Baltimore County’s businesses, its government, and its people share a common vision for a bright future — not merely over the next five or ten years, but for generations to come.
Acting Baltimore County Executive Fred Homan released the following statement in response to the line-of-duty death of Police Officer First Class Amy Sorrells Caprio:
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of one of our dedicated and talented police officers, and extend our condolences to her colleagues, family and friends,” said Acting Baltimore County Executive Fred Homan. “The professionalism, teamwork, swiftness and effectiveness of our public safety and police responders, while coping through a loss even greater than ours, has been absolutely first-rate.”
Baltimore County officials celebrated the grand opening of an equestrian and learning center at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park in Cockeysville, announcing that it is named in honor of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who passed away suddenly on May 10. Baltimore County Council Chair Julian E. Jones, Jr. led the ceremony, which featured the unveiling of a banner depicting the name, Kevin Kamenetz Arena.
The Kevin Kamenetz Arena is a multi-use facility that primarily serves as an equine arena and learning center hosting ground-based equine experiences for veterans and others, including programs operated by the New York based non-profit, Saratoga WarHorse. The overall equine operation occupies 12.7 acres including two barns, pasture and paddock space and a 9,600 square-foot arena with classrooms. The arena features a sandy surface, and it is available for equine programs as well as other events.
“Opening the Kevin Kamenetz Arena is a natural expansion of the educational mission of our agriculture center and it will provide powerful therapeutic and mental health resources to help veterans and others overcome obstacles in their lives,” said County Council Chair Jones. “Naming it the Kevin Kamenetz Arena is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to serving the public and making sure that government fulfills its role of helping those most in need,” he said.
The grand opening event, held in May, which is Military Appreciation Month, comes one day after the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore.
Baltimore County executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Saratoga WarHorse Foundation for them to assist veterans who are suffering from psychological wounds by providing a confidential, personalized equine-assisted experience that has proven to be effective for those struggling to adjust to life after military service.
The equine-assisted experience is an immersive program where a handful of veterans participate as a cohort group for a three-day program of classroom and one-on-one ground-based sessions with a horse. The equine programs do not involve horse-riding.
This life-changing program is available free of charge to participants. Saratoga WarHorse Foundation is privately funded through donations and assumes the cost of operating the equine programs, including off-site room and board for participants. Per the terms of the MOU, Baltimore County pays no operating costs for the equine programs, but the County funded the $2.96 million construction of the equine facility and pays for maintenance and the care and feeding of the rotating herd of horses.
“Saratoga WarHorse is so thrilled and honored to have this collaboration with Baltimore County,” said Bob Nevins, founder of Saratoga WarHorse Foundation. “This will ensure that the program will be open to assist more veterans in need.
The Kevin Kamenetz Arena adds a third location for Saratoga Warhorse to operate, in addition to their current locations in Saratoga Springs, New York and Aiken, South Carolina. Saratoga WarHorse plans to begin with two sessions per month at Kevin Kamenetz Arena, with the first session beginning on Monday, May 21.
Former Saratoga Warhorse program participant, Gail Watts, spoke during this afternoon’s event. Watts is Baltimore County’s Director of Corrections and a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant who served overseas in multiple deployments. “When you come home from deployment, it’s a very hard transition and soldiers who have experienced trauma often feel that they can’t really talk about it with civilian family and friends, and there can be a stigma about talking to doctors,” Watts said. “I was skeptical when I went through the program, especially having had no previous experience with horses, but I can’t even put into words the unexplainable connection I had with my horse and the amazing breakthrough I experienced. It was almost like the horse could relate to what I had been through.”
Baltimore County Fire Lieutenant Steve Mooney, who serves as a Chief Master Sergeant with the Air National Guard, and has been deployed five times, also participated in the Saratoga WarHorse equine experience. He said, “When you get in that ring with a 1,300 pound animal, it’s intimidating, but the next thing you know your horse is following you around like a puppy and it’s an amazing feeling. I never thought it would be such a game-changer, but I recommend it to any veteran. I think that anyone who has been deployed experiences some level of anxiety and this type of program offers a different perspective on how you look at things and it’s a great tool for dealing with stress.”
The County’s rotating herd of thoroughbred horses at the Kevin Kamenetz Arena will range from 10 to 18 retired racehorses. The horses are provided by:
- The Foxie G Foundation, a local non-profit that provides rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of thoroughbreds through a permanent retirement and adoption program, and
- Sagamore Racing, a thoroughbred horse breeding farm on Belmont Avenue in Reisterstown owned by Kevin Plank.
