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Date: Apr 2017

Award Honors Asian Americans in Baltimore County in Celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that he will recognize the 2017 recipients of the Baltimore County Asian American Excellence Award —a recognition event to be held in May, which is designated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

This award is presented to individuals whose life work has successfully contributed to the vitality of the greater Baltimore County region, and whose efforts inspire others to strive for success and to celebrate the diversity and achievement that is our strength.

The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 9 at the Owings Mills branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, located at 10302 Grand Central Avenue in Owings Mills.

The 2017 Awardees are:

Harry (H.B.) Bhandari emigrated from his native Nepal. He is an educator for Baltimore City Public Schools and an adjunct faculty member of Baltimore City Community College. He served as National Secretary of Young Democrats of America Minority Caucus, President of Linover Community Association, and Board Member in District Six Democratic and Civic Association Club. He is a member of the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Language, Literary and Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Dr. Agha Khan is a highly respected neurosurgeon, practicing for the last 25 years in Maryland. Born in Pakistan, Dr. Khan completed his medical degree from Punjab University in Pakistan. He holds multiple positions at local hospitals and other neuro-spine related organizations, presently serving as Chief of the Neurosciences at the University of Maryland Midtown Campus. Dr. Khan has organized and led teams of clinicians to Ghana to provide patient care and education to local physicians. He has also visited Pakistan and Haiti to aid earthquake victims; and on multiple occasions he has joined Humanity First and visited Guatemala and Marshall Island to provide aid. Dr. Khan has been listed by U.S. News and World Report as one of the leading neurosurgeons in the United States.

Albert Kim migrated from South Korea in 1975. He has been a member of the Woodlawn-Westview Rotary Club for 20 years, serving as its President in 1999 and 2014.  Woodlawn-Westview Rotary Club serves the community by donating dictionaries to area elementary schools and hosting the annual “Service Above Self Awards.” He was the President of the Korean American Society of Greater Washington, Vice President of the Sejong Scholarship Foundation of Maryland, Treasurer of the Security Woodlawn Business Association, and was a Board Member of the Korean Society of Maryland. In 1988, he founded the accounting firm Albert T Kim, CPA, P.A., now known as AK & Associates, P.A.  The firm supports both local and regional clients as CPA advisors.

Bella Santos Owens, President of the Baltimore County Commission for Women since 2012. The Commission identifies and advocates programs, legislation and services to meet the needs of the women of Baltimore County. She has worked extensively on issues such as gender equality, empowerment, human trafficking awareness and domestic violence prevention. Under her leadership, the Commission expanded its focus on serious public service campaigns, and the Commission has won three consecutive National Association on Commissions for Women’s Achievement Awards (2013, 2014 and 2015). She has given numerous talks on the importance of women’s empowerment, mentoring, diversity and inclusion of the immigrant population. She migrated to the US from the Philippines in 1987.

Rajesh K. Patel, a Catonsville business owner and father of three was born in India and owns three successful businesses in the Baltimore area. One of the businesses, Soda Pop Shop, is currently the state’s number one lottery retailer. He is deeply rooted in the spirit of giving back to the community. Every Thanksgiving he donates dozens of turkeys to people in need, and he was instrumental in helping acquire property in 2012 for the construction of the Swaminarayan Hindu Temple.

About Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is designated nationally as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are among the many organizations paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.

In June 1977, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian Pacific Heritage week. The following month, Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga from Hawaii introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed and on October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend the week-long celebration to a full month. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. 

Kamenetz Remains Committed to Education as Important Priority

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz highlighted the County’s impressive showing in U.S. News and World Report’s Best High Schools ranking, with seven of the County’s high schools making the grade as some of the best in the United States.

Three Baltimore County high schools were awarded gold medals: Carver Center for Arts and Technology, Eastern Technical High School and Hereford High School; and four schools merited silver medals: Towson High, Western School of Technology, Dulaney High School and Loch Raven High School.  Of the top 20 ranked Maryland schools, almost one-third are in Baltimore County.

“I am immensely proud of the results we are seeing from County schools and this recognition just confirms the importance of our commitment to providing the best learning environments and facilitating academic success for all students,” said Kamenetz. “This critical support is evidenced by ongoing implementation of our $1.3 billion 10-year “Schools for Our Future” initiative, the largest single school construction program in the history of the state; enhanced use of innovative technology and increased graduation rates.”


U.S. News and World Report evaluated more than 22,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Schools were judged on a number of criteria including the results of state proficiency assessments and how well they prepare students for college.


Planning Process to Update 2003 Revitalization Plan, Consider Possibilities for Enhancing this Busy Corridor

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Councilwoman Vicki Almond announced that the Baltimore County Department of Planning will undertake an 18-month comprehensive study of the Pikesville commercial corridor to develop recommendations for revitalizing this area of Baltimore County. County planners will assess existing conditions and trends in Pikesville and seek broad community input to help identify opportunities for positive change in the area from the City/County line to the Beltway.

“Having grown up in the area and representing it on the County Council for 16 years, I know this area well and recognize that people have a strong affinity with this historic town center,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “I was actively involved in the 2003 revitalization plan, which helped create design guidelines to promote high-quality redevelopment, and the area could certainly benefit from some focused attention again.”

“I am excited about the potential for enhancing the Pikesville business district and look forward to collaborating with the planners and area residents and businesses to bring a fresh burst of energy to this popular destination,” said 2nd District Councilwoman Vicki Almond.

 “We are thrilled that the County is undertaking this review,” said Pikesville Chamber of Commerce President Mark Pressman, who also works as the Business Development and Strategy Director for the North Oaks Retirement Community in Pikesville. “This is a great example of businesses, community organizations and local government getting together to figure out what is best for the Pikesville community.”

About the Study

The three-phase project will begin with a thorough evaluation of the area including a review of demographics, zoning, pending and proposed development projects, transportation and parking, environmental issues, historic resources, housing, general real estate market conditions, businesses, public facilities and more. This initial background survey, expected to be completed by the end of 2017, will incorporate other relevant guidelines and designations including the status of recommendations in the 2003 Pikesville Revitalization Plan Update, Pikesville Commercial Revitalization Guidelines and Baltimore County Master Plan designations.

The second phase of the study will involve meetings with an extensive list of community stakeholders in the area including community groups, business owners, institutional and non-profit organizations and local and state government agencies. While there will be general community-wide input meetings, most will be with the individual groups of stakeholders to ensure a meaningful dialogue where information can be exchanged and discussed and all perspectives get a chance to be heard. The Department of Planning anticipates publishing draft/interim summaries to be available for public review by the spring of 2018.

 A final document will be generated containing the findings and prioritized recommendations for action that identifies which entity will have primary responsibility for implementing each recommendation. The target date for publishing this final study document is the summer of 2018. 

Revised September 11, 2017