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Baltimore County News

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County Joins Nationwide Network of Communities Dedicated to Improving Quality of Life for All Residents

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today launched the Age-Friendly Baltimore County initiative, an effort that aims to ensure all people, regardless of age, who live, work, play, raise their families and age in Baltimore County do so with the best quality of life possible.

"A better Baltimore County is one where all residents feel welcome and can take comfort in knowing that their needs are being met," Olszewski said. "Building such a community requires all partners and stakeholders working together and Age-Friendly Baltimore County will bring us together to work toward this important goal."

It is projected that 25 percent of Baltimore County residents will be 60 or older by 2020. Recognizing the importance of building communities where all residents can thrive, Olszewski and the Baltimore County Department of Aging earlier this year applied to the World Health Organization (WHO) and AARP to receive an age-friendly community designation.

Age-Friendly Communities commit to improving livability through an assessment of needs, development of an action plan, implementation of new projects and programs, and ongoing assessment—all with the involvement of residents and stakeholder partners. The eight areas of focus are:

  1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  2. Transportation
  3. Housing
  4. Social participation
  5. Respect and social inclusion
  6. Civic participation and employment
  7. Communication and information
  8. Community support and health services

"Our residents are an integral, vibrant part of our communities, and we owe it to all of them to ensure we are cultivating an inclusive, accessible community that boosts their quality of life," said Laura Riley, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Aging.

Launching the Initiative

Olszewski and Riley joined the AARP, Attorney General Brian Frosh, and representatives from more than 50 organizations to launch Age-Friendly Baltimore County at an event at Towson University. Attendees signed up to participate in working groups organized around the focus areas of the initiative.

"The benefits to communities that recognize and incorporate the needs of citizens of all ages cannot be overstated. In just 11 years—by 2030—all 77 million baby boomers will be 65-plus," said AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg. "With admission into the AARP (World Health Organization) network, Baltimore County will benefit from inclusion in a global network of nearly 400 jurisdictions committed to giving all residents the opportunity to live rewarding, productive and safe lives in communities intentionally designed for the continuum of life."

The initiative is a five-year process that will result in various policies and improvements. The first year will focus on establishing an advisory group and gathering input from the community in a variety of settings, including focus groups, listening sessions, workgroups and surveys. In year two, the advisory group will work with the county to develop an action plan. In years three to five, the county will focus on implementation of the action plan. Following implementation, the county will report on its progress.

Learn more about the Age Friendly Communities Network from the WHO or AARP. For more information about Baltimore County’s efforts, visit the Department of Aging.

Filled Positions That Will Play Important Roles in County Government

County Executive Johnny Olszewski today made several important personnel announcements, filling key positions that will help carry out his vision for a more livable, thriving Baltimore County. Delegate Steve Lafferty will serve as Chief Sustainability Officer, Delegate Eric Bromwell will serve as Opioid Strategy Coordinator, and Troy Williams will serve as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. All three positions were recommended by Olszewski’s transition team. Romaine Williams, who previously served as an Assistant County Attorney, has taken on a new role as Chief of Employee and Labor Relations, a newly created position that will serve as the primary liaison to county employee unions.

“The key to building a government that effectively serves all residents is building a great team, and I’m thrilled that these talented individuals will bring their experience and expertise to work on behalf of our constituents,” Olszewski said. “Baltimore County is moving forward in big ways, and these individuals will play key roles in helping to carry out our vision.”

In addition, Olszewski announced several additions to his Office of Community Engagement, which works closely with communities and constituents to directly address concerns residents have and help them access county services. The new community engagement representatives are Sonia Almonte for Council District 1, Kristin King for Council District 5, and Gabrielle Slocum for Council District 6. Mary Clay, who previously served as the engagement representative for District 1, will now be the representative for Council District 4, and Carmen Christiana will be the representative for District 3. Michelle Bernstein will continue as the representative for District 2, and Pete Kriscumas will continue as the representative for District 7.

“Our new model of community engagement ensures that constituents have direct access to the executive office, and these new additions to the team will help us ensure every constituent has a voice in the county seat,” Olszewski said.

