Baltimore County Now
Annual Commission on Disabilities Luncheon Marks 25th Year
It was a full house at the 25th annual Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities Awards Ceremony yesterday afternoon where Executive Kevin Kamenetz helped to recognize the achievements of Baltimore County citizens with disabilities, their families, employers, advocates and organizations.
More than 300 people attended the ceremony and luncheon hosted by the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities. The Commission provides support and advocacy for County residents with disabilities and works to assure that County programs, buildings and services are open equally to all persons, regardless of their disabilities. In addition, the Commission provides resources and referrals on obtaining services not only from the County but through programs offered by the state and federal government.
“This year’s extraordinary honorees have made a difference in so many lives, whether by providing employment and education opportunities to people with disabilities, or by serving as an example of people living with disabilities who are making outstanding contributions to our communities every single day,” said Kamenetz.
This year’s honorees include:
- Jerry Easterly, Principal of Battle Monument School, winner of the Education Advocate Award
- BCPS Special Education Specialists Sara Egorin-Hooper and Susie Swindell won the Outstanding Commitment to the Arts Award for their annual Very Special Arts Festival at Oregon Ridge Park
- Ryan Henderson, UMBC student and Freeland resident, won the Student of the Year Award
- Mr. Ryan Guimont of Kenwood High School, winner of the Teacher of the Year Award
- Valari Dorsey and Granny’s Restaurant in Owings Mills, winner of the Employer of the Year Award
- Robert Zerance, employee of Graul’s Market and Freeland resident, winner of the Employee of the Year Award
- Dianna Morgan of the Arc Baltimore, winner of the Disability Support Award
- Ed Slattery of Lutherville, winner of the Family Support Award
- Club 1111, The League for People with Disabilities, winner of the Innovative Community Program Award
- Ronald Day of the League for People with Disabilities and Towson resident, winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award
- Boy Scout Troop 730 of Towson-Parkville, winner of this year’s Special Chairperson’s Award
Barbara Korenblit, LCSW, Chief, Division of Individual and Family Services
Baltimore County Department of Aging
Many people know the Baltimore County Department of Aging is a great place for information about resources for seniors, but did you know that it’s also a great place to learn about options for people with disabilities?
For the last three years, our information office has become Maryland Access Point, an Aging and Disability Resource Center! Our certified information specialists can connect you or your loved ones to valuable services, programs and special events for older adults and people of all ages with disabilities.
Now, we have a new feature on our website that will provide timely updates on special events for people with disabilities and their families. The Aging and Disability Resource Center Advisory Committee Events Calendar features a wide range of special events offered by the Department of Aging and our partner agencies in the disabilities community. Events ranging from information fairs to employment training and recreational opportunities will be listed in this new calendar.
For more information on the Maryland Access Point (MAP), call 410-887-2594, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/aging/helpfulnumbers/mapbaltco.html
Michael E. Field, County Attorney
Baltimore County settled three federal law suits filed by two former firefighters and one former police officer in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. The two former firefighters have been offered an opportunity to return to county service in the Fire Department in light duty capacities and the former police officer will receive some modifications to his retirement benefits.
These settlements honor these employees for their past service while also ensuring that firefighters and police officers who serve the residents of Baltimore County are working in jobs that match their physical abilities for the safety of all. Residents of Baltimore County demand no less than this.
On September 5, 2012, former firefighters Donald Becker and Stanley Kuklinski and former police officer Michael Lauenstein filed separate federal law suits against Baltimore County alleging that the County had violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. All three were receiving retirement benefits from the County retirement system at the time they filed suit.
The County was confident that it would prevail in all three cases because the county believed that, at the time of their retirements, all three were incapable of performing the “essential functions” of their jobs. However, the County has recently implemented an expanded light duty policy and the Administration decided that it might be able to settle two of the cases by inviting the plaintiffs to return to county service in a light duty capacity. As Director of Human Resources George Gay wrote in an email to all County employees about the expanded policy:
The new policy provides greater accommodations for employees who are sick or injured but still capable of performing valuable work for the County’s taxpayers. These expanded light duty opportunities will allow more County employees to remain productive while conserving their sick leave for when they are completely unable to work.
The plaintiffs will also receive $20,000 each in “compensatory damages” and attorneys’ fees totaling $47,377.50 for all three cases. In settling these cases, the County does not admit liability.