital Projects and/or maintenance project(s) that have been announced.

Ellicott City

  • Frederick Road Bridge Emergency Repairs – Emergency repair work to the Frederick Road bridge over the Hudson Branch, located between 8905 to 8899 Frederick Road, is expected to start around 7:00 a.m., Monday, October 23rd. While the work is being done, this section of Frederick Road will be closed to all traffic and for approximately eight weeks, traffic will follow a clearly marked detour using Frederick Road to St. Johns Lane, US 40 and Rogers Avenue.

To learn about DPW projects currently underway, click HERE. Searchable by project category and street name, from this site you’ll find additional project details, including news releases about the project. You can also contact DPW’s Customer Service Office at 410-313-3440 or email [email protected] for further assistance.


If you have questions or are interested in finding out about a State road (numbered roadway) project in your area, visit the Maryland State Highway Administration’s (SHA) “Project Portal” website.

Department of Recreation and Parks

Haunted Experience and Happy Hayride 

Whether you choose fright or fun, a memorable experience awaits you at our Rockburn Branch Park West this October.  

An ink-black night sets the stage on October 27th and 28th for Recreation & Parks’ the Haunted Experience. For those that dare, this spooky hayride will take travelers along eerie trails to the ghostly dwelling deep in the woods where a haunting tales of ghosts, goblins and horror await to tingle the spine! 

It’s cute, it’s friendly and not so scary, Recreation & Parks’ Happy Haunted Hayride on October 29th is a Halloween hayride of fun, no fright! 

The cost to participate is $10 for the Haunted Experience and $5 for the Happy Hayride). Cash only at the gate. For more details, click HERE.

Now Hiring! 

Looking for a career change? Check out our Department of Recreation & Parks, which offers a variety of job opportunities in a number of very unique fields. If you like working with kids, consider joining our amazing Before and After School Program as a director, teacher or aide, and our Therapeutic Recreation and Accommodation Services program is looking for dedicated people to become Inclusion Companions. 

To learn more about these and other great employment opportunities with Recreation & Parks, click HERE today.

Tricks, Treats, and Trees at Robinson Nature Center 


With Halloween right around the corner, Robinson Nature Center is once again preparing for its spooktacular Tricks, Treats, & Trees program. Join them on October 28th and 29th and take a stroll through their trails where you can find some tricks and treats among the trees. Better yet, make your way indoors to find some spooky-themed crafts, sensory bins and Halloween-inspired puppet shows. 


Morning trail activities are designed for zero to four years old and afternoon trail activities are designed for ages five years of age and older. Mobility-friendly time slot offered on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Please call 410-313-0400 to register for your trail time (additional activities are ongoing). Cost is $10 per child and $5 for adult; attendees under one are free..

To learn more about this event, click HERE 

Office of Transportation

Let’s Discuss Howard County’s Transportation Future

Check out Transportation’s Administrator Bruce Gartner as he joins the BWI Business Partnership Transportation for its Think Tank event this Wednesday October 25th at 8:15 a.m. to discuss the future of transportation in Howard County, including our Transit Development Plan update, our national award-winning Complete Streets policy, and how HoCo by Design seeks to address transportation issues in Howard County. To learn more about how you can hear Bruce speak on the 25th, click HERE today.

MDOT Consolidated Transportation Program Meeting

Next Monday, October 30th, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will hold its annual Howard County Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) Tour Meeting to share its draft CTP. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. and take place in the County’s George Howard Building at 3430 Court House Drive in Ellicott City, in addition to being livestreamed


The CTP is the six-year capital budget for State transportation projects and programs. During the tour meeting, MDOT will discuss projects and funding across the full range of activities in the county and the state by the Maryland Aviation Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration, Maryland Transit Administration, Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority. The CTP is updated every year, based on local priorities expressed in the annual priority letter, local and regional planning efforts, and funding forecasts.

To review the Draft FY 2024-FY 2029 Consolidated Transportation Program and learn more, click here. To review Howard County’s Transportation Priorities Letter, click here.

Cranksgiving – A Food Drive and Biking Event in One


This November, our Office of Transportation is once again joining the Downtown Columbia Partnership to host its annual Cranksgiving. A national initiative dubbed “a food drive on two wheels,” Cranksgiving provides residents the opportunity to participate in active recreation, while raising awareness about Howard County’s bikeable pathway system and generating food items for individuals and families in need.


I invite all to join Transportation next Saturday, November 4th from 9:00 a.m. to noon for a bike ride from home to the Cranksgiving 2023 drop-off site at Azlon Plaza, located at 6100 Merriweather Drive in Downtown Columbia. On the way to the drop-off site, participants will have a variety of route options to choose from and will be tasked with picking up various food items along the way at nearby grocery stores. 


To learn more, including which items have been requested, click HERE. The first 200 participants will receive a t-shirt.

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