Meet the Team Members

Steve Lafferty has served in the House of Delegates since 2007, where he has been a leader on issues related to the environment and land use. He has served as Chair of the Baltimore County House Delegation, and Chair of the Subcommittee on Land Use and Ethics and the Subcommittee on the Environment. During his years in the General Assembly, he has been recognized for his commitment to environmental sustainability by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters and Preservation Maryland. A longtime resident of the Towson area, he has previously served as the Howard County Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning and as Director of Special Projects for the Howard County Executive. Lafferty earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland, a Master of Arts from Bowling Green State University, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Eric Bromwell has served in the House of Delegates since 2003, when he was one of the youngest delegates ever elected to the General Assembly. He has served as Vice Chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee, Chair of the Health Facilities and Occupations Subcommittee, and Chair of the Baltimore County House Delegation. He was chairman of the bipartisan House of Delegates Opioid Policy Committee in 2017 and 2018 and he was appointed as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders in 2018. He has championed legislation to address the opioid crisis and worked to increase funding for treatment, and in 2018 he represented Maryland among 22 states chosen to participate in the inaugural National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Opioid Policy Fellowship. Bromwell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Salisbury University.

Bromwell and Lafferty will vacate their seats in the House of Delegates as they take on these new assignments.

“Eric and Steve have been valuable members of the House of Delegates,” said Speaker Adrienne A. Jones. “While I’m sad to lose them in the House, as a Baltimore County resident and 38 year retiree of County government, I know that they both bring an expertise that will be important additions to County Executive Olszewski’s team.”

Troy Williams has served since 2017 as a consultant on diversity and inclusion to American University’s executive leadership programs, and since 2018 as a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. He has held roles with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing and the DOJ Community Relations Service, as well as with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University, a Master of Adult Education from Coppin State University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law, and a Master of Public Administration from American University.

Romaine Williams has served in the Baltimore County Office of Law since 2018, and previously served as an Assistant Attorney General and Counsel to various state agencies through the Office of the Maryland Attorney General. She has also served as an Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Maryland Public Defender, and Executive Director of the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Goucher College, a Master of Theology from the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Sonia Almonte has worked with Johns Hopkins Healthcare since 2013, first as a Community Health Worker and more recently as a Supervisor of Community Outreach. She also works with the BSO Orchkids program, where she works to engage minority youth in music and the arts. She earned a Bachelor of Public Administration from the University of Baltimore.

Kristin King worked in various roles for Baltimore Gas and Electric from 2011 to 2018, most recently as a Senior Business Analyst in Corporate Relations where she directed company-wide volunteer programs. She is completing a Bachelor of Arts to Master of Arts program at Stevenson University.

From 2016 to 2019, Gabrielle Slocum served in the Peace Corps in Panama, first as a Leadership Trainer and English Specialist and more recently as a National Teaching English Coordinator. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Towson University.

Thistle Road to Reopen After Being Closed for More Than a Year

Baltimore County will reopen Thistle Road (located between Frederick Road and the Patapsco River) on Wednesday, August 21. The route, which has been partially closed for more than a year, was severely damaged by floods in May of 2018. Those same floods caused significant damage in Ellicott City and in southwestern Baltimore County. During the storm, nearly a half-mile of Thistle Road’s embankment was intermittently washed away or damaged.

The reopening this month marks the completion of major repairs, say Baltimore County engineers. Planning began almost immediately after the 2018 storm and construction commenced in March of this year with slope stabilization. Perforated, hollow tubes were inserted into the soil and filled with injections of grout. The inserts were then followed by the construction of concrete retaining walls which were backfilled with stone.

Once the road’s foundation was stabilized, the County’s contractors brought in Jersey walls to arrest erosion on the slope above the road. Once the roadway was rendered safe, Thistle Road was paved and guard rails and fencing were installed. Repairs to Thistle Road cost just under $2 million, according to engineers, who note that 75 percent of the cost will be borne by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

While the restored road is the most dramatic repair on Thistle Road, it’s not the only post-storm improvement in the area. Immediately after the May 2018 floods, the Baltimore County Department of Public Works repaired a small bridge just north of the stabilization project completed this month. Additionally, engineers will soon repair a culvert on Thistle Road about a half-mile south of Frederick Road. The County is currently rebuilding the River Road Bridge, south of Thistle, which was completely destroyed by flood waters. Reconstruction of the 40-foot long bridge began in July and is expected to be finished before the end of the year.

Revised September 11, 2017