In addition to the MOU with Saratoga Warhorse, the County is talking with representatives of EquiTeam Support Services, a southern Pennsylvania program that practices programs of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. Discussions are underway about the possibility of their providing equine-assisted therapy for veterans that incorporates professional psychotherapy and offers a continuum of care for participants.
The County is also in discussions with the Connected Horse Project about the option of their expanding their operations to add programming at the Kamenetz Arena, where they would work with individuals with early stage dementia and their caregivers.
Jill Kamenetz, wife of Kevin Kamenetz, issued the following statement:
“I’d like to express my deepest appreciation to everyone who has reached out to our family at this profoundly sad time. We are in a state of shock at our sudden, unimaginable loss. Kevin was my closest friend and the smartest person I’ve ever met. He was absolutely devoted to our boys and me. He dedicated his life to public service because he believed passionately that government can and should make a positive difference in people’s lives, especially children and those who are most vulnerable.”
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that the County is embracing the latest all-ages fitness sports craze and re-striping 64 tennis, multi-purpose and basketball courts around the County to also accommodate the game of pickleball, a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong.
The game was invented in 1965 in the Seattle area with the goal of creating a vigorous game that is easy to learn and play for children and adults of all ages who want to exercise and have fun. It is usually played on a custom-striped badminton-sized court using large lightweight solid paddles to hit a wiffle ball over a low net. The rules are similar to tennis and players bring their own net and paddles. It is a featured sport in Baltimore County elementary physical education classes because it helps to develop hand-eye coordination and can be easier to learn than racquet sports.
The first phase is estimated to cost $32,000, and the custom lines are striped red or yellow to differentiate from the lines used for tennis, basketball and other sports.
“This is a great way for people to maintain their fitness and have fun with family and friends,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “By expanding the use of existing courts, we are really getting a big bang for the buck in terms of adding popular community amenities at a low cost and bringing new life to seldom-used courts.
Pickleball is gaining popularity around the country and, like most paddle sports, players can take a leisurely or a fast-paced competitive approach to the game. According to the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA), there are more than 2.8 million people playing pickleball nationally, and that number increased by 15% since last year.
“A lot of people are excited that the lines are going down on so many courts in the County and that Pickleball will be so much more local and accessible, cutting down on long lines to play,” said Lynne Coburn, who teaches physical education at Reisterstown Elementary School and serves as the USAPA Pickleball Ambassador of Baltimore County. “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America and it’s a sport that everyone can play. I often see three generations on the court together having a great time.”
The first court has been completed at Catonsville Community Park and court restriping is underway this week at Loch Raven Center and West Towson Park. The County plans to complete outdoor pickleball courts this summer at the following County parks and recreation centers as the first phase of this initiative:
Additional repair work may be needed to accommodate outdoor pickleball courts at Hernwood Elementary School in Randallstown and Wellwood International Elementary School in Pikesville. The County is working to secure pricing for these two projects, with a timetable to be determined.
As the second phase of the Pickleball initiative, indoor courts are planned for the following community recreation centers, with the timing and cost of these courts to be determined based on bids for the projects and the need to work through logistics and programming issues at each of these locations:
By Donna Bilz, Baltimore County Department of Aging
The benefits of exercise go beyond just physical wellbeing. Exercise helps support emotional and mental health, according to the National Institute on Aging. So next time you’re feeling down, anxious, or stressed, get up and start moving!
Physical activity can help:
Exercise and physical activity could also improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.
Feel great -- get up and dance! The Baltimore County Department of Aging is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, so we’re throwing it back to the 70s.
Come celebrate with BCDA at the Concert in the Park at the Oregon Ridge Park Concert Pavilion on May 22, 2018, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., rain or shine.
Come dressed in your best 70’s gear. Bring a plain white t-shirt to take part in our free tie-dye station. Rock out to the headlining band the Grand Jury, back by popular demand with a tribute to the 70s. Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon with door prizes, trivia, raffles, classic cars from the 70s, and more.
Bring picnic food, lawn chairs, blankets, and your beverages of choice. Cruiser’s Pit Beef food truck will be on-site vending fresh pit beef, pit ham, burgers and beverages.
Tickets are available at all Baltimore County Department of Aging Senior Centers for $4.00 prior to the event, $5.00 at the gate. Call your local senior center or Maryland Access Point of Baltimore County for details.
We can’t wait to see you there!
May is Older Americans’ Month. The Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA) offers everyone a chance to “Engage At Every Age,” this month and every month.
Serving as Baltimore County’s twelfth County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz has established a three-pronged approach to governing by applying the principles of innovation, responsibility, and efficiency. Learn More.