Baltimore County Now
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz
Over the past several weeks, we’ve celebrated the amazing fact that half of our Baltimore County high schools were ranked among the nation’s best, and that 19 County neighborhoods were rated among the best in the region. This got me thinking about what an exceptional place Baltimore County really is.
It seems that every week, another headline appears touting the successes of the people, employees and businesses of Baltimore County — and it’s getting hard to keep track of them all. I did a little research to see what other interesting facts I could uncover that demonstrate why Baltimore County is such a great place to live, work and play. Even I was surprised at how much we Baltimore Countians have to brag about!
Our Schools Rule
- In 2013, 52% of Baltimore County’s traditional and magnet high schools were named to national “Best Schools” lists.
- Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) has the second-highest graduation rate among the nation’s 50 largest school districts.
- Six BCPS schools earned Maryland Blue Ribbon honors in December 2012, and Maryland’s education system ranked top in the nation for the fifth year in a row.
- Baltimore County is home to five out of the fifteen colleges and universities in the Baltimore metro region, including the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), which educates nearly 74,000 students each year and half of all Baltimore County residents attending college as undergraduates in Maryland.
- An impressive 35.2% of Baltimore County residents over the age of 25 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Taming the Tax Burden
- In Baltimore County, there has been no property tax rate increase in 25 years and no income tax rate increase in 21 years!
- Baltimore County is one of only 39 counties out of more than 3,000 in the nation (or approx. 1%) with a Triple AAA Bond Rating, a tribute to our strong fiscal management.
- Baltimore-Towson ranked on The Atlantic’s 25 Best Places to Live for Recent Graduates list in 2012.
- CNN Money named Towson the eighth-best place in the nation for the rich & single.
- Baltimore-Towson was named the fourth-best place for baby boomers to pre-retire by Nerdwallet.com.
- West Towson was named “Best Neighborhood for Seniors” by AOL.
- With 817,455 residents, Baltimore County is more populous than its two nearest cities, Baltimore and Washington, DC, as well as the states of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska. Baltimore County is also larger in land than 30 countries around the world.
- With a cost of living that falls well below other Northeastern metropolitan regions, Baltimore County has great urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods that are culturally diverse communities and offer something for everyone. Nineteen of our neighborhoods were named in Baltimore Magazine’s “Best Places to Live 2013” issue.
- Baltimore County is home to many historic neighborhoods, with 388 designated Baltimore County Landmarks and 17 County Historic Districts. Baltimore County also has 86 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including two National Historic Landmarks.
- Baltimore County won six 2012 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties for several technology and safety initiatives.
- There are five hospitals in the county and 38 across the region, including those belonging to the Johns Hopkins Health System, whose flagship hospital has been ranked as America’s best for the last 21 years.
- Baltimore County is experiencing historically low crime rates, with a 22% drop in violent crime based on the last five-year reporting period.
- Thirty percent of Baltimore County’s land is preserved as parkland and open space — lands that provide for recreation, green space, drinking water protection, family farms and local food production (EPS sources). The County is ranked sixth-best in the nation for its agricultural land preservation program (Farmland Preservation Report 2011).
Our Festive Nature
- Baltimore County boasts more than 200 miles of shoreline, with beaches and 70 marinas and yacht clubs.
- Between our 200 parks and recreation sites, and the four beautiful state parks in Baltimore County, you can find great hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking trails, lighted artificial turf sports fields, nature centers, dogs parks, disc golf courses, and much more.
- Dundalk’s Heritage Fair was recently named the second-best community celebration in the U.S.
- Baltimore County is home to three of the top ten shopping malls in the state.
- Catonsville is known as Music City, Maryland, thanks to its multitude of music stores, venues and educational facilities.
- Baltimore County is horse country, with more than 140 picturesque thoroughbred horse farms.
- The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra offers summer performances at the Oregon Ridge Park outdoor amphitheater.
- More than a half million people flock to Timonium every year for the 11 best days of summer at the Maryland State Fair.
- Bengies Drive-In Theatre in Middle River is the biggest continuously operated movie theater screen in the USA.
- We have wine country! Enjoy Baltimore County’s portion of the Piedmont Wine Trail.
John Van Ness
Associate Engineer, Baltimore County Bureau of Utilities
How do you inspect more than 60 miles of pressurized sewer pipelines when they are all underground and must continue operating during the inspection? As with so many issues in our modern world, we turn to technology.
Baltimore County Bureau of Utilities operates more than a hundred Sewage Pump Stations, each with at least one pressurized pipe (called a force main) to transfer sewage to a gravity sewer main or another pump station, eventually ending up at a either the Back River or Patapsco wastewater treatment plants. The total combined length of pump station force mains is 62 miles and the longest of them are over 3 miles in length. Inspecting these force mains is a challenge because there is no access along the length of the pipe, only at either end. In addition, they must remain in operation and they are typically buried underground where they cannot be observed. With advanced technology Baltimore County is inspecting these mains while they remain in operation and learning more about potential problems that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
The Pure Technologies PipeDiver inspection tool is a 15-foot long, 3-sectioned submarine that uses electromagnetic instruments to determine overall pipe strength and can identify any problem areas to within several feet. We were the first agency to ever use this free-swimming tool that is put in the pipe at the station while the station is operating and is caught at the other end in a specially constructed cage in the gravity manhole. With what is learned from the PipeDiver we can make educated decisions on whether to replace a force main, repair it or re-inspect at a later date.
The SmartBall tool, also from Pure Technologies, uses sound recording and advanced location technology to find leaks and air pockets in force mains. A leak is an obvious problem but air pockets will trap corrosive gases that will corrode and weaken pipe unseen on the outer surface of the pipe. The SmartBall comes in sizes from 4 inches to 7 inches and like its name, it looks like a blue foam toy “Nerf” ball. The ball is put in the force main at the station and rolls along the pipe counting rotations and recording the specific sound signatures that indicate a leak or air pocket. It is caught much the same way as the pipe diver but often a crab or fish net is used just as effectively as a cage.
When the station has enough capacity or the force main is short enough that we can turn off the pumps to do an inspection we can use robotic tools to inspect pipe as well. These will have a combination of the above technology in addition to a closed-circuit TV camera. The largest one we have used is 6 feet long, weighs 300 pounds and looks like a miniature tank complete with two sets of tracks and an articulated camera.
Replacing force mains is expensive, and the use of advanced technology is allowing the County to reduce maintenance costs by only replacing those portions of pipe that need replacing and taking action before breaks might occur.
Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks
Oh, what a summer it’s been so far. It’s been sunny, hot, rainy, sticky…did I mention that it’s been HOT? Nonetheless, this summer has been FUN!
Throughout our beautiful County, you can see the smiles and hear the laughter coming from our recreation centers, PAL centers and parks.
From daycare to down-on-the-beach and through the woods, our kids have been involved in well-supervised programs that keep them busy with new friendships, activities and adventures that are great summer experiences for youngsters.
From Dundalk to Baltimore Highlands and everywhere in between, our summer playgrounds and camps are bustling with activities like sports, games, crafts, nature experiences and field trips. For instance, Camp Red Fox is enjoying weekly trips to beautiful Cascade Lake, and a huge cookout for our PAL centers held by Rocky Point Beach was a major highlight for some incredible kids, making the hottest of days “way cool” with games, picnicking and the delightful waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Our parks and facilities offer everything from adult sports leagues, ice skating and hockey to hiking, kayaking, beach picnics and swimming.
This has been a great summer for Baltimore County Recreation and Parks so far, but don’t miss out on the rest! Call your recreation center for a preview of what’s happening during the rest of summer!