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Baltimore County News

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by Steve Walsh, Director, Baltimore County Department of Public Works 

We’ve been lucky so far, with several minor hurricane seasons in a row and a mild winter in 2017. But we can’t depend on luck. The Baltimore County Department of Public Works is prepared for whatever nature throws at us.

According to NOAA, the Atlantic hurricane season has begun and we can expect, on average, three major hurricanes to hit our coast and 12 tropical storms.

If they reach Baltimore County, we know what to do.

Our first order of business is to keep the roads open – to clear debris and trees. Public Works crews fix roads and bridges, clear storm drains, and make sure that the roads are safe. We have a fleet of trucks that can manage community clean-up after a significant storm and our Solid Waste Management command staff is certified in debris management.

We don’t limit ourselves to storm clean up. We try to stay ahead of the game. We have installed backup generators or alternate electrical feeds to all of our major pumping stations. Many now have water-tight doors and some have even been elevated above the flood plain level. 

We have roll-offs and dumpsters in reserve if storm debris mounts, and our debris management team will designate refuse collection centers if necessary.

The County’s traffic signals are being equipped with battery backups – 70 percent of the traffic signals already can function when the power is down. This is crucial for keeping traffic flowing after the storm is over and everyone gets back to business.

We’re learning every year to be better, more efficient and anticipate the consequences of a major storm. In the event of a hurricane, residents can report problems to our new Stormfighter online reporting tool. 

We’re Prepared – How About You?

We encourage people to have a personal emergency plan and to prepare to get through three days without power. Stock up on water, non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries and back-up sources for electronic devices like cell phones. Prepare in advance for medical and prescription needs and for pet care. Before a storm is forecast, we strongly advise that you check to see if you need flood insurance. More information about storm preparedness can be found on the County website at

If we do face a serious storm, you can go to the County’s Emergency Management Twitter feed, @BACOemergency, for updates on storm response, sheltering operations, and more.

Discusses Shared Concerns Including the State’s Inadequate Transportation and Education Funding

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, President of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), spent time this afternoon in Upper Marlboro conferring with members of the Prince George’s County Council as part of his statewide tour to meet with local leaders and discuss MACo’s priorities and advocacy for county governments. 

Kamenetz and MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson discussed a wide range of topics with the Council members including issues of insufficient state funding for transportation and education, traffic congestion and the need to better link education priorities with economic development opportunities.  Specifically, County Council members brought up the alarming deficiencies in state Highway User Revenues provided to counties for road maintenance, the need for a better integrated transportation network to alleviate commuter congestion between Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland and the challenges of dealing with school overcrowding given the limited school construction allocations from the state.   

“I found it quite remarkable to hear the degree to which leaders in Prince George’s are confronting the exact same issues we deal with in Baltimore County as similar suburban jurisdictions,” Kamenetz said. “At the local level, it really comes down to schools, transportation and jobs, and we simply need more targeted state attention to meet these basic needs.”

In addition to comparing notes on policy and budget issues, Kamenetz and Sanderson also gave an overview of how MACo worked to protect the interests of Maryland counties in Annapolis during this year’s General Assembly session, and they promoted MACo conferences as valuable opportunities for local officials to learn from each other and share best practices.

MACo was founded in 1939, as a non-partisan organization to advocate the needs of local government to the Maryland General Assembly, representing all of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. Kamenetz is the fifth Baltimore County Executive to serve as President in the history of MACo, succeeding Christian Kahl, Dale Anderson, Dutch Ruppersberger and Jim Smith. With this new term, Kamenetz also becomes the longest serving current member of MACo, first joining in 1994 as a member of the Baltimore County Council. 

Baltimore County Department of Social Services works to reunite brothers and sisters

From June 19 to 25, Camp Connect celebrates 17 years of reuniting siblings separated in foster care. This year 20 sibling groups ranging in age from six to eighteen will be coming from seven Maryland jurisdictions to be reunited at a week-long overnight camp. Baltimore County Department of Social Services (BCoDSS) began the camp in 2000, relying heavily upon a group of volunteer counselors.

“All too often, when children enter foster care, they lose not just their mother and father, but brothers and sisters as well, even if temporarily,” said Mark Millspaugh, Deputy Director of the BCoDSS. “Camp Connect reunites Maryland siblings separated in foster care for a week of new experiences, fun and a bit of adventure.”

Modeled after Camp to Belong, a camp and sibling advocacy program based in Colorado, Camp Connect’s goal is to cultivate life-long positive memories, according to Judith Schagrin, Assistant Director for the BCoDSS Division of Children’s Services and unofficial Camp Director.

“We aim for a week that promotes sibling bonds and offers new, memorable experiences for family members,” said Schagrin. “We hope these important memories far outlast their stay in our foster care system.”

Campers are grouped with siblings, not by age. The “counselors,” are all volunteers, including social workers, attorneys, administrators, CASA volunteers and others who hail from agencies and organizations dedicated to the welfare of children. They are routinely joined by former campers, who return repeatedly to donate their time as counselors.

Activities include horseback riding, biking, white-water rafting, swimming, arts and crafts, campfires, field trips to places such as an amusement park and evening entertainment that includes a talent show, professional juggler, learning African dancing and more.

Schagrin said the best way to get a sense of the camp is to speak with a camper or counselor and she welcomes inquiries from members of the media who may wish to interview former campers. “At the final night’s evening campfire, we asked each camper to share how they felt about the week,” said Schagrin. “One of the most touching was one camper, who thanked the staff, not just for the time he spent with his sisters, but for something he thought he’d never have again…the chance to be a child.” 

Revised September 26, 2016